There’s long been a stereotype that the majority of individuals who make up the nerd population are extremely out of touch with women. This is clearly false as many women consider themselves to be nerds. But, even while that’s the case, it seems that we can’t get far enough from that age-old cliche before someone drops the ball and reminds us that, when it comes to the imagery and graphics so often attributed to ‘nerd culture’, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
The latest evidence to show that comic book creators have no idea what they’re doing in regards to diversity and representation comes through a variant cover of Riri Williams, a 15-year-old black girl who’s getting ready to fill a vacancy left by Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man.
This past Wednesday, comic book artist J. Scott Campbell came under fire after the public got a preview of his variant covers for “Invincible Iron Man,” which will feature Williams’ as its main protagonist.
Is this how people see 15 year old black girls? I keep seeing these cover variants for Riri Williams and maybe 2 or 3 she has looked 15. pic.twitter.com/zlCGJ1maFt
— MistyKnightsTwistOut (@Steph_I_Will) October 19, 2016
One cover in particular showed Williams in tight, low-waisted black pants, a cut-off tank top and with heavily defined muscle tones. Again, she’s only 15 years old. This is a grown man’s depiction of a black teenager and you can’t blame anyone for thinking it’s hyper-sexualized.
When people decided to take their complaints to Campbell, he chose to respond. Instead of listening to an audience full of people that directly reflect the kind of individual he was trying to represent, he chose to point out other examples of the character that he feels justified his choice to follow suit.
— J. Scott Campbell (@JScottCampbell) October 19, 2016
Nah. Other artists doing wrong doesn’t mean you can too.
As with many other instances of someone doing a poor job of representing a marginalized community, Twitter came to the rescue with a hashtag to set everyone straight. Thank Bast – and MizCaramelVixen on Twitter – for #TeensThatLookLikeTeens.
Worth checking out #TeensThatLookLikeTeens for non-sexualized, realistic comic book images of teens of various gender & ethnic identities.
— MR Daniel ☔️ (@mrdaniel_then) October 19, 2016
— skim, youmacon soon (@skimlines) October 20, 2016
#TeensThatLookLikeTeens does not condemn developed teen bodies, it asks for representation of all of them, not just ideal body types
— jahlin (@hallelujahlin) October 19, 2016
— JAYsey Devil (@truebuggy) October 19, 2016
— awful haunting (@audreyhawkins) October 19, 2016