|1) Why was this organization formed?
Prism Comics was formally established as a 501(c) 3 corporation in April 2003. It was comprised mostly of people who had volunteered on a publication called "Out in Comics," a listing of LGBT creators in comics that ran for three issues. These people decided to incorporate as a
nonprofit charity to provide services above and beyond an annual listing—feature articles and interviews, original art and content, expanded convention appearances and programming, and a full-featured website—and to pursue even more ambitious goals.
2) Why is this organization necessary? What are its goals?
Despite the advances the LGBT community has made over the years towards equality and visibility, homophobia still exists and many people are unaware of the large LGBT contribution to comics. There are still people who are afraid to reveal that they're lesbian or gay because they're worried about the consequences. There are still publishers who will pass on gay-themed comics series because they doubt that there's an audience for them. Therefore, Prism has the following goals:
- To educate the public about LGBT themes in comics
- To recognize LGBT creators and support personnel in the comics industry
- To promote the mainstream achievements of LGBT comics industry creators
- To encourage the exploration of LGBT themes by straight comics industry creators
- To encourage and facilitate LGBT-themed forums at comics conventions
- To provide forums for discussion of LGBT-themed comics content via printed publications and the Internet
3) Are there any lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) comic book creators?
You bet—in fact, more than 250 LGBT creators have profiles on our website, with more being added each week!
4) Are there actually LGBT comic book characters?
LGBT comic characters have existed for decades now, in every arena from underground, self-published books to mainstream superhero comics. Some examples from the mainstream include Northstar and Rawhide Kid from Marvel Comics, and Extrano and Maggie Sawyer from DC Comics. Extrano, a character who first appeared in Millennium in 1988, was the first openly gay superhero, but Marvel's Northstar got more media exposure since he "came out" in 1992 after over ten years as an established character.
5) What are the characters like? Are they heroic? Are they stereotypes?
The few existing LGBT characters cover the full spectrum of human emotion and include heroes, villains, and supporting characters. We just don't think there are enough of them!
6) Why do LGBT people even care about comics?
LGBT people care about comics for the same reasons that straight people do—they find the medium engaging, exciting, moving, entertaining, and educational.
7) Are LGBT themes and characters appropriate topics for a medium many still view as solely for children/teenagers?
Absolutely! Adolescence is a time when most people develop long-lasting belief systems and any prejudices they might have. It's also a time when LGBT people become more aware that they're "different" and often feel isolated and alone. Showing this age group LGBT characters in situations they can relate to should help reduce much of the prejudice many LGBT people experience both as youth and later in life.
8) Who are the people behind Prism Comics?
Prism has both a voting Board of Directors and a non-voting Advisory Board. Some Board members are professionals in the comics industry and some are simply fans. The backgrounds of the Board members are as diverse as their geographic locations (which cover the four corners of the US, and many places in between) and include law, graphic art, public relations, and technology. Prism also has dozens of other volunteers (both LGBT and straight) who help with its programs. Anyone who can commit their time, skills, or resources to furthering the goals of the organization is welcome to volunteer with Prism.
9) Does Prism have an agenda to turn well-known comic book characters homosexual or to demand LGBT characters be included in all comics?
Prism seeks to support those creators who are already doing LGBT-themed stories, not to foist such themes onto unwilling creators or shoehorn them in where they don't fit. Freedom of artistic expression is the goal; we prefer to encourage creators to do what they want instead of dictating what others "should do."
10) How inclusive of LGBT themes/characters is the comic industry?
No long-standing U.S. comics company has been untouched by previous homophobic policies and decisions. In the present, however, the larger comics companies seem to take a cautious but progressive approach, including LGBT characters here and there, usually in supporting roles. In the past, releasing a series with prominent gay characters would have been more risky; now companies don't hesitate to hype such series loudly and benefit from any controversy. The quality of the stories in such cases varies widely.
11) Is there still homophobia in the industry today?
Definite, clear examples that show homophobia is alive and well in comics can be cited more easily now that the Internet has brought creators and fans together in dialogue. Many creators have gone on public record with their opposition to any LGBT-themed stories in comics, period.
12) If Prism succeeds in its goals, how would the comic book medium be different?
We all hope to see the day when being an openly LGBT comics creator is commonplace, having a LGBT character headlining a mainstream comic is no big deal, and Prism's work isn't needed.
13) Where does Prism get its money to operate?
All funds for Prism's programs and publications come from donations and sales of ads and merchandise, as well as from special fundraising events. Prism is run completely by volunteers and has no paid staff.