The current state of the comic book industry faces many uncertainties regarding its continued viability. In a world wherein practically all media is consumed digitally, comics find themselves decreasing in relevancy right alongside magazines, newspapers, and books. Not helping this problem though, are the desperation tactics taken on by editorial teams in order to try and court what appears to be the broad consumer base. Especially when those courted customers turn out to not be customers at all, merely people that like to complain on the Internet. The liberal agenda is helping kill comics, though probably not for the reason one would think I’d claim.
This is shockingly not a new issue at all, and goes back at least five years to a decade. Let me tell you a story. A few years ago, I got a gig writing reviews and articles about comic books and other assorted nerd media for a website. It didn’t pay anything, the website wasn’t popular enough for that, but the publisher for the site had connections throughout the comics industry and could get anything from review copies to con tickets to interview opportunities. I know of more than one person affiliated with that site who has gone on to make comics and/or nerd-dom into a full-time career due to the doors opened.
For myself, I wanted and needed a hobby to take my mind away from issues going on in my life and the opportunity to write about things I loved was too good to pass up. I took to writing the reviews with a passion, eager to point out the good things I noticed while reading comics while letting people know what to watch for to avoid mediocre or outright bad stories. This passion extended to an article series that I was allowed to spearhead on my own and I took to it with gusto.
I mention all of that backstory because looking back now, I can see with perfect hindsight how the article series I wrote ties into the current problem plaguing comics. My article series was specifically about awesome women characters and their impact both in the story and upon the reader. Taken alone and at face value, it was merely another series about how the awesomeness of specific characters. However, in the grand scheme of things it was yet another article series trying to push an -ism as a cause upon the masses. In this particular case, that cause was feminism.
I want to be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with feminism or most any other -ism when taken and used in moderation. Those women out there who believe in the equality of the sexes and that women can do anything they set their mind to, all power to them. I wish you all well and encourage you to reach for the stars. Likewise, my love and adoration for the characters I wrote about back then has not waned in the slightest. The reason for that is simple, they are great characters and part of great stories. That greatness defines them, along with a myriad of complex and interesting character traits more than simple gender, race, or sexual preference. The content of their overall character was and remains far more important than any -ism or social agenda.
The word agenda is important here because it’s when agendas get involved that one’s pet -isms turn into a problem. I wasn’t aware at the time, but there was and still is an overall agenda pushing liberal ideology and social justice active within comics. Personally, I attribute this agenda on a misguided attempt from comics companies to make money off of the loudest voices they can hear on the internet. That is, the liberals and Social Justice Warriors who take the internet full of outrage whenever anything at all appears that offends their sensibilities. It’s a misguided effort, as the plummeting sales of comics based on catering to these people prove, but one that I believe they make honestly. At least that’s my hope.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was actually warned about the overall liberal bias and possible agenda within the comics industry back in 2014 by Chuck Dixon. For those of you who don’t know, Chuck Dixon is simultaneously a big name in comics and someone generally not to be talked about. If you’ve not heard his name, you’ve definitely heard of or read his work. Chuck wrote the Knightfall storyline, he’s the author that broke the Batman. So, one can see why he’s just a little famous in the comics industry. But why does no one speak of him these days and why is he effectively blacklisted from writing for the Big Two? Well that’s because he’s a Conservative.
Chuck warned me about the issues with getting into comics as a career when I asked him for advice on breaking into writing for the industry. His advice boiled down to keep your opinions to yourself and beware of falling afoul of the greater agenda. Even back then, comics were used to push a specific narrative and agenda. Chuck ran afoul of that despite his strong belief of keeping his personal politics out of his writing. Most famously, he spent years writing Batman in-character as staunchly anti-gun in both word and action, despite his own very pro-2nd amendment stance and NRA membership. What began his downfall into the blacklist was, according to him, a minor disagreement over addressing AIDs within a comic meant specifically for young children,
Since that conversation, I have fallen out of writing about comics. Over the past year, I’ve fallen out of buying them as well. The agenda had taken over and hijacked the story you see. At least for Marvel, from what I have heard recently it sounds as though DC caught on to the problem and reversed direction. Marvel though, appears as though they have doubled down on their leftist agenda. I could find and cite innumerable examples of this throughout the last two years alone. Everything from the new Captain America pushing the “Hands up, don’t shoot!” narrative to the Red Skull blatantly used as a stand-in for Donald Trump. Indeed, the current stable of writers within the Comics Industry seem practically incapable of being anything other than the anti-Chuck Dixon.
The narrative, the agenda has hijacked the story and sales have suffered for it. The books are no longer full of interesting stories about larger-than-life individuals and their adventures. Instead they are filled with political agendas, bias, talking points, and more -isms than one can shake a stick at. On the comics side of things that is, not so much the movies and for the love of all that you may consider holy let us all pray it stays that way. I don’t know about you, but I want to keep seeing successful Marvel movies. We won’t get that if Marvel Studios follows its parent organization.