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The Wednesday Waffle Issue Twelve: More bloodshed at DC and some happier stories

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THIS WEEK'S RACK


DC GETS A NEW EDITOR IN CHIEF


The changes continue at the top of DC Comics, following on from the absolute bloodbath back in August when a whole bunch of long term staffers were shown the door.

During that round of changes Marie Javins and Michele R. Wells were appointed as co-Editors in Chief. Now Javins gets to go solo as she is named sold and permanent Editor in Chief of DC Comics.


This is good news. Javins seems to be pretty forward looking and has a direction in mind for the company. Given how directionless DC has appeared to be since Dan DiDio was let go way back before Lockdown any vison has to be an improvement. Javins does seem to have a decent attitude, saying in a press release:


“As a young girl devouring comics of Wonder Woman, Nubia, and Supergirl, I never dreamed that decades later, I’d be at the helm of the mighty DC Comics, I’m incredibly honored by this responsibility, and will dedicate myself to supporting and challenging DC’s extended family of staff, talent, retailers, and partners around the world in our quest to tell innovative visual stories that both reflect and expand our world—and in some cases, our galaxy and multiverse.”


It's good to know that whoever will be in charge of a publishing house as important to the culture of Anglophone comics actually has a knowledge of, and love for the material. Her focus seems to be on diversity - she was the editor behind Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles and Superman Smashes the Clan for example, both of which were unselfconciously diverse, but also (and this is more important) really, really good. And whatever some corners of comics fandom may think, diversity is the way to go.


Why do I think that? Well, back in the late nineties my I was a member of a yahoo email group - a sort of email based proto social network. We were a bunch of comics fans and we were mostly a bunch of white, middle class dudes. Even then we were painfully aware that if we were the only demographic that comics were appealing to then the medium was doomed in the long term. We joked that at some point around 2080 the last ever comics fan would be cremated on a pyre made up of his collection because nobody else had read a comic in thirty years.


Many other publishers have since recognised the issue and begun to produce comics aimed at different audiences - I'd point you at Image, Vault, Boom! and Aftershock as good examples. Marvel has had a bit of a go, but a little ham fistedly, and DC has paid lipservice to the idea. Now perhaps it might go for it.


That's not to say that the kind of thing they're currently putting out - which continues to appeal to middle aged white men like me - has no place. Catering to a wider audience doesn't (and shouldn't) mean abandoning the audience you already have after all. But the success of the smaller, indie publishers noted above demonstrates that widening your scope can not only bring in a wider audience, it can also broaden the horizons of your existing fan base.


If that's where Javins is going, I wish her luck.



BUT THE DC BLOODBATH CONTINUES


Of course you might be wondering, if she's no longer jointly Editor on Chief, what is Michele R. Wells going to be doing. Well, as of yesterday, the answer would appear to be "looking for another job" because she's been told she no longer has a role at DC. A whole bunch of other senior staffers have also been shown the door.


We're not going to get into the depressing details here, except to note that losing your job in the current climate is a pretty hard thing to have to deal with - although it's not an unusual position for somebody to find themselves in right now. Our best wishes go to everyone finding themselves out of work in the middle of a global pandemic.


More coverage on this story can be found HERE.



UMBRELLA ACADEMY TO RETURN FOR SEASON THREE


I confess to being more than a little excited. I loved Umbrella Academy season one, and I thought that season two was even better. No spoilers, but the ending to season two was a pretty massive cliff-hanger, so I'm very pleased indeed that we're going to get to see what happens next.


The show has deviated from the original comics somewhat, but only ever in ways that work, so we can let the lack of comics accuracy slide. If you fancy taking a look at what is, truly, Gerard Way's masterpiece, all three collected editions of the comics series are available from our good selves - and we can have them delivered to you even in lockdown!



GRANT MORRISON COMES OUT AS NON-BINARY


I hope that there will come a time when stories like this are unremarkable - worthy of reporting only to ensure that people are referred to by appropriate pronouns. We're not quite there yet, but Grant Morrison's recent statement might take us a step closer, although from my perspective that's not entirely why the story is worth covering.

Grant Morrison has been a giant in comics for nearly thirty years, the mind behind The Invisibles, Doom Patrol, All-Star Superman, Happy! and so many other ground-breaking, challenging and often downright weird comics. They have never been shy to talk about their unconventional - and often confrontational - views about things. There was, in the back of an issue of The Invisibles an essay on drug use that proclaimed "The 'War on Drugs' is a war on people" and was so controversial (this was in the nineties when the "War on Drugs" was in full swing and generally approved of by the wider public) that his Editors ran a disclaimer in front of it. (Although they did publish it, which is something I really can't see the current DC bosses doing...)


Now, in an interview with Mondo2000.com Morrison has been clear that they do not - and never have - identified as either male or female. They told Mondo2000:


"when I was a kid there were no words to describe certain aspects of my own experience. I’ve been non-binary, cross-dressing, ‘gender queer’ since I was 10 years old, but the available terms for what I was doing and how I felt were few and far between. We had ‘transsexual’ and ‘transvestite’ both of which sounded like DSM classifications rather than lifestyle choices! I didn’t want to be labelled as medical aberration because that’s not how it felt, nor was it something cut-and-dried and done. I didn’t want to ‘transition’ or embody my ‘female’ side exclusively, so I had no idea where I fit in."


They go on to explain:


"Terms like 'genderqueer' and 'non-binary' only came into vogue in the mid-90s. So, kids like me had very limited ways of describing our attraction to drag and sexual ambiguity. Nowadays there’s this whole new vocabulary, allowing kids to figure out exactly where they sit on the 'color wheel' of gender and sexuality, so I think it’s OK to lose a few contentious words when you are creating new ones that offer a more finely-grained approach to experience."


And honestly, that's the important bit. From the point of view of somebody who writes about comics, it's good to know that I should refer to Morrison using gender-neutral pronouns "They/Them" rather than the masculine "He/Him". I like to get things right, and correctly addressing people is important as a matter of accuracy and basic courtesy.


Bur Morrison's point about not having had the language to describe their experience when they were younger that resonates most strongly. Gender-nonconformity isn't new. It isn't something that was invented by Gen-X or Millenials. It's just that our language didn't have ways to describing it until recently, to the detriment of the lives of people like Morrison, but also do the detriment of our wider culture not having words that allow to easily explain what you mean makes life difficult - especially when what you're trying to explain is how you relate to the world. It's good that our language is broadening out to encompass the whole of human experience. I suspect that we have some way to go...


Incidentally, although it was the headline on all the comics news sites - including this one, so mea-culpa - their comment that they're non-binary was perhaps the least interesting thing that Morrison had to say in the interview. If you're a fan of Morrinson, you really should go and read the whole thing over at Mondo2000.

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