/ Joe Glass
The creator of Pride tells us about the importance of representation in comics.
Comic books have always offer an escape for people, but Joe Glass noticed something it wasn’t offering us: equality in representation. He tells us why it is so important for audiences to read LGBTQ+ fiction and more…
How did you start getting into creating comics?
I just kind of always wanted to do it, you know. This question comes up a lot, often at comic cons, and the thing is, there’s no special gate you need to get through or permission you need to receive. I just wanted to do it, so I started doing it. I will admit I started off by wanting to be a comics artist when I was a teenager, but I learned that, yeah, I’m not really a very good sequential artist. So, I stuck with what I was better at – telling stories – and it went from there.
Growing up, were there any LGBTQ+ characters you admired?
There are so many queer characters in comics who are so deeply hidden
I mean, here’s the thing: technically speaking there were, but I wasn’t aware of them. They were incredibly few, there were characters like Northstar, but they were almost hidden away; they’d appear for an issue or two and then vanish again. They would always be hard to identify as queer characters unless you knew their full previous history. So technically, yes, but they made it an incredibly difficult treasure hunt to find them.
When and why did you decide to write The Pride?
I started coming up with the characters way back in those teenage wannabe comic artist days and I worked on a few scenes here and there. But for the longest time, I kind of felt no one else would want to read my story, that this was just the comic that I wanted to see published. One day, after university and years of procrastinating and putting it off, my colleagues on another writing project, Stiffs, gave what I had a read and said I should go for it – maybe that was all the confidence boost that I needed because then I started working on
The Pride in earnest.
How would you describe The Pride?
It’s a superhero action adventure featuring a team of all LGBTQ+ superheroes, fighting to improve diversity and representation in a world that so often is ready to shrug them off or hide them away. They face-off against a world that doesn’t want them and supervillains with diabolical plots that The Pride may just be the only heroes in the world capable of stopping.
The comic isn’t subtle in its representation of the LGBTQ+ community. How important is it in your opinion for LGBTQ+ characters to be ‘out’ on the page?
There are so many queer characters in comics who are so deeply hidden, or ‘straight acting’ that if it wasn’t for the occasional on the nose plotline with them declaring ‘for I am gay!’ the reader just wouldn’t know and as a gay man myself, I am deeply invested and in love with the queer community and our history and culture, so I wanted to
lean into it, rather than away from it. I wanted to create characters who are visible and there for the audience craving them.
Are any of the characters based around yourself or your own experiences?
I mean, all of them to some extent; they’re all a little mix of people I’ve known, or even myself. There’s even some situations that were kind of based on life experiences too, but I wouldn’t say any one character is just any one person I know... more like amalgamations.
What’s the most common thing people reading the comic for the first time often say to you?
I mean, not to sound big headed, but often “thank you”. The desire for actual full, honest and open LGBTQ+ representation runs deep among the comic’s fans and not just the queer readers. Loads of The
Pride’s fans are actually straight and they get just as excited at the prospect of a greater diversity in comics, too.
Readers who come back will often come back telling me about a character they especially loved or related to, a joke they liked, or how it made them think about a different perspective. Sometimes, they’ll tell me about their own journey and when you can hear that and they say thank you for this little comic book you did, that you just wanted to have be there for those who need or want it? Yeah, that really means a lot.
What do you hope people (of all sort of backgrounds) take from The Pride?
I hope it makes them think of perspectives other than their own, but also feel like they can finally feel represented in a medium they love. I hope it makes some people consider how diversity is important, and how things so often put down as ‘LGBTQ+ issues’ are just human issues, that we can all understand from our point of view.
Do you think bigger publishers are doing enough to promote diversity?
Oh, not by a longshot. They’re making efforts, and that is awesome, so not saying there is no effort to improve, but there are still some major stumbling blocks. It is often mainly in the creative talent pool, which is deeply homogenised, and the big companies like to think that when they get the pat-on-theback news of this one diverse hire they made it solves it. However, they always seem to treat diversity as one group at a time – it will be improving the breadth of the diversity of the voices they hire to create their stories that will really help the issue.
And the independent ones, too?
Again, I think there’s work to be done but maybe less so in independent comics. They already have such a wide-range of voices – but it can always improve.
And when it comes to superheroes on screen, do you think there’s still work to be done here?
Here is where real, effective and, frankly, immediate change needs be enacted. The fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been going for nine years now with over a dozen film instalments and there are still no LGBTQ+ superheroes in any of them is horrendous. Now DC has entered the fray, with superhero films coming from every direction, and yet the numbers of LGBTQ+ representation in them is still utterly abysmal. It is something that needs to be immediately addressed.
What’s next for The Pride?
Well, I’m currently working on the second volume of stories with a new artist, so hopefully there will be some news on that front very soon. You have not seen the last of The Pride!
Above: Glass opines that while LGBTQ+ characters have been present in comics, they aren’t usually out and proud about it
Above: Pride showcases Fab Man and his anger at being misrepresented