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At least three more retailers have joined Dallas’ Zeus Comics in deciding not to stock the first issue of the DC Comics anthology Adventures of Superman, which features a story by sci-fi author and vocal gay-rights opponent Orson Scott Card.
Citing the author’s efforts against the legalization of same-sex marriage, Whatever Store in San Francisco, I Like Comics in Vancouver, Washington, and Ralph’s Comic Corner in Ventura, California, have all said they won’t carry the print edition of the digital-first comic when it’s released May 29. (However, Mike Sterling, manager of Ralph’s, said his store will still order “the couple of copies for customers who have preexisting, ongoing comic savers for Superman items.”)
Best known for his award-winning 1985 novel Ender’s Game, Card has become notorious for his outspoken views on homosexuality and his advocacy against gay rights. A board member of the National Organization for Marriage, a group dedicated to the opposition of same-sex marriage, the author has tried to link homosexuality to childhood molestation, and advocated home-schooling to ensure children “are not propagandized with the ‘normality’ of ‘gay marriage.'” Following rulings by “dictator-judges” in 2008 that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, Card infamously endorsed a government overthrow.
DC’s announcement last week that he would contribute to Adventures of Superman sparked almost immediate outcry, leading the gay-rights advocacy initiative All Out to spearhead a petition demanding the publisher drop the author. As of this afternoon, more than 12,000 people have signed. DC is standing firm, however, releasing a statement that said, “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 company itself.”
National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, whose group launched boycotts last year against Starbucks and General Mills for their support of marriage equality, spoke out against the Card backlash, saying, “This is completely un-American and it needs to be stopped, “Simply because we stand up for traditional marriage, some people feel like it’s okay to target us for intimidation and punishment.”
For the three retailers, the issue comes down to whether they can justify supporting, even in a small way, someone who advocates denying marriage rights to lesbians and gays.
“We refuse to give money to someone who will then turn around and use that money to fund more anti-gay hatred,” Whatever Store wrote on its Facebook page.
In an email to ROBOT 6, I Like Comics owner Chris Simons explained, “After reading about what he [Card] believes and what he does to back up those beliefs I’ve just made the decision not to carry that book either. While Washington just recently legalized gay marriage I’m in a part of the state that definitely leans to the conservative and I expect some fallout from my actions. I know how naive this may sound, but it’s what Clark Kent would do. To me, at their core, comics are mostly about doing the right thing no matter what the cost. If I can see this and back it up with my actions I can’t imagine why DC can’t do the same.”
Sterling, a longtime comics blogger, acknowledged his store’s position on Card is a little inconsistent, but said in this situation a boundary has been crossed. “I know, I know … we carried the Ender’s Game comics. We’ve carried other comics by creators with reprehensible positions (though mostly expressed via Internet hot air, rather than being on a board, like Card, to try to enforce those positions on people),” he wrote this morning on his blog. “But this particular Superman comic is the one where the line is being drawn, where a message is hopefully being sent that we don’t want to support someone who is on the wrong side of history, on the wrong side of progress, and, when you get right down to it, on the wrong side of basic human decency.”
UPDATE (Saturday, Feb. 16, at 6:45 a.m.): Funny Business in Nyack, New York, also won’t be stocking the comic, with owner Chris Barchuk writing in ROBOT 6’s comments, “I would never tell one of my customers that I will not order a book for them. They are the customer and have the right to read whatever they want. What I did tell my customers is that I will not stock this book on my shelves and if they want it they will have [to] special order it. (Just so that you know not a single customer has asked to order it.)”
“He continued, “What I really find odd in this whole thing is Mr Cards decision to work for DC. To me it shows a lack of conviction on his part. For Mr Card to have these wild opinions about gay marriage and then agree to work for a company that 7 months ago reintroduced a major character(Alan Scott) as a gay man who in his first appearance asks his gay lover to marry him just seems strange. I am very much so a supporter of equal rights and if I for example knew that a company was supportive of the KKK I would never turn a blind eye to that fact for a paycheck. Mr Card has made comments about overthrowing the government if the legalize gay marriage but yet he will work for a company that seems very open to the idea of gay marriage and gay rights? … Not to let DC off the hook I also find it is sending a confusing message when they so actively support the gay lifestyle yet they hire someone who is so against that. It shows a lack of forethought on their part not seeing this as a confusing message.”
Meanwhile, Challengers Comics in Chicago is taking a different approach to the controversy. In a blog post titled “All Things Being Equal,” the store revealed it will donate all of its profits from the sales of Card’s Adventures of Superman to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay-rights advocacy group: “I think [Challengers co-owner] W. Dal Bush put it best when we were discussing this via email: ‘I’d rather take his book, that his royalties might go to anti-equality causes, and use it to fund pro-equality causes. Plus our profits per book are more than his royalties per book, so, like, double f**k him.’”