Comic Book Retailer Advocacy Group The Valkyries Closes Its Doors

Beware the Valkyries - Publicity - H 2018
Kate Leth/The Valkyries
"When an organization stops supporting marginalized women, it is failing at supporting women," the group said in a statement announcing its end.

In a surprise announcement made via social media, comic book retailer group The Valkyries has disbanded following accusations of bias and discrimination in its practices. 

The statement, credited to “our admin team,” was posted Thursday morning on Twitter. It reads, in part, “When an organization stops supporting marginalized women, it is failing at supporting women. Because this has become the case for The Valkyries, it is time for the group to be disbanded.”

The Valkyries launched in 2013 as a Facebook group created by then-comic book retailer Kate Leth (now a cartoonist and animation writer) to connect women working in comic book retail. The group, which had a membership of around 600, maintained an active social media presence while also appearing at comic book convention and industry events in the name of promoting diversity, progressive causes and inclusion inside the industry and medium. The group had been referenced by both creators and comic book publishers as an active participant in the promotion of more broadly diverse material inside the mainstream comic book market.

Thursday’s statement follows an Aug. 29 statement from the group, which was released in response to social media reaction to an essay written by comic book retailer Jazmine Joyner in which she discussed the failure of the group to adequately represent the concerns of women of color. (The essay had originally appeared in the December 2017 edition of The MNT, a paid newsletter.)

“We fully take ownership of the fact that there are issues concerning the inclusivity of the group and are striving to do better,” the Aug. 29 statement read. “We plan to release a statement after [a scheduled administrative] meeting detailing how we plan to directly address these issues and how we envision the future of The Valkyries, whatever that may be.”

The new statement appears to shift blame and suggests that the fault is not, in fact, solely the property of the administrative team. “For years the admins have asked for new volunteers to take on the responsibility of being group administrators, but those calls have largely gone unanswered or have been answered exclusively by white women who would not be able to address the problem of marginalized members being ignored,” the statement reads. “We mention this to explain why the group admins do not see the situation as a solvable problem.”

Response to the announcement has been mixed, with many commenting on the apparent suggestion that the onus was on women of color to step up to fix the problem. “Your faulting of WoC who didn’t volunteer to fix the problems is a classic example of expecting PoC to always make a place for themselves at the table, even if folks shut them out & take the chairs away,” tweeted artist and writer Talia Mirai.

“Not knowing how not to be inclusive or how to talk to marginalized folk does not fall on us to fix,” added Eisner Award-winning creator Taneka Stotts. “If you want to quit then goodbye, but do not act like the problem was not ultimately your ignorance and continual missteps.”