What Is Comicsgate?
It is becoming commonplace to inject divisive politics in every form of entertainment. Comic books are no exception.
If you follow superhero comic books, you have noticed a steep decline in storytelling in recent years. The medium now puts a higher value on politics than quality. Over the past few years, disenfranchised comic fans have been trying to make their voices heard about their dissatisfaction. People call this movement Comicsgate.
Comicsgate was first used as a hashtag on Twitter by Israeli blogger, Avi Green in 2014. The movement gathered momentum in 2017, when Richard Meyer came on the scene. Meyer, a military veteran, started making YouTube videos reviewing comics and critiquing the modern industry. A self-described “liberal republican,” Meyer called his channel “Diversity and Comics.” He wanted to argue that he had no problem with diversity when it comes organically. He has since changed his channel’s name to Comics MATTER w/ Ya Boi Zack as a nod to a name people guessed before his identity was revealed.
Comicsgate has several gripes with the modern comic industry, but Meyer likes to sum it up as bad customer service. Many comic book pros working for Marvel and DC spent less time promoting their work than they do mass-blocking people and calling Republicans Nazis. The second gripe of Comicsgate concerns the fate of the art form itself. Comics now value political correctness and leftist dogma over quality of story and respect to characters. Iconic characters, created over fifty years ago have been internally disfigured. This is case in point with Iceman. Among the five original X-Men, Iceman has always been portrayed as a girl-crazy jokester. Then, in 2015, writer Brian Michael Bendis decided to make Iceman gay in a revelation where a time-displaced Jean Grey tells him she read his mind and he’s gay. So he should stop denying it. This made no sense as we could see the character’s thoughts in his history that prominently included his attraction to women. Nevertheless, the change was made and anybody who objected was labeled a homophobe.
Comics writers have changed lots of characters to make them more PC. Carol Danvers went from being called Ms. Marvel to Captain Marvel. She was given a square jaw and a flat body, and her long blonde hair changed to a short cut. Male characters are made to look weak and effeminate. Female characters must be heroes, not villains. Then the heroes start acting like villains. This is especially evident with the X-Men, who went from fighting for acceptance and friendship with nonmutants, to basically creating an ethnostate on the living island, Krakoa.
Heterosexuality is rarely seen in modern comics. The typical romance you see with female characters is from lesbians and bisexual characters in lesbian relationships. Female characters rarely speak of men in romantic terms. This is an outgrowth of the Bechdel Test, which challenged fiction writers to make female characters talk to each other without discussing boys.
Opponents of Comicsgate love to claim that comics have always been political, pointing to Captain America punching Hitler. Except now they would have people believe that all Republicans, especially President Trump are akin to Hitler and the Nazis.
Then comes the third gripe of Comicsgate: hiring practices. Comic companies used to hire based on merit. Nowadays, they prefer to hire whoever makes them appear most woke, blacklisting openly conservative applicants. Many in the movement pinpoint the transition of Marvel into becoming more about politics than story, when Sana Amanat came onboard. Sana Amanat had little experience in comics, but was quickly elevated in the company and is now the VP of Content and Character Development. Amanita comes from a politically involved family. Her first cousin is actually Huma Abedin, one of Hillary Clinton’s top staffers and wife to Anthony Weiner, a disgraced former congressman. Amanita’s best known contribution to the company is Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American Muslim character who took on the title of Ms. Marvel when Carol Danvers abandoned her title. This character is treated as a breakout character, despite not selling well at all. Marvel only allows Muslims to write her, as it has become an unspoken rule that characters from identity groups must be written by people in the same identity group. That is unless the character is a white male. Amanat recruited Ta-Nehisi Coates to write Black Panther and he was later offered Captain America. He has used this title to rag on the United States. It is perfectly acceptable for Marvel to hire somebody who said he didn’t care when he watched first responders die in 9/11. And put him on Captain America of all characters! It appears that the only people who aren’t allowed to write for comics are open Republicans. This was made clear in 2016 when Marvel Editor Alanna Smith tweeted “Make no mistake; even if Trump loses, we will remember who supported him.”
Comic artist Jon Malin stopped being hired by Marvel Comics after he made conservative statements. He later teamed up with Richard Meyer to create the action comic, “Jawbreakers: Lost Souls.” “Jawbreakers” was set to be published by Antarctic Press. Then comic writer Mark Waid personally called the heads of the company and convinced them that they were making a mistake to publish Meyer. They broke the contract and Meyer responded by suing Waid for tortious interference. The case is ongoing. “Jawbreakers: Lost Souls” was eventually published independently and distributed through IndieGoGo, along with two sequels.
That isn’t to say Comicsgate hasn’t had a few roadbumps. Alt-right blogger, Vox Day, attempted to gain a footing in the movement and produce an imprint from his publishing company, called Comicsgate Comics. Many Comicsgaters were against this, however, and they banded to disavow him and others like him.
Many critics of the Comicsgate movement attempt to paint it as a harassment campaign. They will refer to “the milkshake incident” and “The Dark Roast.” To provide context, then editor at Marvel Comics, Heather Antos, posted a selfie with several other women who worked at Marvel, holding milkshakes. This was supposedly to honor Marvel’s Flo Steinberg when she passed away. “It’s the Marvel milkshake crew!” she posted. Most comments were positive, but some commented that Marvel is focused more on the gender of their hirees, than talent. Antos has little experience in comics and didn’t know much about the characters she was entrusted with. Meyer referred to them as “fake geek girls.” That statement was viewed as a horrible sin. He became public enemy number one to the comic industry, Marvel especially. A Facebook group of comic pros even schemed to goad him into attacking them at a convention. They deliberately tried to trigger a PTSD reaction in Meyer, as he has served in both the Army and the Marines, in the War on Terror. The conversation leaked, so the plan was scrapped. Meyer also doesn’t have PTSD. Months later, Meyer was in Lynchberg, VA to visit his father and when he was driving back to Manhattan, he decided stop at a comic shop along the way as he was looking for a particular comics. He went to a store in Charlottesville, coincidentally on the day of the infamous white supremacist rally where a woman, Heather Heyer was killed. to be clear, Meyer wasn’t at or involved with the near-by rally in any way. He bought a Jack Kirby Black Panther comic that day at this comic store, and made a video titled “KKK Fails to Stop Me From Buying BLACK PANTHER Comic.” Please note: the video was made prior to and had no connection with the horrible outcome of the alt-right rally. Exploiting Meyer’s proximity to the event, Heather Antos accused him of attending the rally as a white supremacist. This especially offended Meyer as he has three mixed race children. Some time after this, Meyer created a new series on his channel. He made a “Dark Roast” that would be open to invitees and would consist of edgy humor. In it, he tried to be edgy and made some insults at people in the comics industry. He abandoned this format because his fans thought it wasn’t natural and they preferred his usual approach. The video was obtained by media covering Comicsgate, and the insult Meyer made was publicized in an attempt to vilify him.
Currently, Meyer is still making videos and publishing new comics. Recently, he teamed up with Sylvester Stallone and Bane co-creators, Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan, to produce a new Expendables graphic novel, “The Expendables Go To Hell.” The story chronicles the action team dying and waking up in hell, where they have to fight history’s most infamous villains. Marvel, on the other hand, announced a relaunch of Meyer’s favorite series, “The New Warriors,” but with new characters that seemed almost like a parody. Two of the “The New Warriors” recently introduced characters are named Safespace and Snowflake. This went viral, as even the social justice warrior crowd found it absurd. Joe Rogan was in disbelief when comedian Kurt Metzger told him about it on his podcast.
We will see what happens as the fight rages on. Among prominent Comicsgaters is Ethan Van Sciver, former artist for DC, who started a YouTube channel and brought back his cult hit character from the 90s, Cyberfrog. It became the highest funded comic on IndieGoGo. Additionally, Eric July of BlazeTV and Doug Ernst of the Washington Times have covered this particular avenue of the culture war. People want escapism in their entertainment and it is tiring when divisive politics ruin a great pastime.