Jim Steranko recently found himself the target of a politically correct mob after users on social media took offense to a tweet wherein the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame artist referred to the COVID-19 virus as “The CHINESE PANDEMIC”.
Steranko’s work is known by comic book fans and collectors around the globe, with his most iconic work being the interior pencils he contributed to Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 1968.
Outside of his work on Nick Fury, Steranko has also provided interior and cover work for both D.C. and Marvel, working on pieces for such iconic characters as Catwoman, Superman, Black Panther, the X-Men, Daredevil, and the Fantastic Four.
Additionally, not only has he also seen his work published in Heavy Metal, but Steranko has also had his art featured in galleries around the world, most notably at the Louvre in France.
On March 8th, Steranko tweeted, “The CHINESE PANDEMIC has stolen a year from our lives — I’ve felt it as much as anyone! Those who know me and have hung out with me at shows know the importance I lay on personal appearances and connecting at gigs with fans from every corner of the USA! Will be ready WHEN YOU ARE!”
Shortly after its posting, Steranko’s tweet garnered a mixed bag of responses, with most of them being nasty or disrespectful.
“D–k move, Stanko,” said comic book author Kwanza Osajyefo (whose account bears a blue check mark for some inexplicable reason). ” Your creative contributions don’t allow you to use EXACT racist language, leading to attacks on Asian people. Instead of spreading spoiled mayo across the internet, consider why a country as ‘great’ as the USA didn’t protect its citizens from a virus.”
Talking Simpsons co-host Henry Gilbert tweeted, “Jack Kirby would kick the shit out of you for this, and you’d deserve it.”
Independent author Bob Greenwade chimed in and wrote, “No kidding. Making those personal appearances are so important, Jim, yet you just torpedoed your chances of doing many of them for the foreseeable future by making an openly racist declaration.”
Former Marvel and DC writer Tony Lee would drop a pearl of wisdom, replying to Steranko, “Jesus, Jim. I know we’ve lost a year of our lives, but naming it that is reckless and quite honestly sad to see, considering your platform. Happy to chat to you about how casual racism isn’t needed anymore, and how you used to be better than this. Will be ready WHEN YOU ARE!”
However, Steranko was not without his defenders, including Alterna Comics founder Peter Simeti, who in Steranko’s defense pointed asserted that “everyone commenting angrily must’ve forgotten Dr. Li Wenliang’s death, how hard he was ignored by Chinese authorities, and how hard the Chinese govt worked to cover it all up.
“For anyone that wasn’t to say I’m racist against Chinese people, I’m half-Chinese” he concluded.
In response to comic book artist Mahmud Asur, who tweeted to Steranko, “One would expect you to be wiser than this. Why perpetuate baseless hate?”
Flying Sparks author Jon Del Arroz would retort, “What baseless hate? Hate of a virus? I think there’s a good basis for hating the virus.”
As a personal aside, I met Jim Steranko last year at the Wizard World Comic Con in Cleveland. Of that entire weekend, Jim Steranko was one of the most gracious people with his time and interaction with fans.
He’s a man’s man who looks you in the eye, gives you a firm handshake, and lights up a room with his smile. He is the type of person that enjoys putting a smile on people’s faces, and being around people period.
Listening to Jim’s anecdotes about his experiences, it’s clear that he’s lived through things even a comic book hero would be envious of. Jim Steranko is certainly not a hateful person, he is a man of class and dignity.
What these Twitter exchanges show us, is that no matter who you are, you’re a target to be mocked, harassed, and bullied for your world view. Especially if your views are anywhere right of the extreme progressive leftist world view.
As for Jim Steranko, I can picture him with that trademark wink and smile, saying “Kid, the classics aren’t going anywhere.” Indeed, Jim.
What do you make of the backlash against Steranko? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below.