State Of The Comics Blogosphere, Ethnic Edition

By | Monday, February 13, 2012 Leave a Comment
I got a nice response to yesterday's post over in Google+ but the commenter finished by reflecting on my notes about my race: "...what's interesting that we're seeing in the reviewer/columnist world online is that almsot none of them are black, because of several factors related to how blacks access the internet."

He later followed up with some more details about how blacks tend to access the internet via mobile devices and not via desktops and laptops. That, in turn, limits their ability to create content online. Phones, after all, were not designed for content creation. While you certainly CAN do things like take pictures and videos, and many have a keyboard of some sort (real or virtual) that allows for text input, the ability to pull all those elements together to create a blog post or website is difficult at best. I've made a few posts here via my phone, but they were short, difficult to create, and only worked at all because I had already used a desktop to set up my blog to handle phone inputs.

What this means is that, regardless of how ethnically diverse comics fandom is as a collective group (from what I can tell, ethnicity was not asked in the recent Nielsen study on DC's "52") the voice of comics fandom online is skewed away from blacks. It's not absent entirely, of course, but if you look around the blogosphere, especially if you remove creators from the equation, it is overwhelmingly white. Quick, name a black comics blogger/journalist that isn't David Brothers...


Let that sink in for a bit.

Comic editors have long understood that vocal fans aren't necessarily representative of fans on the whole. It was almost a stock answer that just because a bunch of fans sent in letters about something didn't mean that all of a book's readers felt the same way.

That said, I can't imagine that a lack of dialogue online coming specifically from an ethnically diverse group of fans has no impact. Generally speaking, the best you're going to find are white guys like me saying, "Hey, shouldn't we take into consideration some non-white points of view?" That's almost surely just going to reinforce an already heavily padded echo chamber that says the industry is doing just fine on that front, thankyouverymuch. But how many of us are really bringing the point up in the first place? And when we do, does that lead to any substantive thinking, or just more tokenism?

I don't have an answer here. If a group of people are accessing the internet via phones more than desktops, the likelihood of them contributing to the online conversation in a large, substantive way is minimal. Phones just aren't a good device for that. But getting those same people devices which ARE good for content development is not cheap. And not easy. Having internet access is one thing; having internet access that's a viable platform for anything longer than 140 characters is something else. But it's still an issue that should be discussed, instead of being ignored.
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