Dear DC Comics,
I love your characters. I love Barbara Gordon, I love Kate Kane, I love Diana Prince. I love Cassandra Cain, I love Stephanie Brown, I love Dinah Lance. I love Harley Quinn, I love Selina Kyle, I love Pamela Isley.
I really love your characters.
When I saw the College Humor ad, Greatest Villains of Nerd Culture, “The Imposter,” in your comics, I sighed. I sighed, but I let it go. I am used to knowing, from remarks at comic conventions, from interviews, and from the comics you make, that my readership is not your main concern. I am a queer woman, nearly forty years old. I am not your core demographic. I’ve continued to read DC comic books because I purely love these characters.
Yesterday I saw another of the Greatest Villains comics run as an ad. This one was “The Youth.”
Now, DC, I am giving you all the benefit of the doubt that I can. It’s possible that you intend these ads to be a wry commentary on yourself as the sort of fool who might actually hold the views espoused in the comics. Perhaps you are trying to say that you obviously think calling women and children the greatest threats to nerd culture is ridiculous. I really, really hope you are. Perhaps you are running all six of these comics, including The Alpha Nerd, and I haven’t seen them. Perhaps you intend to do so and haven’t yet.
I’m having some trouble with that interpretation. Without seeing you publish the Alpha Nerd companion to The Imposter and The Youth, what I’ve seen is that first you tell women they are a threat to everything you love, and then you say the same thing about children. DC, this makes me sad. You just called your future readers supervillains who ruin all you hold dear.
I can actually handle you telling me I am a supervillain destroying comics. I am used to that. But you just said that to my kids, DC. You just told my kids — my kids who purely love Justice League, who think Booster Gold is hilarious, who love The Flash, my daughter who is incredibly happy that The Question is a Latina just like her — that you hate and fear them.
Do you actually think that my kids love for The Flash ruins all of your things? Are my kids wrecking all of your most beloved nerd properties? Why are you afraid of them?
If you are truly not afraid of my kids, then you have allowed your advertising to gravely mis-step. The ads you have chosen to permit are profoundly misrepresenting your intentions. The humor you have chosen does not strike up the chain of power. Your College Humor ads are not sticking it to the man, not speaking loud against tyranny, not slyly deflating the rich and mighty. The ads you are running target the disenfranchised, the weak, the edges of your chosen geek sphere. You are targeting women and children, mocking and vilifying them. This is not humor, to strike at those with less power than you. This is bullying.
DC Comics, you’ve made me sad this week. But I don’t think I’ll be sad for long. This week, the Republican party in the United States reaped the rewards of vilifying special interest groups, marginal communities, people of color, not-heterosexuals, people who like science, women, immigrants, the margins and the marginal. The funny thing is, when you add all those marginal groups up, they end up the majority.
Ask the GOP how that’s working out for them.
DC, I won’t be buying your comics for a while. I won’t say I’m done, because I truly hope that you recover from this error in judgment. I want you to do better. I want you to learn and grow and change. I want you to stop thinking my kids are your death knell. I hope that you’ll reconsider your recent promotional materials and advertising, and come up with something based not on fear and anger, but joy and hope. I would love to see ads celebrating how diverse your readers are, how broad your reach is, how comics and nerdery are mainstream. How the culture wars have been won by Batman and video games. How this is a party to which you proudly invite everyone.
I look forward to seeing you again.
With respect and sincere hope for the future,