When Marvel Comics announced over 50 hip hop themed variant covers for its books in October, a lot of fans of hip hop and comics were excited, but there was just one nagging question: should Marvel feel a little bit icky about exploiting hip hop for variant covers when it has so few black creators working on its books?
The ever jovial Tom Brevoort took to Tumblr to address the question, and his response was classic Brevoort:
Q: Can you explain why Marvel thinks that doing hip hop variants is a good idea, when absolutely no announced writers or artists on the new Marvel titles, as of now, are black? Wouldn't correcting the latter be a much better idea than the former?
A: What does one have to do with the other, really?
I'm not even sure this requires me to snark about it. It kind of speaks for itself. If you don't know the answer to that question, there's nothing I can say that's going to make you understand it.
Instead, I'll just say that I think my fictional characters, rapping Joe Quesada and rapping Axel Alonso, preemptively answered the question more truthfully in our article about this yesterday:
"People say our creators are mostly white, and if you look at the statistics that's technically right," explained Alonso in a particularly skillful flow. "But just because we got diversity complications, don't mean we're not down for cultural appropriations!"
"Cash rules everything around me," Quesada pointed out. "Axel, get the money! Dollar dollar bill y'all!"
At that point, the record screeched to a halt and the beat dropped out.
"No, seriously, get the money," Quesada insisted when Alonso just stood there with his arms folded. "We need to show the shareholders a big profit growth this quarter."
Oh, corporate comics. Sometimes, we're not even sure you're trying.
UPDATE: Brevoort's response was so mind-bogglingly stupid, even for Tom Brevoort, that he was forced to "clarify" (read: backpedal) in a followup post:
Q: How do you not see the connection between appropriating iconic Black American imagery the lack of Black American representation on Marvel's creative teams?
A: Okay, fair cop, I spoke quickly and curtly and may have given the wrong impression. So I apologize for that.
I think that anybody who's been reading this page for the past month or so should have a pretty good idea of where I stand on the issue of representation in our comics—and that goes for creators as well as characters. We can always do better, and we continue to work on it.
There are still plenty more titles to be announced as part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel, and as they continue to roll out, I believe that you'll see the evidence of our commitment to creator representation among the creative teams as well as our characters.
My point, such as it was, is that this isn't an either-or situation. Doing the Hip-Hop covers (many of which were illustrated by creators of color) has no direct bearing on the state of African-American representation among our creative teams. What it does do, hopefully, is to showcase an appreciation for this respected artform, and by extension create an environment that's maybe a little bit more welcoming to prospective creators.
Well, that's certainly a better response. I would think that the best way to make the environment more welcoming to "prospective creators" would be to hire them, but I guess that's why Tom Brevoort is an executive vice president and I write a blog without a journalism degree.
Why Marvel is waiting to unveil all of these "representative" creative teams until after the first 50 or so books are launched remains unclear at this time.