Sunday, August 01, 2010

Join The Revolution!

I've created an initiative called Comics Revolution 2012. The idea is that the five goals detailed later in this post will be met by the end of 2012, which gives us about two years and a half to accomplish. The five goals are, briefly --
  1. The Return Of Comics To The Masses
  2. The Creation of Tomorrow's Heroes & Icons
  3. Increasing Opportunities For Comic Creators
  4. Misogyny/Racism/Homophobia No-Tolerance Policy
  5. Giving Back To The World

This is not an official organization, but a movement. It is something that I will roll Friends Of Lulu (if it does continue) into, and something that a number of different comics-related groups could participate in officially or unofficially. At the very least, Comics Revolution 2012 provides a framework and possible solutions to a number of issues that have plagued the comics industry and fandom for decades.

Comics Revolution 2012 is not about the end-of-the-world, but a brand new beginning. It's about taking all the energy surrounding that year -- energy concerning destruction and rebirth -- and applying it to comics. The result will be a more diverse and successful Comics landscape for everyone.

If you are interested in being on the Comics Revolution 2012 mailing list, please drop me an email here . As a member of the mailing list, you will automatically receive updates on the status of Friends of Lulu as well. The names of all members of the mailing list will be kept strictly confidential; you can support the Revolution openly, or privately.

Comics Revolution 2012 Goals

1. The Return Of Comics To The Masses
Comics are for everyone, not just a specific demographic who likes a specific genre. In the Golden Age of comics, comic books sold in the millions to men, women, and children. But now, a comic is considered wildly successful if it reaches the 100,000 mark. It is a current axiom of the industry that "children don't read comics." Segments of the industry and fandom almost take it as a point of pride that it is a so-called "male" domain -- meanwhile cutting off 1/2 of the potential comic-reading population (as well as their own nose to spite their face). This is a truly dysfunctional situation.

Comics Revolution 2012 will reintroduce comics to the masses through a series of initiatives:
  • The aggressive support and promotion of those comics retailers who encourage diversity of comic book reading material and readership.
  • The support of alternative methods of comics distribution that have the ability to reach mass audiences who might otherwise never buy comic books.
  • Putting comics into the hands of children through outreach & education -- creating the next generation of comic book fans.
  • Reaching out to resources and media outside of the comics mainstream for promotion and support.

2. The Creation of Tomorrow's Heroes & Icons

Instead of constantly revisiting and over-exposing older characters, Comics Revolution 2012 advocates a new Golden Age of comic book creations. While we will always love the characters of the past, the creation of new heroes & icons that represents our current generation needs to be encouraged. Nostalgia has its place in Comics -- but it should not solely define comics! Imagine the creative spirit and freedom of a Stan and Jack applied to the major comic book companies today!

Comics Revolution 2012 will encourage the creation of Tomorrow's Heroes & Icons by:
  • Supporting creator-owned initiatives and projects at comic publishers.
  • The promotion and support of comic projects that feature newly-created characters.
  • Sponsoring promotional initiatives in the media & at conventions searching for "Tomorrow's Heroes."

3. Increasing Opportunities For Comic Creators
Both veteran comic creators and hungry upstarts need more opportunities to practice their talents. As the world of comics reopens to the masses, the demand for comics will increase, creating new jobs. But there is even more that can be done:

  • Supporting new imprints and initiatives at DC & Marvel that seek to expand audiences and genres.
  • Supporting so-called 2nd & 3rd tier comic publishers, so that one day we might truly have a Big Four or Five (or Ten!).
  • Lobbying other industries (such as Advertising, Marketing, Tech, etc.) to see the value in using comic-style art in their products and services.
  • Encouraging comic publishers to hire more veteran comic writers, artists, inkers, letterers, and colorists -- and supporting the projects they work on!
  • Creating support networks of struggling freelancers young and old, where they can communicate with each other, network, and develop new strategies for thriving as a comic book creator in the current economic climate.

4. Misogyny/Racism/Homophobia No-Tolerance Policy

It's exactly what it says. Individuals have the right to not like particular groups of people for whatever reason. But as soon as those opinions effect company practices, or lead to harassment of persons at public events such as comic book conventions, or result in a de facto ghettoisation/omission/destruction of diverse characters in mainstream comics -- it's not OK.

However, these things cannot change by simply pointing them out in online forums alone. We must also:
  • Aggressively support, by our dollars and word-of-mouth, mainstream comics that promote diverse characters.
  • Educate people as to the concrete legal steps they need to take if they feel they have been discriminated against or harassed as the result of their gender, skin color, or sexual orientation.
  • Stop patronizing websites and message boards that promote/fail to moderate sexist, racist, and homophobic comments and sentiment.

5. Giving Back To The World
The medium of graphic art is a powerful tool to educate and enlighten. The old stereotype of the obsessed comic fan who only cares about their favorite imaginary worlds has to end. Certainly, Comics is a world unto itself...but it is also a part of a vastly greater one. Comics Revolution 2012 aims to connect the industry and the fandom to worthy causes such as:
  • The use of the comics in education (both in the classroom and as a way to bring attention to social causes).
  • Connecting unwanted/overprinted comic books to the charities who could use them.
  • Utilizing comic book stores and conventions as places to raise money for a number of good causes and charities.
It is crucial that in the promotion of these initiatives that outreach to outside the mainstream comics community takes place. Preaching to the choir -- or to closeminded persons to whom the goals of Comics Revolution 2012 is an anathema -- is not enough. We need to reach out to new comic readers, to mothers, to children, to the media. We need to start with our circle of friends and family and work outward, creating a domino effect.

Lastly, at no point during any activities or writing related to Comics Revolution 2012 should our goals, members, or constituency be referred to using disempowering terminology. We are not oppressed, depressed, dejected, frustrated, or at a disadvantage. We are at the edge of one of the most exciting times in the history of the comic book medium. Let's make the most of it!

Viva La Revolution!