Previously On Comics: Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

Last week, on 9/11, G.I. Joe writer Aubrey Sitterson shared some rather charged opinions about that day and the United States’ collective response to it. Because this is comics, everyone who heard this opinion did so calmly and shared an equally calm reacti–ahahahahahahaha. No, of course, there’s a campaign to get him fired. Disingenuous sorts on social media have been likening this campaign to the Twitter hashtag #FireRickRemender, as though they are equivalent, and conveniently ignoring that that hashtag came about as a result of Remender punching down at marginalized communities, something Sitterson–a man who lived in Manhattan at the time and was present for the actual event–is most certainly not guilty of in this instance. A take on appropriate expressions of grief is bound to be divisive, but this is not a case of a man using his power to target vulnerable people–it’s not even close to the same thing. Additionally, it’s come out since that a large driving force behind the attempt to get Sitterson fired is the inaptly named Diversity And Comics platform, a Youtube page and Twitter account both run by a notorious online troll.

A Google search of ‘Aubrey Sitterson’ returns these top two results, which really tell a story, don’t they? Mm, delicious context.

Also on the Comics and Social Media front, a recent piece imploring critics to try making their own comics before analyzing others, so that they understand better. This has, of course, gained quite a bit of traction with some prominent comics creators.

When pressed for detail on what precisely he means by this tweet, Mr. Shalvey was unable to be specific about what it is that critics do not understand; apparently making all those comics didn’t actually help him in the process after all. Fortunately another creator stepped forward to offer his take:

This handy comic by Tonci here explains a lot–creators are (still) equating complaining with criticism, as though that were the totality of the definition. This is not what criticism is! Criticism is analysis. A complaint can be criticism, certainly, but criticism is not necessarily a complaint! To put this in artist terms, it’s the square/rectangle relationship all over again, if that helps.

Another regular statement that’s making the rounds again is that critics don’t take sufficient time to talk about the art when reviewing comics. This issue gets a bit murkier, because while it can sometimes be true that art doesn’t get a mention, no one making this complaint has been able to be specific on the whos, whats or whys. Given that specificity and rigor is the exact criticism of critics being put forth here, it seems like that same specificity and rigor is what’s needed in order for critics to understand what they could be doing better–not the generic complaint that critics should trying making their own comics. As a final thought, another prominent artist, Trungles, has some opinions to share in this thread:

Undeterred by this week’s infighting between critics and creators, IDW looks to be wanting to get in on that sweet, sweet, critical action. Presumably they’ve heard what a fun time it is, and have launched a Kickstarter campaign for a quarterly project called FULL BLEED. Billed as a “hardcover magazine” (what?), FULL BLEED is a project of IDW’s Portland office, intended to be a comprehensive look at “all aspects of the creative culture, and beyond — comics, music, film, tv, fine art, photography, design, politics and more.” Amusingly, this internet funding campaign is lead off by the book’s creator, Dirk Wood, complaining about how the internet has ruined America. Presumably this opinion extends to the internet website Heat Vision running an interview about the project in which it’s stated that the campaign isn’t actually to raise funds, but awareness, putting the cost of advertisement on the backs of customers. If only there were some kind of precedent with regards to how comic companies might handle a Kickstarter campaign.

Titan Comics has announced a new imprint, called Statix, with the stated intent of “bringing the finest comics from continental Europe and around the globe to a brand new audience!” This new imprint has already begun, with the first issue of Hercules: Wrath of the Heavens in August. September brings post-apocalyptic tale The Beautiful Death, November Doctor Radar, and December gives us Under: Scourge of the Sewer. All of these books are prior releases in other languages, translated to English for a global release. If you’re interested in stepping outside of the usual comics milieu, checking out Titan’s offerings is a good way to start!

Next, in the really important news, Valiant has announced a Bloodshot-themed Build-A-Bear exclusive for this year’s New York Comic Con. The bear will be limited to only 250 pieces, which will certainly make it difficult to acquire at the con, and likely very expensive on the aftermarket. Strangely, this bear is coming pre-assembled, so despite the branding, is not really a Build-A-Bear at all. It’s a Built-Bear. A Build-A-Lie. Do with this news what you will–perhaps this harsh truth will assuage any feelings of regret you may feel over not being able to acquire one.

Lastly, if you’re flying Ryanair this weekend to attend Thought Bubble, be aware of reports that airline is cancelling quite a few flights with very little notice. Be advised and plan accordingly!

Nola Pfau

Nola Pfau

Nola is a bad influence. She can be found on twitter at @nolapfau, where she's usually making bad (really, absolutely terrible) jokes and occasionally sharing adorable pictures of her dog.

2 thoughts on “Previously On Comics: Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

  1. Your analysis is great, but we’re talking entirely about bad actors here; we have no realistic chance of convincing complainer-troll “critics” to be more analytical, because their sole purpose—as with Gamergate, with which they all were also involved—is to intimidate/threaten liberal creators and suppress female/minority representation in their alleged hobby. (Many weren’t really comics or gaming fans until they realized the hobbies were potential wedge issues to empower more misogynists and racists.)

    The trolls have no true argument besides “SJWs will not replace us,” which has become either the grownup version of “girls, eww” or the cautious version of “no coloreds allowed.” Or both.

    [altered for clarity from first version posted; please use this one]

    1. Are we talking about bad actors? Because the entire point is that the folks complaining about critics aren’t being specific enough for us to be able to tell. In fact, *if* that is the argument, then creators using “critics” as a catch-all is even worse, because they’re knowingly and deliberately associating the term with those trolls instead of with the individuals who are providing valuable analysis.

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