Every year, the LGBTQ+ advocacy group GLAAD recognises and awards a selection of television shows, films and books that feature powerful portrayals of queer people. This year, a number of Marvel’s comics were recognised for the contributions they have made to queer culture, but those nominations were bittersweet for one incredibly disappointing reason: They have all been cancelled.
America (from Gabby Rivera and Joe Quinones), Black Panther: World of Wakanda (Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yona Harvey, Alitha E. Martinez and Afua Richardson) and Iceman (Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti and Robert Gill) have each been nominated for GLAAD’s 2018 Outstanding Comic Book category, and with good reason. Over the course of their respective arcs, each series explored various parts of the queer experience in ways that, frankly, are new for comics. Iceman‘s dug into Bobby Drake’s coming out as a gay man later in life; America‘s focused on what it’s like to be a queer immigrant going to university for the first time; and World of Wakanda delved into the complicated intimate lives of the Dora Milaje.
But all of these books recently met their ends, as so many new, progressive comic books do these days. Low sales led to their cancellation just as an entirely new audience was sure to hear about the books, specifically because of their being nominated for GLAAD awards and other honours.
As has been the case with these sort of cancellations in the past, it isn’t difficult to understand the why of Marvel’s decision. The publisher is, above all else, in the business of making money, and if certain comics don’t sell, it makes sense to cut them. At the same time, though, it stings a little to see all of Marvel’s comics with queer leads up for awards like this – and it makes you wonder what might have become of the series and their sales numbers if they’d been given a chance to continue after this sort of high-profile nomination.