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Women of Color in Comics at Comic-con 2016 – Panelists call for More Diversity

women of colorBy: Sharoll Jackson

San Diego, CA (The Hollywood Times) 07/21/2016 – The Women of Color in Comics panel opened a hearty conversation regarding their experiences and observations of the entertainment industry and the work that they have put forth to express diversity in comics.

women 2Moderator, Ray Felix, chatted with panelists Regina Sawyer, Jay Justice, Leen Isabel, Venee Matsalla-Smith, and Vita Ayala, asking provocative questions which garnered answers reflective of the passion for comics from the participants.

Felix reflected on the comics and the roots of women in comics and asked, “What attracted you to the genre?”  Ayala shared that “had a lot of exposure to comics” when she was young and that “the first thing she successfully read” was a comic book.  Matsulla-Smith said that her profession is to “review comics” resulting in an appreciation for the dynamic stories that are told.  Sawyer “always liked the comics” which sparked her interest in storytelling and “from there, started to write (her) own stories.”  Justice chuckled, admitting that she has “always been a huge nerd.”  Isabel recounted “when (she) was really little, she read her brother’s comics”, adding that she writes comics because she “wants to convey confidence and positivity.  Justice commented that through comics, she feels that there is a global arena of acceptance in this genre and she “doesn’t want to see anyone turned away…no matter what.”

women 3When Felix asked for a positive thought, panelist Sawyer said that it’s important to remember that “creativity is limitless” and if you can ask why, then you can certainly ask “why not?”  Matsall-Smith said that in the past for women in general and women of color, it has been “sad that they don’t know how to reflect themselves” and how important it is to have diversification as writers to address that very point.  Sawyer shared that she “never drew… never wrote a black woman” in comics until her mid twenties.  She added that instead of using the word diversity, she prefers the word ‘normalify’.

Photo credit: Adam Andrews

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Valerie Milano is the well-connected Senior Editor and TV Critic at TheHollywoodTimes.Today, a showbiz/promotions aggregate mainly for insiders. She has written for Communications Daily, Hollywood Today, Television International, and Video Age International plus freelanced for others. Valerie donates and works closely with the Human Rights Campaign (Fed Club Council Member), GLSEN, Outfest, NCLR, LAMBDA Legal and the Desert Aids Project. She is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club. Milano loves meeting people and does so in her fave getaway Palm Springs as a member of the Palm Springs Museum of Art and the Old Las Palmas area community member. Valerie was a veteran 17-year member, and one of the "chief organizers” of the prestigious and long running, TCA: Television Critics Association’s press tour. For years Valerie was a board member and one of the chief organizers of the association. TCA press tours are “a must” for hundreds of TV critics twice a year, in Beverly Hills and in Pasadena.