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Saturday, November 25, 2006 

Someone tells what the problem is with today's publishers

Occasional Superheroine, which may be written by an industry insider, gives some insight into what's led comic books down the wrong path (Hat tip: Bobb). Note that it's got some very profane language and graphic content, but in any case, this entry, Goodbye to Comics #7, has something to give a clue about what's wrong:
My theoretical comic company, which, for the theoretical purposes of my theoretical memoir, I’ll call Gilgongo! Comix, was tired of being “pushed around” in the sales wars and in the court of fanboy opinion (such as it was). So with all the red-nosed gumption and determination of Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” Gilgongo! Comix decided to go badass.

They needed a rape. Because there’s nothing quite so badass as rape, lets face it. And the victim couldn’t been from the usual suspects: “The Black Raven” (done that already plus ovaries ripped out), “Bondage Queen” (wasn’t she raped like every issue--at least mentally?), “Demon-Girl” (she was already paralyzed from the last pseudo-raping and that provided all sorts of logistical nightmares for the artist).

No, they had to find the most innocent, virginal, good-natured “nice” character they could find and ravage her not once but twice.

Theoretically, this character’s name was Vicki Victim.

A whole groundbreaking limited series would be built around Vicki Victim’s rape and murder.

This made me nervous. In the office, I was known as being innocent, virginal, good-natured, and “nice”. I was kidded on it on a regular basis, as well as being told it was exactly those qualities that were “holding me back.”

Of course, it was silly to identify with a dumb old comic character.

Vicki Victim’s fate was sealed in a Gilgongo! Comics confab in which we explored how we could change our comics to be more “badass.” It was decided that the reason we were trailing in sales was because we were “too good-natured and nice.” This would have to stop. Our books needed a grittier edge. We needed a grittier edge.

So our books changed. There was rape, and murder, torture, death, and mutiliation. Superheroes did amoral or outright evil things and the line between good and bad was blurred.

And you know what?

Our sales improved. And this is a fact.
Learning about this, I'm going to have to be quite honest, but it gives a whole new meaning to the term, "we are our own worst enemy." Because clearly, they were counting on us, the consumers, not to use our common sense and better judgement about buying into a book that stooped as low as Identity Crisis did.

In fact, from personal experience, I once visited an entertainment website a few years ago that first began as a pretty decent one where the staff and people who frequented the forum had rationale. But then, a few years afterwards, some of people with better judgement began to leave, and soon afterwards, people with less common sense quickly took over. I'm not going to name the site, as I once had an ugly spat with the site owner, and by now, I really don't want to cause him any more trouble than I did, but I will say that at first, he seemed like a sensible guy. However, he then did a peculiar volte-face and began pandering to low denominators, not to mention dumbing down the output of his own site (virtually all the op-eds there started becoming more like promotional ads, and only the site owner himself could be critical, and it wasn't exactly the industry itself). The site lost a lot of audience, and those who began to become more frequent there were the most prejudiced of trolls, the kind who even worshiped Mark Millar. But what really dealt the site the death knell was when the owner published a vulgar little op-ed of his own against a woman in the industry, that was apparently intended to uphold screeds like Identity Crisis (but very confusingly at that), and the fatal flaw was that he said she should "pull the stick out."

When I realized what he was saying, I was horrified, because he was more or less insulting a woman, and it made me feel embarrassed to be wasting my precious time there. I got into an angry argument with the site owner, telling him he should apologize to his target. Alas, he wouldn't do it, nor would he speak to me anymore. No matter, because I had had enough there. But even after I quit writing on the site's board, I went back at one point to look over some messages written there, and was alarmed to find that, on a thread started by one of the moderators, a troll had written a post in which he said that he loved Identity Crisis because it contained, in his words, "a fight scene, violence, rape." And noone ever complained about it, nor was it even deleted. Clearly, I had chosen to bail out in the nick of time.

A couple months later, I learned that the site owner actually had (belatedly) apologized to the woman he attacked, and even made an attempt, superficial as it was, to let some dissent be voiced upon his op-eds section about Identity Crisis. But the damage had been done. People saw that he was part of the problem, as he had been picking one-sided arguments with various people on the forum, and since he wrote that foolish "editorial" of his, quite a few people either walked out or got kicked out altogether. Finally, the site shut down.

You could almost say that the now defunct site I cite was a perfect example of the kind of people who were buying into Identity Crisis, and various other books that feature sensationalistic rapes inside, but that would be too much of a generalization. Because apparently, it's not just people with perverted sickness buying them, but even those whom you'd think had more common sense inside. And unless the better crowd starts to learn why they shouldn't, the comics industry is going to keep on with it, and it'll likely happen again.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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