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Marvel on increased diversity: 'This is only the beginning'

Today at San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel hosted its regular Cup O' Joe panel, a fan Q&A-focused panel led by Marvel Entertainment chief creative officer Joe Quesada. Quesada was joined by a half dozen other Marvel editors and writers to discuss upcoming book releases and plans, as well as answer questions from the audience.

The most interesting point of the panel came with a discussion on diversity started by a fan thanking Marvel. A fan took to the mic and told them that five years ago he had appeared in front of this same panel and complained that the Marvel Comics universe didn't have enough Hispanic characters. Now he was returning to thank them for Miles Morales, a biracial character who is taking over as the lead of Marvel's main Spider-Man book.

Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort thanked the fan and promised him that the publisher isn't anywhere near done with its increased focus on diversifying its character line-up.

"Really, and we mean this genuinely, it's only the beginning," Brevoort said. "We talk about the need for greater diversity in our cast and in our writers all the time. We don't want to just throw stuff out there, so it takes a certain amount of time to make things happen. But this is only the beginning."

Later during the Q&A, Polygon asked the panelists if increased diversity of creators was as important to Marvel as increased diversity of characters. Quesada said it was and noted that the company's staff is "around 40 percent female."

It's unclear if that statistic includes writers and artists, who are often contracted employees rather than full-time staff. According to a recurring statistics column on Bleeding Cool, women made up only 13.9 percent of Marvel's credited creators and editors in the month of April 2015.

Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso confirmed that the company is constantly looking to do better in this area. "Definitely watch out for some slow and steady and some very fast changes," he said.

Some of Marvel's recent attempts at diversifying its superhero line-up include the aforementioned Miles Morales taking over as Spider-Man, a female version of Thor (pictured above), Sam Wilson as Captain America, new female characters Spider-Gwen and Silk and Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American and Muslim teenage girl who has taken on the role of Ms. Marvel. Many of these efforts remain written and drawn by creative teams that are largely white and male.

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