The Blue Age of Comic Books


Comic book publishers do not make comics altruistically. They do not deserve outright contempt or unabashed praise for featuring “diverse” characters. If traditional comics readership feels marginalized by these characters then it is because they have always been the focus of comics’ affective production and they do not understand that their economic value decreases as that of actual marginalized peoples increases. The success of a series like Ms. Marvel has lead to Kamala Khan appearing on television, in film, and in kids’ literature. A Muslim, Pakistani-American character can and does generate profit.

Conversely, marginalized peoples are exploited within this system because comics (and their derivative media) will often feature people of marginalized identities as superheroes but not as writers, artists, or editors. Miles Morales (Spider-Man) is an Afro-Latino character co-created by a white man, Brian Michael Bendis (w), and white woman, Sara Pichelli (a).
“Diversity” in comics is not so much about representation as it is about commodification. Affective consumption requires that the consumer either accept or ignore this. Comic book collecting is significant because it gives print readers a greater degree of agency in affective economics.

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