The State of the Comic Book Union 2020 (Editorial)

Jun 25, 2020

Mad Cave Studios


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2020 has not been kind to the comics industry. The entire publishing side came to a halt during the height of Covid-19. The comic book reading public is still slow to trickle back into local comic shops. A number of major conventions have been canceled this year and as the industry moves forward, it is apparent that the set-up and dynamic of conventions will change to adhere to social distancing.

So that has to be the worst that the comic book industry will suffer right?

Titles were delayed. Titles were canceled. The full effect of the Covid virus on the industry is still taking shape.

Then legendary DC writer Denny O ‘Neil passed away.

Surely, that would be the low point of an already rotten year.

Then June came.

Then a wave of female creators stepped forward on social media leveling sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against a group of men involved in the comic book industry. Everyone from high profile writers and artists, to editors, to members of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. There has been unrest online for almost two weeks now as publishers and creators have come to the defense of the victims.

The abusive underbelly of the industry has been laid bare for the entire world to see as there have been numerous accounts of young women being groomed, groped, and assaulted by veteran creators. These veterans used their connections and influence to trick younger female talent into sexual acts with promises of work and career advancement.

I’ve personally wrestled with how to proceed as a member of the comic press. I believe that each of these accounts should be written about in detail, these scumbags exposed, and the industry made aware of their conduct. These women deserve justice.

But if even one allegation should prove false, and Geeks Worldwide reports the details as facts, we could leave ourselves open to legal action that would put this website out of business. This is simply a risk that as a company we can not afford to take.

But as this is an editorial that falls under the safety of the First Amendment, I could safely say, “In MY opinion, I think anyone who is interested in getting a solid look at who is under scrutiny right now for their behavior should go to Bleeding Cool’s link HERE

Then there is Comicsgate. Ah yes, our industry’s own collection of backward thinking douche bags are still at it. Still spreading their far right-wing idealism. Still “owning the libs”. Still donating money to their mouth pieces to give the illusion that they are making an impact in the business and not secretly funding racist assholes.

King Turd Ethan Van Sciver has come out on a recent live stream (uploaded to YouTube on 6/24/20 entitled “CASTRATE YOURSELVES: The Final SJW purge of Comics LIVE) raging against “the feminist agenda” stating his own slanted views that this kind of behavior is alright. Condoning the sexual mistreatment of women as long as they are SJWs (Social Justice Warriors), protesters, or of a feminist agenda because “their ladies” (Any female in Comicsgate or far-Right leaning politically) would never place themselves in a situation that would lead to rape. Van Sciver would go on to explain that this entire series of allegations was a coordinated attack on the mainstream comic book industry organized by feminists.

What the fuck is going on in 2020? A business that has been knee-capped by a pandemic is now falling into further disarray as the fabric of our industry is pulled apart by power tripping pros and madmen! As I look at the current state of affairs, it is painful just how closely these series of events have mirrored our society at large.

Creators of every ethnic, sexual, religious background and origin are paid on a freelance basis that keeps the cost of publishing low, the wages haven’t changed much since the 1970s. The larger publishers keep the cash and leave their workforce without healthcare, a stable livable wage, any hopes of a retirement and as soon as the unnecessarily aggressive workflow becomes to much… it’s time to replace burnout writers and artists, because the bottom line demands that the show must go on. People need their comics!

We have created an industry where the human beings that make up the business have become secondary to the fictional product they make. Make believe characters have become more important than real lives. Again, I ask you, what the fuck are we doing?

This is the same industry that scrambled to financially help shop owners through the crisis of the virus, but did little for their own talent. It was more important that the failing business model of brick and mortar comic shops stay open than making sure that the workforce who created those monthly comics were able to afford their rent and groceries. We are doing all of this backwards!!!

And it’s not just the industry that is failing itself. It’s the fans. Comic fans are the fucking worst! First, if you claim that you’re a comic fan and your biggest exposure to the medium is the MCU or DCEU films and television shows… then please fuck off! You’re part of the problem.

How many of the millions of moviegoers and television viewers have translated to actual consumers of comics? How many of these rabid “fans” who have hassled or harrassed creators via social media, have actually taken the time to read the litany of works based on their favorite flavor of the month?

Be it Deadpool, Harley Quinn, or whatever second-tier character is being pushed by movie studios to create a new comics-based cash cow? A cash cow that monetarily benefits only the movie studios and leaves the actual comic creators near starving on a measly freelance contract.

I have watched, more than once, fans with faceless Twitter accounts dare to question a creator like Neil Gaiman on his storytelling choices in Sandman. Telling the CREATOR OF THE SERIES, that he either was “doing it wrong” or “didn’t know what he was doing”!

Here’s a huge secret to the comic reading public (and gamers, and film fans and a whole host of other fan bases…sports fans you are the leading assholes when it comes to this)

Your opinion doesn’t matter. When it comes to decision making, storytelling, ownership, and creativity… you’re opinion never has, never will matter.

It doesn’t matter if you own $50,000 worth of Spawn comics and memorabilia; with every issue ever produced personally signed by series creator Todd McFarlane and graded a perfect 10. Your opinion on Spawn will never matter when McFarlane sits down and creates. You don’t get to dictate the story. You don’t get to have your way. The creation belongs to the creator.

Marvel owns Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men and all the rest. Your opinion doesn’t matter.

DC owns Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and all of their characters. Your opinion doesn’t matter.

Disney owns Star Wars.

CBS owns Star Trek.

Mike Mignola owns Hellboy.

You get a say in the creation process of nothing.

Fans are just as guilty as the rest of the industry. We will line up in droves to watch the latest drivel on opening night, to a blockbuster that will go on to gross a billion dollars worldwide, yet no one gives a shit about the health and welfare of the artist that is getting paid an average $200 a page to draw the work that same film is based on. No one cares about the writer who gets paid and average of $20 a page to pen a tale that will inspire a film in the first place. The average comic is 22 pages long. At $20 a page you would earn more flipping burgers for a job in a month’s time than writing the script to your favorite comic book.

And no one is cutting a check to freelance talent. There is no kickback. There is no percentage being paid. You get a check for the work rendered and the rest of your rights are signed away the moment you agree to employment.

Then these creators get to log into their social media accounts where they are hammered by “fans” that think their creation and work is trite and stupid. They have to turn down offers to go to conventions because now that means risking life and limb. And they get to discover that their co-workers and friends in the field have been dealing with sexual predators and perverts; some even stepping forward with stories of assault and rape! All the while praying that they don’t get sick because even though they work on a tight deadline that leads to health complications they can’t afford fucking insurance!

The state of the comic book union in 2020 is bullshit. Just like this entire year has been crap. While there is change and progress being made there are bigger issues than who is the fastest character in comics or who is the strongest?

Let’s get an answer to which publisher is actually going to start taking care of their employees? Who is going to upend and system of payment that is akin to sweatshop wages? Who in the comic book world is going to start treating their employees better than they treat their fictional properties?