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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 Entertainment Critic at, a website that aggregates showbiz news curated for, and written by, insiders of the entertainment industry. (@HwoodTimes @TheHollywood.Times) Milano, whose extraordinary talents for networking in the famously tight-clad enclave of Hollywood have placed her at the center of the industry’s top red carpets and events since 1984, heads daily operations of a uniquely accessible, yet carefully targeted publication. For years, Milano sat on the board and tour coordinator of the Television Critics Association’s press tours. She has written for Communications Daily, Discover Hollywood, Hollywood Today, Television International, and Video Age International, and contributed to countless other magazines and digests. Valerie works closely with the Human Rights Campaign as a distinguished Fed Club Council Member. She also works with GLSEN, GLAAD, Outfest, NCLR, LAMBDA Legal, and DAP Health, in addition to donating both time and finances to high-profile nonprofits. She has been a member of the Los Angeles Press Club for a couple of years and looks forward to the possibility of contributing to the future success of its endeavors. Milano’s passion for meeting people extends from Los Feliz to her favorite getaway, Palm Springs. There, she is a member of the Palm Springs Museum of Art and a prominent Old Las Palmas-area patron.