March 11, 2013
Missed It: Chris Sprouse Departs Orson Scott Card Superman Story For Anthology; DC Puts It On Hold
I missed a couple of key developments in the story of DC's plan to include an Orson Scott Card-written story in an anthology featuring Superman to go on-line and then into print -- a project that more generally ties together interest in Superman driven by a new movie with the desire for the publisher to try new material using digital strategies of varying sorts. The first was that artist Chris Sprouse decided to withdraw from the project
; the second was that DC announced that Card's story would be put on hold
What this means, particularly moving forward, is going to take some sorting out and some time, and I'm not sure we'd get all the way even if it became a full-time job. As I've stated a bunch of times, the thing I find curious and strangely ironic is that anyone at all takes Superman so seriously that they see him as a paragon of certain virtues in a way that extends onto those making stories about him, or the potential for the kind of stories they might make. The irony comes in that DC's continuing insistence that their characters are awesome and really mean something has been taken seriously and then turned on them to criticize an editorial hire, with a further cultural item of note that it's the less conservative elements of the political spectrum that are being utilized to make that criticism -- maybe not the stereotyped conception of Superman, but a Superman as an inclusive, uniting force. I'm not even sure how that gets built into any sort of ongoing view of the character, though. In this Salon interview
, Glen Weldon suggests that maybe all political conceptions of Superman are terrible. Then again, I'm not sure that what Card would have written would have engaged the political constitution of the character in the way that, say, Grant Morrison's does, albeit on a different axis.
The censorship issue interests, too, although not in that Internet-lawyer way of seeking out hypocrisies and shouting that precedents have now been firmly established. I don't think that's the case. If I had to guess -- and I'm a terrible guesser -- I think there was a big element of right-now, small-p politics here, in that while Card working on a prominent superhero or having a publishing agreement more generally with a comics publisher or even a movie coming out hasn't been as big a deal in the past, the post-2012 election brought with it a line of "fuck this and fuck him" thinking for a lot of people when confronted with issues of intolerance and bigotry and their agents, an impatience with coddling expressions of belief and outright political activism with significant human costs as just a difference of opinion. I actually think that's healthy. I think what's key is that you look at what is being threatened, what is being asked, what is being called out before you draw any equivalencies. For instance, I would suggest there's a Grand Canyon of difference between calling for legal or extra-legal, violent action against people getting married than it is for declaring your unhappiness and intention not to buy things regarding a political activist getting a sweet freelance gig featuring a character we have been continually invited to invest in as meaningful and partly the cultural property of fans and society more generally. I never saw anyone saying they didn't want Card to make art, and in fact I personally hope Card makes as much of it as he desires.
Related to Card's own art, here's a piece
from an admirer of Card's much-respected science fiction novels about the particular disappointments they feel with Card's political activism.
It was interesting talking to pros about this at ECCC off the record. I had about a half-dozen brief conversations -- with no one I mentioned by name in my ECCC report, by the way. Everyone except one person ventured the opinion -- roughly -- that what was interesting to them was that this was another example of DC's general editorial lack of foresight concerning details, and the company general prickliness on LGBT issues when they arise. I'm not sure I know enough about either line to say whether that's the best way to interpret it, either one of those things, but I thought it was interesting the bulk of the conversations went there. I'm not sure DC had any other way to play it once things got going.
posted 8:10 am PST
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