Why It Still Matters

I spent last weekend at the Emerald City ComiCon (which is awesome, by the way, and which I heartily recommend to anyone who hangs out in the Pacific Northwest or is interested in heading in that direction for a few days), mostly working at the Dark Horse table. It was pretty low-keywe weren’t doing any in-booth signings or sales, just giveawayswhich meant we had time to chat with a lot of the people who came by.
One of the people I talked to was a guy in his thirties or forties. He had stopped reading comics decades ago but had returned recently; when I asked him why, he said it was because of Young Avengers, specifically Hulkling and Wiccan: for the first time in his life, there were gay characters in superhero comics who were more than stereotypes, with whom he could actually identify.
This stuff matters more than most of us will ever realize, because we are more or less privileged enough to see ourselvesor at least facets of ourselvesreflected in almost everything we read. Our paper mirrors are everywhere. We have a lot of representations to choose from. This is why it matters when there areand when there aren’tcharacters of color, queer characters, non-Christian characters, disabled characters. This isn’t just about demographics, or representation. It’s about identification and validation: the day you finally get to open a book and discover that it’s not just lip service, that comics really are for you, too. That someone gets it.
Think about what that means for a minute. And when you choose comics, and read comics, and make comics, keep thinking about it. We need more mirrors, and we need mirrors that reflect a wider range of faces, because there is NO ONE who does not craveor does not deservethat moment of genuine identification.