Comicsgaters are Awful & Stupid
At some point during my latter college years, I was listening to a radio show on NPR which specialized in music from emerging acts from all over the world. On this night, they played a song from a little band from Britain who the host was quite excited about as they blended the styles of folk music with Brit pop/rock. I was intrigued and needless to say this song from this little English band blew me away as it was unlike anything I had heard before. Upon getting home I downloaded the few songs of theirs I could find (totally through legal means of course *wink wink nudge nudge*). This band was, Mumford & Sons and about a year or so following this, they exploded. Now, this put me in the position which many hipsters bemoan being in, I was a fan of a band before they were popular. Call me crazy if you will, but I was happy about this. Mumford & Sons was a very talented band and they deserved all the success they now found. It was so nice that now when I gushed about my love for this band people went “Oh yeah Little Lion Man is a great song” instead of “I don’t know what you’re doing in my room but I’m about to call the cops you crazy man”. This is why I do not understand an element of geek culture that has become far too prevalent for my tastes, and that is gatekeeping. The idea that someone takes on the mantle of some kind of made-up standards enforcer who can judge if someone is truly a fan or not. In their minds they are protectors who are defending fandom from the supposed “fake fans” who are trying to take over.
This boggles my mind, because first off, I don’t recall voting for anyone to “defend the honor of fandom” and secondly if you love something you should want it to spread to others. However, with so many aspects of fandom barging into the mainstream now, the number of mutton heads taking on this role is only growing. We have tons of people now who do not know Secret Wars (1985) from Secret Wars (2015) who consider themselves fans of Marvel based solely on films, television, and video games. Instead of welcoming them into the fold and being like “If you love the Avengers, check out this stuff from Kurt Busiek and George Perez” far too many people are chasing them off. In comic books this ideology has been distilled into something particularly ugly known as comicsgate. What makes comicsgating far worse than it already is on merely a surface level is the fact that it is built on a foundation of misogyny, racism, and homophobia. I personally believe if you are a racist, homophobe or misogynist you need to get up from the table and walk into the sea, and probably not come back to society until you have learned a thing or two. Things are not helped by the fact that with the election of a certain moronic orange man-child to the White House extreme right wing hatred has become far more prevalent as these monsters now feel safe to crawl out of their caves. It is like they are too stupid to realize that throughout the history of comic books, the industry has been pioneered and molded by those pushing progressive ideals. Legends of the industry like; Jerry Siegel, Joe Schuster, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Denny O’Neil, Dwayne McDuffie and countless others have used the medium to push forward an agenda which would have comicgaters foaming at the mouths like pathetic woodland creatures.
Leading the charge in all of this are two guys who mainly see ways to profit off of this ignorance. Richard C. Meyer who is basically some whiney shut-in with a Youtube account and has-been comic artist Ethan Van Sciver. They continue to stoke the fires that women, members of the LGBTQ community, and POC do not belong in comics. Going on long and nonsensical tirades about how they are destroying the business while also asking their dumbass followers to donate to their Paypals, Patrons, GoFundMes or what have you. They have used this money to fund their own endeavors in comic books, like Ethan Van Sciver’s Cyber Frog revival, which will likely never happen. Or Meyer’s Jawbreakers which was ultimately dropped by the publisher when they found out how horrible he was when shop refused to carry the book. Ironically, before all of this started, Van Sciver was famously close friends with the great, brilliant, incredible, any other superlative you have, Gail Simone, who has been a champion of bringing diversity to comicdom.
The problem I am seeing in the wasteland of social media is that comicgaters realize that with more diverse audiences being drawn to the medium, it means the artform itself becomes more diverse. It is inevitable, and also refreshing, because it brings new ideas to the table and allows readers to see something in a different way. This means we get to see stuff, like what happens when an African American man picks up the Captain America shield and how he sees the country differently than a blonde haired, blue-eyed white guy. Or what happens when a woman from earth has to battle cancer while also being worthy to wield the hammer as Thor. But for some losers that would rather see the same boring stories with the same characters on repeat, while also not learning any morals of said stories. All the while failing to realize those old stories and characters do not magically disappear. But logic be damned. This really came to forefront during the explosion in popularity the character of Captain Marvel had in recent years. Even though Mar-Vell died before most of them were born, they think Carol Danvers taking on his old Captain Marvel mantle is tantamount to poisoning the food served to people at a food bank. It became even worse when the movie starring Brie Larson came out. While Captain Marvel may not have been the greatest Marvel film, it was no Thor: Dark World. This brought the character into the mainstream like never before, which meant girls were now allowed into the superhero clubhouse in a big way. Their response to all of this would have been hilarious were it not for all the disgusting vitriol they had. Suffice it to say, Brie Larson pretty much lives rent free in their heads as they have poured hours of effort into demonizing her. There are far too many videos on Youtube of these insecure dweebs masking their misogyny with statements like “she can’t act” (she has a flipping Oscar) “she doesn’t smile” (yeah, because normal people go around grinning like lunatics).
It is not only characters, but also the creators behind them who face the wrath of these cry babies jealously guarding the gates of fandom. Considering these are actual people it makes what comicsgaters do far worse. While working for Marvel Comics, editor Heather Antos and some of her colleagues had a nice Instagrammable or Tweetable moment (or whatever the kids say nowadays) to get milkshakes. While milkshakes are undoubtedly delicious, this was done as a tribute to the great Flo Steinberg. We normal-minded people would see this and go “coworkers getting along and honoring a trailblazer, that’s nice. Maybe I too should get a tasty frosty treat”. But for far too many jabronis they saw this as an assault on the good traditions of Marvel Comics…..by the people who freaking work at Marvel Comics. Insulting them of only having the jobs they have because of their gender. They also said some other stuff, but because I am a decent person I refuse to repeat them, just rest assured those who would proclaim these kinds of things do not belong in a functioning society. At the end of the day though, Heather Antos is now the incredibly successful editor-in-chief at Valiant and they are still just a bunch of malfunctioning buttheads. But the success of any creative individual means nothing to these clowns (sorry was unintentionally offensive to clowns) if that successful person does not fit their broken mold of a comic creator. Even Ta-Nehisi Coates one of the most esteemed writers of our generation, who has taught at some of the most prestigious schools in the nation and is even recognized as MacArthur Genius has been criticized by these simpletons. Apparently using comic books as a platforms to explore ideas of race, nationalism, and class is too much for their tiny brains so they have resorted to calling him all kinds of awful things on social media. Even the next generation of comic book creators are not safe from these goblins. Best-selling writer Scott Snyder has heroically taken it upon himself to teach classes on the art of writing for DC Comics which is going a long way towards building the next wave of talents. According to Snyder, his students receive no shortage of, transphobic, homophobic, misogynist, and racist insults hurled by the comicsgaters. A while back they started spreading this ridiculous idea that the late legend Darwyn Cooke was someone who would have sided with their idiotic cause. When his widow called them out and said her husband would never do such a thing, they attacked the poor woman for simply not wanting the memory of her great husband desecrated. Having once met Darwyn Cooke at a comic convention, I found him to be outrageously kind and generous so when people insult him AND his widow, I believe those people deserve a smackdown.
I will never shy away from the fact that my geek upbringing was top notch as I spent several hours a week at the comic shop Columbus Comics, owned by an incredibly wonderful man named Pat. This cat is like a real life version of the Doctor from Doctor Who wherein anyone who has spent time with him inevitably walks away having been positively impacted. One of the amazing things about Pat, that I have learned is sadly not always true in all comic shops, is that he welcomed EVERYBODY into his shop. It did not matter if you were an elderly gentleman, a teenage girl, some kind of goth-y teenager, a zookeeper, a diehard fan, or a casual looking to learn more about the superhero they saw in a movie. He was firm in his belief that all things comics, sci-fi etc. should be spread to everyone because there is something that everybody can latch onto and become passionate about. As one of the many people who’s lives was made better by spending time with Pat this was something I took this with me. In all of our wonderful comics culture there is something for someone to fall in love with and they will never find it if some butt-faced jackball demeans them.
As many people are consuming superhero entertainment through various means, we in fandom should be building a bigger tent to welcome more into our club. When we meet someone who fell in love with Wonder Woman thanks to the Patty Jenkins film we should excitedly introduce them to the works of: George Perez, Gail Simone, Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott and numerous others. Unfortunately, these loud and stupid people from the comicsgate world are doing their best to keep anyone who is not a small-minded fool like themselves out of the fun. If you are reading this and you are part of the comicsgate movement or whatever then you are wrong and you should feel bad about yourself. Go broaden your horizon and learn what the world is like outside of your silly perspective.