ComicsGate is a tangled web of people with different agendas and perspectives all being further convoluted by their echo chamber. Ask two ComicsGaters where the ComicsGate story begins and you’ll get two different stories, then they’ll tell each other something entirely different. Trying to unravel this web and apply logic and sense to it all is difficult for many reasons. Yes, there is a large lack of logic and sense when dealing with ComicsGaters, but when so many voices are going in so many directions, it’s hard to keep straight. Who’s in ComicsGate? What is ComicsGate?
Richard Meyer of Diversity & Comics is a YouTube reviewer that got his claim to fame by being as vulgar and hateful as he could to anyone of diversity in comics. Meyer pines for the days of the 90s era, when comics were for “everyone”, even though they rarely were geared that way. As mainstream comics embraces more and more creators of diversity, and creators take a stand against hatred, bigotry, and tell stories that reflect their messages, folks like Richard Meyer lash out at publishers and creators. Making a huge scene, trolling creators and publishers, causes a big enough stink that they attract like-minded people and media attention. Meyer’s sins are numerable, and a quick Google search will provide you with enough first hand accounts to make you sick. But his biggest sins aren’t his own, but rather what he incites in others.
And he’s not alone. Ethan Van Sciver, notable DC Comics artist, has joined in this ComicsGate crusade to “save” comics. Van Sciver is a staunch conservative and has always been outspoken about his views. But in recent years things have taken a turn. There are reports of him orchestrating harassment of bloggers who’ve crossed him. He’s been accused of cyberbullying since as early as 2012, and things haven’t slowed down for him since. Joining up with the ComicsGate crowd gave him instant access to fans eager and willing to “strike back” at Social Justice Warriors (SJWs), which is really just an umbrella term for anyone who doesn’t immediately step in line with them. A SJW is anyone who strives for equal treatment and representation, diversity, and bettering the status quo of comic books.
ComicsGate can be wittled down into how it started. Internet trolls being hateful to women getting milkshakes. That sounds bizarre, and it is. A group of female Marvel
staffers took a selfie while enjoying a round of milkeshakes in celebration of the life of Flo Steignberg
, an industry icon who had just passed away. The tweet with the selfie read ” It’s the Marvel milkshake crew! #FabulousFlo
“. And that’s all it took for hateful people to take to Twitter and announce that this selfie represented everything that was wrong with the comic book industry. And as these trolls rallied with each other, they gained momentum and their attack escalated. As Van Sciver
gained popularity with their YouTube channels, the group coalesced into the hate-fueled shit-show it is today.
A big part of this confusion over what ComicsGaters are trying to accomplish is compounded by the de facto leaders of the movement. Richard Meyer and Ethan Van Sciver aren’t stupid people. What may have started out as a cry for attention, or lashing out into the void at what from their perspective seems to be unfair treatment, has morphed into a movement that not only gets them attention and gives them a purpose, but now also helps support them and their projects. While it may not be the sole thing they live off of, no one can deny that continuing ComicsGate, catering to it’s members both civil and uncivil, benefits these men. They profit from it. And that’s a dangerous thing. That means that they’ll fight to keep it going, even sometimes buying into their own hype to make sure they stir the pot and rouse the rabble into a frothing frenzy often enough to keep their power.
Ethan Van Sciver himself, whom many look to for leadership and direction, struggles to keep a clear goal without having to back pedal to cater to his lackeys.
Van Sciver claims to have gone his own way to do his own thing, then a day later back pedals.
His second claim is that SJWs need ejected from comics. So, which is it? Are ComicsGaters doing their own thing and going their own way, leaving others alone, or are they trying to purge comics and change comics to fit their view, which is exactly what they’re accusing SJWs of?
When you call out a ComicsGater for doing something horrid, and there’s no way to misconstrue what they’ve said, then Van Sciver and his ilk claim those people are trolls. “I’ve blocked them”. But they won’t ever actually say “what they’re doing is wrong” or “I don’t agree with that”. They won’t take a stand against hate, as long as it’s made by someone using the ComicsGate hashtag. ComicsGaters will claims trans women are just “men in wigs”, or a multitude of other abhorrent claims about anyone who isn’t a straight white Christian male. But the leaders of ComicsGate just say “I never said that” or “just mute them if it bothers you”. But they’ll say things like “SJWs need to be ejected from comics”, which is nothing more than a dogwhistle, intentional or not, for their followers. It signals to the malcontents that pushing out anyone labeled a “SJW” is condoned. The vagueness of the statement leaves it open to interpretation. If Van Sciver would admit his power and take responsibility for those that do things in his name, call them out and condemn the harassment every time it takes place, it would go a long way towards making his claims of peace mean more and seem more genuine. Akin to shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater, you need to take responsibility for your words, whether they provoked the intended reaction or not.
And therein lies the beauty and cleverness of what Van Sciver and Meyer have accomplished. They don’t have to say these things. They don’t have to do these things. They’ve supported enough of the right people who do these things and think these ways, that they don’t have to get their hands dirty. They just sit back, smile, and watch their minions do their dirty work for them. Then they have plausible deniability. When someone is attacked by ComicsGaters, they can deflect. “I had nothing to do with that”. Despite associating with them and this being associated with the movement, they won’t specifically disavow the behavior, because that would alienate their base. It’s brilliant, really. They reap all of the benefits without any responsibility for what their followers do. ComicsGaters harrassed the widow of a legendary comic book artist (whose name is withheld here to keep trolls from back tracking to her). Called her names and were in general the nastiest trolls to her. But Van Sciver himself wasn’t. And when she called him out and asked him to make his follower apologize, he spun it around, demanding that SJWs apologize to her for using her “as a shield”. Not what she meant, and he knows it. But to actually call out anyone who gives him money might cost him their dollar.
So to pinpoint the problem and address it is impossible. Talking to the leaders does no good. They’ll just step back and pretend they’re powerless against internet trolls. The only thing we can do is ignore them or press charges when it gets out of hand. Until then, they’re just noise. They’re just a circle-jerk echo-chamber patting each other on the back and talking about the “good old days” when the comic book business inflated itself to the point of instability, all female comic book characters had breasts bigger than their heads and minorities were still minorities inside a comic book shop. Now that the business is different, the business is changing and adapting, the control isn’t solely in the hands of a few, readership is far more varied, and the wealth of the industry is spread a bit further and farther, ComicsGaters are terrified of the change. There are mainstream comic books not catering to their gaze and that’s scary to them. Politics have always been in comics, but now that the readership has shifted away from straight white boys being the majority, so too has the cheesecake art and male-gaze orientated storylines that ComicsGaters grew up with.
A ComicsGater pointing at anyone they deem to be a “SJW”, probably.
The comic books industry is actually a pretty simple business model, as industry pros of decades have mentioned before
. If a comic book sells a lot of copies, publishers will keep it around. The best way to make sure a comic book isn’t made is to not buy it. It’s that simple. If a comic book isn’t making money, no matter what it’s about or who the creative team is, it won’t survive. If the comic books ComicsGaters want sold and did well and were what the majority of comic book readership wanted, that’s the way they’d still be. Sure, you can raise enough fuss and throw a big enough fit to get someone to notice and cause bad press to get something to change. But as soon as the heat dies down, if that’s what’s making them money, the status quo WILL return. The fact that the industry has gone another direction proves that the 90s mode of comic isn’t what the majority of readers really want. At least not in the same ways. There’s ways to bring on the nostalgia without making the same mistakes.
ComicsGaters can go and make their own comic books and put all their money into it. Not a single SJW cares. No one is sitting around going “Golly-gee willickers, the idea of a Conversative reading and enjoying a comic book just bugs me plum to death!” Doesn’t happen.
Now, are all SJWs in the right? No. Robbi Rodrigeuz, the co-creator of Spider-Gwen, tweeted pictures of his anus to Van Sciver, allegedly in retaliation for the artist’s wife’s harassment. That’s kinda like punching a Nazi. Funny as hell, but at least a little illegal and ethically dubious. It shouldn’t have happened. It only gives them fuel for their fire. So let’s be clear, that posting pictures of your anus isn’t okay. That’s not condoned. He shouldn’t have done it. Just because it made some people laugh doesn’t mean it’s okay or justifies the action. The ONLY way to combat the hate that ComicsGate produces, perpetuates and it’s leaders let fester, is to ignore it, report it, and lives happily in our fandoms. If a ComicsGater comes at you, report and block. If they overstep, contact authorities. That’s all we can do. Anything else, any kind of retaliation only drags us down to their level of trolling scum where they will beat us with experience while their leaders shrug, say “mute them” and give the camera a grin and a wink.
Do you have a story about Meyer or Van Sciver, good or bad? How do you feel about ComicsGaters vs SJWs? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter!
Category: Comics, Featured, Nerd Culture