• Teen Titans #1 Cover Longform 

    Why Comics Can’t Grow Up Until We Do

    By David Harper | April 20th, 2014
    Posted in Longform
    Kenneth Rocafort's Teen Titans #1 Cover

    I love comics.

    I really do.

    A comic is an amazing thing, in both its ability to tell stories that no other medium can and to achieve a scope and scale that isn’t held back by anything but the imagination and gifts of the people telling the story. Both as an art form and a narrative, comics have about as much potential to connect with those who consume it as anything else, if for only those reasons.

    Yet comics always feel like they are stuck in neutral, recycling the same limited audience they’ve always had, even in boom times like we’ve seen in the past few years. People lament the reach the medium has, searching for reasons as to why it simply cannot connect with potential new readers, yet never really finding an answer that feels right.

    And I think a big reason why is when things are bad, no one really wants to look into the mirror to find the reasons why.

    Take Janelle Asselin’s recent experiences for example. Asselin, a woman who has had a long career in comics working for DC and Disney as an editor, wrote an article for Comic Book Resources about her interpretation of Kenneth Rocafort’s cover for “Teen Titans” #1, taking it to task not only for its rather unrealistic take on the female teenage form but also for its poor design and rather mind boggling perspective, among other reasons.

    Her take was hardly unfair, and she even made sure it was known that she wasn’t entirely putting the onus on Rocafort. Given her history in comics, it’s not beyond her to be able to analyze the craft (or lack thereof) of the cover, yet shortly after the article was released Asselin was assailed by people who did far worse than just think she was wrong or one who was unqualified to pass such a judgment.

    Continued below

    No, that wasn’t nearly the worst of it.

    There were men who openly threatened her with rape.

    And that’s astonishing to me. That someone, faced with a person who disagrees with their perspective on something as simple as a cover to “Teen Titans” (a comic that hasn’t been good in I don’t even know how long), would respond by threatening to sexually assault someone else.

    Maybe the most tragic thing about it all is the casual, almost expectant way Asselin reacted to it with. As she said in her Tumblr post:

    At first I wasn’t going to talk about the rape threats because honestly, most of the women I know with a solid online presence get them regularly. This is just a thing we are forced to deal with.

    When you look at women who commented on the story like Gail Simone, much of the surprise was built around the idea that people thought this was a new thing. That’s when you realize that this is something that is as pervasive in comics as rising cover prices.

    The controversial Amazing Spider-Man #700

    But of course it goes beyond that. As Brian Michael Bendis said on Tumblr, it’s not just the women creators who are showered with negative messages from “fans” because of their personal feelings on a comic. Look at long-time Spider-Man scribe Dan Slott, a man who is genuinely one of the nicest, most gregarious people I’ve ever met. When he had the audacity to “kill” a fictional character in Peter Parker, Slott received death threats and had to worry about going out in public.

    These people are amongst the greatest proponents of comics. These are the creators who were fans first, who craft stories we love and who tell friends and family that comics are an amazing medium that everyone should love and enjoy.

    And “fans” threaten them with unimaginably terrible acts.

    Now imagine how those people that they’ve been trying to convince to read comics felt when they heard the treatment of their friends by the people who are supposed to love comics best. Why would anyone want to get involved with comics if they hear about the hateful vitriol that’s spouted from the people that are supposed to love the medium most?

    Even when you leave the world of threats on industry professional’s lives and bodies, you hear about experiences like the one Noelle Stevenson had at a comic book retailer, where she was treated like a complete joke when she was just trying to buy comics from them. The lack of respect she received, simply because she was a woman, would be enough for most potential readers to drop their interest in buying comics in a heartbeat.

    And it’s not just women who have these experiences. My nephew, once an interested neophyte comic reader, was berated and mocked when he went into a shop simply because he had the audacity of wanting to buy a “Deadpool” comic. Nothing else. He just happened to want to buy a comic that the people who worked in the shop didn’t deem good enough, and they made sure he felt their disdain.

    He didn’t buy that “Deadpool” comic, or any comic that day.

    Like Asselin’s response to the threats of sexual assault, when my nephew told me of that I sort of shrugged and thought, “sounds like a comic shop experience.”

    But how messed up is that? That these people who are meant to be the true lovers of the comic form can’t even treat either regular or potential new readers with any common human decency? And that the people who hear about it – like myself – do nothing about it? That’s on me, and if that happened today, I’d like to think I’d have done something about it.

    That’s not to say that this is a universal thing. Many comic retailers are very good people who love comics, and they want to share their love with the potential readers – regardless of who and what they might be – who come into their shop.

    Brimpers Juliette and Heather of Fantastic Comics

    And comic fans can be amongst the most passionate types of fans I’ve ever found, and sometimes that passion is brought to life in the most beautiful of ways. Look at the community “Sex Criminals” (“Brimpers”) and “Captain Marvel” (“Carol Corps”) have created around their books; those fans are fonts of pure, unbridled enthusiasm.

    It doesn’t matter if they’re recreating comic covers or talking about the time they found porn in the woods or having incredibly positive events at Emerald City ComiCon, they are what we should all hope to amount to as fans of the medium. They take their love of the books that matter to them and they externalize that in all of the best ways. They make people want to find out why they love those books so much.

    Which is why it makes it so frustrating that some comic fans take that love and turn it into the worst form of negativity, the type that is designed to take others down to their level and to make them feel pain in one way or another.

    That’s not to say this is only a problem in comics. As Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson said recently in an interview I did with him at ECCC:

    And it’s not…you’re kind of defining it by comic book culture, but it’s really just culture. It’s everywhere. You can go to music forums and movie/TV…if you read the comments on news articles, the ridiculous things that people say. It’s just like, “why did you feel you needed to share that with the world?” It’s just stupid.

    So why should comics be any different? It’s the same type of people all over everywhere online. That’s the frustrating thing. You get people who instead of using this in a constructive way, you get on there and talk shit about something. I guess they enjoy that on a certain level.

    The Internet as a whole provides people who prefer to tear others down instead of being evangelists for the things they are interested in with a soapbox to stand on, giving them a place to say every little awful thing that pops in their head. The anonymity it provides can turn a person – a coworker, a friend or the person you sat next to on a bus – into someone that they hardly resemble in their day-to-day life (as immortalized in a rather brilliant “Penny Arcade” comic). You see this everywhere, from gaming websites to movie forums to political article comment threads, which may be the worst of the worst.

    So it’s not just comics. It’s a problem that exists everywhere. It’s like Stephenson asked rhetorically, “why should comics be any different?”

    As I said before, sometimes it just feels different because we’re such a small industry. It’s like when you live in a small town where everyone knows each other and someone does something awful. You can’t escape it. It becomes omnipresent. It becomes who you are. It becomes your scarlet letter. Your brand to wear.

    The way we behave informs others and creates expectations for those around us, either individually or as an industry, and it makes the stigma that surrounds the world of comics in the minds of many all the more real.

    And if we, as the fans of the medium, can’t even deal with each others opinions about comics without threatening to kill, rape or publicly embarrass each other, then how do we expect comics to continue to survive or, god forbid, to grow?

    I don’t know. I really don’t. As Andy Khouri suggested in his excellent piece on the subject at Comics Alliance:

    Remember what we were taught. Remember what we’re supposed to believe in. How can we love these stories and characters so much as to make them a part of ourselves, a piece of our identities as boys and now as men, and behave any differently? Doing otherwise is doing it wrong.

    He’s completely right. We all know we’re supposed to act better – to be better – but these things never change.

    And that’s the biggest thing to me.

    Nothing seems to change. Deep down, everyone knows that being good, or just not being an asshole, is a good idea. Yet somehow, even after we share articles and thoughts about how we should just be decent, the group never seems to learn its lesson.

    I don’t know how to fix that. I really don’t. I don’t know if any of us do, but I wish it would change because I don’t want to see the same things happening six months from now. I don’t want this to be something that is always part of comics.

    It really shouldn’t take us this long to grow up.

    David Harper

    David Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).


    • quinn

      Another great article. Good points all.

      The only way to stop the threats of violence is to remove the anonymity which the Internet and VPNs provide. Other than that, the shitty end of the Bell Curve of Human Decency will always be with us. (I’m not advocating the removal of the mechanisms of privacy which the Internet provides). However, Twitter really should shutdown the accounts of people who make threats like that AND since Twitter must know the IP address those accounts originated with, they can block those too. Only people with VPNs will be untouched by that kind of policy.

      Digital Comics, once they can be displayed on HDTVs, will cut the Direct Market shops out of the equation. If people get used to projecting HD digital comics to their 55 inchers I don’t think the direct market will last long after that – unfortunately.

      • http://www.multiversitycomics.com/ David Harper

        I actually agree with you on Twitter’s role on this. Social media and websites in general could be more judicious about how they handle trouble user accounts, as while some users may not agree with each other, everyone is in fact welcome to their opinion, and tearing them down for it creates negative user experiences.

        I’m not sure if Twitter and others don’t want to lose those precious users from their counts or what, but by not doing anything, they’re probably losing others with more potential value otherwise.

        Glad you enjoyed the article and shared your perspective, quinn!

    • cap_n_jack

      Firstly, really great article. I think that with the rise of certain high quality titles in the last few years, it’s been easy to forget how rampant this sort of behavior is. Outside of the sexism, I note that two of the links detailed quality and approachability problems in the mainstream comics medium which is to me, a less egregious, but equally disturbing characteristic.

      Comics have the ability to grow up, they’ve had some hits, they’re figuring out that sometimes people want to read something new (Saga), something non-genre (Blankets), or really anything that’s approachable. In the last decade as young people (I among them) began reading a lot of manga, it seemed like perhaps comics could finally branch out and start building a wider audience and publishing a more diverse group of titles. But that has simply not happened.

      DC has made a number of inept moves that have only made them less approachable, Marvel has built its titles on the success of its movie universe and hence not branched out much at all. Other publishers have branched out some, but with limited success (while many people read and talk about Saga, I think the titles Image is publishing right now in general could use a wider audience). The point being that comics continues to easy to get out of and hard to get into.

      As a final point, I think that the fact that this sort of behavior is rampant throughout most mediums is simply evidence that comics is a) too small as you pointed out and b) too self-centeredly nerdy. What I mean by this is that the way comics are divided into pop culture franchises (roughly equivalent to summer block busters in quality and cult tv shows in style) encourages devoted readers to not invite more people in.

      • http://www.multiversitycomics.com/ David Harper

        I think you’re starting to see the readership leak out from the Marvel/DC motherships into other publishers lines (see: Image’s biggest month percentage of market wise since 2000 in March), but like with anything, it’s a process. I don’t think comics HAVE to be as small as they are, but their perception and the exclusive nature the books and fans have created curb against growth.

        I think there is the potential for growth, but will we see it, and if we do, when will it be? I’m not sure.

        And thanks for the praise!

        • Mark Tweedale

          It’s going to be a slow process, because it’s very rare for an adult that’s never read a comic to go, “You know, I think I might try out Spider-man.” Make comics for kids and put them in a place that’s accessible to them, and a decade or so later you’ll see the audience for comics starting to grow.

    • Jadenewt

      Excellent article about a very important topic. If the comics community wants to survive and grow it seriously needs to learn to be more inclusive. Comics are a very niche item so creators, retailers & readers have a responsibility to foster a climate of tolerence and good will towards any that show an interest in the subject. Let’s face it characters have never been so mainstream as they are now but sales of sources material aren’t reflecting those numbers. There are many reasons why this is true. (Price, Product Placement, Ease of Access and so forth) Do we as a community need to give the curious further reason to turn their backs on the stories and characters that we love? We need to learn from the good examples seek out, nurture and welcome new readers. Greet them with open arms.

      We as a community also must learn that our creators are the voice of our industry. We must not treat them like they are trying to destroy our lives when they write something we dislike. Threats of violence are never an acceptable solution.

      • http://www.multiversitycomics.com/ David Harper

        Good points at all. There’s weird sense of fan entitlement that has developed, or at least become more evident, in the past few years. Sometimes it shows up in moments like the one Asselin and Slott faced, and other times it shows up in strange petitions about books like Avengers Arena where people don’t appreciate the concepts presented.

        We’d be better off if we let comics be comics, and appreciated them for what they are, and not for what our personal opinions want them to be instead.

        Oh, and thanks!

      • quinn

        What you say sounds reasonable except when we examine how Brian Bendis(with Quesada’s and Dan Buckley’s leave) has ruined huge swaths of the Marvel Universe.

        When one writer has total control over a series or group of series which a group of fans have greatly enjoyed in the past and that writer is doing a terrible job then I believe those fans have a right to voice their displeasure – especially in the case of Brian Bendis who has no talent whatsoever.

        I know how this post sounds, but, really, Bendis is a special case of an egregiously untalented writer with ridiculous connections in upper management who’s ruining a comic book universe.

        • Walt Richardson

          Have you met my friend vjj?

        • http://www.multiversitycomics.com/ David Harper

          Well, see, the problem with that is that many – many many many – would disagree with the idea that Bendis is untalented. He’s done a lot of work that I really enjoy, and his work on Ultimate Spider-Man to this day is one of the best examples of the superhero form. It’s also a case where his books sell and, for the most part, are well received.

          So in short, you’re certainly welcome to your opinion and you’re not alone in your opinion, but if you’re suggesting that he should be excommunicated from the Marvel line or something, then you’ll see a lot more resistance then support, I’d imagine.

          • quinn

            Sadly, you’re right. Bendis does sell well in the market.

            And, now, even when his writing is worse than it’s ever been, he has great artists working with him which mitigates the effect his worsening writing has on sales

            • Patrick Gizinski

              I get what you’re saying but everything you’ve said about Brian Bendis is completely your opinion. You’re stating it as fact however. Do I agree with you and think that Bendis as a writer outside of Ultimate Spider-Man and recent Daredevil work lost what once made him great? Yes, but that is my opinion. Clearly the guy has talent, may not be to others liking but people out there like him or else his books wouldn’t sell. There have been plenty of books that are paired with a great artist, but the writers quality is not up to snuff and they get cancelled. So Bendis has an audience somewhere.

              I think that’s where fans lose themselves. They get so passionate about these stories and characters, that they then start voicing their opinions as fact. They see THEIR Spider-Man, or THEIR Nightwing as who these heroes, respectively should be and if that changes. Damn them all.

              It seems to me the common ground is disagreeance. When something happens in comics that fans disagree with. They get mad. Sometimes that anger turns into irrational and disgusting behavior.

            • http://www.multiversitycomics.com/ David Harper

              Pretty sure you just described the path to becoming a Sith. But I agree. It’s that personal ownership that drives some of this behavior, not that I think quinn is necessarily guilty of it (although he does dislike Bendis greatly).

            • Patrick Gizinski

              Oh no. I don’t think he’s guilty of it all. He’s expressing his opinion without being a terrible person (I assume he’s not threatening bendis’ life) A lot of times comic fans don’t do that.

            • Barracuda

              Yeah but let’s give that guy a break, Bendis wrote a ton of issues and you cannot win them all after all that time (just look at other creators). He understands the audience and manages quite well to humanise his characters to behave like current generation of readers. This formula may not be as fresh as it was a decade ago but it’s not that bad either. I would like to see him trying something different and discovering other styles instead of embracing the absurdity of years of convoluted continuity that doesn’t matter.
              Truth be told I want comic books to grow up and become more like the books industry. Screw those stupid variant covers, monthly scraps (parts ?) of a story and never ending super hero tv shows. That is a large element of this medium that should be minimized or almost non exsitent by now.

    • guest

      People threaten her with
      rape because she didn’t like a comic book cover, that is not a acceptable way behave
      it’s wrong to threaten anyone like that. That said I think part of the problem that
      there’s are some who see comic books a boy’s only club, it a attitude that never made much sense to me since I’ve
      always felt that comics were and should be for any who wants to enjoy them.

      Ps. Sorry if I came off like
      I was rambling.

      • http://www.multiversitycomics.com/ David Harper

        Ha! No need to apologize. You’re right. The boy’s club mentality is very strange, especially because so many comics – like the X-Men, for example – are designed to show how wrong it is to exclude people for who they are. As Khouri noted in his article, people sometimes miss the point out of these comics they enjoy so much.

    • KillaCam7010

      The scariest part of this all is the question of how many of these people that threaten these terrible things would, if given the opportunity, would actually do it. I realize that many just talk a talk, but with the numbers of homicides and sexual assaults in this country makes one wonder how many have or might perform those acts. I have heard some suggest that the internet and violent video games provide an outlet for those who might actually commit those acts and instead assuage their urges in these and other outlets.

      That will never give them the right to threaten those things. It saddens me that people have entirely missed the point about something that was always intended to inspire and show us rising above the evils of the world to be our best selves. I wonder that if when comics began to be more “realistic” and “gritty” we lost sight of that. I am not arguing that all comics need to be all positive all the time, but it seems more and more that the villains, from TV shows like Breaking Bad to comics like Forever Evil, are put into places where they are to been in a sympathetic or hero-like role, even as they commit atrocious acts with little remorse. Maybe we have become too numb to ideas like rape, torture, and murder that the true evil of those acts, especially in the real world, have become mundane, common place, and even somehow somewhat acceptable.

      Comics were designed to inspire. I enjoyed that the point of Superior Spider-Man was to show that the greatest superhero was the person who sacrificed everything in his own life to save everyone. It seemed like that had disappeared from comics.

      People have a right to their opinion. But we as a people have a right and a duty to not accept those opinions. And we have a duty to stand up and tell those who want to do and advocate evil that we will not accept it. That we will not back down until their words no longer have any power and that we will work to silence their evil. We, as a people an community, have a duty to work to end these evils and make sure they never harm another again.

      If we stay silent, the bad guys win. We cannot back down. I know there are more good guys out there. Comics showed us that backing down is not acceptable. We should take that advice.

      • http://www.multiversitycomics.com/ David Harper

        Here here. I second most of that, although I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that the move towards gritty and realistic is necessarily a bad thing (which you aren’t really saying). I think much of this has been revealed by people being able to share their true thoughts for the first time, and it’s an ugliness that many people just weren’t aware of. I for one didn’t realize that rape threats were a way people dealt with things.

        Good points though, and thanks for reading.

    • Patrick Gizinski

      Beautifully written, and very well said.

      • http://www.multiversitycomics.com/ David Harper

        Thanks Patrick. I really appreciate that.

    • Dave Tobin

      I feel somewhat divorced from this conversation as an Irish person. Women’s rights are an intrinsic and immutable part of our society. The behaviour of some of the people commenting on this is (thankfully) alien to me. Excluding the sociological aspect, even at an economical level, the concept of isolating women is absurd. Why exclude 50% of your audience?

      I hate to taint anyone, but this hatred or women seems to be an American “fanboy” issue, that is so self-destructive it threatens both our hobby and the culture that positive sites like Multiversity build for us.

      I hate to be as blunt and reductive as this but, I despise anyone who disagrees with Janelle. You simply don’t have the interest of our hobby at heart. For any medium to be successful it needs to have support across gender and sociological divides. I don’t want to be the only one of my peer group to be excited about a development in my hobby. I want it to be as universal as talking about developments in True Detective, Mad Men or The Office. It’s only when we become truly mainstream that we will become truly inclusive.

      • http://www.multiversitycomics.com/ David Harper

        I don’t despise people for disagreeing with Janelle (after all, comic art is a really subjective thing), but anyone who acts tyrannical and reductive to the inclusiveness of the world of comics is certainly an enemy of the comic industry’s progress.

        But yeah, I actually agree that it’s primarily an American fanboy issue. Not that other cultures don’t have strange relationships with women and creative mediums, but I do think the divisiveness of today’s youth and socioeconomic strata have created a culture of people who are binary to absolute extremes. Those extremes lead to behavior like that, because reasoned, moderate thought leads to being ignored, while sensationalism leads to attention. It’s like we’ve all become infants again, and we just want someone to pay attention to us. It’s maddening.

      • quinn

        It’s so reductive it’s oxidizing the entire thread 😉

        I don’t agree with you. I believe there’s PLENTY (too much) of misogyny in all corners of the world. Women in America probably have the most rights AND OPPORTUNITY than any other women in the world. The divorce laws and child custody laws are overwhelmingly in their favor in the US – for one example.

        The women’s rights forces in America are strong. I don’t think there’s anything particularly misogynistic about America.

    • stsparky

      We can’t be silent when haters go after critics, and we need to direct confused fan stalkers to the authorithies for bad behavior before it escalates. Publishers who promote unhealthy body imagery or antisocial actions to kids should be banned.

    • Kwesi Brako

      A very good article, David. Weirdly enough, before I even read the first paragraph, when I only saw the title and image thumbnail, I knew what this was about.

      I agree with you on all points. This is unacceptable behaviour, this isn’t unique to comics fans, and this needs changing, although the answers are elusive at best. I think a good chunk of comic book fans are people that had their noses buried in comics when it was the thing to be ridiculed. A lot of these people are somewhat resentful of the fact that now that comic book movies are popular, that these (for lack of a better word) fair weather fans are now flocking to discover the source materials of what has now, lets face it, been dominating at the box office for quite some time now. A number of these people are working in comic book stores, a lot of them are on forums and social media, throwing in their vitriolic two cents as it were. There is a certain kind of mindset among fans of all things, where we try to outfan each other, you see it when fanboys quiz each other on the topic of comics and characters they love, its almost like verifying that you both belong in this secret society.

      But the reality is that we comic book geeks are no longer outcasts, or at least not as much. Now its cool to know about Iron Man’s history, or about Thanos or the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s cool to have read the Dark Knight Returns. And instead of changing with the times, these fanboys are still living in that mindset. Those “I’m a bigger fan than you”, “you’re not a real fan if…”, “if you don’t know about *insert random trivia here* you deserve to be ridiculed” type ideology. Which leads to the kind of thing your nephew experienced, and the kind of thing I experienced, as apparently being black and sports player means I wasn’t supposed to be into comics in high school. I’m led to believe in their minds, they’re taking a tough love approach, hoping to inspire more devotion to our beloved medium… or something. And some people… “just wanna see the world burn!” There isn’t always a rhyme and a reason with these things.

      Personally, I think there needs to be accountability and repercussions in place. Social media should not tolerate that kinda behaviour, Twitter especially needs to clamp down on that, and allow everyone to express their opinions without malice. Comic book store management need to deal with their employees that alienate new customers, and laugh them out of the stores, or the stores themselves would then risk their bottom line being affected. (I know these solutions aren’t applicable everywhere, but its a start). There isn’t a single adult fan of comics who doesn’t know about these kind of people, so we need to make sure they’re not allowed to take these things too far. By not letting them get away with that kind of pathetic behaviour unchecked

      • VJ_Ostrowski

        Good stuff, Kwesi

        • Kwesi Brako

          Thanks, man

      • heratio hufnagel

        I’ve only been into comics for like a year and half, so I can’t count how many “I’m geekier than you” conversations I’ve been handed down. Thank goodness I found a great shop (Legend Comics & Coffee in Omaha is amazing) where the employees seem to think that a business is a place where people exchange goods for money, and, as a result, don’t want to push anybody away.

        It’s tougher to call out folks on sexual harassment, since they tend to prefer anonymity for these situations. (Plenty of face-to-face examples too, but I can’t speak first hand to any.) That’s where the accountability for social media platforms comes in. I have a lot of conflicted opinions for how much we should police behavior on the internet, but threats of any physical harm are so clearly out of line, that that’s one I’ll sign up for immediately.

    • anthonybgonzalez

      I bet those jagoffs don’t even BUY….anything. they probably pirate everything, steal all the content they consume.

      I like that DC does controversial stuff, gets heat, then continues anyway. The artist responded and completely supported that the reaction with threats is out of line.

      It’s utterly sad that people get treated at local comic shops like that! I guess I’m blessed where I’m at, people love the hell out of comics and the staff talks with you about anything, even if they don’t really read it. If you’re ever in Corpus Christi, Texas Toyz and Collector’s Planet are great, friendly places to go!

    • Holden

      One thing I would like to point out though is that Asselin did say the cover was bad for other reasons. She tore it down in some unfair ways. The complaint about breast size was completely legitimate and I completely agree that it is a problem, but she unfairly talked about the cover’s lack of accurate perspective and placement of characters; both of which are just opinion and offensive to Rockafort as an artist.
      That being said, the threats and comments she has gotten are complete bullshit. No one should ever have to go through what she is going through. And the worst part is that so many women have gone through the same thing. We as a comic book community need to get our shit together and start to support other readers. Especially women and children. Diversity only improves things. More people should be talking about this so we start to take look in the mirror and become a better community.

    • Moss

      Good article. Personally, I like the cover but that does not mean something is good. (By the same token I did not change my pull list when the Eisner nominations were announced.) As disturbing as it is to learn that women on the internet get rape threats I prefer to know.

      You can trace internet provider and most organizations require patrons to sign in to use the internet. Crimes against women are recognized as hate crimes by the federal government. If you are a women and you get threats like that, then report it by email to your congressman. It may help and it will not take much time.

      All I can say is that from now on when I get flamed for a post I will think of those threats and realize how good I have it.

    • clockstomper

      These kind of sickening threats are made in the realm of TV, video games and movies too. Maybe it’s a function of our celebrity obsessed culture. TMZ are assholes who have made a lot of money harassing people and going “that’s the cost of fame.” I think some of that mentality is behind these kind of threats.

    • clockstomper

      Also wanted to add I don’t think the cover is that bad. If anything it’s the horrible Jim Lee costumes that distract me. Gluing a bunch of knives to Raven’s face? He must have been burned out…this is why you don’t have one guy do all your designs.

      • http://www.multiversitycomics.com/ David Harper

        I don’t think it’s a very good cover, even though I think Rocafort is a gifted artist. I think her comments about Red Robin and the perspective around him are really fitting (the size/set up of everything on that side of the cover is mind bending when you start thinking about it), but ultimately, it’s a subjective art form. There may be technical issues, but some people still like it. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that, til they can’t play with others.

        • clockstomper

          Yeah, I honestly didn’t notice and I don’t think it’s an issue with his art in general, granted I’ve only read a few things he’s done.

    • metroid_fetish

      Pffft, them are some grown up titties.

    • Drew Bradley

      Looking past the death/rape threats, which I think everyone agrees are terrible, I think it’s interesting that stuff like this only happens for corporate titles like Teen Titans and Spider-man, or for movie franchises like Star Wars.

      When a creator owned book makes a bad turn or gets criticized, there doesn’t seem to be nearly the uproar over it.

      • http://www.multiversitycomics.com/ David Harper

        Not to downplay creator-owned, but I don’t think they generate nearly the passion in response quite often because of their lack of longevity – and this is just in my opinion – the types of fans who exhibit the more intense responses are higher in volume on Marvel/DC books.

        That said, one thing I didn’t include was a tweet where Image’s Jennifer de Guzman talked about how people regularly asked about fill-in artists for “Saga” so they could read it in a monthly basis, as if Fiona Staples is just some person who works on the book. Seemed a bit trivial comparatively.

        • Walt Richardson

          There’s also the issue of ownership. BKV and Staples created Saga. Aside from any possible future issues where they let other creators take a whirl in their world, we will only see Saga comics from BKV and Staples. Batman though? Well, Bill Finger and Bob Kane co-created him, but DC owns him, and thousands of writers and artists have worked on him, etc. When the marks of the creators are so diluted, I imagine it’s easier for someone to feel like these are “their” characters.

          • http://www.multiversitycomics.com/ David Harper

            A+ addition. Will read again.

    • PatriciaO

      Great article.

      You know, after the DC contest, in which fans draw Harley Quinn killing herself while naked, I had to stop buying DC comics, even though that means missing out on an awesome Sinestro and Superman comics atm. Yes, it seems a little extreme – and yes, there is some grade of violence in comic books, but that really hit close to home, on many levels – and for fans to not just read, but take an active part in this seemed really vile.

      As for a lot of the sexual violence language/threats that get thrown around – it’s really sad. I’ve played COD with what I assume are teenagers throwing out things like “I will rape this guy and that guy” – which is so ridiculous! I personally think that the pervasive rape culture that has made it okay to joke about sexual violence and that has stripped the terrible and gruesome nature of the word “rape” is a *huge* problem in everything – from video games, to youtube comments, and little league games.

      I like you, have no idea what to do other than let people know that by raping this guy and that girl, you are forcing yourself on a person who will damaged for the rest of their lives and that it’s not funny or okay. Sometimes it makes a difference and when it doesn’t I give examples or hypotheticals and that sometimes gets across. But other than that, I don’t know what to do.

      Always enjoy reading your articles!

    • Megazell

      The thing to do about all of this – Be Brave. I’ve seen this type of behavior in person both in the comic shops and in Gaming LAN Parties. Too many people stay quiet. GTFOH with that. If the behavior is done in front of me…I’m going to confront ya. I’m going to ask ya to chill. I hope it simmers down and does not escalate. If it does, I’m ready. I’m going to help the newbies in anyway I can because when I was little and trying to get into this stuff someone was there for me.

      • Mark Tweedale

        When these conversations happen and a women isn’t in the room, this is the most important time for guys to say something. And that’s a hard thing to do.

    • Gothy

      Five or six years ago, I had a little spare income and a standing order at my local comic store. I realise now that I virtually never looked at the covers of the comics I bought, I just ate their contents (sometimes repeatedly). The characters and stories of the books were what kept me around.
      Times changed, and I no longer have that order, I venture into comic stores and all I can judge this week’s offerings on, are covers and straplines, perhaps a peep into the book to see the style. Some weeks I go in, stare at the unnerving wall of impossible women, peep inside to see a book full of flesh and pouting lips, and leave with a pack of cards. Covers and art never 100% sold anything to me, because I was engaged. Now they feel like something I must ignore to enjoy myself.
      I don’t mention this to my friends who love comics, or the shop staff because I worry I’d hurt their feelings. I would never want my friends to be hurt for liking something.