Wait, What? — Cancelled Comics Calvacade

June 21, 2020

0:01-8:20: Greetings!  Indulge us a few minutes of levity as we discuss Graeme’s middle name?  It’s a conversation that was probably long overdue, and also probably very much needed before we steer into some much darker waters. Listening to this now while editing, I am so, so, so grateful for this opening.  I understand if you don’t feel the same.
8:20-14:18: Because we have, as Graeme perfectly puts a lot of “fucking bullshit” ahead of us, we need to focus on the positive, we talk about (a) how great the commenters have been our Drokk posts, (b) the upcoming excellent-sounding America: Lost and Found—The Rediscovered Scripts being released by 2000AD at the end of September.
14:18-32:17: And, instead of jamming what we’re reading after the news, we instead decide to discuss  what we’ve been reading.  (I have to say, it is weird how much of this ends up fitting in thematically with the episode.)  First up, Graeme discusses Gerard Jones’ run on Justice League Europe and Green Lantern.  And, around 20:16, Graeme talks a bit about the whole package of comics and how much we miss that (and by “that,” we mean mostly but far from exclusively the letters pages). And we discuss some of the highlights of letter columns (The Invisibles, Preacher) and maybe if we  feel that material didn’t age well due to the lack of those columns in their trades. Also discussed: current letter columns we track, essays and comics backmatter, and more.
32:17-34:48: As for what Jeff’s been reading?  He talks about Sophie Yanow’s The Contradictions, free to read on the web through the end of July. Definitely worth your time!
34:48-42:02:  Also read by Jeff (and a bit more in his wheelhouse these days), the first 12 chapters of Blue Flag by Kaito via Shonen Jump. As you may recall, Jeff loved Kaito’s earlier Cross Manage and is even more in love with the work here, a high school love quadrangle where everyone is just a bit more complex than your standard high school love quadrangle story.  And although I was tempted to puff this section out in the notes by breaking each reading experience into its own timestamp, it just always ends up looking weird and baggy especially when I don’t have much more to say than “Jeff read this,” and it’s only two minutes so all Jeff is saying, “I read this.”  So!  Also discussed: Interspecies Reviewers Vol. 1; and The Joker: Eighty Years of Crime: The Deluxe Edition.
42:02-1:01;37: However, because we do dig into it a little (or a lot?) more, Dark Nights: Death Metal #1 by Snyder, Capullo, Glapion, and Plascencia, it does deserve its own little time stamp, for sure.  And speaking of sure, we’re not sure…why is this? What is this? And why is this?  And these questions are coming from Graeme, the man who read all of the Snyder material leavig up to this.
1:01:37-1:03:39: And finally, Jeff read the last volume of Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist’s Journey by Akiko Higashimura.  Such a great read, and Jeff almost cried like a baby multiple times throughout the volume!  (The only reason he didn’t is because he’s a broken, broken human not that the book wasn’t good enough to cry through.)  So good, you guys.  So good.
1:03:39-2:05:57: And now, we get to the comics news of the week.  Sigh.  Cameron Stewart. Warren Ellis. Brendan Wright. (By the way, Graeme goes out of his way not to mention the women making the allegations by name, and Jeff does so in regards to the Ellis case and apologizes if that’s very problematic.  After spending some time thinking about it, he—which is to say I—decided to leave those names in as well as include the video at the top of this post linked to here. I don’t think the listeners of this podcast and the viewers of this page are the type to engage in harassing behavior toward victims, and I also think by choosing not to  name them, there could the unintended implication these women have anything to be ashamed of.  They do not, and their names are used by me out of acknowledgment and respect.) Discussed: All this awful shit.
2:05:57-2:15:22:  A story about foreign languages! And then! Jeff remembers a very depressing story about the manga industry that fits in well with the material discussed this episode.  Unfortunately.
2:15:22-end:  Closing comments!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Dominic L. Franco, and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)
Next week: Skip weeks! Yes, two of ’em! Look for us around July 12, we’re thinking? Please be good to yourselves and to others!

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25 comments on “Wait, What? — Cancelled Comics Calvacade

    • “Did anyone say: “it”s a job”…”

      made me laugh more than I have in years

    • Martin Gray Jun 22, 2020

      And the rest of the episode was worth listening to, too. I must say, though, that not wishing to share a plate of shrimp (I don’t know what we’d call that in the UK, breadcrumbed scampi?) Is not indicative of monster tendencies. I’ll buy you a massive meal, but don’t ask me to share my food. Tapas is the worst idea ever, order a tiny portion of what you fancy and have it eat something else? No thank you.

      And I think I’ve said this previously, but I’m really uncomfortable when Graeme says he has a feeling there’s something bad going to come out about Matt Fraction… is the ‘pre-rumour’ acceptable?

      • “Is the pre-rumor acceptable?” Honestly, it’s not, and I regret saying it on the podcast.

        • Michael Wells Jun 28, 2020

          Remarkable episode, guys, in its thoughtfulness and articulateness and anguish. But this was not your high point. This should have been cut before you put the episode up, and failing that, it should be cut now.

  1. I’m with Graeme on Death Metal, I cannot understand how it’s garnering so many positive reviews. If you have five minutes, here’s my take… saves me writing my thoughts again here!
    As regards letter columns, I much prefer reader takes, and interaction with Editorial, than essays… I don’t want explanations and context, I want comics that make sense in and of themselves – save the background for fanzines and news sites. Really, all I want is the phrase ‘I found a boo-boo’ and a passive aggressive response from Mort Weisinger.
    OK, back to listening… I’m looking forward to your take on the latest round of cancellation stuff.

  2. Daniel Jun 22, 2020

    It is interesting that you begin the podcast with a retrospect of Gerard Jones, the most problematic a creator can be. It’s okay to engage with and recognize the skill, and even your personal enjoyment, of the work of a probbo creator. But that is also a personal choice to do that. So it is with Warren Ellis and Cameron Stewart. It is important to recognize their personal bad behavior as personal bad behavior, be it past or ongoing behavior. I think the best thing to gain from this past week, is to use it to instruct introspection. Have I done things that have made people uncomfortable, or taken things too far? Do I still do that? Do I need to make amends at some point? How can I do that? I think that’s a good thing.

    • Bruce Baugh Jun 22, 2020

      Profit matters, in figuring out what to do. Since DC isn’t reprinting Jones’ work, neither the company nor the writer (nor anyone else) are making money off it; there’s no sense in which DC is supporting Jones now. In this sense, Jones is more like a dead author – Lovecraft, say – than someone actively making stuff for the market now. Conversely, Ellis’ work is making money for a lot of people, starting with him but including a whole mess of publishers. It remains to be seen whether they’ll decide that anything he did warrants giving up some future sales, and potential purchasers need to work out whether the extent to which they’re underwriting his acting that way outweighs other concerns (the work of everyone else involved, how much a work is connected to the abusive persona, etc.).

      • Daniel Jun 22, 2020

        That’s not entirely true. The upcoming second JLI Omnibus will be full of his work and incidental issues of crossovers like in the second Mark Waid Flash collection as well. This is mitigated by it being cut with the work of other writers but it is still out for sale.

        But I was speaking more in the personal, insular sense. I already own the Ellis Stewart work I own just like Graeme owns the Jones work he owns. That’s what I was talking about; how you interact with what you have not what whether to continue to support those creators. That’s a different discussion. But I don’t disagree with your assessment.

  3. Really appreciated both of your takes on last week’s awfulness. I haven’t been a superfan of Ellis’ for a while, but back in 1999-2000 I was, and was a lurker/irregular poster on the WEF (like Graeme, I was definitely not one of the cool kids, but was young/deluded enough that I thought I could crack the code eventually) and Ellis’ persona and use of social media has, for better or worse, shaped how I think of internet culture over the years. And like Jeff, I was also enraged with the boilerplate disingenuousness of the newsletter “apology” but I hadn’t been able to put my feelings into words, so I appreciate you doing such a great job.
    I’ll likely re-home most if not all of my Ellis comics, since his internet-Stalin-whiskey-4AM voice is so much a part of all his work I doubt I’ll ever be able to enjoy it anytime soon. The Cameron Stewart stuff is tricker, since most of the stuff of his I own is art-only (although my copy of Sin Titulo is not long for my shelves), but his art is in Grant Morrison comics that are near-and-dear to my heart so I’ll have a tougher time getting rid of them. I’m honestly struggling with how much some of my favourite comics are now tainted. (Although, ironically, this episode left me wanting to read Gerard Jones’ GL run, so who the hell knows.)

    • Daniel Jun 22, 2020

      It just means cleansing oneself means dialoguing with your own hypocrisies somewhat and that no matter how clean you try to make yourself you’ll always come up a little dirty. People wrestling with wanting to keep Harry Potter but JK Rowling are going through the same thing. Owning the work of a bad person doesn’t mean you’re a bad person (most of the time.) Being uncritical or acknowledging of that badness is worse.

  4. Matthew Murray Jun 22, 2020

    You mentioning the Preacher letters column reminded me that the owner of the comic store I went to in Las Vegas proposed to their partner in the letters page of one issue, though I don’t know which one. (They are still together.)

    • Voord 99 Jun 24, 2020

      Am I the only person who, when Graeme J. McMillan described how fascinating his youthful self found letter columns, because they felt like they were giving him a peek behind the curtain into the process by which comics came into being, thought, ”And what you ended up doing for a living was…?”

  5. Jeff’s recall of the Watsuki situation agrees with my understanding of it, though he is not the only sex offender Shonen Jump and Oda have “rehabilitated”; [a href=“https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsutoshi_Shimabukuro”]Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro[/a] solicited a minor and went on to do Toriko, which got a multimedia push here and in Japan.

    It is worth noting that Viz have not been releasing Watsuki’s current work…

    • Voord 99 Jun 22, 2020

      On the other hand, HBO Max are showing the Rurouni Kenshin anime.

  6. Graeme mentioned a creator who was called out along with Ellis and Stewart, but then the person who called the creator out tried to call it back in… I realize there’s some ambiguity about what’s happening, but can someone at least throw out a link where I can follow it up? Thanks!

    • Jeff Lester Jun 22, 2020

      I’m not sure if it’s actually cool to do so, but at the risk of being a terrible human being (but in a vague way), let me say you might find what you’re looking for if you dig through Abhay’s tumblr enough?

      • Thanks for the hint… It was a good excuse to read through Abhay’s Tumblr (I just don’t log on to that site very often).
        As you and Graeme note, the sorts of behaviors getting called out are really widespread across industries. And you make a really good point about the difficulty of calling out an exploitative relationship without casting the exploited party as an unwitting dupe. The solution to this rhetorical dilemma might be to stress that the abuser is exploiting the circumstances (as opposed to the person). We’re all familiar with how this works… Many of us have (or had) jobs where we were exploited that we nevertheless entered into or stayed in because of circumstances. And most of us would be loath to defend the exploiter.
        Setting aside the question of how we discuss these things, I do think that comics has an unusually bad history of exploitation. (Not a new insight to you (see also Jarett Kobek)). And it’s a history that, I suspect, makes it easier for someone like Ellis to claim that he’s just one other exploited person, as opposed to someone with his hands on the levers of power.
        Anyway, I appreciated your rants. I hope we all get better at this before it’s too late.

  7. Dan Coyle Jun 22, 2020

    “I know Matt Fraction has done something!”
    Wow, then maybe a comics journalist, maybe someone who, say, lives in the same city he does, should look into that.
    Graeme, I used to be a hardcore Fraction hater, I found him (and Kelly Sue) Utterly insufferable back in the day, but i Grew out of it. Seriously, though- what has he done to you, Graeme?

  8. Rick Vance Jun 23, 2020

    So a bit more has been posted about the Watsuki stuff in these comments but this is also important to share.

    Oda has been doing multiple parties and gatherings with him.

    This is one or these examples (the way this article talks about it or barely does is just so bad)


  9. Miguel Corti Jun 23, 2020

    Re: Watsuki Nobuhiro

    It’s hard to find decent information on this case even in Japanese, as if powerful forces have swept it under the rug. There are a few issues at play with this case, however.

    1. The punishment for possession is very much a slap on the wrist.
    2. Watsuki is for all intents and purposes a celebrity, so of course, like anywhere in the world, he’s going to be treated differently than someone who’s not in the public eye.
    3. The publishing industry is the very epitome of the OB club here, so I don’t think you can underestimate how much their, i.e., Shueisha’s, influence swayed the case.
    4. The law to criminalize possession of child pornography was not enacted until 2014. Japan was criticized internationally for this for years. Prior to this revision, only distribution, purchase, or creation were punishable offenses. If you just happened to have some sitting on your hard drive and no record of having created, purchased, or distributed it, well, there was nothing anyone could do. And just because the law was updated to get rid of this loophole, doesn’t mean the mindset of the judges (or anyone, for that matter) has appropriately been updated.

  10. Dasbender Jun 24, 2020

    Listening to Graeme complain about the cliquish nature of the WEF, with its circles within circles, as he once again spends time talking about things he knows about the comics industry but can’t say is really starting to stretch my patience. Graeme, if you don’t want to talk about something then please DO NOT talk about it. I’ve been listening to you guys since you started podcasting from Brian’s site, but this experience lately feels less like hanging around with my friends while bullshitting about comics and more like I’m standing next to two guys talking in code who wish I would leave so they could actually have a private conversation. Talk about cleanses and waffles all you want, even though I’m here for the comics.
    But please don’t waste my time telling me about how you know more interesting things than I do but can’t talk about them.

    Now that I’ve got that off my chest I need to go listen to the second half of the podcast :)

  11. Hey, guys. I know it’s been loaded with news for the last weeks, but I find hard to believe Denny O’Neil’s passing hasn’t even been mentioned in the podcast yet.

    • Jeff Lester Jun 26, 2020

      You’re right, Jay! I know I mentioned his passing and some of his remarkable achievements on my twitter (and I believe Graeme did the same) but with luck we’ll circle back to mention it on air. (Man, what a crazy couple of weeks!)

  12. On Warren’s big shrimp bowl, as a Brit I also am not sure this is so damning. This reminded me of when I was living in Berkeley in 1997 and went on a date to a restaurant in Chinatown in the city, and my date said “Well, I assume we’re going to order to share, aren’t we?”, I was inwardly horrified, but went along with it. You might say I was coerced but that might be pushing it.

    There are a number of things that puzzle me about the comics Me-too:

    How much power does a freelance comic creator really have?

    What did these young women think they were getting? Did they get any of it?

    Does it really help an aspiring female creator to be introduced to an editor say, by a much older established creator with his hand on her shoulder, or would she get on just as well if not better on her own? You can literally walk up to people and do this in comics.

    A lot of this bad behaviour is trying to emulate what used to be seen as living the (toxic masculine) dream in music or film etc. Maybe its worse in comics because there are so few women interested in the medium and men creators don’t get much practice with them, they mostly work at home and then get sensory overloaded at conventions. I think Jason Latour was trying to make this point in his pre-apology.

    Finally have all these people judging Ellis and the others always behaved impeccably in their own lives? I haven’t, but we live and learn and try and improve. Hopefully they do and will.