By D. Lynn Smith
Many of you probably don’t know about the controversy with the Hugo awards this year. The Hugos, along with the Nebulas, are among Science Fiction’s highest awards for writers. This year a group of people got together and stuffed the ballot box, essentially negating the validity of the awards.
Basically, a group of conservatives object to the fact that many science fiction writers address issues such as race, sexual orientation, and gender in their books. They felt these books were getting preference over the books they loved, straightforward science fiction adventure stories. So they decided to do something about it. You can get a much more detailed look at the controversy here.
This year, the only category not impacted by the Hugo scandal was Best Graphic Story. Unfortunately, that only means the people involved in the ballot stuffing didn’t care about the graphic novel category.
Another controversy erupted this weekend when proponents of Gamergate infiltrated the Calgary Expo and actively disrupted a panel titled “Women into Comics.” The convention asked them to leave. You can read more about it here.
In the past year, news has come out about women in comics and gaming receiving death and rape threats for simply expressing their opinion. One such reviewer was Janelle Asselin, who posted a review on Comic Resources called Anatomy of a Bad Cover: DC’s New “Teen Titans” #1. You can read the actual review by clicking on the title, but one of the things she does is call out the artist and DC out for putting unnaturally huge breasts on an underage teenage girl. And the flood-gates opened. You can read about the threats she received here.
I started Kymera Press to support women artists and creators of comics. That doesn’t mean I don’t like men or have anything against them. I simply feel that women are underutilized and undervalued, not only in comics, but in all aspects of business today. I can certainly say the same thing about television, a world with which I am intimately familiar.
I once had a man ask me, “So, are all the men the villains and all the women heroes in your books?” Of course not. But that seems to be where some people go when they discover my mission.
Personally, I don’t like the impossible bodies on some of the women characters in comics. However, I also don’t believe in censorship. I’m not trying to destroy anything. I’m simply pursuing something I believe in, in a form I love.
The truth of the matter is that writers write because they must. I’m sure artists feel the same way. We have a voice and we’d like it to be heard. We hope that people enjoy our work, but ultimately there will be those who don’t. I’ve had great reviews of my work, and really bad reviews of the exact same work. All of those reviewers have a right to their opinion.
So what is my point, exactly?
Comic books are filled with superheroes, characters who rise above and fight those who hate, and don’t we just love them? They fight against those who murder and those who rape. So, how can fans of comics justify death and rape threats?
There are very few instances where right and wrong are black and white. This I can say for sure: death and rape threats are wrong. Period. Disrupting panels at a convention is wrong. Stuffing ballot boxes is wrong.
Whether you are talking about the Hugos, or Gamergate or the world of comics, it all comes down to the same thing. A group of people don’t want to see the issues that face our world come into the light of day. And so they are using hate and immoral tactics to fight against it. And that is absolutely heartbreaking.
Kymera Press is dedicated to promoting diversity and equality in this world. But the truth is, all we really want to do is make good comics. We want you, the reader, to become immersed in our stories and to want to continue reading. If you end up thinking about PTSD or the plight of veterans or transgender people, well that’s a great bonus.
Writing science fiction or comic books isn’t a political exercise. Sure, we may deal with issues, but first and foremost we are here to entertain. We are here to provide fun. We are here to capture your imagination.
We’re not here to inspire hate.
And so I refuse to be brought down by the actions of a few. I’m here to have fun. I hope you are too!