Last month, DC Comics found itself smack in the middle of a
brouhaha possible only in free-speech loving America. The publisher planned to
issue a digital comic entitled Adventures of Superman
and follow the ethereal publication with a print version. But when the writer
of one of the Adventures stories was
announced, the ether turned lethal
Orson Scott Card, author of the sf End Game series, is a noted homophobe,
(“sorry—‘gay marriage opponent’ as wire.com put it), and when his presence on
the project was announced, the social media panicked in all directions at once.
Within days, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender activist website
AllOut.org collected more than 11,000 signatures on an online petition asking
DC to drop Card from the project.
hiring Orson Scott Card despite his anti-gay efforts, you are giving him a new
platform and supporting his hate," the petition reads. "We need to
let DC Comics know they can't support Orson Scott Card or his work to keep LGBT
people as second-class citizens."
is on the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage, has
written many essays on the subject, including a particularly nasty one in 2004
that likened marriage equality to the end of civilization, wrote Brian Truitt
at USA Today.
DC reacted to all the excitement with a statement: "As content creators we
steadfastly support freedom of expression, however the personal views of individuals
associated with DC Comics are just that — personal views — and not those of the
written comics before, and others in the industry expressed the available range
to have writer Orson Scott Card fired for his social views is as fascistic as
politicians condemning a sexual preference," tweeted Mark Millar, a writer for Ultimate
Fantastic Four, Kick-Ass and Wanted.
Jim McCann, who is openly gay, says,
"A company has the right to hire whomever they choose ... and Mr. Card has
the right under the First Amendment to freely speak his beliefs, no matter how
hateful and archaic they may be. In turn, however, the fans have the same right
to express their disappointment and outrage against his hiring.''
So far, I
agree with both. But Millar is on the side of the angels. Those who support gay
rights (among whom I count myself) do so, I assume, at least partly because
they believe we’re all equal and are therefore entitled to the same rights. They
are, ipso facto, against any effort to deprive anyone of rights enjoyed by
others. To march against Card in this case is to enlist in the ranks of their
opposition, those seeking to deny equal rights. A delicious but terrible
irrationality of the fussing didn’t stop it. Comic-shop retailers jumped into
the fray, according to Truitt, some announcing that they would not carry the
book version of the digital comic.
the artist who was to draw Card’s story, Chris
Sprouse, announced that he was withdrawing from the project. Graeme
McMillan at Wired.com took up the story:
“It took a
lot of thought to come to this conclusion,” Sprouse explained. “The media
[attention] surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from
the actual work, and that’s something I wasn’t comfortable with. My
relationship with DC Comics remains as strong as ever and I look forward to my
next project with them.”
action, DC said: “We fully support, understand, and respect Chris’s decision to
step back from his Adventures of Superman
assignment. Chris is a hugely talented artist, and we’re excited to work with
him on his next DC Comics project. In the meantime, we will re-solicit the
story at a later date when a new artist is hired.”
story appears to be on permanent hold, reported McMillan: it “will not appear
in either the digital or print editions of Adventures
from DC Entertainment on the issue specifically mentioned that the publisher
“will re-solicit the story at a later date when a new artist is hired.” Of
course, finding an artist willing to work on the story after it has provoked
online petitions and outcry against Card’s hiring in the first place may be
easier said than done.
non-homophobic Adventures of Superman No.1 was launched digitally on April 29, with the print edition following on May 29.
It’s unknown whether the stores that were planning to boycott the issue or
donate their proceeds to LGBT charities will continue to do so in light of this
So who won?
Is this a victory for gay rights or for fascist suppression of dissenting
views? Or for the whimsies of the marketplace? I say the latter — and the
marketplace has always been fascistic in the realm of the almighty dollar.