Read Taneka Stotts’ Reflections on Challenging the Status Quo of Comics

By Sameer Rao Dec 21, 2018

Comic creator Taneka Stotts‘ ongoing efforts to promote fellow artists of color earned her a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award—the comics world’s premiere honor—for best anthology earlier this year. She took the opportunity to criticize the industry’s racist and discriminatory rhetoric during her acceptance remarks.

"I hold this award, and I declare war on the antiquated mentality that tells us our voices and stories aren’t ‘profitable’ enough," she said, as quoted by NPR today (December 21). "We’re not waiting for you to catch up anymore. We are here, we have always been here, and we will do as you’ve always told us. We will make it ourselves."

Stotts, who won the award for her comic anthology "Elements: Fire," continues that battle with the series’ next collection, "Elements: Earth." She tells NPR that this work remains necessary:


I feel like a broken record at this point, because the voice only reaches so far—and when other voices dissent your voice constantly, repeatedly, or at a higher level like in politics, you do have to continue like a broken record, regardless of how tired you are or how many people say, "You know, I wish you would quit talking about x, y and z." I’m sorry, but I have to keep educating people because, though I’m 30-odd years old, people still haven’t learned anything. People haven’t changed. Fifty year olds are just now figuring out that racism is a bad thing, so obviously we need to keep repeating these lessons, because they haven’t figured it out yet and they sure don’t seem like they’re getting the whole message either.

The multihyphenate, who identifies as genderqueer, says that "Elements" grew out of her work on another publication, "Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi & Fantasy Comic Anthology." She also co-founded Beyond Press, the publisher of "Beyond" and "Elements," whose website affirms its commitment to "queer-identifying and minority creators":


"Elements: Fire" was born from my desires and passions that I found sparked within me after doing "Beyond," a queer sci-fi and fantasy anthology. It was literally knowing the empowerment and knowing the power of my community who were coming to back me—but not only that, but back the belief in our books. I wanted to see if I could create the same spark with an anthology that focused on creators of color only and made its own substantial change of no longer telling nonfiction stories, slave narratives or refrigerated narratives where we were the sidekicks. Instead, we’re the main characters, we’re not the token characters, and we’re taking our adventures on a completely different level where our narration is no longer Whitewashed and it’s no longer controlled by a medium that would like to see us palatable for a national audience.

Read more of Stotts’ candid reflections at