CBR Writer Wants Howard Chaykin Fired

Divided States of America

CBR writer Kieran Shiach is up to his old ways. Over the past few months he’s been leading a campaign to get DC Comics to fire Hal Jordan and the Green Lanterns artist Ethan Van Sciver.

However, he’s moved onto a new target: Howard Chaykin.

Shiach tweeted to Marvel’s Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort:

Not only would he go after Marvel, he also went after DC Comics saying, “and not to leave DC out, same question to Marie Javins, RE: The Ruff and Reddy Show.”

He would Tweet to Brevoort later in the day:

Marvel just announced their May soliciations and Howard Chaykin will be providing art duties along with Leonardo Romero and Chris Sprouse on Captain America #702. Chaykin is actually providing covers for DC Comics’ The Ruff and Reddy Show as well as providing cover art work.

Shiach doesn’t provide any evidence to support his claims against Howard Chaykin.

However, Chaykin became quite the controversial comic book creator last summer when he released his creator-owned title Divided States of America through Image Comics. In the book Chaykin depicts a horrific crime involving a transgender woman.

Polygon criticized Chaykin’s work:

“I believe Chaykin means for it to be incendiary and cutting — he’s using it to provoke and incite conversation. However, he’s so far removed from the people he’s depicting that he has no idea whether he’s being provocative or just plain hurtful. He’d need to listen in order to understand, and he doesn’t seem ready to do that.”

Comicosity writer Véronique Emma Houxbois called for an outright boycott of Image Comics and even called for Eric Stephenson, the Publisher of Image Comics to resign, “I also know that I’m only one woman, one critic who won’t pick up another Image comic until Stephenson resigns.”

Bleeding Cool’s Joe Glass also viciously attacked Chaykin last Summer, “Now, I honestly feel I can say that I consider Chaykin to be the most repugnant, vile, garbage fire wearing a human meat suit, and I pray I never have to meet such an odious and deplorable creature as him in the flesh ever in my existence.”

The controversy with Chaykin’s Divided States of America would continue when he released the cover to the fourth issue. Image Comics and Chaykin would release a joint statement apologizing for the cover and also indicating it would be pulled from the book and replaced.

Divided States of America #4

However, the apology also defends Chaykin’s vision and the story he is telling:

“THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA is a comic book about the terrifying future we are heading for if our country remains on its current path. Far from an endorsement of the horrible violence depicted or the ugly language used by many of the characters, Howard’s goal is to give us a glimpse into a society crumbling under the weight of ignorance, hatred, and intolerance. It’s unsettling to be sure, but it’s difficult to convey the horrors of a world gone wrong without also showing what it looks like.”

They continued:

“People have described the cover to DIVIDED STATES #4 as distasteful, and they’re right, in that: ALL hate crimes are horrifying, dehumanizing, and distasteful, and the intent of this cover was to challenge people to look at what we as a society have become. Every hate crime is perpetrated under the cover of willful ignorance, because there is always someone content to turn away from what is really happening or label shameful truths as “alternative facts.” What’s more, ignoring that these hate crimes exist—and that they are happening right now—watering down in any way how bad things have become, seems like a cop out, like turning a blind eye at a time when we all need to be paying attention.

At its heart, THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA is revenge fiction set against the backdrop of a nation on the brink of collapse, with the greedy and corrupt people who brought it to that point in the crosshairs. If it was just a book meant to be provocative for the sake of being provocative, Image would not be publishing it. This series is supposed to make people angry about what’s happening in the world right now, and it’s supposed to make people want to fight back and resist the very real oppression bearing down on us all.”

Chaykin issued his own statement on the matter in an interview with Freak Sugar. He was unapologetic and defended his art:

“To reiterate, and repeat something I’ve been saying since the first issue came out–any knowledge of what’s been said here is second and third hand, since I have a solemn commitment to read nothing about myself on the internet, neither positive nor negative.

That said, I’ve got a general idea that people–a number of enthusiasts and several of my fellow professionals–seem incapable of separating the depiction from the act.

This sort of sophistry has plagued me for years, so I suppose I should be used to it. But clearly, some s*** never gets old. I have to assume a percentage of these earnest, yet apparently willfully ignorant critics haven’t read the book–certainly not issue four, which cover seems to be setting their lives on fire today.

If they were actually to read the book, perhaps other conclusions might be drawn–but I’m not optimistic. Despite the fact that I am and have always been a proud member of the American left, I’m being impugned from my side of the aisle–by the sort of people who say such things as “I’m all for artistic expression, but…”

It’s that “but” that undercuts all that “…all for…” No, you’re not really. If that were the case, there’d be no buts. The only artistic expression deemed acceptable by that “but” is an anodyne pandering to an apparently easily patronized audience.

For the record, the cover depicts the horrific wish dream of some 45% of their fellow Americans. Perhaps if they spent a bit more time paying attention to the fact that the world they were born into is on the brink of serious disaster, they might have less time to get worked up about an image of genuine horror that depicts an aspect of that impeding disaster.”

Chaykin added:

“Chrissie Silver, the transgender character in The Divided States of Hysteria, has a back story based on several real people I have known and continue to know. Unlike the others in the narrative, she’s guilty of no more than self defense, and is railroaded by a court system that, more often than not, buys into that aforementioned trap defense.

For the record, Chrissie Silver is the moral center of the book–a fact that becomes clearer as the narrative progresses, if those whose heads seem to be exploding with self righteous vindictive rage might actually read the book–but that’s not the case.

Frank Villa, the nominal hero of The Divided States of Hysteria, is seriously damaged goods–and his decision to include Chrissie in his plan is subtextual, but it’s there for a careful reader, as the narrative progresses.

Again, if the hysterics had read the book, rather than leaping to shamelessly banal conclusions about me and my intentions, this might calm that cohort down–but that train’s left the station. Hysteria prevails. That’s what it does.”

Kieran Shiach is actively trying to get people fired from both Marvel Comics and DC Comics who disagree with his worldview. This is not the first time he has done this and his tactics appear to be the same. Use strong language to label someone with nasty adjectives. He described Ethan Van Sciver as a “Nazi,” because he’s a mainstream Republican. Now, he’s calling Howard Chaykin, a “racist” and “transphobic.” As you saw above, Chaykin considers himself “a proud member of the American left.”

This is an absolutely disgusting tactic and this type of behavior contributes to the widespread divisiveness in American society.

Free speech and artistic expression have been core principles of American society since the founding of the country. I urge Marvel Comics and DC Comics to respond to Shiach and defend Howard Chaykin. This tactic needs to be denounced and shown that it will no longer be tolerated and will no longer be effective. Social Justice Warrior bullying can no longer be used to spread fear and panic in the comic book industry.