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The Wednesday Waffle Issue 14: Some editorialising while Stan Swears...

OK. So a post on Twitter caught my eye and made me cross. Since I can't talk about it in the shop right now, because I can't get into it, (more on that, and when I will be getting back into the shop in the early part of next week when I've got the website properly sorted) I guess I'll bend your ear online instead.

The tweet was from writer Vita Ayala, who said this:

"If anyone is tryna follow my insta, it's on private because the rage-trolls that were sending me death threats after I was announced on an X-book started coming after my mom, so now if you wanna see pictures of my cats being weird I have to remember to approve..."*

I've taken out the emojis (because I don't know how to put them in - I'm forty nine years old for goodness sake, I'm not an emoji kind of guy!) but otherwise that's a verbatim lift. For clarity, there were laughing emojis after the mention of death threats and the angry swearing emoji after mention that the trolls were going after their mother.

Ayala has been announced as the writer on New Mutants as of issue #14. This is not news - it was announced in September. And yet it seems that not only were some fans feeling entitled enough to express their disapproval of the appointment directly to Ayala at the time of the announcement, but they're still banging on about it to the point that they are not bringing the writer's mother into the fray nearly three months later.

And for what?

I mean, I understand not being a fan of somebody's work. There are any number of writers and artists whose work just doesn't do it for me. Have I ever hit any of those people up on social media to tell them that they suck? Nope. Not once. I've written the occasional bad review of things I didn't like - but a review has its focus on the work not the creator of the work. A review should never be a personal attack.

Reaching out on social media to threaten violence to a creator, or even just to tell them directly that they suck, that's a personal attack and there's no need for it. To broaden that level of attack out to include the creator's family? That's unfathomable to me.

What makes it worse is that in this instance nobody outside of the Marvel bullpen has even seen Ayala's work on New Mutants, because it isn't out yet! So. What possible objection could these people (forever immortalised by comedian Marc Maron as "un-fu*kable rage nerds") have to the non-binary person of colour? Gee. I can't possibly imagine.

It could, of course, turn out that Ayala goes on to write the worst run on New-Mutants that there has ever been. I think it unlikely - Marvel is pretty good at sourcing talent. But let's say all the people who have been trolling on the social medias do genuinely find that they don't enjoy her work when they finally get to see it. (And you know they're going to buy - or at least pirate** - #1) And you know what? That's fine. You don't like a comic you are under no obligation to buy it. If nobody buys it the book gets cancelled. No threats required.

Now. I am not saying that everyone who was unhappy at the appointment of Ayala to the title is racist, or intolerant of gender-noncomformity. It is entirely fair to say that this kind of nonsense isn't new, and that it is sometimes targeted at heterosexual, white, cis-gendered man. I have a friend who fits exactly that description who wrote a series for 2000 AD a few years ago that so triggered some of the rage-nerds that one of them sent him an actual turd through the post.

But it would be foolish and wilfully blinkered to fail to notice that this stuff has become significantly more prevalent since publishers started to hire a more diverse team of writers and artists, and generally the people targeted by such attacks tend to be women, people of colour, people who identify as LGBTQI+ or people who are some combination thereof.

And I don't know how we stop it. We seem to be living in a word where a small, vocal group of truly awful people not only see everyone who does not look, act and think the way they do as a legitimate target for aggression - and the employment of everyone who is not a straight, white, cis-gendered man by any of the major comics publishers as a direct attack on them and everything they hold dear.

There are some creators who encourage this sort of thing of course. I'll never name them here because they don't merit your attention, but there is a group of creators who have worked for the majors in the past, but who have found gigs there less easy to get of late. They rather vocally ascribe this either to "diversity hires", that is to say people hired because their gender, ethnicity or sexuality ticks a "diversity box", or by insinuating that female writers and artists must have obtained their jobs by having sex with the men doing the hiring.

Somehow it never seems to occur to this group of men (and they are all men...) that their work might not be what people want right now, that their rather toxic behaviour has made them unwelcome however good their work might be, or - and perhaps this might be the idea they find hardest to take - that the people making the decisions genuinely judge toe work of the so-called "diversity hires" to be better.

The rage-nerds will tell you that it's impossible for a straight, white, cis-gendered man to get work in the current mainstream comics world. A brief look at the credits on your average rack would suggest otherwise. It is true, there are more women and people of colour than there used to be. There are more gay people. More Trans people, and so on. But you know what?

That isn't hard, because the number of such "diverse" people in the business used to be somewhere between "zero" and "a couple".

Like I said. I don't have any answers here. But comics are a beautiful thing, with a wonderful community. We don't need this kind of ugliness - there's room for all styles of comic and all kinds of people.


You've probably seen this by now, but after having to think about such negativity it's nice to have something a little more light-hearted. This made me laugh - and it's good to hear Stan's voice again.


And on the subject of Stan Lee, my birthday afternoon treat this year (and the reason this week's waffle wasn't out until Friday...) was to re-watch Into the Spider-Verse (now available on Netflix...). So, since this scene left me sobbing like a three year old who just dropped a lollypop, I figured I'd share this too: