Writer, artist, and creator Ethan Van Sciver’s work is never done as the mainstream comic industry gets worse and worse. But far from simply enjoying the decline, he and several others rolled up their sleeves and developed thriving alternatives with their own books and imprints. By doing this, they also engendered a movement known as ComicsGate that’s become a boogeyman for the mainstream.
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None of this happened in a vacuum, naturally, and Van Sciver detailed with bullet points in a Twitter thread why talent had to pivot in the face of the diminishing quality of the Big Two and the opprobrium of their gatekeepers. He tagged a few comrades as well – Eric July, Shane Davis, Jon Malin, Jon Del Arroz, and Michael Bancroft.
In his “The problems with SJW comics today, and the reasons [COMICS GATE] was born,” thread, Van Sciver began by issuing his top gripe with the art form as it stands – “Terrible [post-modernist] writing focused on afflicting the ‘comfortable’ and alleviating the ‘oppressed.’”
He also doesn’t care for “Changing the overall [meta-narrative] from Escapist Power Fantasies to Gay Multicultural Utopianism.”
He started to rattle off his pointed criticisms two and three at a time and they dovetail neatly together as much as they do with the first two complaints. Van Sciver added that his next two problems were a “New insurgence of moral relativism, nihilism and cynicism,” and “Strong racial animus towards heterosexual white males.”
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Going further down his list, he grouped more of the three most common complaints with books dipping in quality. These phenomena which follow from bad writing and illustrating are “Defilement of iconic comic book moments… Denigration, humiliation, and termination of legacy heroes,” and “Cheap, ugly surrealist artwork,” which he often compares to content sent out on Tumblr.
The “creatives” or “talent” responsible, especially those contracted by DC and Marvel who have seen better and more glorious days, have a tendency, Van Sciver continues, to desexualize “female characters to the point of repulsion or androgyny.” He also charges them with “Risk-averse storytelling for narcissistic selfie-taking Mary Sues” – no doubt referring to the writers and their intended audience.
After he railed against the quota “employment of artists and writers with a progressive political bias, or multiple ‘diversity’ qualifiers,” and “Open antagonism towards older readers,” examples of dreck from a recent Batgirl issue and Aubrey Sitterson’s run on GI Joe for IDW were plastered in the thread via replies along with the rah-rah approval of EVS and ComicsGate’s supporters.
Though both the man and the movement have their followers, the rifts between CG and the mainstream of the industry might never be mended. Fortunately, the same isn’t true of divisions within the community. Recall that EVS tagged Jon Del Arroz in his thread, the author of Cyberfrog parody Robotoad: Rekt Manlet. It seems they smoothed things over. “Repentance and forgiveness…hand in hand” indeed.
What do you make of Ethan Van Sciver’s analysis of the problems with SJW comics coming out of Marvel and DC?
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