Today I’m offering you something a little different. As you may or may not have picked up from this page, I’m a pretty big fan of comics, and not just the superhero kind (yes, there are other kinds of comics…but that’s a whole other discussion). Off Panel is a podcast where the host, David Harper, talks with all kinds of comic book creators about their creative process, the industry, etc., but also often about diversity both in comics and behind the scenes.
Comics, like the world at large, is going through something of an upheaval as more and more women, LGBTQ, and ethnic and racial minorities are being accepted into the mainstream (though like the rest of the world, they’ve been working pretty hard for that acceptance for a long time). But comics, like the Church, is a small, relatively close-knit community, so the effects of the cultural upheaval make for an interesting case study in changing attitudes.
Here’s why I’m sharing this with you: the episode below is a discussion with creators Tana Ford, a lesbian, and Sean Murphy a well-meaning heterosexual white dude. The whole talk (about where the industry has improved in terms of greater diversity and inclusion and where it needs to improve) is interesting. But the most important part of the discussion revolves around what it means to be an ally to these minorities. By definition, an ally is someone born into the mainstream culture, someone with privilege, but who is aware of it and does not agree with the status quo. There are a lot of allies, myself included, at Ravensworth. Being an ally is a good thing. But being born into the system that oppresses minorities means that even the best of allies are going to make mistakes: to say unthinking things, or to assume a defensive posture when someone points out where you might be going wrong. Allies need to act, because for the culture as a whole to change there must be insiders as well as outsiders — secret agents of love and acceptance as well as resistance fighters outside the walls of Empire. But even as we act, we need to remember, always, TO LISTEN, and to learn how we can better fight for a truly just equality.
Though specific to the world of comics, it’s an honest conversation that seems (to this comic nerd) broadly applicable, especially as progressive, well-meaning churches try to be better allies. Fair warning: there is some profanity. To my desensitized ears, it was only here and there, but you might want to put on headphones if younger ears are around.
Anyway, you don’t have to know much about comics to get something out of it, so give it a shot.