Sunday, May 20, 2012

Does Not Thinking Prismatc Art Collection Has a Purpose Make Me Racist?

I've backed several kickstarter projects. I'm always interested in seeing what's happening. So when I saw mention of Prismatic Art Collection by several people whose opinions I respect, I checked it out.

Hmmm.... it rubs me the wrong way. Mind you its already funded and it looks like there will be some great art that comes out of it but...

"In geek culture, there are plenty of Lukes, but not enough Landos or Leias. "

I'm not saying its an incorrect assumption. However, is it necessary to tackle both racism and sexism in one product? Maybe hitting one then the other with the appropriate group of artist might be the way?

Even more off to me though, is that when you look at the list of illustrators, while there are a lot of de womens, I'm not seeing a lot of diversity in other avenues. Sure, I see some that have the traditional Oriental Adventure styling art there with that Eastern Dragon sample and other bits but really, Samurai and other elements of the east are missing in geek culture? Uh... no. Let me be clear here, there are a lot of solid artist on that list. For example, Amy Houser. Kick ass artist. My concern isn't with the talent present.

But when you've got people who are not native to the culture telling you that there needs to be more of it, I raise an eyebrow.

And it could just be that I didn't page through each and every artist bio. It could be that 99.9% of the rest of the individuals aren't white.

But me? I get... annoyed when white people tell me how they're expanding the horizons. I remember some hub about DC comics and their portrayal of women and minorities. I recall some Internet backlash. I also don't recall anything being really done about it. Hell, I believe some of those heated titles are some of the best sellers. Still, it's something that I've discussed with blog masters like the lord of the Crom blog site who loves him some Red Sonja when talking about many of the visuals for Jirel, one of the first woman warriors of fantasy. She usually winds up in the cheese cake variety despite her armor and weapons as described. But it sells right? Ugh.

I remember 3rd edition had some buzz about trying to integrate more ethnicity into the character portraits and because it failed they took revenge on the fighter. Heaven forbid that say take Shango, whose an African god that's even made comic appearances (yeah Firestorm!) and make him part of the core pantheon. Perhaps even make the dreaded African Throwing Knives into something in the Player's Handbook as an Exotic Weapon? Perhaps a licensed Imaro setting? Nah, we'll just kill the fighter. That'll show 'em.

Comics and art about minorities and minorities as illustrated aren't going to solve the problem if the minorities themselves aren't the ones doing the production. I live in Chicago. If you want a city contract, regardless of ethnicity, creed, or ethos, you better have some pull and you better be ready to pull out all the stops. If that means calling racism into question then that's what happens. But it's keeping people working.

Anyone can draw minorities and women. If you want such art, and now maybe it doesn't meet this kick starter designers goals of what is already out there but I'd start with stuff like Imaro by Charles Saunders and with some of the links he has on Facebook, go from there.

Minority creators are more important than minority artwork.

Or am I out of my element here?

On another note, is it just Internet buzz? I had Aeshiba, Greek Africa, way back in the 80's. It was one of Gary Gygax's Greek Africa bits that was generic fantasy. I also had those Dragon magazines that had kits and monsters for 2nd edition. Hell, I own Nyambe.

But see, when you talk about stuff like Nyambe and all the 'good' of the setting, and it is a good setting, it's not such a seller that it could be supported. Last time I looked I don't even remember seeing a Pathfinder version. Is it more Internet noise? Where are the buyers?

Ditto for fantasy. Night Shade Books reprinted the first two books of Imaro and Charles went the Lulu route for the last two and some others besides. Good stuff but so different than the earlier material... it went from sword and sorcery to epic... anyway, I've already talked about those books on this blog so I'll refrain.

And I apologize for my terrible artwork but it's been about ten... maybe fifteen years since I took up a pencil in anything resembling art style and I have no Photoshop or other decent software to do the touch ups that this needs but I'm just saying, anyone can draw anything.

Meet AZUBUIKE or at 20000 Names would say, "An African name, meaning "he has much strength," from Ibo azu "many; very much," (a)bu "be, happen," and íke "strength." (Anthropological Report on the Ibo-speaking Peoples of Nigeria: English-Ibo, Ibo-English Dictionary, Thomas, 1914).
Azubuike Oliseh, a Nigerian soccer player. (Wiki)