The comic book industry has been hit hard by a lot of Social Justice-oriented critiques. Super heroines are expected to be drawn more realistically these days; their outfits are supposed to be less titillating. Stories that don’t toe specific sociopolitical lines are dragged out into the open and flogged by various media outlets for going too far one way or not properly representing one group of individuals or another. Worse yet, if you’re an artist or a writer who happens to cross the path of certain sociopolitical instigators within the industry, you could find yourself on an politically-motivated blacklist.
Nick Monroe, an infrequent contributor to One Angry Gamer, penned a lengthy investigative piece into the comic book industry over on Break.com. The article is nearly 30 pages long and covers the embattled state of the comic book landscape throughout the years, as artists and creators have faced lots of censorship dating back since the 1950s. However, while the Comics Code Authority – a stringent set of rules that comics had to abide by – has been retired from the industry, a new form of content censorship and watchdog advocacy has popped up.
This time it’s Social Justice Warriors doing the policing within the comic book industry, pointing out “problematic” art and “toxic” artists and creators. After wrecking havoc in the gaming industry, the liberal group of millennials have set their sights on the printed and digital pages of graphic novels and popular comics.
According to the article, a group of three women run a site called ComiCreep, led by a certain Rachel Sharp. It’s designed to list people in the comic book industry who may have committed some act of harassment or abuse and supposedly deserves to be blacklisted. They state on the site that it’s pretty much designed to make it difficult for these people to work in the comic book industry…
“If you don’t support this project because you disagree with our decisions, that’s okay. It’s going to happen. If you want to make your own list, we fully support that, too. The more pressure on publishers to kick creeps out of comics, the better.”
This was reiterated in a tweet where they made it known that they want “creeps” out of the comic book industry.
ComiCreep mostly relies on Bleeding Cool and The Mary Sue (amongst others) to provide them with evidence against those labeled as abusers or “creeps”.
Break’s article cites a quote from The Mary Sue, who tried to defend the list as a “defense” against certain kinds of people, writing…
“Now, keep in mind that boycotts in comics are tricky things, because they don’t only affect their targets. They affect everyone working on a book, so use your conscience and your best judgement. Also, keep in mind that this list is not so that people can go harass the people named on the list. (Sharp explicitly discourages this.) The list is strictly to be used as a resource. That’s the spirit with which it has been posted, and the spirit with which we here at TMS advise that it should be used. It’s defense, not offense.”
The list consists of things like physical assault, as well as more ambiguous charges such as “creepery”.
Some people questioned the purpose of the list given that one of the entries has been deceased for quite some time and another individual on the list, Nathan Edmondson, has no cited evidence as to what he actually did that could be labeled as harassment or assault.
So what about the people on this blacklist who haven’t actually committed any felonies but are just labeled as “creepy”? Well, according to ComicCreep these people are on the list because “Abusers escalate”, making them potential evildoers.
It’s a little like preemptive charges of guilt before anything has actually happened.
According to the Break piece, various prominent individuals within the industry are well aware of the incidents listed on ComiCreep, but so far the media has portrayed it as a useful resource rather than as an employment blacklisting tool.
For the people who haven’t actually committed any acts of abuse or sexual related felonies, they’re basically on the list as a shaming tactic. A similar list was used to try to keep certain developers from being hired in the gaming industry when Randi Lee Harper’s GGAutoblocker was making the rounds during the height of #GamerGate, including being used at one point by the International Game Developers Association.
(Main image courtesy of Kukuruyo)