How we got here:
I responded in a Twitter thread to another pro, giving my account of a story from my past as a show of defense. That this thread was then picked up by Bleeding Cool and has sparked another, larger conversation about the state of comic books today is more important here. But I…
Please note, before you click through, that Fowler’s account of Brian Wood’s approach to her is detailed and may make for difficult reading if you have experienced similar sexual aggression. Fowler gives an excellent, compassionate, more-understanding-than-I’d-be counterpoint to Wood’s recent statement. Again, please note that you may find that link upsetting if you have experienced inappropriate advances and their fallout from people in your own life.
There is one tiny bit of Fowler’s thesis I can’t get behind, though, and it’s emphatically not about her own experiences. Fowler’s worried that people stepping back from Brian Wood’s work will cause economic harm to sequential art… and I’m not certain I entirely believe that. I am unlikely to be comfortable picking up Wood’s books from here on out, knowing what I now know and having survived what I’ve survived myself. Does that mean the money I was spending on Conan, The Massive, and X-Men is going to leave the comics ecosystem?
No. I tend to run a $30-50 pull per week regardless of its precise composition, and I don’t expect that to change once those books (and Wood’s upcoming teased title, whatever it is) are out of the running. That $12 or $15 a month is going to end up on other titles, on TPBs, on something else within the market. People with cleaner reputations have new books coming out soon. The endless second act of cape comics and the quick turnover of creator-owned debuts means most of my pull changes entirely every 18 months as it is. Comics is not going to go wanting from me skipping the rest of The Massive, and I’d guess that a lot of direct-market buyers are probably somewhere in a similar purchasing pattern.
Do I think Wood is a good writer? Excellent, actually. I’ve been on board since The Couriers. But this is a situation where I’m sure other folks will continue to get his books and enjoy them and not feel weird about it… and that is something I can’t do, for myself. That’s not a boycott, that’s me going “nope, sorry, I can’t stomach this now that I know.” Any of you can and will decide differently.
Everyone makes moral compromises when it comes to consumption. I’ve got an iPhone 5 and a MacBook Air even though I know what goes on at Foxconn and other Apple suppliers, for instance. I have a parallel rant to this one that involves the film adaptation of Ender’s Game, its complicated and somewhat opaque financing deals, and how it’s affected evolving financial trends in the VFX industry, where I used to make my corporate home. I’m sure I’ll have another one about Sin City 2 when that comes out, and it will look a lot the same— problematic creators, moral compromises,financial impacts, and whether or not leaving one problematic work behind amounts to spitting in the face of an entire industry and its uncertain financial future.
(The Ender’s and Sin City ones will involve a bit more socialist ranting about specific corporate allegiances, sick systems, and how loyalty is formed and dissolved in late capitalism. That’s another set of articles for another time.)
But not picking up Wood’s books is, for me, going to free up money to put towards other comics I could be exploring without feeling conflicted about it. Without feeling like maybe, this time, some of my cash could be put towards making another woman feel singled out and violated.
(Can I have perfect certainty about that? Of course not. I’m not omniscient and I don’t expect my knowledge of the field to cover all of the seedy alleyways. I can only examine things as they come to my attention and go forward from that knowledge… but in a handful of cases, I’ve got enough to go on to know that getting a particular title means supporting creators who possess genuine conviction and integrity, who support enthusiastic consent and who observe appropriate professional boundaries.)
The monolithic entity that is “comics,” like film, will go on with or without individual creators, with or without financial support thrown to one corner or another. Indies go on while capes occupy the biggest corner of the market. Webcomics sail on with reduced concern about getting into brick-and-mortar shops. Comixology does its thing and people I know have collections in their private cloud as big as any set of longboxes in a storage unit.
Go with your gut and do what you need to do. Comics will be here whichever way you go.
Yes, and yes.
You are not obliged to keep reading ANY book or the work of any creator, nor to give reasons.