From Marvel’s Kamala Kahn to Image’s Bitch Planet and DC’s Midnighter and Apollo, mainstream comics are increasingly embracing diversity. But while the pages of mainstream comics are increasingly inclusive, the pool of creators has been diversifying at a much slower pace.
As the heavy hitters trudge along, a significant contingency of feminist, POC, and LGBT creators and their fans are turning to crowdfunding and independent publishing to get their projects off the ground. Not only has the ability to self-publish comics online as webcomics changed the landscape of comics, enabling creators to directly distribute and promote their work, but the degree of financial support fans have contributed to projects featuring atypical comics characters and creators (i.e. women, people of color, members of the LGBT community) sends a powerful message that readers are actively seeking out and funding comics with diverse content from diverse creators.
Womanthology, a huge all-female comics collection raised $109,301, C. Spike Trotman raised over $185,000 for the sequel to her feminist porn anthology Smut Peddler, Check, Please!: Year Two by Ngozi Ukazu raised $398,000 with the support of over 5,000 backers, and the list of successful campaigns featuring female, POC, and LGBT creators and characters goes on and on!
Crowd-funding platforms are particularly suited to empower diverse creators with unique stories because it enables them to capitalize on their existing networks. In doing so, creators pull in new comics readers, proving that the audience for comics can be expanded by creating inclusive and diverse content. While mainstream publishers still dominate comic book stores and sales, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Patreon are empowering creators who are looking to tell diverse and unique stories. Moreover, they’re slowly but surely proving that a change is developing among comic readers who will have the ultimate say in what the future of comics will be.