My immediate conclusion from recent posts: It’s good I’m not on Twitter.
Think about what it would be like for a black person to go into a comic book store and see a cover on the shelves depicting a lynched black man with his penis cut off.
Think about why an artist thinks black people need to be made aware of lynchings and other forms of racist violence, as if they don’t live with the fear of that all the time.
Think about why an artist thinks the best way to provoke introspection in white readers is to crassly depicit a murdered and castrated black body.
This cover isn’t pushing anyone to reconsider the world, it isn’t transgressing, it’s just cheap self-promotion with the result of terrorizing the people it’s supposedly on the side of.
Would that cover really get displayed in US comic shops?
Reason I ask is I can’t see any of the good shops over here doing so, even if the cover had made it to print. (Not least as the same laws that apply to adult mags would likely apply to this.) I think the good shops would at least display more tact than is being allowed for.
Or, if so, then in this respect, clearly it’s a different world across the Atlantic - and probably in others too. We’re all on the same planet? Not always, not in this type of area.
Yeah, surely it would be polybagged like the NSFW Sex Criminals covers? Right? Riiiight?
I don’t actually no, not being a reader of the series, but it’s my general assumption.
Hadn’t heard of those, but if there’s a positive precedent for dealing with this kind of material so much the better.
I do get the sense from Will’s post that it’s a quite different world over there on this one, which is quite hard for us over here to really get our heads around, despite his attempt to do so by the Qs in his post.
It would be down to each comic shop owner to display it or not. Since there’s no nudity on the cover (the blood from the castration is coming out through the clothes) I could see people thinking it’s just another gory image, like a Walking Dead cover.
Most comic shops are owned by white dudes over here so I don’t think there’d necessarily be a lot of care put into the decision in every store.
It could also be moved to an adult section of the store, which wouldn’t do anything to dull its effect on a black customer over 18.
It’s not really the same, the Sex Criminals variants are bagged because they contain nudity (and to keep what the cover shows a mystery for buyers to find out; they’re not revealed online).
!? Wow, for all the wrong reasons.
That right there is where a few of us, me included, are likely going to go: Really? Ok, really, yeah, starting to see why this is a problem then.
Ah thanks, that does indeed alter it.
Changing tack, if I was being really cynical, I’d suspect this was all a ploy to increase sales - the speed of the online explosion, the retraction by Image, that there was a cover for a later issue prepared that could be swapped. It’s a low trick sure, but more than a few people have profited from fanning outrage deliberately. Plus you have to wonder, if that’s the cover, what’s the internal content? This could be merely prelude to a much bigger boom. Which raises the Q of how much outrage does there have to be before it starts working against those fanning it? I suspect we’re going to find out.
The thing is, though, the cover is bad regardless of how it’s sold.
It’s obvious that Chaykin’s intent is to satirize the bigotry eating up America right now. I think there’s also a juvenile element in him that enjoys provoking people, but I don’t think he’s some secret Klan member or anything.
But the problem is, the only people who have the capacity to be challenged/surprised by that image are white people. Black people already know about lynchings and racism. So Chaykin’s using an image that will terrorize black readers for the benefit of white people. That’s racist–not in the sense that he consciously hates black people, but in the sense that he’s okay with hurting them to change white people’s minds.
There are better ways to open white readers’ eyes. To do it effectively, I believe you must always make sure the humanity of your black characters is intact, or else the intent to lessen the world’s racism will fall flat on its face.
I don’t think anyone has actually contested that point, have they? I don’t think I have.
The crux of disagreement has been how best to respond to it, with my and a few others being that it’s better to screw over the sales, so hitting Chaykin in the pocket, though I’m a bit sceptical that’ll happen due to the whole outrage/profit tendency I sketched out above.
There have been defenses here based on the cover’s intent but apologies for mischaracterizing your argument.
So, I want to say that I think your reaction is valid, and I’m thinking less about why you’re angry and looking at the actions that anger spawned. Leaving aside audience and position for a second. Hence the use of the word intrinsic.
And I’m not trying to say you’re a hypocrite either. It’s about looking at action and reaction and how people work.
I looked at Alex DeCampi’s twitter and here’s what she said:
So she expressed a strong opinion and suggested people support other creators.
And in response you expressed a strong opinion and while you didn’t call for other people to boycott her work or anything, there is a de facto one in that you said you wouldn’t support her work.
This is the core of the whole outrage culture stuff. In my opinion neither of you did anything wrong, but it ties into the actions of other people to signal boost a general level of anger in society. There will be people who will use this as an attempt to take down Chaykin, DeCampi or other members of the argument, who will point to these arguments as part of a critical mass against them.
I would be hesitant in labeling this outrage culture. The anger is coming from black readers/comics fans who have every reason to be angry, and non-black creators, critics, and fans who don’t want those voices to feel as if they’re unheard. None of the anger I’ve seen expressed (and I’ve been following this pretty closely on twitter) has ballooned out of proportion to the inciting incident–it’s a vile cover that Chaykin and Image should’ve known better than to try to publish.
Before we go further I just want to establish that the person on the covers Pakistani, although the imagery is certainly resonant with black history.
And that I agree very much with Lorcan, but I also think the cover is tasteless, but I wasn’t by reading it - and it’s a niche book - and it’s not like Chaykin is shaking headboards anyway so all this is doing is staging light to a book that’s would have languished in some obscurity
That’s probably a fair point when you put it that way.
On this subject, I was going to take to twitter today and respond to a few people.
I’ve exiled myself from twitter completely, for a few different reasons, and I have not posted anything for quite some time possibly a few years now.
I managed to talk myself out of it because I knew I’d regret it and I’d have allowed myself to get dragged into something pointless and in turn probablly allow myself to get even more wound up and just feeling terrible about a totally avoidable situation.
I’m glad on this occasion I managed to control my anger to an extent, even if I blew off stem in this thread instead. I don’t express myself very well when I’m pissed off so I know I would have felt stupid once the red mist cleared.
The next step is getting to the point where I can shrug this kind of stuff off and not give it a second thought.
What I will do is continue buying the book in digital form and trade as planned. I have ordered floppy copies of each issue as well and I will continue to buy in 3 formats to support the creator, providing I’m enjoying the book.
I’d hate it if comics get to the stage where creators and publishers are afraid to push boundaries any more because of the reaction they will get from the online community.
Yeah, the badge says (and I’m spoilering this because it is an offensive term, so ifor anyone offended at reading words please don’t click the spoiler) Paki on the name badge.
I’m not saying that makes a difference in terms of who should be offended by it, but just corroborating the facts.
Again, you could argue whether this is distasteful or not or you could look at the point he is looking to make with it - we all have our own barometers when it comes to that sort of thing.
This is good to know, for the sake of having all the facts. Thank you.
I mean, yeah, I enjoy the occasional Avatar Press series so I completely know how it is to like something that is a bit on the edge and all. And how it is when people go at those series no majority is reading with a blunt object.
While I think it’s a tasteless cover, I am not going to spread that cover around especially for a book that no one outside the niche fan base care about. It’s a zero sum game there.
I think if we want to get a better bearing on the US context for this then stories like this probably help:
In this environment, such a cover is not going to go down well.
EDIT: Also, I think for those of us who are far away from all this, it’s easier to view it as a just another story, albeit a crappy one, as we’re looking at it from a safe distance.
For instance, say a provocative British artist decided to do a story where all benefit recipients are deemed scum, who are unfit to live, would I still see that as ‘just a story’? Would I hell.
I think that’s a fair point. And I definitely think that when people in ethnic and social minorities talk about being offended, we should listen, accept the offence has taken place and ask what we can do to help, especially when the offence is from the actions of someone in a position of privilege.
What I was talking about in terms of outrage culture was more the general mindset using this incident as an example, rather than saying it’s an archetypical outrage culture incident. A big part of the problem with outrage culture is that there’s just enough times that the hate train gets going for a morally justifiable position that it’s difficult to condemn it outright.