Christopher Priest, the first African-American editor in mainstream comics, called out the industry for trying to label him a “black writer,” pushing back against being typecast to say he can write anything.
“Don’t tell me I can’t write a Chinese lesbian superhero,” Priest said in an interview with Comicbooks.com. “That’s bullshit. I can write anything.”
The veteran comic book writer left the business after 30 years over the typecasting and returned when DC offered “Deathstroke.” Priest explained in the interview what he called the “standard stump speech.”
— 𝓡𝓲𝓬 (𝓣𝓾𝓻𝓫𝓸 𝓢𝓪𝓻𝓪𝓼𝔂𝓶𝓫𝓲𝓸𝓽𝓮) (@sarasymbiote) February 26, 2018
“So I got a call from DC, and they wanted to talk to me about Cyborg. I gave them the standard stump speech. ‘I don’t want to be a ‘black writer.’ When did I become a black writer,’” he said.
“‘I used to be a guy who would write Spider-Man, Deadpool, and Batman,” Priest said. “Why am I no longer qualified to write those characters. How did I get typecast from writing ‘Black Panther’ of all things, when that series was never really about Black Panther.’”
He explained that the series was narrated through a white guy.
“It was narrated through his voice, and I thought I wrote a very well-constructed white character,” Priest told DC. “Why are you now pigeonholing me as a guy who can only write black characters?”
The humour in Christopher Priest's Black Panther is good pic.twitter.com/IlDMAk19yN
— maitha (@maithakahaso) February 28, 2018
Without naming names, he said executives from Marvel and DC are influenced by social justice “nonsense” seen on social media.
“I later found out that Marvel and, to a lesser extent, DC moved into a trend where they were no longer hiring writers—they were casting writers,” Priest said. “They’re listening to chatter on Twitter insisting that only a black lesbian writer could write a black lesbian character and that’s nonsense. A writer writes.”
After stressing he can write anything, to include white characters, Priest said “the two major companies don’t have anybody of color in upper management with the exception of Jim Lee.”
“Anytime I’m writing anything about race now, I get all of these notes back where they’re wringing their hands and not sure about anything,” he said. “They’re terrified of the Twitter-verse, but half of those people aren’t even reading your comics either.”
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