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.

Five Books I’d Love to See Adapted for Television

I’m sure many people who follow me on Twitter or heard one of my podcast appearances for Nerds Against the World know I rant and rave about how much I love Brian K. Vaughan comics and Urban Fantasy books.

Here are my top five suggestions for series that would make great adaptations for TV.

BOOK cover Y The Last man

Y: The Last Man is a dystopian sci-fi adventure created by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. The sudden death of almost all male mammals spins the world into chaos. The protagonist, Yorrick Brown, finds himself as the lone male human survivor along with his male Capuchin monkey, Ampersand.

It’s apparent throughout the series that BKV put so much thought into what life would be like if we suddenly lost the entire male population. Important jobs fields dominated by male employees suddenly come to a screeching halt, and every woman is coping in her own way. Yorrick doesn’t give you the male stereotype who would be happy to repopulate with any eager women he meets, but instead wants nothing more than to travel across the world to find his girlfriend, Beth.

At once time this was set to be a movie, which became stuck in development hell somewhere. The rights to the story have reverted back to Vaughan, and it’s unlikely if we’ll ever see any adaptations of this amazing story. However, I feel this would be better suited as an ongoing series. There’s way too many story-lines and unique characters that intertwine with Yorrick’s journey and those would most likely get snubbed out with a film adaptation.

BOOK cover Runaways

Runaways comic book series is another fantastic Brian K. Vaughan comic book creation. BKV and Adrian Alphona deliver a fantastic tale of teenagers who find out their parents are members of an evil crime organization known as “The Pride”. The Pride consists of mob bosses, time travelers, wizards, mad scientists, aliens and telepathic mutants.  Some of the kids use the weapons or gadgets created by their parents and others inherit their own super abilities which are used to try and stop their evil parents.

The kids come together like a dysfunctional family much like you would see in a Joss Whedon show. In fact, Whedon wrote for the series after BKV departed from the second volume. The teenage team even has some pretty memorable moments with other members of the Marvel universe, including Wolverine. This would add to the many great Marvel television shows currently in production and offer life as a superhero from a teenage perspective.

BOOK cover Hollows

The Hollows/Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison would also make a good urban fantasy world for a television series.  Harrison’s alternate Chicago setting offers an interesting aspect of how the supernatural world gets outed to the humans and the history of a genetically altered tomato that wipes out a huge chunk of the human population. It’s quite funny to see humans so afraid to eat ketchup.

The series follows bounty hunter witch, Rachel Morgan, who has the unfortunate luck of finding trouble around every corner. Her roommates and bounty hunter/detective team include the odd pairing with a pixie and living vampire. Fans of Being Human might like this as a show because it’s another interesting pairing of supernatural roommates trying to make their job and living situation work, all while Rachel Morgan becomes the target of many supernatural communities.

BOOK cover Janet Evanovich

The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich could still be considered for a television show. The first book, One for the Money, was adapted into a completely underwhelming movie. This is one of the funniest series I’ve ever read, and the show has so much charm and wit that managed to be drained from the film version. The Mortal Instruments series would’ve made this list even after the poor movie, but now the television show reboot is in the works. Why not give the same treatment to the Plum series?

Stephanie Plum is a fun and quirky bounty hunter who finds herself in the most ridiculous situations while trying to capture fugitives. Stephanie surrounds herself with a wild cast of characters including her partner, Lula, who is a former hooker turned wanna-be bounty hunter. Sandra Bullock has long been a fan favorite for the role of Stephanie, so can someone call Bullock and convince her to do television? Please?

BOOK cover Anita Blake

The Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton is a gritty urban fantasy series which seems best suited as a Netflix original or HBO type show due to the amount of violence and sex. Anita Blake boasts many talents including necromancy, professional vampire executioner and acts as a supernatural consultant for the police in St Louis, Missouri. Supernatural creatures and elements coexist with humans in Anita Blake’s world, and she develops strong relationships with many different factions. The books usually follow Anita as she uncovers mysteries in the supernatural community while getting tangled up in politics and complex relationships with vampires and shifters.

What adaptations would you like to see on television? I’ll cover my top five books that should be movies in next week’s post.