Sina Grace, writer of Marvel’s solo Iceman runs, decided to reveal the behind-the-scenes workings regarding the title and how Marvel, as a company, wasn’t fully prepared to handle content featuring an original X-Men member who is also gay. And you know what? After reading what he went through, I’m not really surprised.
The X-Men comic books have always been linked to representation across the board; being used as a metaphor for race, sexuality, gender, class, etc. While the stories continue to resonate with readers around the world, things at Marvel might not be as accepting as one would think.
I recommend you all go and read Sina Grace’s Tumblr post where he talked about writing a story about Bobby Drake while working for Marvel.
I understand why Bobby’s coming out as gay in 2015 was controversial. For many, it didn’t make any sense. However, Marvel stuck to such a decision, which many (still) believe was done to diversify the original X-Men team because it consisted of white straight mutants.
Marvel gave Bobby a solo run in 2017. It was written by Sina Grace. Right out the gate, the title was met with negative feedback. Regardless, the story resonated with many as Grace explored Bobby accepting his sexuality and even coming out to his parents. The series was canceled only to be brought back in 2018 because of fan demand and impressive sales.
Grace’s Tumblr post shares how he received unfortunate online abuse while Marvel basically did nothing to help him. Furthermore, it seems the company wasn’t happy with Grace promoting the title without supervision.
From there, they tightened my leash. I had to get all opportunities pre-approved, and all interviews pre-reviewed. This would be fine if it was the standard, but I assure you: none of my straight male colleagues seek permission to go on podcasts promoting their books.
Again, I recommend you read his piece. It seems Marvel didn’t stand with Grace even though the company continued to toot its own horn about being inclusive.
Truly, I don’t even think of this as discrimination, I call it general ineptness. It is my belief that if we are telling stories about heroes doing the right thing in the face of adversity, wouldn’t the hope be to embody those ideals as individuals? Instead of feeling like I worked with some of the most inspiring and brave people in comics, I was surrounded by cowards.
As far as my opinion goes, I don’t trust corporations and their acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community. That’s why Grace’s words didn’t come as a surprise to me. Currently, many businesses are all about the queer community during Pride month, but we’ll soon see most of them (if not all) forgetting about the said community by July only to come back next year. Sigh!
Marvel’s queer acceptance seems to be all over the place. We have Grace sharing his opinions and, on the other hand, we had a recent episode of the “Women of Marvel” celebrating Pride with a Creator Roundtable featuring Vita Ayala, Tini Howard, and Leah Williams.
When it comes to businesses, it can be tough to judge whether or not queer talent isn’t just a diversity hire.
As far as my opinion goes, I do think there is a lot of improvement needed in Marvel when it comes to properly managing queer talent and telling queer stories. I hope other writers come out in support of Grace and a conversation begins to change things for the better for everyone.
Grace’s upcoming comic book work includes Ghosted in LA from BOOM! Studios. Frankly, while Marvel can keep singing its praises for being inclusive, in my opinion, consistently better queer representation in comic books is being showcased by smaller publishers (that need your support).
Feel free to share your thoughts with us.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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