The comic book community is either evolving or devolving, depending on what side of the fence you’re looking at.
It has been a little over a year since the milkshake incident with Marvel Comics’ Editor Heather Antos, and we are approaching the one year anniversary of the Marvel Comics breakfast at New York Comic Con where a few retailers blamed lack of sales on “black,” “homo,” and “freaking female” comics. In our post-Trump world, ComicsGate is picking up steam, as Richard C. Meyer’s YouTube channel Diversity in Comics (aka Racists Talking About Comics) has 87,410 subscribers, and his comic book JAWBREAKERS crowdfunded $382,257 on IndieGoGo. Meyer has risen on social media with the support of comic book artist Ethan Van Sciver. Most recently, the ComicsGate trolls attacked Marsha Cooke, Darwyn Cooke’s widow on social media after she stated her husband did not support the movement.
ComicsGate is a movement against diversity in comic books, under the guise of demanding quality storytelling instead of pushing political agendas. There is an ideological battle raging as we speak on social media and message boards, in comic book stores, and at conventions. The dialogue is heated, messy, and downright ugly. With all this noise clouding the conversation, it is important to highlight voices that carry weight and substance.
Comic book legend Bill Sienkiewicz is a voice of reason. Sienkiewicz took the time to voice his opinion on ComicsGate and the people involved via Facebook. Read his thoughts below.
To Comicsgaters – but also: to general friends and colleagues in arms. Profuse profanity to follow. Be advised.
I’m convinced Comics chose ME as a practitioner, emissary, evangelist, what-have-you—rather than the other way around.
Perhaps that’s why I tend to view most other creators through a similar lens. Whatever the actual reason people create comics, tell stories, live in this world, it’s still a wonderful calling.
Creators are family; every voice is unique and necessary.
That said, Comics sure as hell didn’t choose the so-called Comicsgate contingent to promote hateful, misogynistic and plain-old-ugly dogma. No, these ‘Gaters- you guys- you brought that ugliness all by yourselves.
To be honest, I just don’t get your deal. Are you so insecure, so afraid, so fearful of the prospect of bearing the ‘incel’ moniker, or by sharing creative space with someone with more estrogen than you- that you’re all somehow threatened to your very manhood or your livelihood? How super-heroic of you.
I’d ask you to explain it to me, but frankly what I’ve heard from your quarter already bores me; as well as just plain pisses me off. I fucking despise bullies. Cowards.
What you’re each promoting individually is not some divine creative dispensation; it’s just you being an asshole. Collectively, you’re a gaggle, a clan,(-potentially with a k unsubtle as that shot maybe)- a veritable bag’s worth of douches. Whatever the name you give for your assembly, you’re not the Avengers. You’re still just a bunch of assholes.
Comics isn’t a boys club. It’s not “NO (insert ethnic group, gender, religion, sexual preference here) ALLOWED.” It’s a club, a meeting place a forum for creators. Of all stripes. Like a real-life Legion of Super-Heroes, or a Justice League. Only with pen and ink paper and Cintiqs and laptops and…
Stop being the creepy racist misogynist uncles showing up at reunions and pissing in the punchbowl to disprove your beta standing. Stop being the weird cousins the entire world points to as the definition of every “comic book nerd” stereotype. Or do it far away from us. Stop being whiny misunderstood victims bitching bout favoritism, intolerance, and sexism. You’re slinging inky-black aspersions, obliviously crying racism in your Wite-Out™. You’re damned right some corrections need to be made; starting with the guys in the mirror first.
So stop being awful ambassadors for the worst of our natures. Stop being brownshirts. Stop being goddamned ugly dicks. And to re-jigger an ugly phrase you sling at women, I’m instead going to channel it here in the spirit of my Aussie friends: Stop being such insufferable clueless cunts.
The medium didn’t call on you to be the best version of assholes you could be. Neither did we.
Knock it off.
Either step up. Or step off.
We, Comics, and The Audience- will be absolutely fine without you.
And you won’t be missed one damned bit.
A tipping point has to be coming soon within the comic book community with ComicsGate, and with our profoundly divided political society. My hope is that we are inching closer to a Star Trek future than a Walking Dead apocalypse. Make your voice heard in the comment section below.