Saturday, February 16, 2013

Card Game

Once again, DC Comics seems to be living by the old cliche that there is no such thing as bad publicity.  The latest flap involves the authorship of a segment of the company's digital Adventures of Superman anthology.
It seems to me that Orson Scott Card; of whom, until this week, I knew nothing other than his name and the titles of some of his books that I'd never read and now likely never will; has joined the club of creative individuals, which includes Steve Ditko and Dave Sim, whose extreme and unpopular political views have overshadowed, and at times overtaken, their creative output.  In Cards case, it is his outspoken stand against gay marriage rights that has lowered him into pariahship. Thus, DC's engaging of this controversial author to script a tale of its flagship character has been met with much outrage in the world of Internet opinionating.  There is an on-line petition, although likely too late to do any other than symbolic good (yet I've signed it nonetheless), urging DC to reconsider its decision to hire Card, and a few retailers have announced their intent not to carry the print edition of the comic when it ships in May
When contacted by The Advocate, a spokesman for DC spewed out the following half-assed, have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too, corporate double speak statement that seems to be trying to split the difference between defending the decision to hire Card while simultaneously distancing the company from his more controversial views:
 “As content creators we steadfastly support freedom of expression, however the personal views of individuals associated with DC Comics are just that — personal views — and not those of the company itself.”
Now, I figure that someone at DC must have realized that this controversy would occur.  Thus, it seems highly likely to me that, following the above stated dictum that there is no such thing as bad publicity, the prospect of the expected outrage drawing media attention to DC and this particular comic, which is exactly what has happened, may have played some part in the decision by the company to hire Card.
As I probably was not going to anyway, this controversy and my discovery of Card's true colors hasn't influenced my decision about whether or not to purchase or read Adventures of Superman.  It has, however, pretty much wiped out whatever vestigial desire I may have harbored to read anything else the man has written.


  1. Hi Ray, it's very disappointing that DC would bring Card on, because as you say, they had to know exactly what response to expect. Their wishy washy statement just makes things worse. It all seems very calculated.

    I read "Ender's Game" when it came out and the subsequent books, but when I found out Card's beliefs, I dropped him off my author list.There was no way I could support him, once I knew his views. Card is so vehemently anti-gay that it is hard to stomach. He's one of those folks that you get the impression he wouldn't be opposed to locking people away, his hatred runs so deep.

    I'm not buying any new comics now so it doesn't directly affect me, but this sure doesn't make me want to jump back to DC any time soon.

    1. First off, I want to thank you, Karen, for reading and commenting on my blog. As you could probably gather from the fact that after posting this entry, I went over to your blog and left three comments on recent posts, I'm a fan of the work you and Doug do at Bronze Age Babies--and the link here on your site has been a big source of traffic for me, so thanks for that, too.
      The more you think about it, it becomes even more obvious that DC's hiring of Card was, as you say, a calculated, and somewhat cynical, move to deliberately court controversy and media attention. Perhaps I should be ashamed of myself for playing along.

  2. Haven't ever read a thing written by Orson Scott Card, so I can't comment on his abilities as a writer-- or even his anti-gay stance, given that I've first read about his bigotry here at Gutter Talk. Even so, I feel a need to play Devil's Advocate.

    I don't believe that personal politics prevent a good writer from being talented. Ditko's objective outlook never stopped me from enjoying the wonderful draftsmanship in his post-1960's comics work. I stopped reading comics by Frank Miller not because of his politics, but because his writing has gone seriously downhill. (Lance Blastoff was fun, but Holy Terror was wretched, barely literate garbage).

    It's possible DC is purposely courting controversy, and if so, shame on them. It's also possible that they have colossally bad timing in hiring an author whose politics currently have him in hot water.

    Y'know what would be really fun? DC should have hired Card to write a story for some other character. I suggest either the Question (Renee Montoya), Batwoman (Kathrine Kane), or Green Lantern (Alan Scott). Like Ed Neumeier would say: "I'd buy that for a dollar!"

    1. When Ditko, Miller and Dave Sim aren't trying to shove their politics down my throat I really like all of their work. Perhaps, though, if I'd encountered their more extreme diatribes prior to reading those works, maybe I'd feel differently. I've already written about how I view Dark Knight Returns differently in light of having learned Miller's politics.
      That said, I think it's highly unlikely that the actual Superman story in question contains any homophobic content. Consider that the print version of the book is solicited for May release ahd the digital version will be available some time before that. Thus, the story has probably already been written and approved by DC,and while they may crave the media attention this dust up is garnering them, they are also notoriously loathe to do anything that might harm the brand of their most iconic character. They want the appearance of controversy without an actually controversial comic.
      As for bad timing on DC's part, well...Card's views are hardly new. That piece I link to was written the better part of a decade ago. DC had to know the type of waters they were leaping headfirst into.