Ethnic Diversity in the Dragon Age’s Fantasy World

I’m going to assume that everyone here has seen the second movie in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of “The Hobbit,” generously titled The Devious Cashgrabination of a Beloved Story. Do you remember the scene in Laketown, where we find out that this sleepy harbor area is actually the most diverse place in all of Middle Earth? Here, allow me to refresh your memory.

I’m going somewhere with this, stay with me.

A year ago, a fan asked BioWare writer David Gaider about the lack of ethnic diversity among humans in Dragon Age’s fantasy world, Thedas:

To see Dragon Age fall back on that trope of “Humans Are White, Fantastic Races are POC” was really disheartening and just plain tiresome, to be honest. This has been a thing for as long as I can remember in fantasy, especially sword and sorcery fantasy in fantasy counterpart versions of medieval Europe like Thedas. People of color, if they exist at all in these settings, are typically either Orientalist Yellow Peril monsters from the Forbidden East, or dark barbarian hordes from the wastelands outside the pristine lily white lands of the heroes, always threatening the white status quo somehow. At best, we’re noble savages who can teach the white heroes ancient wisdom and life lessons about how to be better people. This, despite so much history available about the diversity of medieval Europe, how it was much less white than people generally believe it to be. I know that Thedas really relies on the fantasy counterpart culture idea, but in a land of blood magic and dwarves and darkspawn, the idea that societies are racially and ethnically homogeneous is…weird? Squicky? F***ed up?

I’ve cherry-picked the most interesting part of Mr. Gaider’s response:

“I suppose you’re correct that, on some level, there seemed to be less thematic need to address issues of racism within human societies with there being such a visible ‘other’ for them to deal with. Perhaps one could say that skin color isn’t such a big issue in Thedas when there are elves and dwarves and qunari who are so much more different among them … or perhaps that’s a cheap way to look at it? Something to think about. That said, I don’t think the societies in Thedas are as racially homogenous as you believe — or, at least, they’re not intended to be. How well have we shown that in-game? Probably not very well.”

Read more from Troy L. Wiggins at

The Ease of Creating Strong Black Female Characters for Comics

Creating well-rounded female characters in comics isn’t hard. Just look around you for inspiration, and if you can’t find real-life representations, you need to expand your own circle.

Diversity in comics is usually one of the main topics of the conversations I have when discussing creating the “Legend of the Mantamaji” with the press. And interestingly, the discussion of race tends to be shorter than the discussion of the portrayal of female characters in the series.

The reality is, creating strong, well-rounded, fully fleshed females isn’t any more difficult than creating any other type of character – and inspiration isn’t hard to find.

In my life and in my career, all the people who have been behind my advancement have been strong women.

When I first came to Los Angeles and started working on comedies, the creators and people in charge were women:

  • The executive producer who got me in the Directors Guild of America as an assistant director.
  • The line producer who was behind me getting my opportunity to direct.


They were all the same in that they were smart, strong and extremely talented. They were also mothers. I am lucky that, in my life, I have always been surrounded by women who were strong and who were hustlers. I have always seen women who were doing everything you traditionally saw men do and doing it well.

My mom is a lifelong educator who still consults at John Carroll University in Cleveland in multi-cultural affairs. My wife owns her own thriving business. So when I created Sydney, Cornerstone and the other female characters in “Legend of the Mantamaji,” I was drawing on people I have seen, known, worked with or worked for.

Sanctuants from the “Legend of the Mantamaji” series are explicitly mentioned as equal to the male Mantamaji warriors. It’s an unusual call out among the comic industry, but I didn’t want any of the female leads to be any less than the main hero, just different. It makes the story’s history so much richer.

If I had to boil down three things I wanted to accomplish with the female characters in “Legend of the Mantamaji,” I have to say I wanted to create a new batch of heroes who are full, real characters; I wanted to make sure people were interested in their journey, and I wanted to give women readers what they have been asking for and deserve from comic book creators – real representation.

Read more from Eric Dean Seaton at

Many Fans Missing Out on Amazing ‘Storm’ Comic

When the “Storm” comic first launched, I was super-geeked along with many other comic book fans that Ororo Munroe was finally getting her own solid series. I rarely write reviews because I spent years doing so when I wrote a film blog, and countless other websites do the same thing, so I usually step outside of reviewing books, films, TV shows, etc. However, when I noticed that sales were down for “Storm” and that there was a #SaveStorm campaign on Twitter, I was concerned. I was sad when I heard news that the female-empowered comic “She-Hulk” was canceled. Storm fans asked for her own comic and Marvel listened, and I am still curious to know what is it about this AMAZING comic that has not yet stuck with fans?

I want to just take a moment to bask in the awesomeness that is Storm. I’ve been reading several comics right now “Thor,” “Death of Wolverine,” “Black Panther,” and some old-school “Excalibur.” However, nothing gets my goosebumps and the hairs on the back of my neck standing still like Greg Pak’s “Storm.” If you haven’t started on the comic, then it’s absolutely fine because that just means you have the opportunity to catch up on the first five issues!

It’s obvious from Storm’s inception until today that she has had massive appeal to all people. It’s not just Black women who are fans, but men and women of all different backgrounds and nationalities love and adore her. However, when you are a Black female who has to deal with a greater deal of adversity than a man or a white woman, I love turning to comics to see a woman with brown skin like me kicking ass and taking names!

Read more from Jamie Broadnax:

20 of the Coolest Black Supervillains in Comics You May Not Know



Tombstone is an albino man who serves as a hitman and enforcer in the Marvel universe. He has mainly been a Spider-Man villain.


Black Spider-Woman

She is a Wolverine villain in an alternate reality.


Lady Marabunta

She is a Batwing villain who controls a crime syndicate in South Africa.


Black Manta

One of Aquaman’s greatest rivals, Black Manta, fights the King of Atlantis because Aquaman killed Black Manta’s father by accident for attacking Aquaman’s father.

A Classic Fairy tale With A Delightful Twist – Princeless: Vol 1 & 2 Review

Vol 1 Princeless

Ah Fairy Tales! To many women they were a staple of our girlhood, the source of many of our romantic dreams and expectations. There is still something intrinsically attractive in them for young girls. Lucky for me my mother was partial to the Brothers Grimm as opposed to the Disney versions in my bedtime reading. So my Princesses were a bit craftier, and used smarts as well as quick thinking to outwit those pesky evil step mothers and villainous henchman.

With Princeless, we get all the wonderful essences of a classic fairytale with a delightful twist. Princess Adrienne has heard the stories a million times: beautiful princess, tall, foreboding tower guarded by a fearsome dragon, a parade of young princes risking their lives for a chance to rescue and romance the lovely princess.

However she can’t blindly accept this situation. She questions the whole process and yet upon her 16th birthday she finds herself in the same predicament. Adrienne however is not content to wait idly by for a rescuer. Finding a sword in her tower room she convinces her guardian Dragon Sparky to join her on a noble quest: rescue other Princesses trapped in similar towers starting with her sisters!

I really loved this issue. The story moves at a great pace showing us Adrienne’s formative years and her wonderful questing nature to her choice to break out of the stereotypical Princess role. Goodwin, Belton and Kim did such a wonderful job on the art. It is crisp and colorful. I was overjoyed to discover Adrienne was a racially diverse character.

Read more from Kai Charles:

8 Books of Critical Analysis and Essays on Black Speculative, Science Fiction, Superheroes and Horror

Books of critical analysis and essays on Black speculative, science fiction, superheroes and horror:

1. Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation edited by Sheena C. Howard and Ronald L. Jackson II (2013) is an analytic history of the diverse contributions of Black artists to the medium of comics. Covering comic books, superhero comics, graphic novels and cartoon strips from the early 20th century to the present, the book explores the ways in which Black comic artists have grappled with such themes as the Black experience, gender identity, politics and social media.

2. Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film by Adilifu Nama (2008) is the first book-length study of African-American representation in science fiction film. Black Space demonstrates that science fiction cinema has become an important field of racial analysis, a site where definitions of race can be contested and post-civil rights race relations (re)imagined.

3. Race in American Science Fiction by Isiah Lavender III (2011) offers a systematic classification of ways that race appears and how it is silenced in science fiction, while developing a critical vocabulary designed to focus attention on often-overlooked racial implications. These focused readings of science fiction contextualize race within the genre’s better-known master narratives and agendas.

4. Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from 1890s to Present by Robin Means Coleman (2011) presents a unique social history of blacks in America through changing images in horror films. Throughout the text, the reader is encouraged to unpack the genre’s racialized imagery, as well as the narratives that make up popular culture’s commentary on race. Offering a comprehensive chronological survey of the genre, this book addresses a full range of black horror films, including mainstream Hollywood fare, as well as art-house films, Blaxploitation films, direct-to-DVD films, and the emerging U.S./hip-hop culture-inspired Nigerian “Nollywood” Black horror films.