NYCC '15: 'Marvel Has Never Been More Diverse, With A More Diverse Staff, The Rest Is Just Conversation' – Axel Alonso

20151010_145022Live from the Cup O' Joe panel from New York Comic Con, after presenting details and images from a number of upcoming comic books, the panel as traditional switched to questions and answers.

ya15The first question pushed the panel hard on the portrayal of gay characters in Marvel titles, specifically on the outing of gay characters in storylines by straight creators, namely Kate Bishop in Young Avengers and Bobby Drake in All-New X-Men.

The questioner received booing from some members of the audience, which was criticised by the panel.

Kieron Gillen took issue with the specifics, stating that Ms America Chavez was teasing Kate Bishop, something the close friends to, but the questioner still stated that she offended by that.

As to Bobby Drake, it was expressed that Jean Grey was doing it in private, to a close friend, trying to help him to do the right thing.

But Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso wanted to state that these issues do get discussed and thoroughly thought through at Marvel, with gay staffers who do take a personal interest in how these stories play out. And as a wider point of diversity across the publisher stating "we have a black Captain America, a female Thor, a female Wolverine, an Asian American Hulk…" concluding with "Marvel never been more diverse, more diverse staff, the rest is just conversation."

There was no more room for that straight away. While the questioner did have followups, the panel chose to move on to the rest of the line.

Though one of them wanted to apologise for the earlier booing.

Joe Quesada also wanted to talk on the issue later, about how he got a letter from a fan wanting more of their own diversity, upset that bad things were happening to a specific character who represented them. And he understands that, "I'm first generation, my parents came from Cuba, Marvel always spoke to me as a kid with characters like Black Panther. We didn't have prominent latino characters"

"You see bad things happening to this character, we see ourselves, our friends in that character…. but the day we get a prominent latino character, I want to see that character go through all the ramifications that any Marvel character goes through…" Becase when a character is seen as precious, representing a whole community, and gets preference, they are excluded from the normal creative process and you cannot tell good stories with them.

Joe said that if a character does seem to get mistreated in this fashion then "you should welcome it", because it means the character is popular among creators who want to play with them.

Another serious questioner who wanted to ask how mental illness is used in Marvel's comics as a font of evil , specifically Scarlet Witch, had Axel Alonso reply "We have a new Scarlet Witch comic panned, and I promise, she's not crazy", that the comic is more of a magical mystery tour, and she is "an agent of her own adventures."

Serious questions folks….


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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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