Controversy has erupted online over the ninth issue of “Man-Eaters,” written by Chelsea Cain with art by Elise McCall. Last week’s issue of the Eisner Award-nominated Image comic saw the unauthorized use of two tweets by a user critical of Cain’s writing on the book, prompting further criticism that she was “punching down” at the reader:
Begun last year, “Man-Eaters” imagines a world where a virus causes girls and women to turn into savage panthers when they menstruate. The comic has received criticism as erasing transgender and non-binary people, with the used tweets themselves describing the series as being close to trans exclusionary radical feminism (the belief trans women are not women), so much so that “it’s impossible to not feel like it perpetuates the same misogyny/systemic violence that it’s attempting to tackle,” and as “further cement[ing] the toxicity of a gender binary in a heavy-handed, sad way.”
According to Bleeding Cool, Cain responded on her now deactivated Twitter account to those tweets when first posted, saying, “Thanks for the feedback. Seems like you’re a regular reader. Which is… weird. Because you hate us. I’m so grateful for the work of our three 14-year-old contributors. And then I read comments like yours, and I think WHAT HAVE I DONE?,” adding “We will work on being more nuanced. And less specific. I guess I think of stories as points-of-view. As in, a person’s story in the world. I guess I thought that being specific was kind of the reason I was doing this.”
After the issue was published, Cain tweeted she was unaware users could find the tweets by searching for the text, stating, “I didn’t know. I just wanted to acknowledge the really painful criticisms of the work and that sense I have that no matter how hard we try we are made to feel worthless and small. It was meant to echo a voice. The one that tells me I am a failure. Or as I call it, Twitter.” She tweeted further that she was sorry, describing herself as “dumb” and an “idiot,” before prompting more criticism by soliciting trans sensitivity readers for the next three issues, and offering them free comics for payment.
Image Comics has yet to comment. “Man-Eaters” is currently set to continue for another three issues.