When it comes to Comicsgaters complaining about comics pandering to people who don’t read comics, statistically speaking most people don’t read comics that regularly and the sort of comics they’d read (if they ever did at all) would most likely be newspaper cartoons. I actually think some superhero comics readers are pretty spoilt in that there’s already an industry that caters to their every whim since the 1960s up to now. If it’s true, then it’s like a spoilt child complaining about somebody giving something to other people who also want it.
As I said before, a good number of superhero readers (and superhero fans in general) are pretty spoilt as the industry has already catered to them for several decades now. It’s only now that superhero publishers like DC and Marvel are taking a more active role in attracting people who aren’t big comic book readers, perhaps due to the popularity of superhero films. Especially with Marvel, given the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But I still think what I said bears a lot in that many superhero fans are pretty spoilt, superhero comics have nods to prior continuity in every way and that the characters they think are relatable tend to be fellow superhero fans themselves.
Superhero comics have already humoured these characters a lot, something the more mainstream newspaper cartoons have barely ever done (well not to the same degree). I wouldn’t say that white fanboy characters necessarily overrun superhero comics and superhero media in general, they’re better represented than say Asian hunters, farmers and pet owners, African pet owners, hunters and farmers, and black veterinarians. The latter three exist in the real world, but from my reading experience they’re not that widely represented.
Especially when compared to their white counterparts and perhaps nearly nonexistent compared to the preponderance of white superhero fanboys, actually I also think Asian athletes (despite being a thing in the real world) are also pretty underrepresented in superhero comics. Especially given unfavourable stereotypes of Asian people being unathletic, even if Takumi Minamino plays for Liverpool and Son Heung-min plays for Tottenham Spur. There’s even a Philippine football team called Azkals and our very own Kai Sotto’s aiming for NBA membership.
That’s why representation matters, if there’s a character a reader’s interested in finding but can’t find that character anywhere and everywhere then they get left out. Take India for instance, outside of Indian comics (yes they do exist) there’s not a single Indian character who plays sports like cricket in either DC or Marvel despite its popularity in that country. While it would be expecting too much, it does matter when it comes to looking for characters some readers would be interested in.
If white superhero fans are rather spoilt in terms of representation in that they got what they wanted, those seeking characters they want to see are often out on a limb. When I mean by that, it could be black characters, Asian characters, indigenous characters or Latinx characters who aren’t massive stereotypes. I for one would be interested in an Indian Felicity Smoak who’s a seamstress, that’s my preference but that’s one example of somebody seeking representation of characters they want to see in superhero media.
I do know one woman who’s interested in a Native American Poison Ivy, that’s another example of somebody seeking representation in superhero media and it shouldn’t be dismissed. Surely, an Indian Felicity Smoak wouldn’t be to everybody’s tastes but I’m interested in a Felicity Smoak who isn’t involved in IT and is Anglo-Indian. Being Indian and IT are mutually exclusive for other people, just as being Jewish and IT are mutually exclusive (Donna Karan is a Jewish-American fashion designer).
But that’s my preference that I want a Felicity Smoak who’s Indian and involved in the garment industry, you really don’t get much of these characters in Western pop culture the way you do probably with Indian pop culture. It’s like this stereotype of South Asian people in the West where they’re expected to work in information technology, it leaves little room for South Asians who are involved in other things be it sports (the existence of Indian cricketers should attest to it), cinema (Bollywood especially) or fashion in Felicity Smoak’s case.
Not many people consider the idea of Felicity Smoak as Anglo-Indian, even if people like Ben Kingsley exist. As I said before, superhero comics and to an extent superhero media already panders to a narrow audience. A narrow audience that’s very spoilt at the expense of others, not just ethnic minorities but also anybody who don’t read comics or enjoy superheroes that often. That is pandering, which superhero media has done for a long time and have come to perfect this method.
Many white superhero fans are pretty spoilt, they got an entire industry to bend on its knees. They got an industry to pander to them, sometimes at the expense of not only ethnic minorities but also anybody who aren’t big superhero fans. Okay, this isn’t always true but it still rings true most of the time.