I am a member of a handful of comics-related mailing lists. Right
around the 2012 elections, there was a post on one of those lists
that caught my interest. The poster remarked that, in this age of
social media, we can learn and read the political positions of our
favorite and not-so-favorite writers and artists. He wondered if
any of his fellow list members ever found the comments of writers
and artists so distasteful that they simply stopped buying anything
by those creators. It’s a good question.
Intrigued by this discussion, I asked my Facebook friends and other
online pals/readers/acquaintances if they had ever stopped buying
the work of writers and artists whose political opinions (or the
creators’ caustic expression of said opinions) had turned them off.
I requested that those who wanted to respond to my question do so
privately. I wasn’t looking for public arguments or to mention any
creators by name.
Friends of Old Tony know my political leanings are most definitely
liberal and progressive. While I respect actual conservatives, an
endangered species in these days of extreme right-wing madness, I
haven’t been silent about speaking out against what I consider the
often vile positions staked out by the uber-righties. If this has
cost me readers, and it likely has, it doesn’t seem to have cost me
many readers. Oh, sure, there was the guy who used to write Comics
Buyer’s Guide on a regular basis demanding I be fired and replaced
by a conservative comics reviewer, but most readers did not seem to
have a problem with my expressing my opinions.
If I were to conduct a survey of my regular readers, I suspect the
liberal/progressives would be in the majority. If stating this is
stating the obvious, I do so only because that’s something to be
considered as we discuss the results of this informal, unscientific
survey of my readers on the matter.
Here’s my summation of what I learned from your e-mails and private
Most of the respondents did not have any problem with writers and
artists whose opinions were at odds with their own as long as the
creators weren’t jerks about it. If the opinions didn’t overwhelm
the entertainment value of the work, the respondents could and did
continue to enjoy the work of these creators.
The “I’ll never buy your work again” line was only crossed when a
creator expressed bigoted or racist opinions. Some of the examples
mentioned were a creator whose attitudes towards women turned off
many of his previously faithful readers, a creator made contemptible
anti-gay comments and a cartoonist who drew racist cartoons for
a right-wing website. I was familiar with the work of each of the
creators and found myself in agreement with the respondents to my
survey. I couldn’t enjoy the work of these creators after they had
done these things and, since I couldn’t enjoy it, I stopped buying
it...though not without some regrets.
There are creators whose work I stop buying simply because I don’t
care for it anymore. But I can only think of five whose political
opinions were a leading factor in my decision and, in the case of
two of those five, I thought the quality of their work had either
fallen off tremendously or wasn’t consistently good from the start.
Those two could be shining beacons of liberalism; I still wouldn’t
be buying their work these days.
Save for the obvious consideration that creators should strive not
to be jerks no matter what their politics, I don’t think creators
should pay much heed to whether or not their opinions are costing
them readers. If they have something to say in their work, then,
by all means, they should say it. Avoiding controversy to sell a
few more copies of their work won’t improve their sales in the long
run. It will simply hobble the creators.
That’s what I had to say. Now I’ll sit back and read what you have
to say. I only ask you not name creators by name when you comment
here or on my Facebook page.
This should be a civil discussion and not a hit list.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella