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Sunday, April 21, 2013 

What was discussed about Orson Scott Card at the Soho Art Gallery

Bleeding Cool posted an account by a visitor to the Soho Art Gallery for their lecture about "Superman vs. Orson Scott Card." Among the panelists was a former Star Trek writer named David Gerrold, who said:
Gerrold, live in videocast from his home in California, opened the discussion with a few statements about his reaction to Orson Scott Card’s religious and political activism in the context of work on the beloved character (and franchise) Superman. Gerrold felt that “DC has to be considered the premier comic book publisher in the world”, though he didn’t seek to “denigrate” other companies. Superman, he observed, is one of the most “problematic” characters within the DCU because he is “so super” and “stands for justice”. Gerrold declared that Superman has “never denigrated…or judged human beings unless committing some kind of terrible offense against other human beings” and so placing an openly anti-gay writer in the mix with such an iconic hero is a decisive mistake.
Gee, that's like saying that if somebody merely supported marxism, fascism, socialism, communism, nazism and racism, that Superman wouldn't say or do anything. And funny how he doesn't say it was the writers who never denigrated other humans for the same reasons, because that's the real argument he should be making. What a buffoon.

And unforuntately, even Paul Kupperberg managed to make a loon out of himself:
Before opening discussion among the panellists, Ordover reminded the audience that Card was, in fact, hired to produce only a 10 page digital Adventures of Superman story, and this poses a question of exactly how much impact one more short comic by a homophobic writer would have really had on the industry. Despite the relatively minor project under discussion, Kupperberg still speculated that DC “didn’t really realize Card’s politics” before allowing him to handle such a significant franchise. “Once they realized the problem”, he said, “they looked for a way to back out of it as gracefully as possible”. He based this on his previous work for DC when he saw much less overt blandishments of sensitive topics. He commented that in over 70 years of Superman’s existence, Card was “not the first bigot” to work with the character by any means, but DC have been more successful in keeping a lid on it in the past. [...] Kupperberg, for his part, wished that DC had just gone ahead and published the story and allowed it to “flop” since that makes a “bigger statement than trying to end a career directly”. The panellists moved closer to the gist of the problem posed by the event, whether blacklisting is ever an acceptable mode of operation, when Kupperberg stated, “I don’t want anybody saying ‘You can’t say that’”, as an infringement of civil liberties and freedom of speech.
Granted, he did take the right path by agreeing that a blacklist would be the wrong way to go. But if he's quoted correctly calling Card a "bigot", that's still very offensive, and reinforces the perception that this whole panel was biased against Card from the start, a chance to demonize anyone whom they disagreed with.
[Jeff] Trexler brought the legal view DC’s unsavoury situation when dealing with Card by outlining some of the problems they might face as publishers “keeping somebody off their job for their religious beliefs”. He also pointed out that Superman has some clout as a gay icon because of his “fluid identity” when it comes to relationships.
This lacks so much logic it's almost funny. When was Superman ever in a gay relationship? His relations were with women like Lois Lane, Lana Lang, and even at one time the mermaid Lori Lemaris. I fail to see what he's getting at, except inducing giggles. While a former editor for DC made at least one mistake:
[Joseph Phillip] Illidge commented, however, that comic books themselves are “the antithesis of equality” in handling diversity, and DC have carefully controlled who gets to work on Superman books over the years, falling back on “Caucasian heterosexual males” almost exclusively. Illidge asserted that, “DC’s historical actions with Superman have been tantamount to blacklisting” anyway, since African Americans, women, lesbians, and transgender people have never been allowed near creative work on Superman.
I spot a boo-boo there. Women were never allowed to write the adventures of Superman? Wrong. Louise Simonson's portfolio contains plenty, and she launched a spinoff in 1991 called Superman: The Man of Steel, and was the main writer for several years. She was also unfortunately an architect of the Death of Superman storyline in 1992 (and Dan Jurgens, a writer/artist whose past work I usually like, was sadly in a similar position with Zero Hour in 1994), a low point in a career that had plenty of impressive moments. Why, Dwayne McDuffie's hiring several years ago to write Justice League might at least half contradict Illidge's claim that African-Americans couldn't work on Superman.

But if that's how they feel, then what's their take on Marvel, which might've had a similar problem in the past? This brings to mind the case of Peter David early in his career, when he was taken off Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man after about a year because the editors didn't think that a novice should be assigned to write Spidey. How come only DC's being criticized here and not Marvel?

None of the panelists openly advocated blacklisting, but I can guess why Card's nemeses went on the warpath against him so viciously: if a Chick-Fil-A appreciation day could work wonders, they must've feared conservatives would decide to take the chance and support the book they planned to publish, even though DC's management is hardly deserving of it themselves. But while the artist may have backed out on his own accord, I can't help but wonder: did DC pressure him to behind the scenes so they wouldn't have to deal with fallout that wasn't bound to happen thanks to the addictive collectors who'd back the book anyway?

At the end of the panel, to show just how much some of the panelists have it in for Card:
The evening concluded with a final word from the panellists to sum up their view of the Card situation. “I’m done”, said Kupperberg, having made his position clear. “He’s a dick”, [Adam] DeKraker said calmly.
He may have said it calmly, but it was still very rude, and another sign of how poor the etiquette of some of these people really is. How do they expect to convince a wider public that their side is sincere if they're going to be so crude with their references to Card, and sound more like they're jealous of his success?

Update: it looks like Marvel's been throwing Card under the bus too: they omitted his name from an online promo for a compilation of the Ender's Game comic:
Remarkably, the repackaged Ender's Game comic, released in time for the movie, managed not to mention Orson Scott Card in the title on Amazon's credits. Do you think that will be enough to avoid a protest and/or boycott? No, me neither. Left is how Marvel used to do it...
Does this mean they're not going to do any projects with him anymore? If not, they're just as disgraceful.

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"Superman vs. Orson Scott Card," try "Why you should hate Orson Scott Card" as a better title. Talk about a waste of time.

I guess Gerrold, Kupperberg and the others really had nothing better to do. I want to say something witty and clever, but I got nothing. Same old, same old hate rage.

Also, stay classy, Marvel.

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