Archive for Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

The New Scum

What a week. What a week, filled with disillusionment and disappointment and absolutely justified rage.

There are a lot of skeletons getting pulled out of closets and a lot of assholes and creeps taken to task.

Charles Brownstein is out at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund — but he was allowed to resign, instead of being fired. And he got to stick around for 14 years after he’d been accused of abuse. And the CBLDF’s statement is pitifully weak.

Dark Horse Comics has finally given Scott Allie the heave-ho, over 20 years after multiple reports of his abusive behavior. But Dark Horse was only pushed to action after Mike Mignola — no angel himself — threw his support behind Allie’s victims. And there are way too many similar accusations directed at Dark Horse president Mike Richardson.

Warren Ellis, Cameron Stewart, and Jason Latour have been accused by multiple people of various creeper behaviors. Same goes for genre writers Sam Sykes and Myke Cole.

Max Temkin of Cards Against Humanity is out, and the entire company stands accused of widespread sexism and racism.

And to add additional insult to the pile of injuries, it was revealed that Mairghread Scott, who wrote the “Batgirl” series just a few years ago, was purposely excluded from planning meetings for the Bat books, with her plans for the book derailed from on high by the men who ran the meetings.

Our nerdy, fun hobbies have been infested with abusers for years — and it’s not a recent phenomenon, judging from all we know about Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, and Forrest J. Ackerman. We’ve known all this for years, and so many people have been yelling about the ongoing problems with racism and sexism in comics for decades. And the same damn shit keeps happening over and over and over.

I don’t think I have any solutions to offer. I mean, I’ve got my ideas for what should be done — the CBLDF, Dark Horse, and Cards Against Humanity should cease to exist, for one thing. All three organizations are tainted to their core and have swept abuse under the rug for far too many years. I don’t think they’re worth preserving. But we also know that won’t happen, and there’s unlikely to be any significant improvement at any of them. They’ve been built on abuse, and they’ll continue to abuse.

If Ellis, Stewart, Latour, Sykes, and Cole want to work toward redemption, that’s on them, and good luck to ’em. But I don’t plan to support them for a good long while, until they’ve been able to show they’ve improved their behavior in concrete, unquestionable ways.

And right now, I kinda feel like sci-fi and comics conventions were a mistake almost from the beginning, and I kinda wish they wouldn’t come back in the post-COVID world. Yes, I know lots of creators make a decent sum of money from making appearances at conventions, and I wouldn’t want anyone to give that up. But it sure seems like conventions have turned into creeper-fests. And the cons themselves rarely do enough work to keep the creeps under control.

Solutions more solid than that? I wish I knew. Keep supporting creators who aren’t abusers would be the obvious thing — if only we knew which ones they were. And support people who’ve been victimized by abusers. Many of them were forced out of jobs by abusers, and they deserve better than they’ve got.

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Hit the Bricks

I’ve got plenty of excellent stuff to review right now, but I just can’t get interested in writing up any reviews. So I ain’t gonna.

I will note a minor change here on the blog — I’ve deleted my link in my blogroll to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. I did it for the following two reasons.

First: The past week has been a rough one for comics fans as we deal with the fact that a lot of comics creators, both prominent and obscure, have spent years abusing women, particularly creators trying to break into the industry. And one of those abusers is Charles Brownstein, the CBLDF’s longtime executive director.

And they’re not new or obscure accusations either. They date back to at least 2005, and were updated by the Comics Journal article in 2018. CBLDF has largely shrugged this all off. It’s not a good look for any organization that’s supposed to be focused on protecting comics creators, either back then or today.

Second: This is something that has irritated and mystified me for the last three years. The CBLDF defended neo-Nazi Milo Yianopoulos.

Wait, you say, was this related to a comic book he made? Nope, it was just a book he was getting a generous advance for writing. It had nothing at all to do with comics.

But wait, you say, was he being censored? Was his book seized by police or banned by the government? Nopers, friends, what was happening was that common ol’ private citizens and advocacy groups, unhappy that any publisher felt comfortable giving an abusive neo-Nazi — best known for trolling, doxxing innocent people, and giving winking approval to pedophilia — a generous advance for writing a shitty book, began organizing boycotts of publisher Simon & Schuster. And the CBLDF decided that was an unfair infringement on the sacred rights of a multi-national publishing corporation.

And no, it didn’t make a lick of sense to anyone else either. And the organization has never bothered to explain themselves to all the folks asking why. Frankly, it felt like they were offended that anyone was talking back to them, or maybe just hoping it’d blow over quickly before any comics creators decided to stop letting them sell autographed comics…

It took me longer than it should have to remove the link in my blogroll, partly because I only started blogging again just a few months back, and partly because I was privileged enough that I’d managed to forget both these incidents.

So give money to your favorite creators’ Patreons, drop money in your favorite bloggers’ tip jars, and contribute to the Hero Initiative. But let’s allow the CBLDF to fade away, hopefully to be replaced by an organization that doesn’t approve of Nazis and doesn’t assault women.

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Give Me Liberty


CBLDF Liberty Annual 2013

I always look forward to the annual benefit comic for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, partly because it’s an easy way to support a wonderful organization, partly because it’s always a pretty high-quality anthology comic. This year, we have creators including Fabio Moon, Richard Corben, Josh Williamson, Paul Tobin, Tim Seeley, Andy Kuhn, and many others. And among our stories are a prosecuting attorney willing to commit murder to censor comics; agents of Thomas Edison determined to stamp out all non-Edison movie cameras; a horror host forced to go corporate; Captain Midnight trying to figure out blogging, newspaper commenters, and untrustworthy journalists; the tale of German comedian Paul Morgan’s persecution by the Nazis; a short history of Pussy Riot; a Hack/Slash story about a supernatural censor who kills people looking at forbidden things; and a story examining the question of “What if Wertham was Right?”

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent stories — no stinkers at all, this time, and only a couple that were just so-so. Good stories, good art, and all for an excellent cause.


Mighty Avengers #2

Well, we start out somewhere deep under the ocean, where the Blue Marvel has his sanctum sanctorum, monitoring the Earth for crisis situations. Meanwhile, in New York, Luke Cage, Spectrum, the Superior Spider-Man, and um, the Amazing Spider-Hero are fighting off a bunch of Thanos’ forces, led by Proxima Midnight. She manages to take out both Spectrum and Cage, but the citizens of New York lead a chant that gets Cage back on his feet. Thanos ends up calling Proxima off, but Monica is dying and something even worse than Thanos is rising up from beneath the city.

Verdict: Thumbs up on the story. It’s quite nice, with lots of action, characterization, and humor. Artwise, it’s a lot more of a thumbs-down situation, because they’re still letting that hack Greg Land work on this book, and there’s just no good reason to let this schmuck trace that many photos of Halle Berry.

Today’s Cool Links:

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The Freedom to Speak

Liberty Annual 2011

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund puts one of these benefit comics out once a year to raise a little dough and to promote the good work that they do on behalf of comics creators and the First Amendment.

This year’s annual includes some really grand stories from great names like Matt Wagner, Dave Stewart, J.H. Williams III, Steve Niles, Carla Speed McNeil, Fred Hembeck, J. Michael Straczynski, Richard Starkings, Mark Waid, Jeff Lemire, Kazim Ali, Dara Naraghi, and many, many more. They focus on topics ranging from book and art censorship, homosexuality, separation of church and state, Islam, and nekkid people. There are a bunch of pinups, too — most of them are completely forgettable, except for the one done by Frank Quitely of Alan Turing.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is turning out to be a pretty good year for benefit comics, because there wasn’t a single bad story in this one. Like I said, most of the pinups weren’t all that good, but everything else was excellent. If you’re the type of person who’s going to get offended by people who are naked, gay, Muslim, or politically outspoken… well, you probably need to read this more than most folks. Everyone go pick it up. It’s five dollars, but it’s for a truly excellent cause.

Morning Glories #13

We start out with a certain amount of teenager angst, as Hunter’s date with Casey gets cancelled, Hunter has a blowup with Zoe, and Ike has to move back in with the roommates who hate him. And then all the students at the Academy are ordered to report to the front lawn for something called “Woodrun.” At the same time, Casey gets a note from friendly school guidance counselor Ms. Hodge to collect Jade and Hunter and meet her for a very important cause. Unfortunately, Casey can’t find Hunter and is stuck with the loathsome Ike instead. What does Ms. Hodge want? And why does it require everyone to meet in the very spooky cave?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good dialogue, intrigue, suspense, and art. And a nice cliffhanger, too. So many comics seem to be “written for the trades,” where you have a long storyarc that’s designed less to be read in single issues and more as a collected trade paperback. This one seems to be the opposite — there is a coherent storyarc running through the comic, but the story actually seems to be enhanced by being drawn out from month to month. It gives the suspense and mystery time to grow on the reader.

Today’s Cool Links:

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The Awesomeness of the First Amendment

Liberty Annual 2010

Here’s one of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s periodic fundraiser comics, designed to both raise some money for the organization and educate readers about the continuing need to support the CBLDF and oppose censorship of comics.

We get a big variety of comics by a whole lot of creators — a Conan story from Darick Robertson, a story from Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba, a Milk and Cheese comic from Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer, a Megaton Man story from Don Simpson, and other stories from Garth Ennis, Scott Morse, Geoff Johns, Scott Kolins, Gail Simone, Larry Marder, and a ton of pinups from Jill Thompson, Frank Miller, Terry Moore, Jeff Smith, Skottie Young, Colleen Doran, Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and more.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Anything to support the CBLDF, man. It’s five dollars, but it goes to a worthy cause. Pick it up.

Strange Science Fantasy #4

Scott Morse’s pulp-inspired series continues with a look at the life of Private Charlie Gantic, who gets thrust from the Pacific Theater to a global war against invading aliens. A scientific experiment gives him the ability to grow to immense size, and he takes the fight to the aliens as G.I. Gantic — but is he prepared for the mind-blowing secret the aliens have been hiding?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautifully illustrated and a great story that effortlessly jumps from one genre to the next. This entire series has been a ton of fun — we’re lucky to be getting the chance to read it.

American Vampire #7

Chief McCogan and his two fed sidekicks, Agents Straw and Book, confront Mr. Smoke — better known to us as Skinner Sweet — but they get booted out of his HQ when Book can’t control her dislike for the vampire crime lord. We learn that Book and Straw both belong to a vampire-hunting organization that’s promised not to touch Sweet, and McCogan’s investigation into the grisly murder of a Vegas businessman leads to the grisly death of another Vegas businessman.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great storytelling, great characters, and lots of great stuff with rotten, loveable Skinner Sweet.

iZombie #6

Most of this story is Spot’s origin — how he lost his parents, lived with his retired-voice-actor grandfather, became a were-terrier, and met up with Gwen and Ellie. His grandfather finally dies after he and Spot (barely) reconcile — and Spot meets a new old friend at the zoo.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a good story, excellent art, but what I think I enjoyed most was Spot’s pop-culture daydreams where he imagines himself as a superhero, in the “Scooby-Doo” cartoon, and in “Star Wars.” It says a lot about what kind of guy Spot is, underneath all that hair.

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Stand Up for your Rights

Liberty Comics

Here’s one of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s periodic fundraiser comics, designed to both raise a little scratch for the organization and educate readers about the continuing need to support the CBLDF and oppose censorship of comics, graphic novels, etc.

This one features a number of different stories by a number of different creators, but the real standouts are Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s short vignette about The Boys and the horrible, violent things they do to super-people, Darwyn Cooke and Dave Stewart’s tribute to “The Deadly Book,” Mark Millar and John Paul Leon’s modern re-telling of “House of Dracula,” Art Adams’ great pinup of Monkeyman and O’Brien, Ed Brubaker’s “Criminal” story about pressuring the press, and the short strips on “Tales of Comic Book Censorship” by Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones.

Verdict: Thumbs up. You’ve joined up with the CBLDF, haven’t ya? Twenty-five smackers is all it costs to get a membership, and you help support efforts to stamp out comic censorship.

Birds of Prey #121

The Joker is moving in on the Silicon Syndicate in Plantinum Flats; the Birds get acquainted with Infinity, their newest operative; and Misfit enrolls in a new school. That’s pretty much it.

Verdict: I’m thumbs-downing it. It’s a place-saver issue. Worse, it’s a fairly dull place-saver.

She-Hulk #32

Shulkie and Jazinda have captured the Nogor, the Skrull’s “Talisman”, or spiritual leader. So they, umm, keep him tied up. With ropes. In their RV. She-Hulk rescues a bunch of humans captured by the Skrulls, and then they get attacked by Jazinda’s dad, the original Super-Skrull himself.

Verdict: I’m turning thumbs down on this one, too. The main problem is that it’s just not interesting.

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