The Lack of Diversity in Comics and Who Gets It Right?

I grew up reading comics littered with straight, white characters—predominantly male heroes. The biggest diversity I can remember was seeing Storm and Bishop in X-men comics. The lack of diversity in literature definitely hasn’t helped the world’s struggle for equality. People need to see and read about the lives of all people and cultures and not succumb to one majority. I think by now many of us have learned that fear is created by what we do not understand, and how do we understand the marginalized groups if no one will give them a voice?

In fact, I personally struggled with this as a young adult because I lived in southern state crammed with religion and homophobia—a typical haven for “White America.” So I fought myself for years before I accepted my sexuality. The 90s weren’t nearly as diverse as 2016, and yet we still have so far left to go on the road to equality. So reading books and comics with those straight, white, male protagonists didn’t help my struggle because there was so much hate towards the LGBTQIA community and our voices weren’t recognized.

Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the first show I saw properly recognize LGBTQ characters, but we were still nowhere to be found in any literature I was reading.

So as I discovered Brian K. Vaughan’s comics as an adult, I was quite pleased to find much more authentic diversity. He wrote strong female characters, provided racial diversity, and gave me the LGBTQ characters no one else seemed to be writing. Hell, BKV was writing sundry characters before everyone else realized it was the right thing to do.

My heart melted when I discovered Karolina Dean’s sexuality in Runaways and followed her journeys through romance. She was the character I needed in comics when I was younger. She’s the character many LGBTQ readers needed. The entire Runaways series offered a diverse team with characters such as Alex Wilder as an African-American, Nico Minoru who is a Japanese-American, and Xavin who served as a gender fluid shapeshifter.

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Marvel comic series created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona.

Just like Runaways, Y: The Last Man stands as one of my all-time favorite comic series. The series might revolve around Yorick Brown, who is dubbed the “Last Man on Earth,” but my favorite characters were Agent 355, who was an African-American badass and Dr. Allison Mann, who was of Chinese-Japanese decent and also an awesome LGBTQ character. Honestly, Y: The Last Man had several same sex relationships, and I felt the entire series authentically depicted the craziness and diversity of society thrown into chaos when almost the entire male population dies off.

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Vertigo Comics series created by Brian K Vaughan & Pia Guerra. Cover by J.G. Jones.

 

Combine diversity with BKV’s witty dialogue—best compared to Joss Whedon’s writing style—and it’s easy to see why two of my all-time favorite comic book series are Brian K. Vaughan creations. BVK has earned several awards for his creations, including Saga and Ex Machina.

I look forward to reading the next BKV creation because I believe he will continue to create the authentic and diverse worlds more in tune with reality than many other stories offer. We must further diversify our stories if we wish to do break down the barriers which still prevent equality.

Sacrifice Novel Kickstarter is Live!

The Sacrifice novel Kickstarter is now live! Even if you can’t donate right now, I would be forever grateful if you could share with friends and family. Don’t just share the link, but tell them WHY they should click it. This is my attempt to bring more diversity to literature. I just recently finished an author interview where I discussed the importance of diversity in literature, so i’ll link to that blog here once it’s published. If you have a blog or site that you would like to use to help spread the word, I have an official press release that I can send you!
 

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Click here to view the campaign, and please let me tell you why Sacrifice is important.

 

Sacrifice Novel Excerpt

There’s only a week left until the Kickstarter campaign launches, and i’m eager to share more information about my upcoming novel. Instead of sharing another piece of concept art or character bio, I decided to include a teaser from the Sacrifice manuscript. Did you miss my formal announcement? If so, you can click here to find out about the importance of my campaign and diversity in literature.

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Here’s an unedited excerpt from chapter eleven of the Sacrifice manuscript. I hope you enjoy this little taste of Sacrifice.

The sunset painted the concrete around me with a gorgeous orange highlight. I had no idea where I was or how I got here, but I stood on a city sidewalk in some dystopian wasteland. Collapsed and broken buildings littered the streets as vegetation crept up around the ruins. My eyes scanned the rusted yellow cars left abandoned in the street. Where were their owners? What had happened here?

Regardless of the city’s obvious decimation, I found the silence of this vast area to be quite eerie. Where were the birds and other signs of wildlife? This place had to be home to more than just plant life. I listened for several moments, but there was no sound to be heard.

Warm air still lingered from the departing sun, and I walked out toward the crumbled patch of concrete in front of me where I faced a lone parking meter. The meter seemed oddly placed even though it obviously wasn’t, but everything else I could see was deconstructed. I felt overwhelmed with an urge to reach out and touch the last surviving meter, but a cold draft of air stopped my hand before my fingers reached the metal post. Chill bumps paraded all over my body, and an icy breath tickled at my neck. I spun around on my heels, but there was no one to be seen.

I glanced back and found Micah next to the parking meter—my body jolted at his unexpected presence. My hand went to my chest as if to calm the beating of my heart, but I was even more relieved than startled.

“I’m so glad you’re here. Where ever here is. I’ve worried about you.”

“Sorry for scaring you,” he said in a soft voice. “I suck at this whole ghost thing.”

Micah’s pale grey eyes locked on with mine, but his expression was unreadable. He stepped off the sidewalk, and his eyes shifted to an enormous crater formed in the pavement nearby that was shaped like a monstrous footprint. I shuddered at the thought of what might have created such a print.

“I always wanted to visit here someday, but this is definitely not what I had in mind,” he said with a sigh.

“And where exactly is here?”

“Times Square.”

“This is New York City?” I gasped. I’d been to the city that never sleeps a few times, but never seen the place look anything shy of fabulous. Times Square made sense because the ground was littered with shattered pieces of what I recognized to be L.E.D lights, which were often used for the city’s signature lighting and billboards. The beautifully lit part of the city was always such a spectacular site, and now the entire area was growing dark as the sun continued to set.

“I always wanted to go to a Yankee’s game. Come back as a ghost and I’m still out of luck,” he said. His lips curled up slightly to match the mood of his joke, but the effect was lost with such weary eyes.

I opened my mouth to speak, but I didn’t know what to say. I felt a pull at my chest that was all too familiar. It pained me that he was gone, and we never got that baseball game he wanted.

As if he knew my thoughts had wandered to a sorrowful place, he tilted his gaze to the faded orange sky. “We need to leave here before the sun fully sets.”

“Why? What will happen at nighttime? Ghosts should be nocturnal, right?”

“I can see fine, but we won’t want to see what becomes of this place at full darkness.”

“What happens here?”

“This is the same outcome that happens everywhere if you don’t stop them. Every nasty supernatural being will be unleashed on our world if you don’t. The demons won’t come out during daylight so that keeps them at bay, but once they’re in total darkness they will come out to play.”

“Who causes this? When does this happen?”

“I tried to tell you last time, but they wouldn’t let me. The things they did, God Kat, I didn’t know it was possible to torture a ghost,” he said with a grimace. His eyes weren’t tired now, they looked troubled. A ghost with such haunted eyes just reeked of irony.

“Please Kat you have to figure this out. This isn’t just some random dream. I’m showing you the future. They know you’re the threat and they’ll be coming for you.”

Micah’s last words faded to a whisper as the sun disappeared, and the broken Times Square horizon filled with glowing eyes of inhuman color. I was suddenly engulfed in the darkness as I shouted for him.

 

From the Book: Sacrifice by S.E. Doster Copyright © 2014 by S.E. Doster. Artwork by Cindy Chan.

Meet the Stealthiest Member of Sacrifice

This week’s Sacrifice character reveal introduces Cash. I love writing his dialogue, and he quickly became one of my favorite supporting characters. Everyone needs a gay best friend, especially the always troubled Katherine Reese.

Cash sacrifice portraitCash is a member of Kat’s prestigious Alpha team. He’s a tall, blonde haired, dreamy eyed, martial arts master who loves to watch Xena and sleep with men. He’s the youngest member of the team at only nineteen, but he is the stealth and recon expert. Kat describes Cash as a “white boy ninja” since he moves at an inhuman speed and makes no detectable noise while doing so. Cash hates firearms so when he needs more than just hand to hand combat, he chooses a blade or bow as his weapon.

 

Introducing Cameron Ryan

This week’s Sacrifice character reveal includes art that I created myself. I’m not skilled at creating comic book concept art, so I decided to make digital concept portraits for some of the characters. This gives you an idea of how I picture the characters as I’m writing the story.

Cameron Ryan portraitCameron Ryan is the girlfriend that Katherine Reese isn’t supposed to have. She was born in Australia as a mix of Australian and Tibetan, but her parents died when she was just a baby. She was adopted by her uncle who lived in the States, and spent her whole life in New York unaware of the supernatural world. Cameron’s eyes are opened to mystical elements when she learns Kat is a meta-human and rogue werewolves are discovered in her neighborhood—leaving her world forever changed.