It’s safe to say that over the last 5-7 years we have seen an increase in diversity in the visual art and animation world. With the help of social media platforms such as deviantart, behance, tumblr, patreon, instagram and twitter it is now much easier to find POC artists and artwork depicting POC subjects. As for animation, we have slowly but surely been getting more diverse characters in the forefront as well as female lead characters with stories independent of a love interest.
A few years ago the Black Comic Book Festival started in Harlem. It has since grown to become a one stop resource for independent artists, comics, illustrators and writers to showcase their work and for consumers seeking representation and an opportunity to obtain a variety of work.
Through the Black Comic Book Festival specifically, yet not to exclude other comic conventions I’m able to see POC and Black women in fantasy and sci-fi worlds that we are so often let out of. I see Black men and other men of color represented as more than the usual thug or comedic relief sidekick.
Unfortunately animation does not move as quickly. Most feature film animations can take anywhere from 3-5 years to be made IF it is lucky enough. With animation it has been very hard for POC and women to lead such projects because IF they fail they could ruin the chances of future creators to make films. Peter Ramsey was the first Black director for a feature film animation (Rise of The Guardians) and according to Dreamworks’ standards it was a “flop”. This I’m sure has stalled the possibilities for other Black people to lead such projects. Brenda Chapman who started off as the director for Brave and was later replaced by Mark Andrews has been the closest to thing to a female director for feature animation this country has experienced.
We have seen in film and tv that having more women, people of color and LGBTQ individuals spearheading projects as directors and creators offers us genuine voices for characters who are often written by people that are detached from what they are writing and who they are writing for. We have long been in a space as consumers where we are tired of the lack of innovation in storytelling. We have grown tired to the same narratives. We see with independent web series, programming for platforms like Netflix, Hulu and even the new programming for primetime TV that viewers are tuning in to shows that have more diverse and multifaceted characters and more dynamic stories.
Though animation in this country is often marketed to kids, we can include the desire for more diversity in shows such as Family Guy, Archer, even Rick & Morty at this time. We can look at a show like Steven Universe and see how its inclusivity makes the show function and successful that has been obtained in part to that. Be it for kids or adults, that's the kind of animation I'd want more of.