Back in 2014 I was still comics people. Other comics people back then attacked me for predicting comics would have its own Gamergate.
My argument was based on anecdotal evidence from message boards, chat rooms, emails and conversations with customers and fans. My time in various parts of the comics industry gave it explanatory power as well
First, gamers don’t define themselves in terms of gaming in the way that comics fans (myself included) define themselves in terms of the comics they’ve read over decades. I think I identify more with Batman than even the most rabid gamer identifies with Kratos, as I’ve been a Batman fan since I was seven years old.
Second, most comics can be grouped in the speculative fiction genre and are usually produced monthly in a serialized format. The genre and format means that fans expect lots of change in the stories we read. But comics are just as much soap opera as well as modern day myth, so we also expect that change in comics looks like other changes we’ve seen previously.
Lastly, it’s a not so hidden secret that the comics community has a lot of young white single males, many of whom I figured (because of my time behind a counter in a comics shop and selling to them online) were disaffected in a way that was bound to cause trouble.
Thus, just how connected comics fans are to our core passion made a backlash more inevitable. Indeed, it was always obvious to me that Comicsgate would likely be much more about comics fans than it would likely be about comics as a medium and an industry.
Still, others online thought me paranoid (and, oddly, racist) back then because there was a black Spider-Man a black female Iron Man, a transgender Batgirl villain, an Arab Ms. Marvel, and a bisexual Catwoman. More women were talking about and creating comics. Marvel’s consistently strong sales and the diversity within DC’s massive universe-wide reboot signaled a new era of inclusiveness within industry.
But what were surely advancements for others who may not have been thought of as traditional comics people looked like fuel for a backlash to me.
“Geek culture has been rocked over the past four years by repeated outbreaks of reactionary hatred toward women and people of color, and Comicsgate is the latest front in that ongoing battle. Much has been written about it in the online press, and mainstream publications like The Telegraph and BuzzFeed have covered it. But to understand this latest eruption in the Internet culture wars—or why the comics Internet is currently ripping itself apart—you have to understand its context and the things that fuel it: the brands of cultural panic it feeds on, and the fact that it’s pretty good at making people money.”
“#Comicsgate: How An Anti-Diversity Harassment Campaign In Comics Got Ugly—And Profitable” | The Daily Beast | Asher Elbein | 04/02/2018
No one’s laughing at me now.
IMAGE SOURCE: Comic Book Marvel Books