Comicsgate is a controversial campaign focused on the diversity of content in North American superhero comic books and the kinds of creators who work in the industry. The name is derived from Gamergate, a similar movement related to video games.
Comics artist Ethan Van Sciver presents it as "a consumer-led revolt" against liberalism in the industry and "part of the culture-war". Artist Mike S. Miller describes it as "an alliance of comic book fans, critics, and creators who have found common cause in standing up against what they see as a hard push by social justice warriors into their hobby". Participants blame "forced diversity" – in both hiring and comics content – for a decline in sales.
Critics of the movement have described it as a harassment campaign which "targets women, people of color, and LGBT folk in the comic book industry". It has been blamed for vandalism of a store that did not stock comics created by its members, and for threats of violence against others.
Members of the movement have rallied against things they feel exemplify problems in the comics industry, which interfere with their entertainment. Examples include storylines in which the traditionally white male characters who have had the identities of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Spider-Man have been temporarily replaced by female and/or racial minority characters, stories dealing with current social issues, and the depiction of women with less idealized figures. They argue that a shift of focus away from catering to their preferences, and hiring diverse talent, is responsible for declining sales since the speculator boom of the 1990s.[clarification needed]
Professionals in the movement complain of discrimination against them for their sociopolitical views. Van Sciver describes "a left-wing dominance in the comic book industry" which has led to "oppressive social justice warrior harassment and blacklisting", and called for "escapist, apolitical entertainment". Industry veteran Chuck Dixon and Brett R. Smith – both politically conservative – alleged in May 2016 that in the industry's pursuit of a more diverse marketplace, they had been blacklisted by Marvel and DC. (DC began publishing Bane: Conquest, a 12-issue mini-series written by Dixon, a year later.)
Participants say that it has no organization or leadership, but commentator Richard C. Meyer (posting under the banner Diversity & Comics) and former DC illustrator Ethan Van Sciver have been prominent advocates for the campaign. On November 10, 2018, Van Sciver announced on his YouTube channel that he was leaving ComicsGate, but tweeted on November 12 that he was "back in".
In April 2017, conservative magazine The Federalist tracked the Twitter accounts of all 30 freelance writers who had a comic released by Marvel that month, reporting that each had criticized President Donald Trump at least once, and none mentioned him positively. It attempted to identify the writers' religions, publishing a report that they included atheists, Jews, and a Muslim, but that none had spoken on Twitter about being Christian.
A July 2017 social media post by Marvel Comics assistant editor Heather Antos, featuring several young female coworkers getting milkshakes in memory of company veteran Flo Steinberg, drew attention from members of the movement. Antos was described by them as a "diversity hire", "an unqualified bimbo", and "the 'false rape charge' type", and the group in general as "fake geek girls", "tumblr-virtue signalers", and "the creepiest collection of stereotypical SJWs anyone could possibly imagine". Antos reported being the target of a campaign of online harassment for some time afterward.
Van Sciver has made Comicsgate and related topics a regular feature of his ComicArtistPro Secrets YouTube channel.
Meyer has made the campaign a common subject on his YouTube channel and Twitter account, in which he identifies comics professionals whose work or personal activities he sees as detrimental to the industry. He took credit for the firing of writer Aubrey Sitterson from the IDW comic G.I. Joe: Scarlett’s Strike Force after Sitterson criticized on social media what he saw as "performative grief" about the September 11 attacks. In a 2017 video titled "The Dark Roast", Meyer referred to a female Marvel Comics editor as a "cum dumpster", accused various female professionals of "sucking their way into the industry", and described a transgender female writer as a "man in a wig".
Meyer also participated in the backlash against the character designs of Netflix adaptation She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. He called showrunner Noelle Stevenson a "boyish lesbian" and accused her of re-imagining the title character She-Ra as herself, describing it as "utter selfishness and egotism".
Members of Comicsgate have responded to professionals criticizing the movement by circulating lists of such creators to boycott, including one which categorized individuals as members of the "Pravda Press", "Asinine Artists", "Toxic Colorists", and "Indie Mafia". Among those placed on such lists and criticized for their views have been Larry Hama, Mark Waid, Alex de Campi, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Matt Fraction, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Colorist Moose Baumann recounted that he received threats of violence after stepping away from Van Sciver's creator-owned book Cyberfrog.
Alt-right activist Vox Day, who wrote and published the series Alt-Hero and hired Chuck Dixon to write for him, announced a publishing imprint Comicsgate Comics. A few creators involved with Comicsgate have run highly successful crowdfunding campaigns promoted to produce comics reflecting the group's values, including Van Sciver's Cyberfrog, Meyer's No Enemy But Peace, Mitch Breitweiser's Red Rooster, and Mike S. Miller's Lonestar.
In early 2018, Meyer announced that his crowdfunded comic book Jawbreakers: Lost Souls, a collaboration with freelance artist Joe Malin, would be published by Antarctic Press. In May 2018, Meyer posted on Twitter screen shots of a private conversation between comic retailers discussing whether or not they would order copies of the series. He encouraged his followers to publicly post and circulate names, locations, and employee information of stores that said they would not be stocking it. He accused Edmonton, Alberta store Variant Edition of "bullying and intimidating their own customers" after the female co-owner tweeted that they would not stock the publication; the store was subsequently vandalized and robbed. Dublin, Ireland store Big Bang Comics, which was not stocking the book, received threats of violence on social media.
On May 13, Antarctic Press announced that they were ending their relationship with Meyer, who blamed freelance writer Mark Waid for contacting Antarctic's owner to talk about the controversy, accusing him of pressuring Antarctic not to publish the book. Both Antarctic and Waid issued statements denying that any threats or bullying had taken place. In October 2018, Meyer sued Waid for "tortious interference with contract and defamation". In a Motion to Dismiss, Waid's attorney Mark Zaid asserted that Meyer's own public attacks against industry professionals were responsible, pointing to comments on Twitter calling writer Ta-Nehisi Coates "a race hustler", accusing a number of female professionals of being hired solely based on gender, and referring to trans and non-binary DC writers as "a modern day carnival".
Although many comics professionals choose to ignore Comicsgate to avoid giving it publicity, it has been met with widespread criticism from other readers, comics creators, and industry journalists. Both Meyer and Van Sciver have come under criticism for their public comments. In late 2017, Polygon writer Kieran Shiach accused Meyer of homophobia in comments he made in a video, that people such as openly gay freelance writer Sina Grace should be "waned out of society" [sic] by a war-time military draft leading to his planned death in combat.  Van Sciver has faced backlash from other comic professionals for joking about suicide by Democrats, comments on Reddit about a "queer globalist mess", and hosting alt-right leader Vox Day in an episode on his YouTube channel.
In mid 2018, Marsha Cooke – widow of writer-artist Darwyn Cooke – denied a claim by Comicsgate participants that her husband would have supported the campaign. After she became the subject of online attacks on Twitter, several industry veterans (including Bill Sienkiewicz, Van Jenson, Tony Bedard, Jeff Lemire, and Magdalene Visaggio) wrote rebukes to the movement. In a social media post, writer Scott Snyder, who teaches writing in college and DC Comics' talent development program, said the movement launched "cruel, personal attacks" on his students that "were (and still are) especially repugnant for their sexism, racism, homophobia, and transphobia."
Writer Tom Taylor posted a brief message on social media rejecting the tenets of Comicsgate, stating "I believe comics are for everyone. There is no excuse for harassment. There is no place for homophobia, transphobia, racism or misogyny in comics criticism." The social media post was retweeted by creators including Kelly Thompson, Tim Seeley, Margaret Stohl, Jason Latour, Greg Pak, Fabian Nicieza, Benjamin Percy, and Jeff Lemire. In an unsigned editorial, Paste magazine took issue with the phrasing of Taylor's statement, arguing that the group's activities should not be equated with critical commentary.
Greg Hatcher, administrator of the Comic Book Resources forums, compared the movement to the harassment that drove actresses Kelly Marie Tran and Millie Bobby Brown from social media, and noted that comic creators in earlier decades such as Jack Kirby and Stan Lee had also faced fan backlash for including political themes in comic books.
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