1. Orson Scott card is a raging homophobe and hate-monger. Not the kind that just “has opinions you disagree with,” but the kind that invests money and time and efforts into the fight against your civil rights.
2. DC Comics hired him to write a 10-page Superman story.
3. DC Comics also hired Chris Sprouse, an extremely talented artist, to illustrate the story by OSC.
4. We know nothing about Chris Sprouse’s stance on same-sex marriage or LGBT civil rights.
5. There’s been a very vocal backlash against DC’s decision to let OSC write a Superman story. Petitions, boycotts, lots of negative press. In typical fashion, DC’s PR messaging in response to the crisis has been roughly the equivalent of “STFU, we did nothing wrong.”
6. Chris Sprouse was uncomfortable with all the negative attention in the press. He backed out of the assignment. His statement:
The media surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from the actual work, and that’s something I wasn’t comfortable with. My relationship with DC Comics remains as strong as ever and I look forward to my next project with them.
My first reaction to this was to cheer him on. Mark Waid tweeted about Chris Sprouse being a hero. I retweeted that and said I was thinking of buying a bunch of his books this week to show support.
But then I started thinking about how carefully this little stunt has been orchestrated. The carefully worded statements from Chris Sprouse and DC Comics, the synchronized PR effort, both parties emphasizing that they are on good terms and will continue to work together.
We fully support, understand and respect Chris’s decision to step back from his Adventures of Superman assignment. Chris is a hugely talented artist, and we’re excited to work with him on his next DC Comics project. In the meantime, we will re-solicit the story at a later date when a new artist is hired.
Everybody supports everybody. They all get along just fine. Nobody did anything wrong. Nobody is criticizing anybody. Orson Scott Card’s story hasn’t been trashed, but conveniently it will be absent from the first digital issue or from the first printed collected edition, so everyone can drop their boycotts.
Isn’t DC Comics’ statement that they will re-solicit the story later their way of backing out of an awkward situation without admitting that they fucked up? It would be very easy for this story to just remain in limbo until everyone forgets about it. The PR nightmare magically just goes away and DC doesn’t have to publicly fire OSC or make any statement about their change of heart.
If DC did fire OSC and made it clear that it was because of his work against LGBT civil rights, there would have been a backlash from conservative First Amendment fanatics crying about censorship. The PR nightmare might have intensified instead of going away.
Now the story might never see the light of day, but officially it’s not because DC took a stance against homophobia.
And what about Chris Sprouse? Is he taking a stance about anything? We still don’t know how he feels about same-sex marriage. Which is fine. He doesn’t owe us anything. He’s just an artist who draws really beautiful comics.
But he’s not a hero. He’s just a guy looking out for his career who wants to distance himself from the controversy. Christopher Allen at Trouble with Comics nailed it:
So he’s fine with [DC Comics] hiring Card, just not with people who don’t like Card now not liking him if he works with the guy. It’s a career-based decision. Understandable, especially in a tough comics industry that isn’t growing but continues to have new talent coming in, competing for work. But let’s not call the guy a hero.
I have no beef with him. I personally would feel sick working with someone like Orson Scott Card, but I don’t expect others to care as much about this as I do. We all have to earn a living. Chris Sprouse is looking out for himself. Good for him.
But if he really gave a shit about OSC being a raging homophobe, he wouldn’t have taken the job in the first place.