Yesterday’s twitter dumpster fire over writer Chelsea Cain quitting twitter after harassing tweets, led to a very popular hashtag called #standwithchelseacain that saw people from every level of comics taking a stand against twitter harassment and abuse.
It also led to cool things, like this drawing by Declan Shalvey with colors by Jordie Bellaire:
— Declan Shalvey (@declanshalvey) October 26, 2016
I should note that the shirt comes in the Pantone Color of the Year Rose Quartz (more or less) so it’s stylish as well as trend setting.
Elana Levin wrote about the matter for Graphic Policy:
Mockingbird, Midnighter, Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Nitehawk, Silk and Luke Cage and Iron Fist are the future of superhero comics. They are embraced by an underserved audience who thought mainstream superhero comic books weren’t for them until more were made with them specifically in mind. The new line of superheroes from Lion Forge Comics sounds a lot like the future too.
In fact, socially relevant superheroes are also at the core of superhero comics’ legacy. Jack Kirby, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, William Moulton Marston, Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne where all Social Justice Warriors in their day. Doubt me? The feminism of Kirby’s work can best be seen in the blog Kirby without words. Or read “A People’s History of the Marvel Universe.”
Sexists who are complaining about comics being feminist don’t even know the history of comics. The sad truth though is that there are currently plenty of regressive comics that are made just for them. So even if they don’t want to acknowledge the true power of the medium they still have plenty of sexist, racist, homophobic dreck they can pick up at their local store.
I should also note that a kind of “Chelsea Cain truther” movement has sprung up demanding to see screen caps of the harassing tweets or suggesting that they should have been ignored. After I posted my story yesterday my own mentions blew up with dedicated truthtellers devoted to an endless quest for justice demanding to know what the problem was. After reading these tweets, really, I can’t imagine why anyone would feel bullied!
For the record, when someone says they have been harassed on Twitter this is about 99.999999999% on the believability scale. It’s like saying, “Oh it was raining yesterday and I got wet.” or “If the Cubs win the World Series, people in Chicago will be excited.” These are not claims that we seriously need to investigate. And to suggest that Cain was making this up is another variation on the “Lying Woman” myth that you see everywhere these days.
Furthermore, Chelsea Cain can quit twitter over anything she wants to and it’s not up to us to judge her motivations. (According to the Truthers she was just trying to get attention for her now cancelled book.)
That said, as a snoopy journalist, I was curious myself. I’ve made screen caps of these tweets and removed identifying handles. Interestingly enough, other tweeters were caught in the crossfire, probably after mentioning Cain or Mockingbird:
This “variant edition ” of the cover was also posted:
So let’s not pretend there wasn’t a campaign of gaslighting and insults being thrown at Cain. Many of the people involved in this were tweeting at me yesterday, and it’s annoying. I’d call it more harassing than abusive, but it’s twitter bullying couched in concern trolling. Because you know, in movies when the bullies come around they can say “I’m going to wreck your bike unless you give me $20!” or they can say “That’s a nice bike. It would be a shame if something happened to it.” Both are bullying. Both are the work of cowards and if Cain was sick of it and wanted to move on that’s her prerogative, and it’s our prerogative to stand against bullying.
Cain is still active on social media, just not on Twitter. I hope she hasn’t been driven away from comics entirely by the peculiar assholes who inhabit the comics space. Why and how they exist is something I’ve given a some thought to over the last 20 years, because I’ve had many, many, many run ins with them. Probably too much thought. But for me the best way to change something is to understand something. I’m hoping that #standwithchelseacain is just the start of making comics twitter a friendlier, more productive place. I also hope the Cubs win the World Series. One of these will be a miracle.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.