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September 9, 2013
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DC is having a hard week. Aside from the baffling backlash against Ben Affleck being cast as Batman, two other incidents happened which has pissed off a LOT of people. Here's a quick summary of each.

Harley Quinn Contest
In case you haven't heard yet, DC is holding a contest to hire fresh young artists to help work on the new Harley Quinn series. www.dccomics.com/node/305151 This is fantastic news for a lot of artists, as "breaking in" to the big comic book companies can be extraordinarily difficult to do and this helps level the playing field. However, the way they've chosen to hold the contest is to have everyone submit 4 illustrations based on 4 separate scripts... all of which depict Harley Quinn as suicidal and trying to kill herself "comically."

Now first off, I get the fact that Harley Quinn is part of the "Suicide Squad," and that these illustrations are likely poking fun at that. However I feel that fact falls on it's face since the term "Suicide Squad" is using the word suicide in the "that job is so crazy it would be suicide to even attempt it!" vernacular. She's not actually suicidal herself, last time I checked.

I also get that these are meant as pin-ups (we'll get back to that in a minute) that are suppose to be humorous in nature, like a chuck jones cartoon. And while I understand what they're going for... the way the descriptions are written come across as quite the opposite to the fun and carefree nature these are suppose to be.

It was also extraordinarily bad timing on DC's part since this contest is being held during the month of September, which happens to be national suicide awareness month. If this was an attempt to tie-in this character to the month to raise awareness, someone at DC needs to be fired for that.

The one illustration that really has most people offended is the one where Harley is naked in a bathtub about to kill herself with electrical appliances. There's so many things wrong with this scenario you have to start wondering if something rotten is festering over at DC right now to allow them to approve of this concept.

The problem I have is the potential to sexualize suicide. Obviously a character being naked doesn't have to mean they're inherently sexualized to begin with... but come on here, think about who the character is and what the purpose of these illustrations are for. They're pin-up illustrations to entice readers to pick up a book. Harley's own re-design has sexualized her more and more as the years have gone on, making her a lot more "skanky" looking than her original much more modest design. And there will most likely be far more male artists applying for this job (since this contest has offended so many women already), and if there's one thing you can count on for male artists working in/for the comic industry is to sexualize EVERY woman.

I've heard a lot of accounts of things like "Bruce Timm did Harley fan service respectfully!" but the problem with that is... Bruce Timm isn't the one doing it. It's amateur artists trying to make a name for themselves. Maybe it's just because I've seen so much evidence in support of the fact that male artists sexualize female characters so much that I don't have faith that this contest is going to be treated with the respect that it deserves.

Personally, while I understand the possibility that this is being blown way out of proportion by the media, I also feel that it's pretty obvious that women now more than ever are paying attention to the comic book industry. 10 years ago if this came out, I don't think anyone would've bat an eye, and that's the problem. The times have changed, but the mindset inside the industry hasn't. They're still operating on outdated beliefs from decades ago and they're acting all confused and befuddled when today's modern audience looks at this stuff and says "that's not cool."

In case you're wondering how I would do the contest, take a peek at the recent SYAC series I did (they will be gracing DA soon), where I have Harley guest star briefly. syacartoonist.com/in-the-name-…


Batwoman Lesbian Romance Canceled
The other story involves the characters of Batwoman Kate Kane and her girlfriend Maggie Sawyer being denied marriage. Allegedly the writers of the new Batwoman series had been working for over a year towards getting the two characters hitched, only to be told by DC at the last minute that they can't do that. This had the result of having the two writers J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman decide to quit after issue 26.

I don't know about you, but if I had been working for over a year on a storyline with an end goal in mind and was told, last minute, by higher ups that I had to abandon the storyline for no good reason... I'd be pretty bitter and would probably quit too.

You can say "DC isn't against lesbian marriage, they're just against marriage of their characters in general" all you want, but this has 2 ugly aspects working against that theory. First, they presumably had been in contact with people in DC during that whole year of working on this storyline. I find it very difficult to think that the people at DC wouldn't have had ANY idea where this story was going, or that the editors wouldn't have spoken up earlier and said "hey this isn't something DC wants to do" before the last minute bombshell. And second, even if DC IS against just characters marrying for whatever bullshit reason, this last minute halting really comes across as being kinda gross and homophobic. Even if that's not their intent, the message they unintentionally send is pretty bad... ESPECIALLY when you consider that DC's way of trying to bring in new female readers is by making Superman and Wonder Woman into a Twilight style knock-off romance.

This is 2013 already. Gays exist. Gays marry. It's funny how comics (and video games for that matter) frequently like to have female characters be ambiguously lesbian and bi for sex appeal for a presumed male audience, but heaven forbid those characters actually be characters in love and want to be married! Oh no!

So yeah.. those are the two stories that came out this week. DC is rotting right now and I don't know what the hell is going on over there. They just seem to be making mistake after mistake after mistake. I used to really respect DC and they were my favorite of the big two companies. But lately with how well Marvel has been doing rebranding their characters and making movies and being part of Disney and all that... I dunno... DC just doesn't seem like the god almighty powerhouse it used to be.
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:icondtjb:
DTJB Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
DC, Don't Care.  Hee hee hee, just now made that up.  Except for DKR, Killing Joke and Watchmen, those are still cool in my book.  Uh-a--and-and Teen Titans Go, I guess.

"...DC's way of trying to bring in new female readers is by making Superman and Wonder Woman into a Twilight style knock-off romance."

...
...
...the fuck?
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:iconeensy-speck-werewuff:
Eensy-Speck-Werewuff Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I guess I've still never forgiven DC for butchering Hal Jordan between 'Emerald Fallout', through 'Zero Hour' and his 'death' at the end of 'Final Night'. GL was the only hero I think I really ever took seriously, mainly because of two things: A) His ring had the capability to manipulate its energy into doing almost anything he could think of, governed if anything by his strength of will and a sense of absolute right and wrong, and B) without the Ring or without it being charged, he was just your average joe. I remember when Kyle Rayner duked it out with Jordan in the 'epilogue' for Zero Hour (it was an issue of Green Lantern in 1994, I don't remember the volume or number) saying to Hal as more or less a text gag: "You were a hero! All the kids on my block wanted to _be_ you! Of course, I wanted to be Superman..."

That really hit me in the gut. That and the whole DC universe going misty-eyed over Superman's death not long before, even Batman (who clearly stated in Final Night he could never forgive Hal/Parallax for the events of Zero Hour) calling Superman the 'hero he most respected'. Superman, for all his bells and whistles, was an alien castoff who, under Earth's yellow sun, was more or less the most physically powerful being on the planet. He had nothing to lose because there was rarely anything coming at him he couldn't duke down on or shrug off, and I hardly think (barring briefly the Sun-Eater in Final Night) anybody was going to shut off the Sun so he'd be a normal human equivalent again.

What would've been wrong with somebody referring Jordan to a psychiatrist after Mongol and the Cyborg Superman bumped off Coast City, pretty much setting up the whole avalanche that led to his becoming Parallax and the bulk of what was behind Zero Hour? Was he too good for a decent psychotherapist to help through; was he supposed to be 'strong' enough to deal with his home turf, the whole city, and everybody he knew there bombed into atom dust, and just pretend it didn't affect him? Was he supposed to not be a normal guy, who just happened to have a Power Ring? From the perspective of a guy (me, I mean) who's dealt with mental health issues for most of his adult life, it was pretty clear Hal needed psychiatric help, and long before Zero Hour and the mess that it came with. Yet DC apparently was happy to illustrate the point and do _nothing_ to help him get it, in storyline or intent.

The worst, and for me the final shot at the bow for Hal, ended up shortly after he became the Spectre after his death at the end of Final Night. It was a one-liner by a fellow hero. Dig it:

"Now Jordan is CONTROLLING the Spectre."

In other words, he shouldn't have that power. Like he started out on the Dark Side of the Force, as it were. Like he started out hurt and stripped of everything he cared about, and nobody gave a damn. As if he hadn't accepted to synch with the Wrath Of God (to become the Spectre, I mean) because, like John Corrigan and everybody who died in moral doubt and became the Spectre, he could not find rest in death or accept that what happened in his life was morally sound. He wasn't 'controlling' the Spectre, like a drunk at the wheel of a car, he had become him. Was it not good enough for them to have offed him at that point, now they need to piss on his grave after the fact?

Anyway, suffice it to say I gave up on DC Comics then and there. I didn't need to see a character I honestly believed in more than any other in the DC Universe shredded, bleached and flushed down the john any longer. Maybe what's happened that you've illustrated above, Tom, I can attempt to give to them, through it, a bit of the comeuppance I would've loved to a long time ago.

-2Paw.
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:iconchemicalzone97:
chemicalzone97 Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013
Honestly, it does seem strange because of the fact that it was cancelled at the last minute, but it may have been because it would alienate some readers, a lot of comic readers could be against the idea of gay marriage (I personally see no reason as to be against it, but its their opinion, they deserve at least that) so they could loose a large amount of readers if they did this, but they should have at least planned it thoroughly instead of it being a last minute decision.  They could have done it to favour all parties, that there are huge profile gay superheroes, Batwoman, green lantern (earth-2) ect, but for those who are against the idea they don't have to see them get married.

I believe it was a mistake to do this, the character has been written as gay since 2006, that's 7 years, but maybe the entire world is just not ready to face the fact being gay is fine, in america, the major view on black people was mostly negative only 60 years ago, we just need to wait for the rest of the world to see that being homosexual is not an abnormality, but a part of nature. Then characters such as Batwoman and Green Lantern (earth-2) can get married without complaint.
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:icontuxntophat:
TuxNTopHat Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013
:iconcryingplz:
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING
DC COMICS DESTROYED A PERFECTLY GOOD FEMALE CHARACTER
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:iconpandonuclear:
Pandonuclear Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013
Frankly, the contest is rather stupid, but there are some gems in the pile of this nonsense
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:iconpassin:
Passin Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013
Urgh, that was a dumb move DC. So I will continue to Make Mine Marvel.
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:iconmadizzlee:
madizzlee Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013   General Artist
This is so interesting, I had no idea all of this was going on (other than the Ben Affleck news, obviously). I've always respected DC, but this some pretty horrible stuff going on. 
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:iconkeybladeknight99:
KeybladeKnight99 Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Student Writer
Get ready for the Infinite Flash Crisis reboot in a few years!!
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:iconmidnari:
Midnari Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Jolly Jack says this better than I can:


It reads:

PANEL 4
Harley sitting naked in a bathtub with toasters, blow dryers, blenders, appliances all dangling above the bathtub and she has a cord that will release them all. We are watching the moment before the inevitable death. Her expression is one of “oh well, guess that’s it for me” and she has resigned herself to the moment that is going to happen.


Not:

PANEL 4
Harley sitting naked in a bathtub with toasters, blow dryers, blenders, appliances all dangling above the bathtub and she has a cord that will release them all. We are watching the moment before the inevitable death. Her expression is one of “oh well, guess that’s it for me” and she has resigned herself to the moment that is going to happen. We are witnessing all this from a birds eye view. Suds and steam obscure the nipples but not the full rack. Her free arm is curled just under her boobs, raising them slightly out of the water and at the same time squeezing them together gently.
A rubber duck floats over her snatch. It looks happy.

Of course, his illustration was with her bits and pieces well hidden by the tub itself, arms flapped over it, ready to cut the string as a ton of electric death hovered above her. Not all that sexy, especially with an indifferent face. 

Fact is, people put a lot of things into their own minds, and believe things themselves. It says more about the person laying that blame than those writing the scenario. To go a bit further into this, and something I've stated before, I'm in the belief that; Yes, I have every right to do what I want with this character and lean them this way rather than that. If it hurts the feelings of some of my viewers, oh well, it's not their character and if they don't like it... Fanart and fanfiction exist for a reason.

Though, I'm avid supporter of... Non-political correct bullshit. This isn't some sexist thing with me, there's plenty of portrayals of women in the media that I'm not a huge fan of and I believe would be better suited for the past rather than the future. At the same time, I'm not one to yell that it should be taken down, or should be dismantled, not because it shouldn't or because I don't want to 'Speak up' but due in part to the First Amendment.

Freedom of Speech can be good or bad but if there is imagination, creation, and if you have the ability to use that character and take ownership of them... Well, have at it. If I want to fix that problem, I don't believe in complaining, I believe in the action of doing something that gets looked at even more. Something that will LEAD others into following behind that action. 

Talk is cheap, it does very little (Unless you have a massive amount of supporters to the point that something like Xbox-One might've been utterly CRUSHED by it's other competitors) and the best way to go about change is starting that change yourself with action; LEGAL action. But action none-the-less. 

Though, that's just me and, of course, you've every right to your opinions on the matter and I'm certainly not belittling them. I disagree, severely, with you on this case but that's just a matter of personal opinion but never, and not, a personal attack. 

Wishing you the best, Tom. (Also, I liked the last few comics believe it or not. I forget to say that in my last message since my point was more to the journal. I'm a huge fan of the Animated Series style of Batman, Joker, and Harley. The small panel of Batman in a tub was well executed as well. Great stuff, man.)
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:iconauronyth:
Auronyth Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Professional General Artist
I never really liked DC anyway. Marvel, darkhorse, image, tokyopop, yenpress, shonenjump, and independents all the way!  But yeah that harley contest  is !!!!????? REALLY???!!!  As for the marriage cancellation I would quit to if I was the writer/artist a whole year of my life and love gone! And lets get progressive people not backwards. But the argument exists most famous comic characters avoid marriage to keep the tension between crossovers/new characters fresh. Still if this was a year in the making the cancellation is suspicious...
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