/ Joe Glass

The cre­ator of Pride tells us about the im­por­tance of rep­re­sen­ta­tion in comics.

Comic Heroes - - Contents -

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

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