As we enter a whole new year, it’s safe to say that terrorialism and tribalism have made a big comeback; in a time of haves and havenots, people cling to their groups, with often disastrous results.

In comics, it’s not that different; with lean times seemingly looming, people are minding their own stores and not seeing the big picture.

But in a heartwarming holiday story, something has emerged, Watchmen Squid-like, that has united the entire comics industry in a communal effort to speak out and, for once, the industry has acted as one.

It all started with this tweet:

The story in question was written by Nick Gazin, Vice’s longtime comics editor/critic. The Beat has linked to Gazin’s coverage many times; while infused with that Vice “I’ve never owned a razor and that makes me really cool” vibe, Gazin is a true comics lover and has provided many excellent takes on events and books, as well as editing Vice’s comics page. 

But this time, well, to say he phoned it in is an understatement. Jotted it on the back of a dry cleaning invoice, maybe. In this, another excellent year of comics by creators of all genders and creeds, Gazin found only 8 comics of note, three of them reprints of pap-pap EC and superhero stuff. Along the way he trashed the AV Club and in general made an ass of himself.

And oh yeah, all the creators were men. When this was pointed out, Gazin revealed just how hungover he was when he made the list:

 

Despite these feeble responses, the comic twitterverse rose up as one and CONDEMNED.

https://twitter.com/CHofferCBus/status/946893165499469826

https://twitter.com/MattBors/status/946867695147925504

https://twitter.com/Julia_Wertz/status/947173910294007808

When will you see Julia Wertz and Scott Snyder united as one (not that they couldn’t be, it’s just rare?) ONLY HERE.

EVEN DIAMOND SHAT ON NICK GAZIN. 

Along the way more serious accusations were made:

And to give a positive response, the replies to this tweet were suggested.

https://twitter.com/comicsandcola/status/930430562061443072

 

Here’s the thing, This was more than just one doofus being a fartypants. Gazin has worked hard to get comics in front of Vice’s audience, and he’s well known to comics publicists. In the past Vice’s comic best list was touted as an achievement.  But indie publishers who previously worked with Gazin were perhaps the harshest in their scorn.

Now, it shouldn’t go unmentioned that Vice was just revealed to be a horrifically toxic place to work, with women systemically harassed, abused and villified, in a way that proves that fashions come and fashion go, but abusing women is always right in style.  To paraphrase one tweet wit, what a surprise coming from  magazine that got started with photos of guys feeling up girls passed out in their underwear. It sounds like a hellish place to work, and maybe reading more than eight comics this year wasn’t really on the holiday to do list.

I’m personally fond of Gazin (he was a reader of Disney Adventures as a child) and I’ve enjoyed much of his writing. There was, perhaps, a tiny bit of overreaction to one shitty best of list. But it was still a turd in the punchbowl. You can’t sleep on this stuff. Gazin was trying to be “funny” but ignoring all the work that people toiled over, publishers sent for free, and readers elevated was just lazy. In a world where so many comics were lauded, it comes off as, ahem, out of touch.

At any rate, I believe Gazin is still editing the Vice Comics page (including many women cartoonists.) There’s a lot of good stuff here – although I’m also hearing it may not be the best working conditions ever. If you dislike Vice’s disgusting history with women, maybe avoiding this site entirely is a good idea.

But if nothing else, writing this post enabled me to find that they’re running old Michael Kupperman strips.  Hooray! Michael Kupperman!

1513966762840-4Types.jpeg

To these, we might add “The People vs Nick Gazin.”

For the moment let’s bask in this sense of togetherness, as, for one shining moment, the entire comic industry joined together to get really pissed off. Happy 2018 everyone!

33 COMMENTS

  1. Given that Emil Ferris released “My Favorite Thing Is Monsters” in 2017, it’s pretty easy to tell if a best-of list missed the mark. If her book’s not on it, the list is wrong.

  2. I get it. I read his article and thought “this isn’t what I would have picked,” and I moved on with my life. I don’t understand why comic industry professionals jumped to character assassination and claims of sexism. It clearly was a phoned in half-a$$ed list. Why the vitriol? I read the Beat and other more respected sources of comics journalism, and I don’t bother with other mainstream entertainment sites because I trust the effort put in by the Beat, etc.

  3. Hmm. For some reason I think if someone posted a list of best comics of 2017 that was ONLY women or minority creators and got a bunch of Twitter slams for leaving off obviously great work by dudes, that little online dust up would be characterized quite differently.

    Mike

  4. My experience with Gazin was being “featured” in the photo-essay he did of MOCCAFest for the Vice website back in either 2011 or 2012, in which he mocked me and my co-writer for trying to sell comics at a comics convention (his buddy was selling t-shirts at the booth next to us and apparently got tired of overhearing our convention pitch, and probably jealous that the pitch was working) as well as me personally for being overweight. It’s since disappeared from the Vice web archives, though other material from the same era is still there, and I expect it’s because the comments section kind of exploded with people calling him an asshole over it.

  5. He’s not wrong. Comic books have generally been terrible since around 2011. I buy less and less every year, and completely wrote off Marvel a few years ago. I keep hearing how great the stuff Image puts out is, but I wouldn’t know as I don’t read anything rated higher than 15+, which seemingly excludes the vast majority of the books Image puts out.

  6. I told him he needed to take a break from his coffee house and Sufjan Stephens enema and to pull this fixed gear bike out of his ass. I still stand by my statements.

  7. its because he’s a bull and has been for a long time. I think its a good thing that bully wanna be taste makers who do very little or no work themselves are being called out.

  8. This is just typical silly internet list making. It’ll be forgotten in 24 hours, so no need to go ballistic over it.

  9. I don’t know. This guys list is pretty bad but I do agree with Lala and Apparition. Just because this critic didn’t put any women on his list does not make him sexist. To be honest people should be more critical of him sounding like a snob (never listen to a guy with a cartoon villain mustache).

    Like what Apparition was saying, I’m also buying less and less comics and have been becoming more and more disinterested in them. The only comic that blew me away this year was Slott’s Silver Surfer run. Before that the last comic that really moved me was Fun Home by Bechdel but I read that like 2 years ago now.

    One thing I think is bad about comics right now is that it is too progressive. A lot of comics these days share the exact same political/cultural views and it’s getting really repetitive. There’s almost no variety between main characters from one book to the next. There’s all this talk about bringing diversity in comics but to be honest, I bet if somebody tried writing a comic that was more conservative views, people would completely ostracize that creator.

  10. The list did feel like it was at least partially a joke. It felt like a satire of the convention of the top-ten comics lists, written by someone with a specific “The Comics Journal”-type taste, about an industry he clearly feels pessimistic towards. There’s the requisite superhero comic, but it’s a reprint of decades-old Spider-Man stories, and is promptly followed by an image of Spider-Man peeing on a grave. I don’t think it’s worth getting upset about the snooty tone, because it doesn’t feel 100% genuine.

    I do support the accusations of sexism, though, regardless of whether it was intentional on Gazin’s part, because VICE is a terrible hive of sexual harassment and boy’s club culture. The news that’s come to light about that company makes it worth it to pursue any and all criticisms of that nature, because that’s all tied into the culture of VICE.

  11. Maybe Vice needs a new comics editor to replace the one who obviously doesn’t give two shits about his job or comics for that matter. That’s what I gathered from his ‘top ten’. A ‘critic’ that probably doesn’t darken the doors of a comic shop or convention but relies on whatever is sent into him.

  12. The criticism of Gazin for excluding women cartoonists is entirely justified and it’s a serious oversight on his part.

    However, let’s get real for a moment: even if Emil Ferris or Tillie Walden had topped his list, most of the fanboys baying for his blood would still be doing so, because what they’re really upset about is the implied slight against Mister Miracle, Dark Nights: Metal, the latest overhyped Image franchise, or whatever other conventional superhero/genre-based mediocrity gets celebrated within the comics “community.”

    Gazin’s piece was obviously intended as a tongue-in-cheek swipe at superheros from the perspective of what one astute commenter above describes as a sort of “Comics Journal reader”. As someone whose taste also aligns more with the material published by the likes of Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, Pantheon, etc., Gazin’s humorous intent was immediately apparent.

    However, I think Gazin’s error is that he’s fighting the last war. Serious journalistic venues outside the realm of comics fandom have already been publishing numerous “best of the year” lists replete with “art” or “literary” comics and virtually ignoring most of the mediocre superhero and genre fare that is overpraised in comics fandom. The battle has been fought and won: comics are now taking seriously as an art form by the mainstream; the acclaim given to Emil Ferris this year is proof of that. The fact that most superhero fans don’t care about Emil Ferris and instead think “Mister Miracle” is the best thing published this year is an indication that it’s not really the legitimacy of comics as an art form they’ve been concerned about all these years, but rather the validation of their own taste in superheroes. Gazin was attempting to get in a few swipes at that mentality, but ultimately misstepped.

  13. My Favorite Thing is Monster was the only book released last year that I saw that would make a top 10 list 2000-2016.

  14. If you complain about comics today, then your next line is about how you don’t even buy any Marvel anymore, you are not a comics reader. You are a superhero/genre reader. There are cinephiles, then there are people who love Hong Kong action movies. Comics needs its own Criterion collection.

  15. @seth For sure. But for a lot of self-proclaimed comic fans, Image is their definition of going out of mainstream. I still read the odd Marvel or DC. Mainly X-Men, honestly, and they’ve had a terrible few years. It’s been my thing for 30 years. They occasionally surpass the genre, Hawkeye and Vision being examples of books I might recommend to someone not a superhero fan going in. Most are “if you like that sort of thing” at best. But I’m glad when high quality genre works come out that might hook new readers, like Ms.Marvel.

    I think most people start at a genre place, and some develop beyond it. I don’t begrudge anybody who is a Comics fan for liking pure genre too. But I’ll stand by that first point, being a Marvel/DC fan does not make you a comics fan. I’ll double down on that statement if said fan breathlessly follows the movie news or has a glass case full of Batman figures. That is not a comic fan in and of itself, though such a person may also be a comic fan independently.

  16. Alex, I don’t think your assertion in the first paragraph holds up against the evidence. Every year, there are many best-of lists that entirely exclude superhero/direct-market comics, focusing instead on “serious” trade publishing graphic novels—and also many lists that focus entirely on superhero/DM comics only—and never that I’ve seen has there been this sort of upswell among the superhero/DM “fanboys” against those lists (or by “serious” comics fans against superhero-oriented lists).

    Gazin’s own lists from previous years have almost entirely excluded superhero/DM comics (Sandman Overture was the only one I saw in the lists I looked at), and there hasn’t been a backlash before. To me, the fact that he’s always focused on “serious” comics before means that this years list is actually more of an insult toward works like My Favorite Thing Is Monsters than it is to Mister Miracle or Dark Nights: Metal (the latter of which, I’m not sure I’ve seen on any list this year).

  17. def saId: “But I’ll stand by that first point, being a Marvel/DC fan does not make you a comics fan.”

    Agreed. And being a Star Wars fan doesn’t make you a movie fan.

  18. Or as film critic Matt Zoller Seitz tweeted: “TFW people who say they’re ‘into movies’ and all they care about is Star Wars, superheroes and Tarantino.”

  19. So what’s the secret criteria to be a fan of comics and movies? What musicians do you have to like to be a fan of music? What painters should one appreciate to be a fan of painting?

    Why does everyone have to be so exclusive all the time?

  20. “So what’s the secret criteria to be a fan of comics and movies?”

    Expand your horizons and sample a variety of material, instead of sticking with the same old stuff you’ve liked since childhood.

  21. As def indicated, there’s a big difference between being a fan of a genre (like superheroes) and a medium (like comics). There’s a whole world of comics — old and new — beyond Marvel and DC, and a whole world of movies beyond the blockbusters at the multiplex.

  22. Someone who’s a fan of any type of comic is a fan of comics. Someone who goes to see every blockbuster each year likes movies just as much as someone who only watches small budget art films. I’ve read a lot of superhero and genre comics. I’ve read a lot of non-superhero (and non-Image and other genre publishers). Writing off a genre as being wholly terrible is worse in my mind than sticking with it because you’re comfortable. Saying Mr Miracle doesn’t belong on a top 10 list because of bad pacing, plot holes, poorly developed characters, or other issues with the storytelling is a valid argument. Saying it doesn’t belong because it’s a superhero book isn’t.

  23. @george, glad to see someone got what I wrote!
    @erik, I didn’t see anyone writing off a genre. Just writing off living in a single genre. Someone who only reads D&Q and thumbs their nose up at genre on principle, I’d likewise call a fan of a genre of sorts. Maybe they’re intellectually a step up, since their definition of mature reading isn’t sex, cussing and blood. But I wouldn’t label them comics connoisseurs either. Same with Art Forum readers who adore Dan Clones and Chris Ware. Probably the place on the Internet which gets closest to the breadth of the medium for me is thecomicsreporter, but if anyone has a better example, I’d love to see it!

  24. Erik: “Writing off a genre as being wholly terrible is worse in my mind than sticking with it because you’re comfortable.”

    Erik, nobody is saying that any genre is “wholly terrible.” There is good and bad work in mainstream blockbuster movies and in superhero comics. There is good and bad work in indie movies and “alternative” comics. Read them all. Don’t limit yourself.

    If it were up to a lot of fanboys I’ve known, the only movies made would be sci-fi, fantasy and superhero movies. And maybe an occasional Tarantino or Coen Brothers movie. And nothing else. And no comics would be published but superhero comics. That’s a very narrow attitude, just as “art snobs” who only read Clowes and Ware have a narrow attitude.

    I have a few shelves filled with Marvel Essentials volumes, so I obviously don’t hate all superhero comics.

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