GENE LUEN YANG TO COMIC CREATORS: DON’T LET FEAR STOP YOU FROM WRITING DIVERSE CHARACTERS
In a speech at the National Book Festival at the Library of Congress last weekend, The Shadow Hero writer Gene Luen Yang threw down the gauntlet.
Yang challenged comics creators to overcome their fears of bring criticized for inaccurately portraying characters who are different from them — in terms of race, gender, or other identifying factors. In brief, he told writers to do some research and get it right, but first and foremost to step outside themselves.
Here’s a brief excerpt:
We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say.
This fear can be a good thing if it drives us to do our homework, to be meticulous in our cultural research. But this fear crosses the line when we become so intimidated that we quietly make choices against stepping out of our own identities.
After all, our job as writers is to step out of ourselves, and to encourage our readers to do the same.
We support all of these things that Gene says!
We don’t have comic book shops in Lebanon and only two bookstores in the country actually have comics sections that carry a limited selection of graphic novels and trades, but I am nevertheless a huge comics fan, Marvel geek and avid indie reader. I get all my monthly single issues digitally…
This describes pretty much what happens with everything I’ve ever written.
Today’s the day. The day you help save the internet from being ruined.
(Long story short: The FCC is about to make a critical decision as to whether or not internet service providers have to treat all traffic equally. If they choose wrong, then the internet where anyone can start a website for any reason at all, the internet that’s been so momentous, funny, weird, and surprising—that internet could cease to exist. Here’s your chance to preserve a beautiful thing.)