ruin comics
Comic Books, Story

The Internet Ruined Comics

In reality, I’m sure that the Internet ruined comics long before now but this past week was my personal tipping point.

In case you’re unaware, these past two weeks were not particularly great for women in comics.  The Riri Williams variant cover controversy was bad enough.  Then the Mockingbird #8 cover controversy made the Riri scandal look tame by comparison.  It’s Comic-Ghazi.

Let’s start with Riri.  On the Jeff Dekal variant cover of invincible-iron-man-1-by-jeff-dekal Invincible Iron Man #1 Riri looks like a normal human.  The much-maligned J. Scott Campbell variant cover features Riri doing her best impression of Simone Biles in a skintight, low-cut clothing.  Why is this cover problematic?  First of all, the cover only portrays Riri as sexy.  Not a child prodigy; just hip and sexy.  It’s only slightly better than the infamous Milo Manara Spider-Woman cover.  Secondly (and most importantly) Riri is 15 years old. 15. She’s a minor.  Marvel retracted the cover, but Campbell’s apologists yell “What’s wrong with finding an attractive woman attractive?” and “This stifles creative expression!”  What’s wrong is that she’s a child.  This cover says “I’m underage, but still sexy and voluptuous!”  Is that the message you want your daughter to hear?  Is that the message you want your daughter sending to the world?

That’s enough on Riri for now, because we have more fish to fry.

mockingbird5-600x904Oh man, this Mockingbird #8 cover is great.  It says so much with so little.  This set Twitter ablaze.  The comic’s author, Chelsea Cain, left Twitter because she received an inordinate level of harassment which, in her view, derived from either Cain being a woman or the existence of feminism in Mockingbird.  People accused Cain of ruining their favorite character and pushing a feminist agenda.  Cain might never write another comic.

Can I just ask something real quick?  What on earth is wrong with these people?

The people decrying political correctness because it stifles artistic expression are the same people yelling at a bestselling author for exercising her creative expression on Mockingbird.  Really, comics fans?  This is how you want to spend your time?  Is there literally no other endeavor more important to you than lashing out against women and forcing all viewpoints you disagree with off of social media?  How fragile is your masculinity that you are threatened by a comic that was literally already canceled by the time the issue dropped?  Is this really the hill you want to die on?

Yes, I know what you’re thinking.

Yes, you are entitled to your opinions, but if you harass and bully people I’m entitled to call you out.

No, it’s not just as simple as hitting the block button.  People should not need to use the blocking features.  You should act like a responsible gorram adult.

That’s the problem with you, Internet trolls.  “Oh, it’s just one little tweet, what are you, a crybaby?”  Multiple harassing tweets from over 1,000 people (at an extremely conservative estimate) is a lot of abuse, especially when some many contain death or rape threats.  Therein is the other problem with Internet scum.  You hide behind your precious, gross oversimplification of the first amendment to absolve yourself of any possible wrongdoing.  Just because you can say these terrible, degrading, awful things to people does not mean that you should say them.  It’s called being a decent person.  Try it sometime.  If you take some time away from abusing people online like cowards, there’s a book that I suggest you read.  It’s called Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus.  It deals with this whole “can I?/should I?” question very neatly.  It even uses small words and sentences of reasonable length.

The Internet is not responsible for the actions of disgusting jackasses, but it certainly enabled abuse to permeate every aspect of geek culture.  Frankly, I’m sick of it and I am sick of apologizing for it.  This is an epidemic in geek culture.  People have opinions and a platform, so they feel obliged to share it bludgeon everyone over the head with it.  No.  That’s not okay anymore.  Decent people don’t treat each other like that.  Everyone who graduated kindergarten understands that.

Go ahead.  Call me an SJW (social justice warrior).  Call me a white knight.  I’ve got a nickname for you too.  GOD Complexers.  For everyone who wants society to go back to the Good Ol’ Days, back when women were objects and minorities only existed as parodies of themselves.

Internet culture, you’ve ruined a thing I love.  I feel dirty calling myself a comics fan because being a fan means accepting the good and the bad.  That means, as a man, I need to fight off assumptions that I’m a card-carrying member of the He-Man, Woman Haters Club.  Shut up, yes, that’s exactly what everyone thinks male comics fans are.  Being a fan who supports feminism and diversity in comics also means that I have to withstand abuse.  I’ll probably get more abuse for writing this article.

I have been a comics fan my entire life, but I can no longer justify being associated with the fandom.  This is my rock bottom.

With the big exceptions of Saga and Paper Girls, I canceled my pull list at my comics store.  I dropped Green Lantern, a hero I idolize, all because of you.  I deleted every bookmark to every comics news site and unfollowed every person on social media who’s in the comics world.  The most I will do is watch the movies and the TV shows.  I will ask friends for recommendations since I won’t know what’s worth reading.  When I find cheap paperbacks on Amazon or a $5 bin at Emerald City CC, I’ll pick up copies of current GL, Wonder Woman, Daredevil, and Captain Marvel.  I don’t care anymore.  I refuse to be associated with what my fandom has become.

The Internet ruined comics for me.  This fandom used to give me great joy.  Now it just makes me sick.  I hate that I defended it for as long as I did, and the good parts of being in this community no longer carry the same weight as they did before.  Maybe once the Internet grows up, we can all be friends again.  Lose your GOD Complex.  Until then, have fun inside the burning building; I’m glad you’re warm in there.

3 thoughts on “The Internet Ruined Comics”

  1. 1. If you coined the term “GOD Complexers” you are one of my heroes now. 2. Don’t let anyone keep you from doing anything you like. Just curate your social media feeds into drama free feeds. Mine is. It’s possible. Keep up the good work.

  2. Great post, Dante, and can I say, I love it when your dander is up! I hope you wear your SJW armband with pride! (And as a geeky woman, I’m stoked to have you in “our” corner.)

    But I do take issue with your main conclusion, that the Internet has ruined comics. Yup, I’m going to argue semantics here, but stay with me. The Internet has allowed lots of, um, I’ll call them “trolls” for the sake of not getting too worked up myself, to taint (yes, I used the word “taint”) the social media aspect of comic books. But consider this: without the Internet, the J. Scott Campbell Riri cover would still be on the shelves being leered at today. The Milo Manara Spider-Woman cover would barely been a blip on anyone’s radar. And the Mockingbird #8 cover probably would never have existed in the first place.

    I firmly believe that we spend way too much time feeding these trolls, the ones who want to leer at tight, busty female bodies, storylines be damned, or who feel threatened by the concept that even in comic books, women might have the audacity to be expected to be treated with respect, or – gasp! – as equals. (In other arenas we could call these trolls Sad Puppies or Mad Puppies, or give them a Gamergate hashtag to display – this isn’t just a comic book thing, but I digress…) They are the ones who are threatening comics, the Internet is merely the platform they use to bully their views into the public eye. Yes,there is a dangerous aspect to those who go too far, and threaten the creators and illustrators, and that should not be borne. There should definitely be a backlash to this kind of bullying and intimidation.

    But for every neanderthal who publicly decries change in their comic book experience, realize that there is someone out there who has been pulled into being a comic book fan because of those very changes, and who is made aware of those changes due to the Internet, and who share with like minded others through the Internet, or who simply talk about the fun of reading comics and graphic novels on the Internet. People like me, and like my daughter, and my daughter’s friends. Folks who would never buy what is being sold by the Campbell cover, but might buy the Dekal cover because the idea of a young, hip, black Iron (Man) is cool. Who buys the Mockingbird #8 *because* of the cover, or at least celebrates it, not despite it. Who network with others who feel the way they do. They – we – are not as apt to post on fan or industry or media sites, because they’re – we’re – too busy reading the comics to waste time on the sound and the fury of the idiots, but we’re there. Oh, yeah – we’re there.

    Okay, so I realize the “for every outraged reader there’s a delighted one” statement may be off base, and maybe the comic book industry is taking a hit for being more diverse than it was before. But honestly, what I see all around me is more and more people buying comics, and being excited by comics and reading comics and talking about comics because of that diversity. They don’t care about the blustering outrage because they are too busy enjoying a comic book industry that speaks to them – about strong women who aren’t popping out of their spandex suits, about new ideas sparking old tropes, about black spidermen and Chinese supermen and female ironmen. (They do, however, care about the abuse of those creators in the industry that have to deal with threats and intimidation; if my daughter and her friends are any indication, this makes them want to support the Chelsea Cains of the world even more, buying comic books on principle rather than due to outright interest in the story.)

    So yes, while I understand when you say “The Internet Ruined Comics”, and I agree with your outrage and your just being fed up with it all, remember that there are those of us out there where the Internet has actually saved comic books, because we have become aware of the joy of comic books because of the Internet, and we bolster our own fandom on the Internet, and we use the Internet as a means to delight in what we’ve found, rather than caring one whit about some foul mouthed, um, troll who might be hyperventilating about the lack of tits and ass on – like you said – a comic they probably wouldn’t be reading anyway. You just don’t hear from us as often. We’re too busy reading new releases. Because we buy them. Every week.

    But thanks, Dante, for your insight, and thanks for your well written commentary, and above all, thanks for caring. Now, I’ve gotta go… the new issue of “Bitch Planet” just dropped today, and I can’t wait to read it…. /wink

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