xavierjones said: I'm an art teacher, and I like comics, but I have this fear about doing lessons involving superheroes, because... as of right now, I don't think all my different kinds of kids would have someone to identify with. plus all the sexualization and other no fun stuff that happens in comics is kind of unnerving. When I see characters like Falcon being Cap, and Lady Thor and Ms. Marvel, I almost start to think there is hope for minority readers to become future creators. How do we fix this?
Change the conversation away from Marvel and DC! We grew up with them dominating the comics discourse. No reason why that should hold true in 2014 when there are so many other options. Including them is a fine idea, but they can’t be everything any more.
The Falcon-as-Cap thing is cool, but what’s cooler than that is knowing you could be the cool cat creating the next hotness, knowing that you can express yourself through a medium you love. I’ve been blessed to have two careers—one in progress, one in the rear view. The first was in video games, and that was, and is, unfathomable to me on a certain level. If you asked me as a kid who worked in the video game industry, I would tell you white people and Japanese people, because that was the perception I had from devouring the magazines. Black people were in the games, generally as boxers and weird thugs and sometimes both, but I didn’t know they were allowed behind the scenes, too. Working in games never crossed my mind as a kid. So representation on the page is one thing, but it’s a candle to the sun of representation behind the page.
Instead of focusing on cape comics, find age-appropriate works from a diverse group of creators. I’m not sure which age range you’re working with, but I feel like you’re working with kids. I mostly know cuss words and violence comics, but find books like Miranda Mercury and Aya of Yop City, and make sure to emphasize the creator in addition to the work. Seek out small press people to talk to the class or provide an example in some way. If you’re lucky, you might find some folks willing to play mentor on a certain level, too.
But honestly, the only answer to your question is changing the way we look at, talk about, and mull over comics. The capes are in the news because they have billion dollar movies, and that’s valuable, but it’s only valuable up to a point. Comics are a worldwide artform at this point, created with hundred thousand dollar marketing budgets and just a pen and paper and everything in-between. Limiting yourself to just Marvel & DC is a mistake. You can use them as an entry point, but if you’re gonna be serious about fixing this, you’ve gotta broaden the horizons. Anyone can and will create comics. That’s the lesson to impart to the kids if you want to shape them into possible creators. “You can do this.”