Diversity and underrepresentation. It is not evident from the first sight that comic books have complicated relation to this topic.  Have you ever thought that the kings of this drawing industry used to be abundantly whitewashed?  Dandelion Wine Collective is a project that opens a path to underrepresented artists, characters, and topics.

 

From game to publishing company

Our first collaboration was a twine game we did in 2015 for a gallery show organized by our illustration department and faculty member Dan Krall. After that, we just kept doing stuff together, saying yes to bigger things, and now we are here!

Until this year Paloma Hernando and Bekky Sunmi were students of Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Initially, they worked together on a creating an indie game for a gallery show two years ago.

When girls understood that their collaboration is effective, they decided to go further and continue to work together. At first, their goal was creating one book that will include comics works of their university peers at MICA. Recently Hernando and Sunmi got funding through winning a MICA’s Up/Start competition.  From that point they got a real opportunity to publish the students’ work in an anthology,

MICA has such a strong, vivid comics community within the illustration department. Respecting the work that our peers do, we wanted to put that out there to the world.

This is how the Dandelion Wine Collective, a small publishing media, was  born.

Duo of diversity

The whole project stands for the notion of collaboration. It goes from the title ‘’collective’’. However, individually co-founders Paloma Hernando and Bekky Sunmi Shin, being Latin and Korean American girls, represent themselves the idea of diversity, fair and equal treatment  and right for having own voice.

We believe that comics are important to the future of storytelling, especially in regards to uplifting marginalized voices and supporting the careers of diverse creators. Honest stories, compelling comics, and focus on fair pay and the vision of independent artists, are at the core of our publishing practice.

Comics, a societal mirror

For the last 60 years comics industry developed depending on contemporary conditions it. Second-wave feminism? OK, here is Dark Phoenix Saga. Characters system of X-Men stories has always been an allegory on existing social oppression and discrimination  on a feature of being different. And as you see from the chart down, comics world became more significant, meaningful, and socially-oriented. As indie artists assert, when they unite words and drawings, it creates an emotional, driving narration that can ‘’push boundaries“.

However, it would be naive if we thought that such change would be an easy step. Don’t forget that it’s a business, right? Here what ComicsVerse CEO, Justin Gilbert Alba, said regarding this topic,

Unfortunately, the push from fans for diversity in creators and characters only represent a loud minority. In my opinion, if we want real change in terms of minority representation in comics and comic book creators, there’s going to need to be a perfect storm of the right creator, the right characters, organic change, and a great marketing campaign with a definitive push for comics to reach new markets who, maybe, didn’t feel fully included in the past.

Dandelion Wine Collective tends to realize his guidance by creating a platform that will respond to business inquiries, as well as will give voice to minor arts communities in the illustration field. Being a publisher, co-founders’ duo works vis-a-vis with individuals on editing, publishing, and promoting their works.

Going through the social experience of the critique, it’s about being able to find potential in work, and not just yours, but everyone’s.

NO SUPERHEROES

At the moment Dandelion Wine Collective is working on several projects for MoCCA Fest 2017 — an animation festival in NYC. Moreover, they collaborate with another MICA’s grad on creating a graphic novel. According to Hernando and Sunmi, they also want to experiment with quarterly publications on one topics, but however, their taste has peculiarities.

Sunmi: We both like a lot of fantasy and sci-fi. We both like a lot of character and relationship focused slices of life too. A lot of it is just thinking about relationships and people and building really good stories based on those things.

Hernando: I really don’t like superhero stories [laughs].

Publisher’s online-shop says that for now they offer 2 books. Their upcoming anthology “The Sun and the Wayward Wind” tells about North American myths and legends. Speaking about diversity, micropublisher seeks to realize an idea of an anthology representing Asian-American community. The unique approach will elaborate food topic in relation to ‘’third culture,’’ representation, ‘’since food is significant to personal identity, along with building communities and connections to cultures worldwide’’.

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