The news isn’t too cheerful this week, but there’s some hope and fun at the end! We’ll get there together.
Comicsgate harassment continues to escalate as Ethan van Sciver, Richard Meyer (known as “Diversity & Comics” — “ironically”), and other leaders of the hate group repeatedly target Twitter users who are in the midst of discussing the hot topic. Comicsgate appeared in the Guardian’s Opinion section on Tuesday, where writer JA Micheline discusses the history of Comicsgate, and examines Meyer’s transphobic and racist comments. The piece follows the last two years of targeted harassment campaigns against marginalized comics creators by Comicsgate “fans.” The Washington Post also covered the history of the Comicsgate hate movement this week. The piece includes a discussion with indie comics creator Darryl Ayo, who was personally harassed by Van Sciver on Twitter for voicing opinions against Comicsgate.
That’s not all the haters at Comicsgate have to contribute to the news this week. After independent comics publisher Alterna Comics repeatedly supported Comicsgate participants by retweeting them in late August, it was later revealed that they prohibit employees from using blockchains on social media even when it comes to hate speech and bigotry. The situation escalated a week later when comics creator Micah Myers confessed that he had a blockchain running against all of Comicsgate leader Richard Meyer’s former Twitter followers. Myers said in the same statement on Facebook that Alterna threatened to cancel his book and pulled his work when he refused to unblock Alterna’s potential customers. This week Alterna made it clear in a statement for CBR that they are more interested in making money than defending their creators. More former Alterna comics contractors are coming forward to share their stories on how the indie comics publisher quietly fired them for blocking a hate group on Twitter that could potentially make Alterna money.
Speaking of publishers making money… Marvel writer Ales Kot piped up on Twitter this week when actor Kit Harington’s question about gay superhero representation in a Variety interview went viral. Kot said that they wrote beloved Marvel character Agent Coulson as openly bisexual during their Secret Avengers run in 2013 and 2014, but that the script was rewritten to change Coulson’s sexuality. “People thought about their wallets before they thought about representation,” said Kot. That should surprise no one who regularly reads this column, as Marvel is known for rewarding their bigoted employees re: EIC C.B. Cebulski.
After indie press publisher and alleged rapist and racist Cody Pickrodt was accused by eleven creators and one publisher who attended the Small Press Expo (SPX), he filed a lawsuit against all twelve of them as we reported at the end of August. The story continues as SPX began a GoFundMe campaign this week for all of the creators involved in the defense against the lawsuit. SPX hopes to raise $120,000 for the legal fees of the defendants at $20,000 each.
The Australian publication Herald Sun published a racist cartoon this last week by Melbourne artist Mark Knight, depicting Serena Williams at the US Open. Knight used a style reminiscent of Jim Crow cartoons drawn in the US during civil rights movements in the 1960s to depict the American tennis champion, for the second time in 2018. The Herald Sun continues to defend Knight and escalate the situation with more incisive and racially charged illustrations. Williams has not commented on the racist illustration, though her husband did. Business Insider covers the Herald Sun’s campaign against Serena Williams.
Whew! That was a lot of hateful stuff. But there are great things still happening in comics. Let’s focus on those for the rest of the news.
March: Book One was the first graphic novel included in a huge regional program in San Diego called One Book, One San Diego. The program reaches more than 30,000 readers in the area, and is partnered with Comic-Con Museum to promote literacy and comic books. March details the story of Black Congressman’ John Lewis’ struggle for civil rights. The graphic novel is written by Lewis himself, who will appear alongside co-creators Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell on September 21st at a free event promoting One Book, One San Diego in San Diego. Registration at the event is currently full.
Famous literary author Margaret Atwood is writing a new historical fiction comic for Dark Horse Comics called War Bears. War Bears tells stories based on real and fictional occurrences during World War II in Canada, and centers on a Nazi-fighting lady and a young man who creates comics. The series is illustrated by Ken Steacy, whose credentials include manga like Astro Boy and animated cartoons such as Jonny Quest. CBC has a unique interview available on their site.
Boston comics creator Zachary Clemente announced the debut of a comics micropress called Bulgihan Press this week. The word “bulgihan” means “sinister” in Korean, according to the micropress’s website. Clemente has worked at TCAF and Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE), as well as the Boston Kids Comic Fest, and written a few comics published in anthologies. Bulgihan Press promises four to six comics a year, and is currently soliciting for submissions.
And for some bonus content attached to this week’s news, check out:
This adorable short comic on Princess Leia, Star Wars, and a sweet reflection on queer feelings during a childhood from artist Elise Schenke.
Nomi Kain drew a cartoon about the US Open that’s neither racist nor sexist
Oni Press created a very cool website that promotes local voting participation via comics. Read a promotional tweet from Lion Forge editor Steenz here!
If you love comics creator Kate Beaton, Hark! A Vagrant, or reading great comics, check out Beaton’s huge list of comics she suggests for cold weather cosy comics reads