Rumors circulated in September that UK Prime Minister David Cameron had fucked a dead pig’s mouth while a student at Oxford.
Cameron’s (alleged) pig-fucking had little-to-nothing to do with the comic industry, however, and so there’s no earthly reason whatsoever to mention David Cameron’s (alleged) hot, sweaty sexual intercourse with a dead pig.
And yet, I can’t help but think that it’s worth noting in an article about comic books that David Cameron’s semi-erect penis might very well have glided firmly into a dead pig’s mouth, if for no other reason than because while (allegedly) face-fucking the dead pig, maybe David Cameron thought about Spider-Man’s porcine alter-ego Peter Porker, Spider-Ham. It’s possible!
If David Cameron indeed thought about Peter Porker, Spider-Ham while porking ham, then it would be extremely germane in an article about comic books to consider the implications to the comics industry of David Cameron rhythmically pounding his tiny curse into a deceased swine. After all, what would that say about all of us, you, me, that (alleged) pig-fucker David Cameron, all of us, that we all share Peter Porke,r Spider-Ham as a reference point — in Cameron’s (alleged) case, as a reference point for where to put his (alleged) penis?
We should all give this a great deal of thought, except for the poor pig who’s been through enough (allegedly).
But then comics hit a new low, as September flowers brought forth September showers. Yes, it was time for an (alleged) abuse scandal.
In September, Marvel announced that (alleged) writer Nathan Edmondson would spearhead their new Red Wolf comic book. Red Wolf used to be a superman who wrapped a dead dog around his head before hitting evil with a stick. But in 2015, a comic book starring that guy became serious business because the superman was Native American. This wasn’t just some dumb comic anymore, it was a chance for minorities to join the human family, purely symbolically, with no minorities on the creative team except as a “cover artist/consultant,” and with all economic benefits to flow exclusively to Walt Disney, the official owners of Childhood.
Marvel likely expected to be greeted as liberators -- no one had objected the countless previous times they had used minorities as props to sell superhero comics written by the samey-old samey-old white-guy writers in the past, after all. What was different this time?
But is it a funny story we can tell? Oh, absolutely not. For reasons, I can just gesture at it, like a grossed-out mime. Here’s the very most I think I’m allowed to say:
After the announcement that Edmondson would be the writer of Red Wolf, a widely-reported discussion arose, first among comics industry professionals, about whether comics publishers were ignoring unspecified conduct which they deemed in their opinion to be “abusive” (but which we are in no position ourselves at this time to opine upon). This then inspired a further conversation among comics journalists about the challenges reporting on purportedly abusive conduct in the industry, including because people often did not want to come forward “on the record” (likely, an understandable decision given a history of people who had come forward falling prey to further harassment by “fans”).
Annnnnnd am I safe to say anything else?
2015 was the year of Schrödinger’s scandal-- comic scandals so scandalous that nothing about them could actually be known other than that they might exist.
Comics fans were told that DC Editors Whose Names Could Not Be Said Aloud for Fear of Human Madness had penetrated into our mortal realm to inflict degradations upon human women … some time, under some circumstances, that supposedly were very troubling, most likely.
Comics fans were told to avoid Nathan Edmondson comics based upon Horrors Best Left to the Imagination, Misdeeds Beyond the Pale, barely containable in a Necronomicon that Image Comics had assembled but denied the very existence of… misdeeds that couldn’t be talked about but that were very, very naughty oh dear oh no but can’t be talked about.
Comics fans were told that according to quantum mechanics, Adrian Tomine might have run through the halls of IDW Comics, hurling balloons filled with animal excrement at the walls. But excrement from what kind of animal? Was it elephant dookie or cat-shit? And was "Yakety Sax" playing in real life or just in my imagination?
Abandoned to comment sections, many fans were justifiably confused. Some babbled incoherently about “evidence” and “crimes,” asked "why victims didn't go to the authorities,” confusing a discussion about hostile workplaces with a slapstick episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. A troubling number of people thought they were being helpful by suggesting a vaginal swab test in a comment section about the Marvel superheroes. “I guess no one knows how to call the police -- here I come to the rescue,” wrote a frightening number of comic bros on the internet (OR possibly one, single ur-comics-bro with a truly terrifying number of aliases, having an extended conversation with himself in a comment section -- I call him the “Perfect Nightmare”).
Others became distracted about whether this discussion was all just retaliation for a white person being selected to write about a Native American superhero -- confusion stoked by the very people discussing the story to begin with, who for some godforsaken reason made that part of the story! It really was a spectacular example of “shoving your head into a pile of horse manure and then trying to give the Gettysburg address,” the way this was handled. “Why doesn’t anyone want to put their reputations on the line and trust us with a story? We’ll do a great job reporting their story and also we can mention ten other things that have nothing whatsoever to do with anything, at all. We care about workplace conduct but also, what about the superhero who wraps a dead dog around his head-- what’s going on with him?” — the Chucklefuck Gang.
But it wasn’t surprising that things went wonky. Fans, pros, whoever-- they all seemed to insist upon operating under a very bizarre assumption: that talk must be for the benefit of fans if it is happening in public.
Sure, some discussions should be public — public talk can be more meaningful than what’s kept in private, the impotent whispered late night bar-talk at comics conventions. A public conversation says, “This matters enough that it shouldn’t be hidden by the comics code of silence, where constant inaction and moral cowardice will forever be excused as long as someone can make a buck.” But a discussion among comics industry professionals about how the comics industry should conduct itself? About comics publishers looking the other way with respect to abusive personnel? That’s not for fans. Fans aren’t lining up to hear about abuse, not unless someone gets abused on the Millennium Falcon, preferably Lando Calrissian’s sidekick Nien Nunb, who’s asking for it, having those lips, am I right fellas?
With Edmondson, comic pros, comics journalists, comic fans-- they all had this weird desire to treat this thorny situation (with details they couldn’t talk about) like that DC thing where you dial a phone number to decide whether or not Robin gets blown up by the Joker. One particularly odd way this manifested were complaints that this was all pointless because, “well, nothing’s going to get done” — as if a discussion is only valuable if at the end, someone is declared the “winner!” What’s Thanksgiving dinner like for those people?? Probably pretty shitty!
A public debate isn’t an automatic invitation to the public to participate in the debate. Just because two people are talking at a McDonald's doesn’t mean you should start complaining to them about the fries being salty. That’s what crazy people do. The fries are delicious.
But anyways: I started out talking about Nathan Edmondson but then gradually crawled up my own ass. And that’s sort of a metaphor for how that whole situation went down, basically. It was just more handsome when I did it. Jealous?
But anyways, none of this mattered. Did comics-industry professionals think they could talk about whether comics publishers looked the other way regarding (allegedly) inappropriate employee behavior?
NOT TODAY, THEY COULDN’T! BRIAN WOOD TO THE RESCUE! HYAH!
At the height of the discussion concerning Edmondson, Wood e-mail-blasted various parties with some kind of Brian Wood Superfan Newsletter asserting that the “current climate in comics” (which at that time was hazy with a 100% chance of stupidity) was so unjust that Wood was worried it would cause some fucking bozo to commit suicide. Wood insisted that a "good deal" of the discussion about Edmondson was motivated by his politics. Wood humble-bragged that he was more evolved than to judge someone for their politics thanks to (a) the amazing empathy that is required of him as a “writer,” presumably referring to his work on Moon Knight, and (b) because of CrossFit.
Yes, CrossFit, America’s #1 hottest fitness fad that combines (1) the zonked monomania of an overzealous religious cult with (2) injuries, oodles and oodles of injuries.
According to Wood, a fucking 40-something-year-old man, it had taken CrossFit for him to have the staggering realization that people can have different politics than him without being bad people. He hadn’t bothered to do the math on that until he did a sit-up! If that’s what he learned from a sit-up, what great discovery did Brian Wood make about about life when he did a push-up? Did a push-up help him learn that the angry Republican man in the forest who scratches Brian Wood’s face any time Wood tries to chat about politics is actually a raccoon? It was a raccoon the entire time, ya talentless dummy-- do some fucking push-ups.
Luckily, Wood had amazing reservoirs of empathy and even CrossFit going for him. Strangely, neither stopped him from empathizing with how victims might be structurally silenced by the industry that benefits him. Or even more bizarre: neither stopped him from characterizing anyone who cared about abusive men in his industry as *the bogeyman*: “Others, insecure about their own history, whip to the other extreme and adopt personas of cutting edge inclusion and change, hoping this new skin will protect them from the bogeyman.”
The “bogeyman” here, however, would be Wood’s fellow industry professionals who initiated the conversation and in doing so, risked retaliation from vile Reddit pro-misogyny goon squads, anger-addicts who have grown more virulent and more brazen in recent years-- a personal risk Wood’s fellow professionals were willing to take to stand up to what they saw as injustice… WHAT MONSTERS! How do these bogeymen sleep at night? Answer: they don’t -- because they’re obviously also draculas.
Maybe a 40-something-year-old man can figure out how to empathize with “bogeymen” after doing some pull-ups, though. Do they teach pull-ups at CrossFit? Or if he used a rowing machine, maybe he’d learn how fear-mongering about social-justice “bogeymen” inspiring imaginary characters to kill themselves was a transparent encouragement for online hate-hordes, fuel for their constant horseshit narratives of beta-male victimization. Maybe if he picked up a barbell, he’d also realize that blaming people for anyone else’s decision to commit suicide is fucking bonkers … though of course, no one had actually killed themselves over any of this, other than the phony and imaginary hypothetical person had Wood presented in his fan-letter, just another one of Wood’s endless supply of poorly conceived, poorly written, hyperbolically emo so-called “characters.”
Yes, in sum, Wood was determined to shut down any kind of “watch out for the creeps in comics” talk. God, I wonder why? What a mystery! What a strange happenstance of fate. If only there were clues to this bizarre mystery! If only someone could solve this for us. That TV show Sherlock -- is that a thing that real thing people can do? Can we have words like “Brian Wood” and “Creepy Male Behavior” float in front of people’s faces thanks to Adobe After Effects, until they manage to solve the mystery of why he might care so much? This truly requires a teaspoon of Sherlock-ery.
We hope that Wood redoubles his efforts to get swole at his nearest CrossFit box, spiritually swole. Godspeed in your teachings about the karmic wheel of existence, CrossFit, godspeed!
Eric Stephenson, Publisher for Image Comics, stated: “There has never been an investigation into Nathan Edmondson’s behavior [...]. No official complaint has ever been logged, so beyond being aware of the ongoing discussion of the matter, Image has no involvement in this.”
In his weekly Q&A with Comic Book Resources, Marvel's Axel Alonso was not even asked to comment on the Edmondson whatever-this-was. He was instead asked the far more pressing question of the day: “Any chance of us getting a Mockingbird ongoing?”
And DC Comics, who didn’t have anything to do with this story, nevertheless issued a statement, but it just read, “Lobo totes got raped, hells to the yeah, you know it, ninja. Read all about it, middle-aged Juggalos, in the pages of DC Comics. Bawitdaba, da bang, da dang diggy diggy, diggy, said the boogie, said up jump the boogie.”
Yes, by the end of September it all had been made very clear: the comics industry definitely doesn’t have a problem with looking the other way when it came to alleged misconduct. Everything’s just fine, everybody.
(continued on next page)