Let’s get this straight: DC is anti marriage, not anti GAY marriage

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When the news broke earlier that co-writers JH Williams II AND W. Haden Blackman (and not just Williams, as some sites reported) had quit Batwoman due to editorial interference, it was clearly going to be a big issue for the day. What’s been most worrying THOUGH is how quickly people have attempted to spin this into a story about homophobia — rather than a story which is more accurately about editorial edict.Both are obviously issues, but they have different ramifications. By focusing on an issue which is only tangentially related to the real issue, we’re doing Batwoman’s creative team and even DC Comics a major disservice. This isn’t an outright attack on homosexuality, but an attack on creator-control. It’s important that we focus on what’s actually going on here, rather than escalating a false claim about DC as a company.

In the joint letter posted to their websites this morning, the co-writers specifically noted that their reason for leaving the book was because of editorial differences. They included several examples of such differences, which meant several of their storylines had to be altered – their planned Killer Croc origin storyline which had been in the works for months, their current arc on the series…. and the wedding between Batwoman and her fiancee Maggie Sawyer.

batwoman3 Lets get this straight: DC is anti marriage, not anti GAY marriage

This has been the part of the letter most people have brought attention to. Yet when asked immediately afterwards by Andy Khouri, Williams made it clear that DC were unhappy with the MARRIAGE part of the storyline, rather than the GAY part.

This has been reiterated by DC themselves – when I asked them for comment, they sent the following response:

As acknowledged by the creators involved, the editorial differences with the writers of BATWOMAN had nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the character.

While DC has been guilty of many things, an anti-gay agenda hasn’t been one of them in recent years. Batwoman has been one of their most critically acclaimed books (making the creative change even tougher to take) winning several GLAAD awards along the way. While the gay character Bunker in Teen Titans hasn’t been without problematic portrayals, he was also an attempt to integrate the DCU.
On Twitter, the issue was discussed by Williams, journalist Andy Khouri and out writer Jim McCann:

While potential homophobia is a legit issue to question, it doesn’t seem to be the case, and it has diverted attention from what the real problem here would be – that DC appear to have an editorial system which is strangling creators, and forcing them to leave. Andy Diggle, Gail Simone, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Rob Liefeld and more have spoken at their unhappiness with DC’s editorial team over the last year, with the majority of them quitting books because of the problems. It’s got to the point where one prominent DC writer actually DMs his friends to say that his script hasn’t been edited.

Dark Horse’s Scott Allie also took to Twitter for a series of much-recommended posts about the subject, which you can find here. He points out that an anti-marriage policy isn’t a bad policy for a company to have – the problem is when editors don’t implement policy clearly. As has been stated by the creators but subsequently overlooked by many, the issue here is that DC’s editors allowed the story to move forward, when they knew ultimately it wouldn’t be allowed to go anywhere. As noted in conversation with Gail Simone:

While it’s tempting to dump on DC for everything they do, it’s important to stick to the subject here, a problem which is real and tangible, rather than a problem being trumpeted by various well-meaning people. LGBT representation is an important issue – but it’s a tangential aspect of this storyline, rather than the main focus.

batwoman2 Lets get this straight: DC is anti marriage, not anti GAY marriage

Comments

  1. Erik Scott says:

    Well said. Those Scott Allie tweets are gold.

  2. Sigh…if you write for Marvel or DC you are an EMPLOYEE…period…why does the comic media keep acting as though it’s somehow “interference”…it’s not…it’s DC’s characters, DC’s property and they can run their show however they like…it’s like if a writer for the Beat went to a con and wrote a two thousand word piece on fluffy bunnies…you’d say “That’s not what I wanted” and them crying “INTERFERENCE!”…if DC doesn’t want a plotline then they don’t want a plotline…you don’t want to work for DC? Fine….but I am so sick of employees whining about it as if they are any different than anyone else who works for a corporation…your boss says make it blue and you make it blue…period.

  3. Time to move on to the topic of DC’s open call for submissions to draw Harley Quinn attempting suicide naked.

  4. No…an anti-marriage policy across the board ::is:: bad and it’s limiting and lazy. If relationships aren’t allowed to progress then what is the freaking point? I’m so tired of this insulting idea that marriages are “too hard” to write or that they make characters “old.” I’m sorry but that is BS of the highest order. It’s lazy. It’s insulting. It was lazy and stupid when they had Spider-Man sell his marriage to the devil. It was insulting that DC Comics went out of their way to gut the Supermarriage so that Superman could go bang Wonder Woman. Ick.

    An anti-marriage policy across the board is lazy and stupid and feels like an epidemic of this extremely male, frat boy culture that won’t allow men to grow up. It’s stupid.

  5. Alex, a recurring issue in recent years has been for DC to not simply manage the writers working for them, but to do so haphazardly, such as approving then disapproving storylines. It smacks of mismanagement. Approving of a scene in which a couple agree to marry, but later disapproving a story in which they actually do so, is an example of this. If DC didn’t want the couple to marry, they should have said so when the writers began developing that storyline.

  6. Erik Scott says:

    “if you write for Marvel or DC you are an EMPLOYEE”

    while this is true, many of the problems from the former employees of this company is that they were hired from specific pitches they made for these characters or books, pitches they were expected to present on final submission and publication. they are consistently working with editor’s to get plots and stories approved and the plots and stories are being approved. and when it gets to publication, they are, it seems, in many cases being asked to make not minor, but major alterations to these stories, alterations that these employees feel are diluting if not completely compromising the outcome of the specific stories they were hired to write. It’s one thing to work on a book for a month or two and realize your vision isn’t lining up with editorials, it’s another thing entirely to get approval upon approval from editorial only to be told weeks (or maybe even days) before printing that giant changes have to be made. editors who are doing this (or being told to do this by higher ups) aren’t only disservicing the creators they are working with but they are disservicing the books and the public who want to read those books.

    I think there are definitely times that editorial might have to step in and make changes to a book to service the character or the company that owns them, but I can’t imagine that time is ever at the very end of the creation process as seems to be the issue here.

  7. Alex, a creative writing position is different than a journalist position, or any corporate position in another industry. They’re hired for their creative talent. Loose guidelines are fine, but if DC wants strict guidelines and more particular stories told, then the editors should write the books. They would save money that way.

  8. Erik Scott says:

    “If relationships aren’t allowed to progress then what is the freaking point?”

    Relationships don’t have to result in marriage in order for a character to evolve though, either. I think any ultimatum to marry or not marry characters is silly if that is indeed the policy DC is handing down, but, as a faithful reader of this character since they launched her, I agree with the editorial choice to not have her specifically get married. I have lots of lesbian friends…I can’t think of one of them that ended up marrying the second girl they ever dated, which is what is happening in this book should they decided to marry her.

    And at that point, it seems to me, she would be getting married because gay marriage is a hot button topic and not because it’s a logical story progression for the character.

  9. Thomas Wayne says:

    Does it surprise anyone that DC doesn’t let creators…create? Honestly…it should shock no one…

    The only poorer run comic company is Marvel…

    And yet we all come back for more….we are the abused step children of the Big Two…

  10. Erik Scott says:

    “Does it surprise anyone that DC doesn’t let creators…create? ”

    This is inaccurate though. They let Geoff Johns create. They let Grant Morrison create. They let Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder create.

  11. That’s why they still publish so many “singles”!

  12. “if you write for Marvel or DC you are an EMPLOYEE”

    No, actually, that’s not true. Marvel and DC writers are almost all freelance contractors. As is Stephen King when he signs a three book contract with whomever he signs. I realize that may not make much difference to those looking in from the outside, but in terms of practical working relationship, in terms of benefits, in terms of all sorts of things, it makes a real difference for those doing the work.

    But whether or not they are employees, I’m not sure why that should make any difference in exposing why the processes of the company may interfere with creating quality product.

  13. adriano says:

    I find difficult to say if I would agree or disagree with DC comics positions hearing just one side of the story ( the creative team side ). From their description the storyline was approved and changed on the last minute disregarding consequences or previous printed issues leading to it.
    What sounds as a fair criticism, not unheard of, about editorial decisions made by the wrong reasons that won’t lead to a final better product.
    But maybe the DC editors had other more pressing issues and reasons why they opted out of it? We don’t know, there is not that side of the story to compare and make an informed opinion.
    Potentially they could even be right

  14. rob e says:

    Loose guidelines are fine, but if DC wants strict guidelines and more particular stories told, then the editors should write the books. They would save money that way.
    ————————————————————————————————-

    Hey, Mike, things are bad enough as it is. Please don’t give those editors any ideas. Next thing you know, Snyder’ll be replaced on Batman by ‘ol Bobby Harris himself.

  15. Xenos says:

    How far up their asses is are the heads of DC editorial?

    This is like in if in 2008 they had a black president in the running for office and losing or having him in office and getting killed in a big crossover, then turning around and telling fans to to be up set and that they “aren’t against black presidents or President Obama, they’re against presidents in general.”

    Utter f*&#ing cop out.

    I’m not Marvel fan anymore either, but they’ve put gay couples in the center of their books and covers. Freaking Archie has has a gay wedding issue. Archie is more with the damn times than DC. Plus DC started this reboot saying, first sentence of their first news article, that it was about diversity. Guess that was all a load of batguano. Sticking a black guy on the Justice League was enough for them, I guess. (Oh and DC just revealed the black guy was the traitor on the team. BRILLIANT!)

  16. Serhend Sirkecioglu says:

    The biggest thing in this article to me is that people remember Bunker. joking aside, this *were with the times* kind of story telling has always been grating for me(its a very sterile wink to the reader) and this debacle is rather silly. grain of salt and move on.

  17. Erik Scott says:

    “(Oh and DC just revealed the black guy was the traitor on the team. BRILLIANT!)”

    Unless we were reading completely different books, uh…no they didn’t.

  18. Xenos says:

    You know what’s grating and dumb to me? Not being with the times and vetoing the logical conclusion to a story you’ve set up and telling a writer they can’t continue with the natural progression of the story you already published and got publicity for. How is that not the silly thing to talk about? Why is talking about it something that is silly and something that we should ‘move on’ about?

    Really. Isn’t a company that just sticks its head up its own ass and ignore trends in its own field and America as a whole something to complain about? Again, Archie is a more proactive company aware of modern America than DC Comics. Now I often argue that DC is about traditional heroes and heroism. Part of that heroism of DC is fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. In recent years it has been shown across the country that allowing gay marriage is part of that. Though I guess DC isn’t interested in that.

    Instead let’s have a month of overpriced 3D covers featuring creepy villains and have a content drawing Harley Quinn naked and trying to kill herself. That sounds more like what America wants to DC? Brilliant.

  19. Chris Hero says:

    Wow, a Big 2 company is anti-changing-the-status-quo. Is water still wet?

  20. Serhend Sirkecioglu says:

    Xenos, I’ve given up on Marvel/DC , they clearly enjoy shooting themselves in the foot and i’m going to save my blood pressure for better things. how is this a surprise to anyone when they were not too long talking about wanting a more editorial writing approach so they can better “Pivot”. This is a continuation of DC being DC and I’m not buying into the artificial drama. It’s their IP and their choice to go in whatever direction they want. Vote with your wallet(Econ 101: value is subjective) if you don’t like it, no need to rally the “activists” for another hackneyed and pointless cause.

  21. Dissix says:

    “This is like in if in 2008 they had a black president in the running for office and losing or having him in office and getting killed in a big crossover, then turning around and telling fans to to be up set and that they “aren’t against black presidents or President Obama, they’re against presidents in general.””

    YES, THAT’s what this is like! Or it’s like if they wrote a story about a black president coming into office only to preside over an even greater economic downturn for the black community, and then become a warmonger.

    Oh wait…

  22. Jason, we wrote naked for the artist, because Harley is in a bath tub, and we did not want her wearing the Harley suit. Also, the page is over the top humor and she is talking to the reader how silly she feels. Make sense?

  23. Just stumbled across this today…any future articles about creative churn and editorial meddling at DC could probably just link to this exhaustive, constantly updated list and save time.

    http://guttersandpanels.com/gutters-and-panels/2013/3/23/the-new-52-timeline-of-departures

  24. Whatever says:

    This all says more about the “creators” who stay at DC doesn’t it? The term “creators” gets used pretty liberally around here.

  25. Whatever says:

    Vic Jorry your comments are fantastic and completely reinforce my concept of the halfwits that read DC.

  26. Silly But True says:

    Isn’t the suggestion that blocking a lesbian from getting married (rather than, say, engage in a legal civil union) isn’t about the sexuality of the character a bit disingenuous?

    I mean it would be one thing if the standard of DC’s super heroines are lesbians.

    But, this edict comes down particularly hard on DC’s lesbian superheroines, and more especially on DC”s lesbian characters with their own monthly title. Because, quite frankly, they’re not quite so represented.

    And so, you can’t hardly take it on face value that an anti-marriage policy sans the character’s sexuality per se is what drove this decision. After all, many, many of DC’s characters have been married, even with the policy in full effect. But, how many of those are lesbians?

    Rather, of the universe of all of DC’s lesbian superheroines, are any of them married? Batwoman was clearly a reasonable choice.

    Silly But True

  27. Gary Dunaier says:

    “Loose guidelines are fine, but if DC wants strict guidelines and more particular stories told, then the editors should write the books.”

    Or, just make sure the creative personnel is aware of the strict guidelines and how they want particular stories told.

  28. HarrySmith says:

    It may have great art but the story is incredibly boring, could’ve done with far more editorial interference IMHO!

  29. “It’s their IP and their choice to go in whatever direction they want. Vote with your wallet(Econ 101: value is subjective) if you don’t like it, no need to rally the “activists” for another hackneyed and pointless cause.”

    I always love the concern trolling that attempts to hand-wave a thread’s controversy away. Clearly, such conversations annoy you. However, DC trades as a public corporation, and the public should get more involved in the perceived value (or in this case, MIS-perceived value) of their entertainment IP. If this topic doesn’t interest you, then it’s JUST YOU who should merely move on.

  30. If it is so important to DC Comics not to have its superhero characters get married [megaphone] WHY DID THE EDITORS APPROVE THE STORY ARC IN THE FIRST PLACE, ONLY TO DISAPPROVE THE ENDING [/megaphone]

  31. @Alex — While it’s not true that comics freelancers are employees, it is true that the editors are. The idea of “editorial interference” is complex because the editor’s entire job is to control and guide the creation of the book; coming up with storylines and assigning them, auditioning and assembling a team, making corrections and adjustments to EVERY stage of the process including the art and lettering. It’s the editor’s book, so it’s hard to draw a clear distinction between “interference” and “a day at the office.”

    But part of the job is not frustrating your creative team to the point where they publicly quit the assignment — that’s a failure by almost any measure. It sounds to me like the issue is less about interference and more about bad communication. Even in a worst-case scenario — say, for instance, that a higher-up countermanded an editor’s approval of the marriage storyline — if you have a good relationship with your team (which is part of your editorial responsibilities) you should be able to manage the delivery of the message and heal any wounds that come from it.

    In most of these stories coming out about DC, it sounds like editors are making changes with little-to-no communication at all.

  32. DarkeSword says:

    @Silly But True “After all, many, many of DC’s characters have been married, even with the policy in full effect.”

    That’s actually not true. This no-marriage policy basically went into effect with launch of The New 52. None of DC’s superheroes (straight, gay, or otherwise) are married anymore. It’s been that way for 2 years now.

  33. “This no-marriage policy basically went into effect with launch of The New 52. None of DC’s superheroes (straight, gay, or otherwise) are married anymore. It’s been that way for 2 years now.”

    I see that you haven’t been reading Animal Man.

  34. Serhend Sirkecioglu says:

    “I always love the concern trolling that attempts to hand-wave a thread’s controversy away. Clearly, such conversations annoy you. However, DC trades as a public corporation, and the public should get more involved in the perceived value (or in this case, MIS-perceived value) of their entertainment IP. If this topic doesn’t interest you, then it’s JUST YOU who should merely move on.”

    Funny how people like to home in on the parts of a comment they disagree with and jump to the most grandiose conclusions. fyi when a company is publicly traded, it does not mean you have a direct say in it’s practices. your say is in the money you spend on their products. I’ve already spoken my mind by not spending money on Marvel/DC books and that’s why I don’t care. There seems to be a guaranteed level of stupidity that comes with the phrase “get with the times”, it’s the kind of expression that people throw out when something conflicts with their world view and they lack the brain cells to just live-and-let-live.

    I only comment on articles like these because I like The Beat comments section and the hope I might save someone from a unnecessary heart attack with a “lighten up” comment.

  35. Silly but True says:

    Right. (For those who read) Animal Man’s wife and children played a substantial role through the entirety of “two years now.”. The kids played a huge role, but Mrs. Man was recurring through the entirety of the Rot war.

    My point stands. The purported policy is not a policy. It’s apparently a choice, or rather something to be violated by New52’s inaugural titles.

    Apparently, if we believe rumor, then New52 “how to use Wally” feasibility paper puts Wally West being married if and when he shows up.

    So yes, I think it’s a bit naive to swallow the whole “it’s just about marriage” company line.

    Silly but True

  36. Torsten Adair says:
  37. tonyjazz says:

    Sorry. I don’t buy his argument. They don’t want a gay marriage. They couldn’t care about straight marriages. Why would they? Would they want to be known as anti straight marriage?

  38. Jason North says:

    Kudos to the Beat. I’ve been irritated by a less than even handed approach to presenting stories in the past, but this article is fair, straight forward, and refreshingly aware of the actual issue.

    Some of these comments, however, reinforce the fact that many people really don’t care as much about *the* issue as they do about *their* issue.

  39. Silly But True says:

    I would say that the Beat has not been even-handed with this, but rather, has been a water carrier for the DC company line.

    Clearly, the “anti-marriage” angle is problematic given the New52 married (heterosexual) heroes with their own titles. Despite that, the Beat appears to wish that DC’s formal response is true, rather than corporate spin.

    So, I would say there’s a bunch of people who don’t really care about _THE_ issue rather than their issue.

    **THE** issue is that lesbian Batwoman is not allowed to marry. That, along with several other interfering decisions has lead an award-winning team to leave the book. That has lead DC’s co-Publisher to bad-mouth this award-winning work.

    **THE** issue is not DC’s so-called and sporadically-applied “anti-marriage” policy.

    Silly but True

  40. shipwreck says:

    Anti-marriage is right! So which DC higher up is going through a nasty divorce???

  41. Whatever says:

    @Silly But True
    Dude you are hilarious, Heidi worked for DC and wrote an article explaining how DC saved comics. You just said you think the sky is blue. Heidi is the company line.

  42. Silly but True says:

    @Whatever
    I did not know that. But, things make a lot more sense now.

    Silly but True

Trackbacks

  1. […] Let’s get this straight: DC is anti marriage, not anti GAY marriage (comicsbeat.com) […]

  2. […] is pretty usual in these cases, Heidi at the Beat has the most reasoned write up on this (here) proving yet again, that when it comes to the Internet and breaking news, sometimes shouting your […]

  3. […] as it turned out, the news story was more complicated. The editorial edict was not against gay and lesbian marriage, but all marriages. I don’t think […]

  4. […] high school. He dropped out of college. He got married. He had kids. I think the reasons for why DC has declared war on marriage (I’m still waiting for cable news to latch onto that one) have very little to do with DC not […]

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