For today’s entry I want to look at Comicsgate.
Now for those who do not know what Comicsgate is I am not going to go through the whole sordid history. There are plenty of articles out there that do so and you should read them.
Another reason is that having spent 72 hours reviewing and engaging with this hashtag it seems to mean different things.
Although it appears predominantly their mission statement is that the current output of comics particularly from the Big 2 (Marvel & DC) is only looking to appeal to a certain demographic to the exclusion of others. Further, they wish for more professionalism and accountability of the creators when dealing with consumers.
Their answer is seemingly to be the exact opposite. The problem is they’re not.
In summary – it’s all a bit hypocritical.
The Comicsgate movement have repeatedly stated what they stand for and in doing so it becomes a standard to judge them by. Not my standard that I have imposed on them, their own standard.
So let’s take a look at some of those standards and see how they are doing.
Firstly, dealing with the output of comics. Let’s assume for a minute that they are right about the Big 2 alienating demographics for the sake of just one.
If they want to fill this apparent void then from what I have seen their answer is to make comics solely for their own demographic.
This appears simply to be having titles involving women with big tits, liberally use the word ‘slut’ and throw in the odd gang rape for good measure.
Whilst arguably there is nothing wrong with a group of people making comics they want to read, the arguments put forward by Comicsgate supporters go further – They are going to do right what Marvel and DC do wrong.
But if the charge against the Big 2 is they are excluding particular demographics then how does doing exactly the same make you any better?
Now I’m sure in response some Comicgators will say that I haven’t seen all the comics. I am happy to accept that and indeed would go further and say I actually saw some that looked pretty good and would be something I would buy.
But if the subpar regressive comics of some Comicsgators cannot be held to be representative of the movement as a whole then neither can the more mainstream ones.
In speaking with a few people that align themselves with Comicsgate they still read and enjoy the odd comic from the Big 2.
In short, if Comicsgate were a brand then their output to a wider demographic would be at best a few decent comics amongst a load of undesirable ones. How is that any different from the charge they throw at Marvel and DC?
Creators v Consumers
Turning to creators having better respect for the consumers.
Comicsgate has been fought out in the bubble of social media. The problem with social media is that you can get validation for any viewpoint.
Originally the unpleasantness of Comicsgate begin with some creators pushing back against criticism from people who identified with Comicsgate.
But it has since grown and non creators have got involved. People who love comic books but don’t like what is going on. Whatever their view they are consumers.
Outside the bubble of self validation there are a number of consumers criticising Comicsgate. The response by Comicsgators is to clap back and sometimes in offensive ways.
They have become so determined to push back at any criticism they have forgotten who they are talking to. They are no longer just throwing back insults to a creator who they do not respect, they are attacking the very people required to sustain a comic book market.
Yesterday I tweeted someone who is creating a comic and supports comicsgate. Despite our difference in views I felt his idea was interesting and it’s been on my radar to support it.
I expressed the view that I did not think it was very adult to knife a female comic character in the breasts (he incidentally was not doing that but was gleefully goading someone who was). Within a few tweets he suggested I had a mental illness.
Finally, I want to address another allegation that gets thrown about by Comicsgators. Blacklisting of creators because the Big 2 do not share that person’s views.
The reason I’ve spent 72 hours delving into Comicsgate is because a non-pro creator that I follow tweeted criticism of Comicsgate over the weekend.
Inevitably many who support Comicsgate came to give their view. Now I don’t have a problem with that. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and to express it (providing they do it respectfully).
My problem with it was as a result he was quote tweeted with ‘Don’t buy this assholes work’, which was then subsequently retweeted.
For what reason? Simply because he held a different view to them.
This was not a decision by reading a sample of his work and saying ‘No not for me’. A number of Comicsgators flatly refused to buy solely based on his views yet in the next breath would complain that the Big 2 are doing exactly the same.
I do not know how all this will end. I certainly do not have all the answers.
I’ve expressed this opinion as a consumer of comics for many years. I love comic books that have been a huge part of my life.
And look I get there are issues with Marvel and DC. Believe me they are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.
Often I have been left disappointed or bewildered by some of their output.
But it’s important not to conflate that frustration and believe that Comicsgate is the solution.
They arrive on their apparent mission with baggage and as I have shown above they are no different to what they perceive the Big 2 to be.
As the saying goes Beware of False Idols.
Thank you this has been my TED Talk.