Out this week, and exclusive to ComiXology, is the second season of the LGBTQ+ focused superhero book, The Pride Season 2 #1, and as one of Comicon.com’s UK based writers, I was able to take up the baton and interview Joe Glass, who’ve I’ve gotten to know somewhat from the various comic cons we find ourselves travelling to. We talked about his new series, their new look and the state of diversity in comics today.
Olly MacNamee: Hiya, Joe, and congratulations of Season 2 of The Pride. But, for anyone out there who don’t know about this entertaining LGBTQ+ comic, can you give our readers an overview?
Joe Glass: Sure! The Pride is a comic series following FabMan, an overtly flamboyant out and proud gay hero, who gets fed up of how queer heroes are treated and decides to form a diverse LGBTQ+ superhero team to show what the community is really made of. The team he pulls together show a diverse range of sexualities, gender identities, and even personality types, to show that there is so much more to us than people may initially think. All of that is wrapped up in accessible and bright superhero action adventures and melodrama.
OM: Now, before we dive in to learn more about The Pride, Season 2, let’s take a step back and allow me to ask you where your idea for such a superhero group came from? Arguably, it gestated at a time when, maybe, we didn’t have as much representation of LGBTQ in comics. Would that be a fair, educated guess?
JG: Oh, absolutely. My first ideas of the series started forming when I was about 15 years old. FabMan was the first character I came up with as a matter of fact. And yeah, it primarily came from being a young, gay reader of comics who loved them for the allegory and metaphor but still felt kind of hurt that there was nothing openly, explicitly and unashamedly representative of me and people I knew in the queer community.
OM: What about the individual characters? Apart from the Batman/Superman homages, who else should we be looking out for in this coming series?
JG: Well, part of what I wanted to play with are the ideas of stereotypes and archetypes. Stereotypes, for one, I don’t feel are inherently bad – rather, it’s how they are used that is potentially harmful. With The Pride, I wanted to include aspects of the queer community you don’t see often in mainstream comics, whether it be as simple as using terminology for superhero codenames to the use of visual shorthand used to communicate aspects of queer identity. Even within the community there is a sense of pushing back on some notions, but those ‘stereotypes’ are often based on actual people – are we saying they don’t deserve representation, a voice?
Archetypes just allow me to play with the core values of superhero identities too. Most superheroes can be boiled down to being a handful of core archetypes. So yeah, we have our Superman-esque character, a Wonder Woman-style character, but also a street-level hero, the youthful ingenue hero, the emotionally distant hero. And it becomes a kind of shorthand to help make the characters and world easily accessible to anyone, whether they are part of the LGBTQ+ community or not.
OM: What I enjoyed about the first series, and it’s certainly addressed head on in this first issue, is the drive to see these heroes through their actions and not just their sexual preferences. After all, we don’t tend to see, or judge, Batman, Superman, Spidey or others in this way, do we? Was that an important narrative point to incorporate moving forward?
JG: Oh, definitely. For one, a lot of the queer comics I could find when I was coming up with The Pride contained mainly graphic content and was quite adult. I wanted to make something that was more accessible to younger readers, so was of a content level with Justice League or Avengers. So yeah, we are focusing of sexual identities, but not on sex…those are different things, that often get conflated. That being said, I don’t believe in completely covering it up either. So we don’t have a double standard in terms of what we show or suggest either: if you can see Scott Summers and Emma Frost waking up in bed together, then I see no reason why we can’t have two male or female characters doing the same in The Pride.
And yeah, identities or not, actions are what’s important, and hopefully the actions of The Pride show the truest aspect of who they are: big, damn heroes.
OM: In this new series we catch up with The Pride at a time of tragedy but also of renewal too. And, that includes a recruitment drive, but not everyone on the team are too impressed, right?
JG: In the sense that not everyone wants to see the core idea of what The Pride is about get diluted. A worry can be when trying to represent such a diverse community is with so many voices, no one gets heard. But also, there is strength in coming together and unifying under a common cause. So yeah, we try to illustrate that chafing, especially from more marginalised members of the community who have seen themselves pushed to the sidelines in their own community before.
Comics can tell a lot in just a few panels, huh!
OM: It’s not just the recruitment drive that’s new. The team get a fabulous make over too. It’s certainly an impressive upscaling of their collective wardrobe and a more contemporary look too. Was that the thinking behind this change?
JG: Yeah, it was. In the context of the story, the team are now getting a lot more attention, so they want to put their best foot forward. Metatextually, it was kind of about a couple things: a new volume, traditionally in superhero comics, often means new costumes, so I wanted to play with that in the story. But also, it felt like the team was stepping up from a small press indie published title to a big step up publication wise, and so yeah, new looks kinda sell that idea too.
OM: Looking at the comic book landscape at the moment. Do you think comics are finally more diverse and representative of all corners of our rich multi-cultural societies?
JG: Oh there is still a long way to go. Sadly, it feels like a lot of big corporations and publishers feel like representation is a ‘one group at a time’ game. So while some get focus, others are still left behind. I think, as a whole in comics and other media, we have a long way to go to really be there for everyone. That being said, it is inarguably a better landscape now than it used to be, and that is just awesome to see.
OM: What can we expect from this season and this series? What can you tell us, or hint at?
JG: Well, The Pride is always going to be about representation and trying to give everyone the chance to see themselves as the hero, even if for just a minute. Such a small move can move metaphorical mountains to a marginalised person just wanting to be seen, so it’s important to keep pushing. I would also intersectionality is key this season, so we’ll be adding layers of diversity beyond sexuality and gender identity too. But also, we can just expect some awesome new heroes, some powerful, soap-opera level melodrama and some epic proportioned fights to come.
OM: Thanks, Joe, and all the best with the launch, this Wednesday on ComiXology.
JG: Thanks so much! I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks of the series.