"Objectionable" moments from my old comics...
Happy Friday! You have an okay week?
Brian here, hiding out in a remote locale for one of my semi-annual solo writing retreats, and I think I’ve plotted out a pretty fun 2023 in comics and beyond (but mostly in comics). Stay tuned.
For now, I thought I’d tackle a question that came up a few times in different forms during a recent Q&A:
Are there any moments from your past comics that have aged poorly and/or make you cringe?
Well, I’m a writer, so ALL of my past work makes me cringe… but that’s usually more about execution than content.
Either way, for my own mental health, I try to revisit my old writing as infrequently as possible (even though I never get tired of admiring my collaborators’ artwork for our stories).
Still, like kryptonite, pieces of my exploded past occasionally crash land in the present to make life interesting.
In my very first post here at Exploding Giraffe, I mentioned that this namesake moment of graphic animal violence from Pride of Baghdad (art by Spectators’ own Niko Henrichon, letters by the legendary Todd Klein)…
…has launched a thousand out-of-context WTF memes over the years, like this recent remix…
…but it’s still not the moment from one of my old comics that pops up most across various social media platforms.
No, that uncomfortable honor belongs to this scene from 2004’s Ultimate X-Men #49, with excellent art and colors by Brandon Peterson and Justin Ponsor, letters by Chris Eliopoulos, and edits by Nick Lowe and Ralph Macchio; none of whom deserve any blame for what you’re about to read:
Those two panels seem to remerge on Twitter every few months, recently generating nearly 20,000 “likes” and nearly as many offended comments.
Was I an ableist monster for writing that, or just writing an ableist monster? I have no idea what was going through my bald head when I wrote that scene nearly twenty years ago, but I know I wouldn’t have tried to explain or “defend” it back then, so I won’t try now. Maybe it’s cowardly (it’s definitely cowardly), but I’ve always preferred to let my writing speak for itself.
I will say that any time in my career I’ve written moments I thought might be “provocative” (Fiona Staples and I were sure there would be protests in the streets when we had that self-fellating dragon in Saga), most readers have been decidedly unprovoked. “Outrage” to something I’ve written is almost always a total surprise to me, and can come from any direction.
Other than the unforgivable-to-many mention of fidget spinners, the moment from Saga that most alienated a large swath of readers was this single line of narration from Chapter Twenty-eight:
In the next panel, Hazel goes on to add, “Even when we’re not fighting the battles ourselves, we somehow end up with the lion’s share of the suffering. No picnic for the guys, of course, but still…” Nevertheless, for some of our readers, the damage was forever done.
Apparently, Hazel’s fairly unremarkable observation about noncombatants in modern warfare was promoting a dangerous Hilary Clinton lie, and finally confirmed that our book was man-hating woke garbage.
As always, no comment from me, but I look forward to your YouTube essay on the matter!
Anyway, in a clearly self-destructive act, I thought I’d share a few more moments from past (or even alarmingly recent) comics of mine that upset folks and/or would probably be unpublishable today.
But if I’m going to aid in my own downfall (or at least create some mild embarrassment), you’d best believe I’ll be monetizing that shit, so the real cringe is reserved for you generous paid subscribers after our paywall.
I’ll also be giving away signed copies of some of these other banned/challenged/morally condemned books I’ve had the pleasure of working on, free to a few of you endlessly supportive members of The Tower in this weekend’s private chat.
Thanks so much for making objectionable filth like Spectators possible, and barring my cancellation, I’ll see the rest of you for some more new pages on Monday…
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