Here's an early version of my "story" section from the project, for your comments:
I’m Wes Davis. My main job is being an IT guy for a high school but my passion is running an online roleplaying forum called Star Army.
At Dragon*Con in 2012 I attended a panel called Race in SF. In the panel, we had an awesome discussion that really touched me. We talked about how book authors have been asked to change the cover to show a spaceship if the protagonist isn’t white. We talked about the perception of books that have a woman on the cover or a black person on the cover makes it a “special interest” book and that publishers are too stuck on profit to break out the cycle they’re perpetuating. I mentioned that in American culture there’s a meme that the white male is the default or “blank slate” character. If you ask an artist to draw a sci-fi character and don’t specify the appearance, it’s almost a given the character will be a white guy.
Sci-fi and especially fantasy RPGs continue to feature
, as they have for years, depictions of women unbelievable costumes with impossible outfits that make no sense to the world they’re in and have exaggerated hypersexualized bodies. This project will not be getting that type of art. We want positive art that shows strong, believable women of substance.
I mentioned that I work in a high school. Somewhere around ninety percent of the kids here are black or something other than white. Where are the black characters in science fiction media? Gaming has been such a huge positive force in my life and the lives of those around me, building communities all over the net and around gaming tables throughout the world. I want to share that with all people, not just the ones that look like me. I want these kids like the ones at my high school to know they, too, can dream of being space marines and cosmic explorers.
For the last decade, as Star Army has grown, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of wonderful artists who help bring characters to life by creating portraits of them, or portraits that they could use. It’s given me a lot of connections to the art community, mainly through DeviantArt. I saw a great picture on DeviantArt the other day. The artist had a self-portrait of herself posed like The Most Interesting Man In The World from the Dos Equis commercials. On the picture, it said “I don’t always draw your characters, but when I do, I need money.” Artists can’t afford to work for free. So the project will be commissioning them. In this way, we not only help the RPG community but we boost the art community too.