Support Black Creators Only If You Dig Their Stuff.
(AfroGamers.com) So, as you probably know Disney is making a new live action The Little Mermaid and have cast Halle Bailey as Ariel. Bailey is a Black actress who hasn’t been in many films in a significant role but has a regular role on Freeform’s Grown-ish, a spinoff of Black-ish. So, she has an in with the Disney family already. This will be her biggest film role off the jump and the success could catapult her and the sister R&B duo Chloe x Halle.
However, this hasn’t been without some static. You have the whole racist #NotMyAriel and Make Ariel White Again thing on one end. Pretty much expected once anything is announced to either be no longer white, not to center white people or it’s gender swapped. Things get nasty and folks get dragged then roasted in response. Things die down but the bigots often go grumble and whine in their Facebook groups or Twitter communities.
On the other end, there’s a bit of sourness from Black creators. While some are stoked that there will be a Black Ariel, others took the opportunity to point out “Hey support Black created stuff.”
The Weird Situation For Black Creators
One artist, Drayonis, did several art pointing out the hypocrisy around people getting excited about Black Ariel but not supporting original Black-created content. While I think it’s cool that little Black kids—especially girls—are getting another Black Disney princess, I do agree with Drayonis to a degree. Black-created needs support and should get it, especially from our folks because we’re the first ones to sound the bell about a lack of representation from mainstream companies and not back our own.
That said, the reason folks go so hard on mainstream companies is because…they’re mainstream companies. Their content has millions and in some cases billions of fans of different races, backgrounds, sexual orientations, ages and physical and mental capability. You might a demographic and an intersection, there’s fans of this mainstream stuff.
Nine times out of ten, mainstream content is going to be your first exposure to a medium and a medium you might enter in the future. The first comics I ever got weren’t Brother Man or Blood Syndicate but some bronze age DC botched prints that you could get three for $2 from a dollar store. Now, as an older comic book reader I run Black-created series by my kids and give them the option to read them but Marvel and DC have that allure off the bat.
It’s a weird situation for Black comic creators to be in. “Why should I support this creator if I’ve never heard of this comic?” and “How will people hear of this comic if you don’t support this creator?” Like people need to be buying these comics and supporting the writers and artists to warrant them putting more money in and pushing their series forward.
Consistency Is Key
If you look a number of series, they have a few issues before they just stop. Either the creators go on to a new project, a hiatus, join up with another Black indy to work with them or quit. One thing that comic book readers want is consistency. I mean, some creators will tell you DC and Marvel’s art and storytelling has been “Meh” for a while but DC and Marvel has release consistency out the wazoo. They have consistency with releases that indy creators can only dream of—because DC, Marvel, Image and Valiant have a bank roll.
If a comic isn’t coming out on a regular schedule or at least consistently for a specific amount of time with everyone knowing this, people are going to be hesitant to back it. No one wants to put their money into something where they have to ask “When’s the next issue coming out?” They backing it with money, the next issue should just come out next month around the same time.
Folks will overlook story issues if a title is coming out like clockwork. That means a series can be salvaged from story to story. There will be hits, there will be misses the story itself isn’t going to be consistent. However, it has more working for it than a series that drops four or five issues a year. That’s four or five issues where the story has to be A to A+ off the bat, no lulls, no inconsistency—there’s no room for mistakes or “We’ll get better with the next issue.”
Plus, I’m not even going to mention how tired I am of seeing some sort of origin story, powers of the gods or costume elements involving Ancient Egypt in a hero from America. It’s comics, you can do what you want, it is original when you compare it to mainstream offerings but within creator circles…ehhh.
Ultimately, support Black creators if you dig their stuff. You’re not obligated to support their stuff just because you’re also Black or brown. You can also dig a Black Ariel and support Black creators. Hell, people have listened to underground artists for years while also enjoying mainstream artists.
With that said, support Keef Cross and his work on DayBlack, Robert Jeffrey’s Route 3 and Mine To Avenge, and YouNeek Studio CEO’s Roye Okupe’s Malika – Warrior Queen. YouNeek Studios are really doing some things with comics and have a sound ground game together.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.