It’s impossible to talk about anything going on in the comics world without having to at least consider touching upon the controversy that erupted yesterday (and the subsequent response). So I’ll just say if you haven’t read up on those, you should take a second and check it out. Whatever the truth is, I think the accused behavior is obviously disgusting, unacceptable, and totally heinous behavior towards another human being. Whether it’s true or not, I choose to believe one thing based on what I’ve heard and what others tell me, knowing full well it’s all second-hand accounts. You may believe another. That’s totally fine. That’s not what I really want to talk about.
When I posted this story, and a status on my facebook yesterday, about how I’d basically have to stop buying the new all-female X-Men book, someone raised the point (non-contentiously) about why I would abandon a book that did not just involve the writer: it involved artists, inkers, colorists, etc. Basically how one person’s objectionable behavior would negatively affect a bunch of innocents who just happen to get caught in the blowback. I raised the point that I have refused to see Ender’s Game, which involves a whole lot more people than the staff of a comic book; I refuse to eat at Chick-Fil-A now, which is a corporation that employs thousands of innocent people who are just trying to make a living. And while I’m fully aware that my $3.99, my movie ticket, my “whatever the price of a chicken biscuit is” — this will in no way cripple a corporation. It will in no way sink a movie studio. It will not matter to a book that, most likely, will keep being written and published for a long, long time. It doesn’t matter. I’m not an idiot. I get that.
So why do we do things like this? Because it’s the principle of the matter. And it’s not simply the principle of boycotting objectionable behavior (which is important too, mind you). It’s the principle of the fact that we live in a time where quite frankly, we should demand better from the people who make the stuff we love. We follow them on twitter; we read their blogs; we hear them on podcasts. We are in an Internet age where the walls have broken down, and it’s not just a monolithic, faceless corporation who churns out the pop cultural stuff we enjoy. The creators aren’t in a cave somewhere, they’re not inaccessible – they are in front of us, at cons, via email, via tumblr. They are people, and I believe that art and media is inextricably intertwined with the creator at the center of it.
We have only ever been able to vote with our wallet. We can bitch, whine, comment, moan, scream on websites, reddit, forums, wherever – about how much we hate something, about how we wish things would change. But most of us are powerless to affect any change. All we can do is vote with our wallet, and say simply, “I’m not going to buy this.” I choose not to support this with the money that I’ve earned with the precious hours of my life. One person doesn’t make a difference; but if we all acted like this, trust me – it would make a difference. This isn’t new, you’ve heard this before. But the mindset I propose to you may be. About the why.
We don’t live in a time where, if we choose to pass up one X-Men book, there isn’t an alternative. Back in the 80s, maybe if you for some reason DETESTED the person Chris Claremont was – you were kinda shit out of luck if you loved the X-Men. Today? That’s not really the case. And not only that, but there’s just SO MUCH stuff out there – Netflix, movies, books, comics, video games, whatever – there’s a lot out there we can do that excite us, that move us, that make our day to day lives better. You have access to a sea of indie creators, good people who answer emails and shake hands at cons – who are scraping by for every dollar they make for this thing that they pour their hearts into. You can support them. You can find something else. You should demand better.
I know what you’ll say. But Eugene, Apple and Nike and etc. These are bad corporations. They employ horrible labor practices, they harm the environment. Agreed. You can’t demand better of a corporation. I’m willing to say (as the owner of a pair of Nikes on his feet and an iphone and macbook in front of him) that there’s such a thing as fighting the good fight. This is not the good fight. This is a fight for government agencies, for organizations, for something you yourself can contribute to, but not execute yourself. But a singular creator’s whose intolerant beliefs, whose objectionable behavior, trust me when I say you can point at them and demand better. You can vote with your dollar and make their employers notice. You can teach them the meaning of deterrence. It’s not an all-out, immediate solution. But it’s a start. And you can do it by simply sacrificing one thing on top of a mountain of other things you love and cherish. THIS is the good fight.
I’m not talking about Brian Wood (even though I’d be happy to say it to him). I’m talking about you. About us. I’m talking about how we should not only demand great art from creators; we should demand good creators themselves. We should demand people who at the base minimum, share our beliefs of tolerance, of fairness, of equality, of progressivism. Because in the end, the total package of satisfaction you, that we get, from experiencing art, from experiencing the voice and the passion of a creator does in fact stem from our enjoyment of them as the person they are. That B- product from an A+ creator will, at least to me, always outweigh A+ art from a D- soul.
Fight the good fight. Demand better. Because comics deserve better creators. Because pop culture deserves a better community of creators.
Because you deserve better.