Well, let’s talk about Superman.
Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, two Jewish teenagers from Ohio, created Superman, who is usually credited as the first super hero. However, Superman was not always the character that we think of today. It’s natural for a character, especially one that has been around for decades like Superman has, to go through a few changes and evolve.
This is what most people think of when they think of the Man of Steel:
Yep, Superman punching the daylights out of a giant monster from outer space. But the early stories were very different. Heavily influenced by social injustice, Siegel and Shuster created stories of Superman facing off against corrupt politicians, immoral mine owners and racketeers. In fact, the first person Superman ever fought was someone beating their wife.
So, that’s good.
Which brings me to the importance of sincerity. If you’re going to write a character that has strong beliefs and principals, you have to be able to identify with that. I don’t think you can really fake it. Which is why this is a little bizarre to me.
In case you’re not following the story or didn’t click the link, a pretty well known science fiction writer is going to be writing a couple issues of a new Superman comic. The big deal is that this writer is pretty infamous for crusading against marriage equality. Now, I am sure I read books and comics all the time created by people that I don’t agree with on every issue. The difference, to me, anyway, is that this writer is fighting against something that, in my opinion, that Superman would fight for. Would Superman support gay marriage? That’s not really what I am getting at. My point is that Superman wouldn’t want rights denied for anyone for any reason. Superman is fighting for truth, justice and the American way. He fights for, well, peace, love and understanding.
Which brings back the whole sincerity thing. When someone writes Superman, the writer is scripting stories about a man who wants everyone to be treated fairly. I don’t think you can do that in a sincere way if you wrap up your writing for the day only to go and attend a rally against gay marriage.
But that’s just me.
So, there are boycotts planned. I usually don’t pay much attention to boycotts, but for this one, well, it got me thinking. Obviously comic book publishers keep doing whatever the heck they want as long as readers keep buying it. No matter how much nonsense they put out, we put up with it. We buy it. If we don’t like what happened in Amazing Spider-Man #700, we can complain online and write angry letters. Marvel doesn’t care what you think. They only care what you buy, or don’t buy. This boycott had me thinking about what buying this comic could mean. To DC, it might mean that I’ll buy a Superman comic. It might mean that I’ll buy a comic written by this particular writer. It might mean a lot of things. Not buying it can mean a lot of things as well. Usually I don’t care what a publisher thinks when I buy or don’t buy something. But for the first time, I started to think who, besides DC would get my money. It’s pretty common in comics for writers and artists to get royalties off of what they create. I don’t think I could hand over $4 knowing that some of that money was going to a cause that I don’t support.
On a related note, this is a reminder of some advice I read a while ago. The best way to keep your heroes as your heroes is to never meet them. Don’t find out too much about them. This writer in particular was one of the first novelists I really liked. I even met him about 15 years ago and thought he was very nice and personable. I still have a book on my shelf he autographed to me.
Look, I know this is all a very sticky issue. Do I pay taxes to a state where gay marriage is illegal? Yes. Have I shopped at stores that have donated money to causes I don’t side with? Yes. Have I had Domino’s Pizza? Sadly, yes. I don’t think I could live my life where I am only financially supporting causes that I agree with. But I try.
A few weeks ago I thought I would create my own Superman original graphic novel. This was a stupid thing to decide on as I don’t own the rights to the character and I am behind on my other projects as it is. But I drew a page anyway.