If you were on Twitter over the weekend, you probably noticed that publisher Dynamite Comics found itself at the center of a pretty big controversy, prompting creators and retailers alike to drop working with them. What happened?
While rumblings of C*micsgate affiliations have been brewing for about a year now, the proverbial poo hit the fan when the company announced a special cover by known CGers Cecil and Donal Delay that would feature “Cecil’s Next Big Thing” alongside Dynamite flagship characters Vampirella and Red Sonja. The backlash to the Twitter announcement was almost immediate, with Kwanza Osajyefo calling them out and demanding that support for the company cease considering the association with a known hate group.
I'm only saying this once…
EVERYONE in the #comics industry who been knew that Dynamite Entertainment is supporting comicsgate needs to stop with the backchannel, blind-eye, fence-sitting bullshit because of associations with Nick Barrucci or checks from this publisher. pic.twitter.com/KvzjCkoXol
— Breonna Taylor's murderers must go to jail (@kwanzer) July 17, 2020
Dynamite’s list of creators on some of their top books had already started declaring they would no longer be taking on work with the company if they continued any sort of association with CG. Earlier this month, after Dynamite publisher Nick Barrucci took part in a CG livestream and publicly bid on artwork from Cecil, Karla Pacheco, who just began work on a new Bettie Page series, announced her departure from the publisher until a leadership change takes place.
A Brief Message From Your Karla:
I'm very proud of the work our team has done on the Bettie Page comic series, and I made a commitment to them to conclude it, but Issue 5 will be my last work with its publisher unless there is a drastic change in company management.
— Karla Pacheco (@THEKarlaPacheco) July 8, 2020
Creators speaking out against Dynamite intensified over the weekend. Mark Russell was another huge announcement since the writer’s ongoing Red Sonja book has been getting rave reviews and has prompted miniseries and side stories for the character’s canon universe. The list of creators who’ve previously done work for the company now denouncing them goes on.
As I write this, I am finishing work on Red Sonja #24, which concludes my contractual obligations to @DynamiteComics. After which, I will no longer be accepting any further work from Dynamite for as long as they continue any affiliation whatsoever with Comicsgate. 1/
— Mark Russell (@Manruss) July 19, 2020
Dynamite contacted me in May about a possible project and I made it clear I couldn't do it because, amongst other things, they were courting outrage dollars via Comicsgate. I made it pretty clear to them that this stuff would bite them in the ass.
Welcome to July.
— Jim Zub (@JimZub) July 19, 2020
My current stance on what's going on with Dynamite:
I know people behind the scenes who are trying VERY HARD to get across how damaging CG is to our communities, and how painful Barrucci's support of CG organizers/affiliates has been for many Dynamite creators…
— Karla Pacheco (@THEKarlaPacheco) July 20, 2020
So I reached out to my editor at Dynamite about this CG situation and said that I can’t be associated with a company that allies itself with a hate group. I just want my followers and other creators to understand that i condemn CG and am furious with the company.
— Rahsan Ekedal (@RahsanEkedal) July 18, 2020
I’ve been talking all weekend with friends and colleagues about the Dynamite Comics situation. I will speak more about it later, but for now, I will just say that I finish my current commitment and that will be that.
— Socially Distant Dave (@davedrawsgood) July 20, 2020
So… obviously, I have an opinion about what’s going on with @DynamiteComics, and in particular, their doing business with an online hate/harassment group. I won’t name them here for the same reason I don’t sprinkle sugar on my kitchen floor. That’s how you get cockroaches. 1/13
— David Avallone (@DAvallone) July 19, 2020
Here’s the thing.
I am not being silent for career reasons. I’m not being silent at all.
I’m taking a minute to process something personally very disappointing and sad.
If I’m not doing that on your timer, don;t know what to say.
— Gail Simone (@GailSimone) July 17, 2020
The Beat received a statement from a longtime and prolific collaborator with Dynamite regarding the controversy, who has asked to remain anonymous.
“As a Dynamite freelancer, I’m disappointed with the recent actions of Nick [Barrucci] and his affiliation with CG. Being a creative who depends on income from this company to support my family, especially during this shaky time, it puts me and many others in the uncomfortable position of choosing between earning a living or becoming professionally associated with repugnant individuals. Equally alarming is the double standard of those demanding us to renounce Dynamite, as no one is asking for the same from Marvel freelancers, considering the fact that their CEO has a history of racism and serves as part of the Drumpf administration.”
As more creators spoke up, Dynamite issued a statement regarding the controversy. It didn’t help.
"In speaking with Cecil, neither one of us realized the cover would be so polarizing. We discussed and are not moving forward with the cover or the campaign." – Nick Barrucci, CEO & Publisher of Dynamite
— DynamiteComics (@DynamiteComics) July 19, 2020
“In speaking with Cecil,” Barrucci’s statement reads, “neither one of us realized the cover would be so polarizing. We discussed and are not moving forward with the cover or the campaign.”
Barrucci’s statement seemed to miss the point. While the cover itself is a problem, the bigger issue is the consistent associations with known CGers. Some angry creators agreed it was a small step but not enough, while others said it was not even close to what was needed to save the company.
And then the other side chimed in…
As instantly as it was demanded that Dynamite reassess their moral compass, the ‘gaters attacked and started accusing the publisher of “kneeling” to “SJWs.”
So what exactly is happening? From an outsider’s perspective (a.k.a. my humble opinion), it looks like it comes down to appeasing both sides in favor of a sale. Choosing one side means alienating the other, and that turns into a smaller audience for your books and merchandise. Of course, your beliefs should be a factor when deciding to side with a group known to spout venom at women, LGBTQIA, creators of color, and more. Knowing many people on staff at Dynamite, the company as a whole is not hateful, and judging by their creator list, they have hired a diverse group of creators, which is why the decision to work with known CGers is so confusing and disturbing.
Well, it’s a mess, to say the least. Dynamite has two very opposing sides shouting at them. The question is, which side will the company listen to? You can’t play both in this CG game. One side’s politics is too ugly, demeaning, and, let’s be honest, dangerous.
Let’s see what Dynamite does next.