Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Pride High is too diverse?

Last week, Pride High's selection as the LGBT comic book of the Week over on generated a lot of feedback. I ignored the negative comments that focused on the art and writing, since everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. However, there were comments about Pride High being "too diverse" and artificial with characters who were "too politically picked." This isn't the first time this has come up. So I decided to consolidate my thoughts on the issue so that in the future, I can just point people to a handy dandy url ;). Here's my audio response, with a transcript:

Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinions. Not everyone will like the art or writing, and that's okay. However, there have been several comments regarding the diversity found in Pride High. I'd like to address those.

Mainstream comics tend to follow the "one degree of difference" rule. The "Latino hero" is usually straight. The rare "vegetarian hero" is usually white. Real life isn't so simple. Kid Mischief is gay, Puerto Rican, and vegetarian because he shares those identities with his creator. Still, many writers either consciously or subconsciously portray certain identities as mutually exclusive.

Maybe the boarding school I attended was more diverse than most. My junior year, the boys' varsity tennis team had a half-Iranian captain, a black & Korean 2nd seed (me), and an Indian girl who not only qualified for the boys' team, but was 3rd seed. My close group of friends was just as diverse as the main characters of Pride High. We didn't become friends to match some ethnic checklist. We were just kids who enjoyed the company of other friendly, fun people, regardless of their backgrounds. So when people say that Pride High's "characters are too diverse," that's pretty much saying my friends and I are too diverse.

The team behind Pride High didn't pick our characters in an "attempt to please everyone." Having friends and family who are members of different ethnicities and cultures is part and parcel of our lives. The line-up includes:

Tommy Roddy, the creator: black and Korean
Brian Ponce, the original artist: American Indian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and white
Robert Rivera, the current artist: Filipino, Korean, and Spanish
Carl Hippensteel, the editor and Kid Mischief's creator: Puerto Rican and white
Andrew Van Marle, the Dutch translator and Scotch Bonnet's creator: Scottish and Dutch

When a predominantly straight, white creative team presents a comic book with predominantly straight, white characters, no one bats an eyelash. Their choice isn't seen as political, but rather a natural extension of their perspective. Likewise, the kids of Pride High are not "politically picked." Their creators are queer, multi-ethnic, multicultural individuals simply offering a reflection of our own lives. We welcome everyone to experience a story from our perspective.

The editor of Pink Kryptonite, Joveth Gonzalez, also offered his opinion here:

On the LGBT Comic Book Community

1 comment:

Jeri Westerson said...

This is so true, Tommy. It's so strange when people point out what they think is different from mainstream. Have they been in the stream lately? Have they looked around?