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Tom writes...

I've always appreciated that the show you create feature so many diverse characters with agency. It's great to see Elisa and her family, to finally seeing Spider-man in New York that features so many people of color in his cast, to having Aqualad and Artemis as such important, interesting characters in Young Justice. I love that your shows aren't engaging in the tokenism the way a lot of other shows (for kids or otherwise) do. And having strong women is a huge part of that--I remember friends in 4th grade fighting over who got to be Elisa or Demona at recess. So thank you for that!

I think with shows that are adapted from comics, there's this predicament of wanting to pay homage to decades of comic book history while not carrying forward the inherent racism and sexism of the eras when they were written. I think The Batman botched that when Detective Yin was replaced by Commissioner Gordon--closer to the comics, but axes a female, minority lead for a white male.

Not to mention the pressures from other areas. I remember hearing Dwayne McDuffie say that even in the height of its popularity, companies had no interest in making Static Shock toys, for example.

So, how do you handle this? Whether it's selecting minority/women characters from comics, creating new ones, or changing characters races like in Spectacular Spider-man, what's that process like when you make your shows?

Greg responds...

Um... mostly... I just try to reflect the world I see. I'm a sheltered white boy, but even a sheltered white boy would have to be blind not to see that the world is populated with more than just sheltered white boys. So putting in strong female characters and strong characters of color seems natural and easy, frankly.

If you're asking for process, though, it's very much case by case. We don't sit there and go, "We need 2.5 minorities on the Team with 23% females." Instead, we build a diverse cast of characters, character by character. When adapting a property (as opposed to creating one from scratch, like GARGOYLES), we DO pay attention to tradition. But some characters are certainly more iconic than others. So Robin, Kid Flash and Superman's clone remain Caucasian, and there was never any thought of changing them. But by using Garth's Tempest identity, it freed us up to create a new Aqualad, as the son of Black Manta - in part, to demonstrate the alternate Earth idea, i.e. this is Earth-16, and one decision changed the course of it's history (continuity) from what we're familiar with in the comics. As for Artemis, we felt she was obscure enough to make her half-Vietnamese, without fundamentally changing what mattered most about her. Likewise, her mother Paula Brooks-Crock seemed obscure enough to go ahead and make her the Vietnamese Paula Nguyen-Crock, as that also helped us make her Cheshire's mother, since Cheshire has always been the daughter of a Vietnamese mother and a Caucasian father. Maybe "obscure" isn't the right word, but I think you get the idea. As for Miss Martian, well, obviously she's a Martian, but I suppose we could have made her Megan Morse identity a minority too. (We portrayed her uncle John Jones as African, after all.) But again, we're not trying to meet quotas, and as you'll eventually see, we had reasons for the choices we made with Megan.

Response recorded on February 03, 2012