Marvel announced yesterday they are releasing hip-hop variant covers this October. Each cover will pay tribute to an iconic album.
“For years, Marvel Comics and Hip-Hop culture have been engaged in an ongoing dialog,” Marvel EIC Axel Alonso said in a press release. “Beginning this October, we will shine a spotlight on the seamless relationship between those two unique forces.”
The hip-hop variants opens up a can of worms when it comes to diversity in the work place at Marvel. The comic publisher is creating a diverse line up of characters, but Marvel is lacking in hiring a diverse line up of creators.
Marvel editor Tom Brevoort was asked this question on his Tumblr page New Brevoort Formspring, and he didn’t handle it very well.
This was the first question:
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?
This was Brevoort’s answer:
What does one have to do with the other, really?
Three hours later this question came through:
How do you not see the connection between appropriating iconic Black American imagery the lack of Black American representation on Marvel’s creative teams?
Brevoort responded with a more thought out answer:
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.
From Breevort’s responses he doesn’t seem to understand the roots of hip-hop, if he did he probably wouldn’t have answered the question so quickly. Also, the conversation of diversity in work place and in the pages of the comic book does go hand and hand.
Here are the original Tumblr posts.