Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
The February announcement that Orson Scott Card would write a chapter of DC Comics’ new digital-first Adventures of Superman anthology sparked controversy in some circles, as readers and retailers objected to the sci-fi author’s anti-gay activism. Card isn’t just an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, he is a board member of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that lobbies against marriage equality.
At the time, several retailers announced they would not carry the comic, while others felt that refusing to carry the title would be tantamount to censorship.
The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, California, figured out a graceful way around the controversy: It would sell Card’s comic and donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the group Freedom to Marry, which supports legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide. The owners of Illusive Comics and Games, in Santa Clara, decided to do the same. And then DC got a reprieve of sorts, when artist Chris Sprouse dropped out of the project and Card’s story was postponed indefinitely.
The first issue of Adventures of Superman was released this week with some fanfare but no controversy. Nonetheless, the co-owners of The Comic Bug, Jun Goeku and Mike Wellman, will donate 20 percent of this week’s profits to Freedom to Marry, and Illusive will do the same.
“The customers who shop at The Comic Bug are from all walks of life and with this week’s fundraiser, we want to let them know that we embrace them all,” Goeku told The Beach Reporter. Both shops will also have a jar for customers who want to make a further donation to the cause.
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. While most readers in the United States are enjoying a three-day weekend, our contributors are already looking to the week ahead, from the comics arriving on shelves Wednesday to 2D, the Northern Ireland Comics Festival, which kicks off Thursday.
It’s always a great feeling when you find good comics in a place you weren’t suspecting. But as a reader, fan and journalist, I was surprised at how good the DC Comics digital titles are. But why? DC has put out great books, and continues to do so now with some of its New 52 line-up; I was also a big fan of the publisher’s previous digital-first endeavors with Zuda. Why then is it so surprising that the current crop of DC Digital is good? Then I figured it out.
First, a primer: Launched in early 2012, the DC Digital titles premiere online with weekly installments and are later collected in print. Originally consisting of just two series, Batman Beyond Unlimited and Smallville: Season 11 (both coincidentally continuations of canceled television shows), the line expanded in the fall with the anthology-style Legends of the Dark Knight, companions to the TV drama Arrow and the video game Injustice: Gods Amongst Us, and Batman: Li’l Gotham. The imprint’s most recent addition is an anthology called Adventures of Superman.
“I am thrilled to be well remembered, and respected in the comic book community, and to have fans willing to pay me to draw commissions, but I got into comics in order to tell stories, not to draw custom art. I still feel vital, and still want to be at that table. Do I think DC comics owes me anything? Yes and no. I understand that no company owes anything that isn’t contractually stipulated, but in my heart, I think I deserve better than being marginalized over the last 10 years. I’m not retired, I’m not financially independent. I’m a working guy with a family, working for a flat page rate that hasn’t changed substantially since 1995. I may have opportunities at smaller companies, companies that pay less per page than I made in 1988, with no royalties or ownership of any kind. I’m not at all looking down at that, but it is hard to reconcile, as I can’t work faster, and refuse to hack my work out to match the rate. I have pride in what I do, and always have. As to my part in the history of DC for the past 33 years, I was a highly visible and successful part of it, not a minor footnote. […] all I ask is for some of the same consideration my generation of creators and editors gave to the older guard in the 1980’s. My work is still sharp, my mind is still full of stories to tell, and I’m still willing to work all hours of my day to meet my deadlines. Why am I out of work from the publishers? Why are my friends, people who turned in great work, worthy of hardcover and trade paperback reprints, not able to get work?”
– veteran artist and writer Jerry Ordway in an essay titled “Life over fifty,” lamenting the lack of regular work from DC Comics, where he once worked on such titles as Adventures of Superman, All-Star Squadron, Infinity Inc. and The Power of SHAZAM!
The backlash to DC Comics’ decision to hire sci-fi author and vocal gay-rights opponent Orson Scott Card for its new Adventures of Superman anthology could create ripples felt beyond the comparatively small comics industry.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the spotlight on Card’s contentious views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage — he’s tried to link homosexuality to childhood molestation, and advocated government overthrow if marriage equality were upheld — arrives at an inopportune time for Summit Entertainment, which is adapting the author’s acclaimed 1985 novel Ender’s Game.
Even as the Twilight Saga studio begins to parcel out promotional materials (Battle School logos debuted just last night) in the buildup to the Nov. 1 opening of the $110 million film, mainstream-media outlets are reporting on the author’s involvement with the National Organization for Marriage, a group dedicated to the opposition of same-sex marriage and gay adoption, and the calls for DC to drop Card from the Superman comic. It makes Summit’s Comic-Con International plans problematic, to say the least.
Publishing | This wrap-up of the third annual India Comic Con, which drew an estimated 50,000 attendees (up from 15,000 last year), doubles as a snapshot of that country’s $22 million comics industry. The growth of the market is attributed in large part to the rise of graphic novels, which are luring young-adult readers. [The Times of India]
Comics | Writing for The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky weighs in on the backlash over DC Comics hiring Orson Scott Card in an article titled “The Real Reason to Fear a Homophobe Writing a Superman Comic”: “It’s disturbing to have Orson Scott Card writing Superman, then, in part because Superman is supergood, and the supergood shouldn’t hate gay people. But it’s also disturbing, perhaps, because Superman is a violent vigilante — and because violent vigilantism in the name of good is often directed not against injustice, but against the powerless.” [The Atlantic]
Manga | The widow of Barefoot Gen creator Keiji Nakazawa, has found 16 pages of penciled notes and sketches for a possible sequel to Nakazawa’s semi-autobiographical account of living through the Hiroshima bombing and its aftermath. Before he died in December, Nakazawa donated the first 16 pages of the projected volume to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum; this is the outline for the second set of pages. The new story would have taken Gen to Tokyo to become a manga creator, just as Nakazawa did in real life. [Anime News Network]
Comics | Glen Weldon, who writes about comics for National Public Radio, explains why he, as a gay man, won’t be reading Orson Scott Card’s issues of Adventures of Superman: “DC Comics has handed the keys to the ‘Champion of the Oppressed’ to a guy who has dedicated himself to oppress me, and my partner, and millions of people like us. It represents a fundamental misread of who the character is, and what he means. It is dispiriting. It is wearying. It is also, finally, not for me.” [NPR]
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.
Faced with the growing backlash over its decision to hire sci-fi author and vocal gay-rights opponent Orson Scott Card to contribute to its new Adventures of Superman anthology, DC Comics has issued a response that may do little to satisfy critics.
In a statement released to The Advocate and Fox News Radio, the publisher 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.”
Best known for his award-winning 1985 novel Ender’s Game, Card has become notorious for his writings over the past decade on homosexuality and his outspoken opposition to marriage equality. A board member of the National Organization for Marriage, a group dedicated to the opposition of same-sex marriage, Card in 2008 endorsed the overthrow of the government following rulings by “dictator-judges” upholding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
As the calls grow for DC Comics to drop Ender’s Game author and outspoken gay-rights opponent Orson Scott Card from its digital-first Adventures of Superman, the first retailer has stepped forward to say he won’t order the print edition of the new anthology.
“Zeus Comics will not be carrying the print edition of writer Orson Scott Card’s Superman,” Richard Neal, owner of the Dallas store, wrote this afternoon on his Facebook page. “Card sits on the board of the National Organization of Marriage which fights against marriage equality. His essays advocate the destruction of my relationship, that I am born of rape or abuse and that I am equated with pedophilia. These themes appear in his fiction as well. It is shocking DC Comics would hire him to write Superman, a character whose ideals represent all of us.”
He continued, “If you replaced the word ‘homosexuals’ in his essays with the words ‘women’ or ‘Jews,’ he would not be hired. But I’m not sure why its still okay to ‘have an opinion’ about gays? This is about equality.”
Zeus Comics was the recipient of the 2006 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, presented to a store “that has done an outstanding job of supporting the comic art medium both in the community and within the industry at large.”
Adventures of Superman debuts online April 29 and in print May 29.
Just days after announcing its latest digital-first anthology Adventures of Superman, DC Comics faces a growing wave of criticism for hiring Ender’s Game author, and vocal gay-rights opponent, Orson Scott Card to write the first chapter.
An online petition calling on the publisher to drop the “virulently anti-gay writer” has already drawn more than 4,800 signers. And while comic book fans and petitions seem to go hand in hand — it was just last month Marvel was being called upon to cancel Avengers Arena — this effort is being spearheaded by All Out, an initiative of the Purpose Foundation advocating for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. The drive has already attracted the attention of mainstream media outlets like The Guardian and The Huffington Post.
The superheroes-themed episode of PBS’s Pioneers of Television we mentioned Monday is now available online, so you can see for yourself as this week’s installment spans the decades, from Adventures of Superman in the 1950s to The Greatest American Hero in the 1980s.
As you’d expect, the episode contains interviews with the likes of Lynda Carter, Adam West, Julie Newmar, Burt Ward, Lou Ferrigno and Jack Larson. Watch the episode in full below:
PBS’s Pioneers of Television series celebrates “the visionaries who shaped a fledgling medium,” and Tuesday night’s episode is all about superheroes. Covering every decade from the ’50s to the ’80s, it digs into The Adventures of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk and The Greatest American Hero. Interviews include Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Lynda Carter, Lou Ferrigno and William Katt. Hopefully they make Julie Newmar and William Katt team up.
To promote the episode, PBS has put a ton of content from it on its website. There’s a preview of the episode, mini-essays about some of the shows, excerpts from some of the interviews, profiles of the actors and a terrific photo gallery. It’s a great way to kill some time while waiting for the real thing to air.
When Mark Waid concedes someone knows more than he does on a subject (in this case the 1940s ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN radio program), it gets my attention. Both at his BOOM! blog, as well as a review at Amazon, Waid wrote in praise of Michael J. Hayde‘s 536-page book, Flights of Fantasy: The Unauthorized but True Story of Radio & TV’s Adventures of Superman. So I tracked Hayde (a self-described “writer and researcher of radio & television history”) down to discuss his book in an email interview. In the interview, we also discuss his upcoming interview (tomorrow [August 28] at 11:30 PM [EST]) with Howard Margolin for Margolin’s show Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction over WUSB-FM.
Tim O’Shea: How satisfying was it when Mark Waid (popular comics writer and current EIC of BOOM Comics) wrote: “I’m as big a fan and student of the 1940s ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN radio program as anyone alive, and I thought I was the expert. I was wrong. Added bonus: I learned GOBS from Flights of Fantasy about the 1950s television show…The book is well-written, well put-together, detailed without being mind-numbing (YMMV), and a testament to stupendous research.”
Michael J. Hayde: That was a HUGE thrill! I didn’t know Mark personally, but people who did were plugging the book simply because he liked it. He wrote in his review for Amazon.com that he’d been researching the “Superman” radio show for 30 years. That’s about 27 years more than me. That I was able to uncover things he didn’t know doesn’t speak badly about his research, but about the sorry state of accessible information about the radio show. Very little material was available, so some bad guesses were made by a few historians and authors over the years. Anthony Tollin, the historian for Radio Spirits, tried to correct some of these myths in the booklets that accompanied the audio box sets back in the late 1990’s, but they didn’t reach a wide audience. Just last year, a radio-themed book mentioned a “limited regional run” of “Superman” radio shows during 1939. That’s a myth. The four episodes that have been cited as “evidence” of such a run were audition recordings that never aired. Superman’s radio debut was during the week of February 12, 1940, period.