Return to the Living and the Joy of Comicsgate
While it may have appeared that Graphic Reviews disappeared off of the face of the earth without explanation, it was mostly an attack of real life. So I wanted to start off my return to the segment by apologizing for the lack of announcement and complete radio silence. Between graduating from school and planning for what’s next, I just couldn’t keep up with the articles. Now that things are settling down again, Graphic Reviews will be back to its normal weekly basis. However, it will be slightly different. I will still be posting reviews every other week but I’ll also be adding in opinion segments and lists in an effort to keep the articles from getting too predictable and to be able to pipe in on subjects that catch my interest and might interest others who also love comics. This week, I’ll be talking about a movement that you may or may not have heard of in the comics industry, depending on how much attention you pay to Twitter.
While some have been familiar with the Comicsgate movement for awhile, it may not be clear to everyone so I’ll give a brief overview with a link for more info if you’re interested. Comicsgate is typically linked back to October 2016 when Marvel chose to cancel the Mockingbird series. The writer for the series, Chelsea Cain, commented on Twitter about supporting any future series by Marvel with “women kicking ass”. Per Twitter’s usual role as shit stirrer, there was a large anti-feminist response to Cain’s tweet, particularly since the cover for the final issue was considered inflammatory and too political.
The movement gained momentum at various other points in the next two years and espoused their position in a ComicsGate Wiki that listed their grievances:
- The adoption of art styles influenced exclusively by Progressive politics, & by the awkward, stilted injection of said political messages into stories regardless of whether context demands it or not.
- The hiring of people based purely on their surface traits and “oppressed demographic” status (Women, Minorities, LGBT) rather than hiring based on merit, affinity or enthusiasm for craft.
- The change or outright replacement of beloved classic characters to pander to Progressive and/or Leftist politics instead of creating new characters for this end.
- The elitist purge of anything that is “not progressive enough.”
- The rejection of honest criticism, swept aside as harassment or discrimination.
The most recent (at the end of August of this year) controversy involving Comicsgate has been the fight on Twitter between Darwyn Cooke’s widow and some of the more vocal members of Comicsgate in which they claimed that Darwyn Cooke would have supported their opinions and his widow took the opposite perspective. While previously various creators in the industry had sided one way or the other on the movement, the fight between Marsha Cooke and Ethan Van Sciver led to many of the biggest names in the industry speaking out against the movement. If you want the nitty gritty details on what led from the cancellation of Mockingbird to the controversy over Darwyn Cooke’s opinion, check out the timeline put together by Know Your Memes.
As someone who has been a fan of comics for a long time but not been particularly involved in the industry until I started writing reviews for Aeither and attending cons, Comicsgate is not a movement that I had previously bothered to pay much attention to. I hadn’t been overly active on Twitter where most of the activity was taking place so I didn’t see much of it. It was really only the recent round of creators speaking out against the movement that made me consider it in the first place. Now, as a side note, Comicsgate shares a fair amount of perspective with Gamergate of which I have been a fairly vocal opponent. So it’s probably not super surprising that I don’t support Comicsgate.
My main issue with Comicsgate has more to do with their tactics and trolling than anything else. While I personally am ecstatic to see more diverse characters than just your standard white dude, I get that some readers may not be comfortable with having some of the opinions showing up in their comics. I don’t understand the argument that politics are suddenly in comics since it’s not like they haven’t been there all along. However, I tend towards right of center so I’m not violently against readers expressing that they don’t like the direction that Marvel is going. What I am completely against however, is the use of harassment, trolling and doxing to intimidate creators and fans who disagree with you. If you don’t like the direction that Marvel is going, the solution is pretty simple: stop buying the series which annoy you. Support independent publishers who write the kinds of stories you want to read. But bullying creators because their stories contain ideas you don’t like? That’s unacceptable. And even worse is accusing any well known creators who are female and/or non-white of sleeping their way to the top or getting by on skin color rather than talent. There is no mob stepping forward to accuse any white males of that. So that particular argument reeks of bullshit. For all that Comicsgate claims to only publish lists of creators not to support, their supporters sure do spend a lot of time harassing any creator who dares to say anything bad about them. If conservative fans are tired of seeing progressive stories, then stop reading them and support other things. You have that power without demeaning yourselves by being complete asshats. Express your criticism in ways that don’t include personal attacks and maybe you’ll find that people take you a little more seriously rather than as the hate group that you’ve clearly created. You don’t lack support because conservatives have no voice in comics, you lack support because you’re bullies.
Comicsgate was a hell of a thing to return to but I’ll never support any group that uses tactics that include intimidation, regardless of where they find themselves on the political spectrum. Though I don’t expect to be a big enough voice to get much argument on my perspective, feel free to drop a comment if you want to have a conversation about Comicsgate. Next time, I’ll be talking about a less contentious subject with my review of the Shock Anthology published by Aftershock!