So… the kids in ComicsGate apparently are releasing their list of ideals. Number one?
- Hire people based on merit. Pay your dues and you eventually get your own title, Noone jumps the line because of race sex whatever
I am sure, on it’s face a lot of folks would shrug and may even think this is reasonable. But the truth is, the specify race and gender for a reason. Shortly before leaving Marvel for DC, Michael Bendis created RiRi Williams. A brilliant young adventure, she has taken on the role of Ironheart, armored hero taking over for Iron Man. Of course, this would always be temporary, Tony Stark and Iron Man were going to be their old selves eventually. But Riri set off the comic gate folks. They hated her. Tony was being pushed aside for the crime of being a white male they cried.
And Bendis (who has adopted black children) has certainly expressed a desire for his kids to be able to see super-heroes that reflect themselves. Which is not a crime. In spite of the attempt to treat the notion of the social justice warrior as a derisive notion…that there is something wrong with valuing justice and goodness and respect for people and their identities… Bendis is seeing this through the eyes of a parent. Diversity within the world of fantasy is not a bad thing. It is not an attack on the reader. The same for diversity among the creators.
So, you might be wondering what this has to do with the “merit” philosophy. Well, recently, it was announced that this woman would be writing a Riri Williams series:
Who is she?
Eve Ewing is an award winning poet and writer who, last year, gave Marvel a shoutout on Twitter asking to write for Riri. She joked that they have the same hair and skin color. A couple years ago, Ta-Nehisi Coates got a gig writing Black Panther. Neither Ewings nor Coates have a history writing comic books. They, of course, hardly are alone. Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Gilbert Gotfried, CM Punk, Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon and Brad Metzler all got gigs with little to zero comic book writing experience. CM Punk got what many feel is an underrated series for Drax of the Guardians of the Galaxy after a couple short backup stories. Kevin Smith got Daredevil with almost nothing prior. These guys? They all love comics. That was their reason to get in. They wanted to write comics. They did not work their way up writing comics before the big leagues. Joss Whedon got to write comics because of his celebrity. And this was celebrated. Actually, pretty much all the guys I mentioned were either celebrated, or at the very least? Nobody really lodged a complaint.*
Upon the announcement of Eve Ewing getting the Riri Williams gig? She got a tweet response that said “that’s so lit” and featured a Klan rally with a burning cross. Diversity in Comics Richard Meyer has harped repeatedly that she only got the gig because she was black. They are insisting there is no racism behind their call for “merit”. The complain about diversity hires…they claim women in comics achieved their place via “sleeping their way to the top.” Yeah. They genuinely believe that women are having sex to break into comics.
They just want everyone to work their way up the ladder, right? But you might notice something about their rule.
They completely ignore the top reason people get to jump to the front of the line. Far less likely than race or gender? Celebrity. Companies love to give big name people a shot because it can sell books.
The problem with the whole merit argument is…well, talent, a good pitch, great ideas…these are what merit an opportunity in the creative world. And plenty of hacks work their way up the ladder writing endless books for hire. It is not whether you have written a comic book that gives you the opportunity. This is a ridiculous and stupid rule. And frankly, you know if Marvel or DC came and said “You have some great ideas, here is a big book to write” to Meyer or any other comicsgater dreaming of a comic book career would drop their snide ideals of merit like a hot potato.
*Nor do I now. The fact is, there is nothing wrong with how any of these individuals got their opportunity to write comic books. I do not begrudge them taking advantage of the opportunity their status afforded them. That is totally cool and unworthy of derision. But this applies to Ewing and Coates and numerous other folks getting to “cut to the front of the line”.