Comicsgate and other absolute nonsense.
I love being an independent comics creator. I love the freedom of it, the nose-to-the-grind work ethic required to make a living from it, and the creative spirit behind it. But every now and again I look at the comics industry, where lots of indie creators are getting publishing deals and working on established titles, and I think I should try my hand at getting in. After all, I’ve been making comics for over fifteen years and, while I’ve never been published by anyone but myself, I’ve got a solid body of work to back me up.
Then I learn about things like Comicsgate and I want absolutely nothing to do with mainstream comics.
What’s Comicsgate, you ask? The short version is that it’s a bunch of assholes bitching about “forced diversification” in comics, harassing creators who dare to introduce diverse characters, and are generally awful to creators who aren’t straight white dudes. It’s as phenomenally stupid as it sounds.
It’s this sort of toxic fan behavior that makes me so very disappointed in geek culture. Never in a million years did I think a bunch of nerds could be just as horrible as the very “popular culture” we were supposed to be seeking shelter from. When I was growing up, comics were an escape and represented an ideal. At their best, the superhero comics of my youth taught selflessness, heroism, and most importantly they helped teach acceptance. Never once did I even flinch at characters of different skin colors, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, or anything else these crybabies are whining about. They created a world to aspire to, not a warning to guard against.
The great jazz musician Artie Shaw once said, “I love music. I hate the music business.” The more drama I learn about the comics business, from internal creative struggles to the absolute nonsense some people have to endure from hateful dweebs, the more I apply Artie Shaw’s remarks to my medium.
But then again, Comicsgate has only gotten a surge of attention lately because so many in the industry are speaking out against it. The news hasn’t been the actions of the movement itself, but the solidarity of people actually making comics, speaking up for themselves or speaking in defense of those being harassed. So maybe my knee-jerk reaction of disappointment was aimed at the wrong source. At their best, mainstream comics and its creators are doing what they can to create that world we once aspired to as kids, and speaking out against voices of hate and intolerance can be a heroic act by itself.
Although the business of comics is far from perfect, it’s taking steps in the right direction. And even if you’re not “in the industry,” indie comics have an important voice, too. So let’s use our voices regardless of how far they’re projected and stamp out intolerance and hate. It has no place anywhere, especially not our beloved medium.