Panel on race in comics engages the elephant in the room
The Panel: Writer Marjorie Liu (Astonishing X-Men), video game writer David Gaider (Dragon Age), comic book writer Brandon Thomas (Miranda Mercury), showrunner and screenwriter Javier Grillo-Marxuach (The Middleman, Lost), novelist Sarah Kuhn (One Con Glory), and sci-fi writer N.K. Jemisin (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms); moderated by Racebending.com.
The Project: Racebending.com convened their first panel at 2011 Comic Con in the wake of the casting travesty that occurred on the Avatar:Last Airbender. This year they continue the conversation.
The Big Revelations: Entertainment companies across all platforms really don’t get diversity (duh).
– Marjorie Liu pitched an all female book to Marvel featuring Black Widow, Electra, Mystique and X-23 (Wolverine’s ‘daughter’). She was told by the higher ups that such a book wouldn’t sell!
– David Gaider revealed that one of the most popular mods for Dragon Age transforms Isabela—a black character with a romantic storyline—into a blue eyed blond haired damsel.
– Sarah Kuhn reported that Asian writers are often asked to change their last names by the marketing departments at book publishers when writing in genres like romance to make their books more marketable.
– Javier Grillo-Marxuach struggles with “standing against a stereotype even if that means denying an opportunity to put a person of color on screen.”
– Javier Grillo-Marxuach also revealed a forthcoming comic with Ape Entertainment titled Unfathomable, to go with his recently launched Ramiel, Wrath of god mini-series.
Most Incisive Audience Question: An audience member asked how one gets into the head of a character of a different race or ethnicity, leading Javi Grillo-Marxuach to recount a touching story about how his own struggles with English informed his writing on the season one Lost episode that focused on Jin.
The Winner of the Panel: Javier Grillo-Marxuach! His comments were informative, insightful and very funny. Not easy to do when discussing issues of race.