Not THAT Progressive: Iceman Writer held back // News
With the end of June comes the end of LGBT+ pride, an international celebration recognizing the history and struggles of those on the LGBT+ spectrum. There has been much conversation about the portrayal of LGBT+ characters in media, as well as creative members of its community who create it and media in general. And while there have been some strides and progress made in both regards, experiences such as the one comic writer Sina Grace had with Marvel show there is still much work to be done.
Grace took to his official Tumblr page and wrote in an in-depth post about his work on Iceman and the unfortunate lack of support from Marvel higher-ups. The signs came early for Grace when the book received initial backlash from toxic fans unhappy with the creative decision to make Iceman gay (one Grace himself didn't even make) and a Marvel editor dealt with the issue by giving him advice on dealing with hateful comments over the phone. A perhaps well-meaning sentiment, but one Grace already knew, and falling short of the actual managerial support he truly needed.
Grace went on to explain the continued mismanagement of the title after the response to Iceman proved positive in-spite of the detractors. Being stopped from every moment of trying to build momentum for the book including a weak announcement on the official Marvel website instead of a coordinated press roll-out, and having to gain approval for appearances and interviews that none of his more privileged colleagues had to follow.
This tension came to a head for Grace with the creation of a new mutant in the X-stable, and first drag queen character of the franchise, Darkveil. Grace explained that Darkveil's debut would stir buzz and excitement, but was again met with lackluster support and indifference from the powers that be.
Despite the frustrations of the post, Grace ends by acknowledging his happiness with the final product of his work, even if it came at the expense of some mental energy.
That last paragraph is a sobering note for all of us to reflect on. As superficially as companies like Marvel or even ally readers claim to be supporting of LGBT+ individuals, why are people like Grace still receiving the short end of the straw? What can the comic book industry and community do to make sure that inclusivity is something that actually happens instead of something to plaster on walls with a rainbow sticker? The truth is for effective change to happen allies need to not only listen to the LGBT+ community, not only spotlight them but defend the integrity of their choices. That's what Sina Grace needed from Marvel, and it's what many more writers and artists need right now from every publisher who can spare them.
Sina Grace is now working on Jughead Time Police for Archie Comics, and co-writing Go Go Power Rangers for Boom Studios clearly showing that his story as a writer is just getting started. One would hope that by the end of it the idea of comic companies hindering their talent based on their identities will be a distant memory. Until that day comes, we all need to do better in support of LGBT+ creators.