I don’t find most of Comic Books very fun at all anymore. The actual comics, I mean—not the TV/movies. Legends of Tomorrow is great.
But I’m talking about the actual comics. I have a small pocket of friends whose comic work I will support, and I am still interested in the work of very indie self-publishers (especially if their work tends to veer into the esoteric). But that’s it.
After working on and off in the industry for over 20 years, the amount of comic book related material in my office amounts to less than 1/2 of a single shelf. This is pretty much unheard of in an industry where comic hoarding is a big thing.
Yesterday, an expose on the Gamergate-styled “group”/movement Comicsgate ran on The Daily Beast. And basically you have a group of comic fans who feel comics are getting “too diverse” and run by “SJW”s and so they target various females, POC, LGBTQ, and so on. And what goes on is fucking horrible.
Now, what I’m about to write is NOT a “whataboutism,” in the sense that I have personally been through this type of harassment myself. I’ve had people try to police both my recounting of, and interpretation of, my own personal experiences & that’s not cool.
While I’ve personally experienced harassment from what I would classify as “proto-Comicsgate” types (back in the “day”)—I’ve also experienced harassment from a number of individuals in the comics industry/community from “the other side.” This includes getting groped, cyber-bullied, receiving hate mail, and having my personal gender identification mischaracterized in such a fucking insidious, petty, and ignorant way that it would blow your mind. (And I’ll just specify that I’m a biologically-born female with a very easygoing, flexible & non-binary attitude towards gender—just so I don’t have to go through the BS I’ve just gone through again)
I could give you a bunch of details and anecdotes that would give a new perspective on a LOT of stuff.
Anyway: what I’m trying to say is, I’m not really sure I have a dog in this here dog race. I think I’m pretty much done on this front. And I haven’t read a new mainstream comic book in like a year, so…
The big problem here, if I may paraphrase a Twitter user on the subject, is that what you really have is a bunch of people fighting over the remnants of the last remaining Blockbuster Video.
The comic book industry, as a whole, hasn’t kept up with the times. Many of their key management/leadership people ten, 15, 20 years ago had personal and professional views not that dissimilar from the Comicsgate “manifesto”—they believed that comics were mainly for white males. They believed that homosexuality “shouldn’t” be in comics. They believed that having too much content featuring blacks or other people of color would alienate the “base.” And so on. Women, to them, were largely sex objects & had little value both in the comics themselves and behind-the-scenes.
So when I read an article talking about how Comicsgate “started” all like a year ago or in 2014 or whenever the fuck—this shit has actually been going on for a good long while. It started at the publishers themselves—who created a self-fulfilling prophecy.
And while Comicsgate fights with the “SJWs”…and some “progressive” industry people fight with Comicsgate…you know, there are really key fundamental issues about creators getting paid a living wage that are not being addressed. There are really key fundamental issues like the industry being on the verge of imploding that are not being addressed.
I’m not saying defending women, POC, LGBTQ creators and fans is not important—nobody knows this better than me—but the larger context here is that the industry is in big fucking trouble. The livelihoods of these freelance creators are in big fucking trouble. And it’s not because of diversity. It’s because of a whole bunch of factors that would take at least 2-3 other posts to fully discuss.
I had one of those proto-Comicsgate people send me a hate email several years ago. It was a robust email—it contained visual memes, the whole schmear. And usually, that shit really upset me. But for whatever reason, I suddenly decided to engage this person in polite conversation. Because I honestly wanted to know what motivated this person.
It was a turning point in my life. Not because I agreed with all of this person’s points. But because I…had to find another way to deal with this conflict. I just had to. I could not go down that spiral anymore, that give-and-take, the fighting, etc.
It was an energy that “fed” itself, if that makes any sense.
And I’ve washed my hands of it at this point.
I’ve really gotten to the point where I’ll write my thoughts on this or that, and whomever you are, if it resonates with you—great! I’m not “selling” any position, or asking you to accept what I have to say as the gospel truth. The only real value I can see of having dealt with these issues over the last decade or two is that…I’ve sort of “popped” out of the fray and am now watching things from a distance.
I’ve become my own person. As I think we all need to be.