Insightful Comments on Comics by Darwyn Cooke Get Misunderstood

Making the rounds today on the internet is a quick interview with one of iFanboy's favorite creators, Darwyn Cooke, about his opinions about comics today.  Our pal David Brothers posted the video and some comments over on his site, 4th Letter!

Darwyn has never been know to pull punches and often speaks his mind and had some honest, personal criticisms of some of the comics being published today.  Specifically he focused on DC Comics and the Batman line of comics, making the assertion that the violence and adult themes are making comics that aren't kid friendly.  A fact that is hard to argue as we all know the amount of comics made for kids is far too low these days.

Additionally he criticizes, what he sees as gimmicky character changes such as a long standing, 60 year old character becoming a lesbian, which is a between the lines jab at Batwoman at DC Comics.  Somewhere, along the lines, this was misinterpreted on Cooke condemning  gays and lesbians in comics.  Now, if I didn't know the Internet's reputation for twisting people's words and blowing things out of proportion, I would be annoyed, but this is the Internet and that happens every day.

I'm fortunate to know Darwyn Cooke personally after interviewing him several times and have gotten to know him off camera, and the idea that Cooke is homophobic or does not support gays in comics is ludicrous. 

That said, Darwyn stopped by 4th Letter and responded, so I'll hand the soapbox to him:

I see this little sound bite is making the rounds and there seems to be some confusion regarding some of what I said.
 
My comment about making a character a lesbian has outraged some so I thought the following clarification might help-
 
Consider this- After sixty years of being a lesbian, a beloved character is made straight for sales or creative purposes- wouldn’t that be wrong as well?
 
I think gay characters are an important and welcome part of any contemporary expression. What I want is to see creators and publishers creating new characters that are gay and lesbian, and spend the decades needed creating and supporting stories about these characters. It strikes me as opportunistic and somewhat wrongheaded to take someone else’s creation and after decades of established character action make that drastic a change.
I’ve always believed that if another creator’s character can’t bear the spectrum of expression I need to reach, then I don’t use that character. Find another or create a new one.
 
If you tie my comment into the context of the other things I’m saying, I’m also not sure what the corporate motivation is for such changes. If we look at the reading demographics for superhero comics, this becomes an intriguing
topic.
 

Hope this helps add some understanding to my point. Feel free to post this around to other sites that may find this of interest. 

Best, 

Darwyn

 

So there you have it – if there is any confusion, hopefully this will rest your concern. 

Okay Internet, let's carry on now and get back to flipping out about the fact that there are TWO BATMANS!

UPDATE: In the comments section on 4th Letter, artist and frequent collaborator with, and good friend of, Darwyn Cooke responds:
 

Hi. My name is J.Bone and I am a Homo. I’m also a guy who has worked with Darwyn for the past TEN years and I can assure you he is not homophobic.

The fact that I feel compelled to open with that statement seems ludicrous to me. And this is not a “some of my best friends are gay” defense.

Having known Cooke for TEN years I know when he’s firing “off the cuff” and that’s what you’re seeing in this video. He and I have had many, many discussions just like this where we talk about what’s ticking us off this week and next week it’s something else entirely. We can cite examples of good and bad comics all day but in the end what we both want is a comic book we can confidently give to anyone of any age. Lately that seems a rarity…and that’s a shame.

There is nothing “not kid friendly” about gays except when a writer makes it “not kid friendly”. By that I mean they focus on sexuality as character rather than just writing a GOOD character. Tim Fish wrote and drew a delightful story about Northstar trying to meet up with his boyfriend that I would happily share with anyone of any age.

Finally, let me address the Batwoman business: Darwyn is NOT referring to the Batwoman. He’s read the book and thinks it’s “first rate”. If not the Batwoman then to whom is he referring? That’s the real Question, isn’t it. *wink wink*

Sincerely,
J.Bone
p.s. I would absolutely give the New Frontier to any kid, adult or grandparent knowing that each are going to enjoy the hell out of that story.

Comments

  1. I can’t help but feel that this could’ve all been avoided if he had selected a different example.  Batwoman was a blank slate.  This is not the equivalent of suddenly making Superman gay just to grab some headlines and potentially increased sales.  Batwoman (the current incarnation) simply is gay.  She didn’t become gay.  As far as I know, she wasn’t changed into a lesbian for arbitrary reasons.

    I THINK (I don’t know) that Mr. Cooke’s point is that he doesn’t want to see changes made to these classic characters to grab market share or appease the fan base.  I agree with that sentiment.  Make changes if they are important to the story you want/need to tell. 

  2. Actually, my friend and I were debating his comments as it relates to the quality of writing people do. Miller and Rucka, for all their past glories, can’t just “mail it in”. They have to execute well, no matter how good the idea really is. I never thought for a moment his comment was about sexual orientation in comics, but merely the wisdom of making such changes without a good plan of execution.

  3. While I can certainly see people viewing that clip as curmudgeonly (which I enjoy), unnecessarily pointed (I’d disagree), I can’t fathom how anyone could think that was Homophobic.

  4. You don’t read Batman.

  5. The new Batwoman’s connection to the original is shaky at best. It’s not like Kathy Kane was co-opted; she was a Silver Age artifact that was completely revamped. Really, "decades of established character action"? This feels more like an expression of Cooke’s nostalgia.

  6. Actually, I don’t understand why the character’s sexuality is a point of contention, rather than being different than the original in basically every way.

  7. lesbians, not just for 45 year old men anymore!   why can’t lesbians be for kids too?   start the tolerance young. 

    DC and Marvel have their comics for kids right?  not the majority of comics they make but they have some. and yeah, they both need to do something about the future of their industry but clinging onto the past might not be the best option, but it might work. . .  idk

  8. I don’t think a single person misunderstood what he meant. People just love to blow things like this out of proportion.

  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3veX7NgKTM

    to quote another great, "..in superhero comics, people have wasted an awful lot of creative energy and hard work, looking for kid who aren’t there."

    he’s talking about Daredevil.  but I think the point is there.  if kids aren’t buying the books, then why are you talking to them.  I think a classic chicken/egg discussion can begin here.

  10. > Kate Kane IS a new character … period …

    > When kids can afford $4-$5 comic books, they’ll start buying them and the publishers will start producing them again.

    > It is too bad that Darwin didn’t articulate his opinion more clearly in the original clip. Conversations about introducing characters from a variety of diverse backgrounds might serve the industry well.

  11. Here’s the thing–this isn’t the Silver Age version of Batwoman that they suddenly turned gay. In fact, that Silver Age Batwoman is still around, according to Morrison’s run on Batman, and she is most definitely straight–a bit of a player, in that she was dating Batman and El Guacho at the same time, but still straight. 

  12. I think that people are mostly upset that it was a jab at Batwoman and sounds like Cooke hasn’t read the story.  I’d be interested to see what his thoughts are on Kate Kane specifically since Rucka started writing her in 52 (I assume Rucka wrote her during that).

    Possibly a review of some of the stuff he’s read. 

  13. Maybe he wasn’t talking about Batwoman.  Maybe he was just quoting Planetary #7.  Seriously, this sounds a lot like the rant from that book.

  14. I love Darwyne Cooke. New Frontier is still one of my favorite series of all time, but this statement shocked me a little.  And its not just his sudden love for a character that hadn’t really been used in over twenty years.  But by tying this statement with the rest of his statement (about comics not being family friendly) he is at least implying (if not outright stating) that gay characters can’t be in a comic unless it’s for adults.  It’s the same reasons the Family Research Council and Jerry Falwell and all those other douchebags give for the protesting of gays on television.  Maybe he’s not saying that.  But when he’s saying a list of things that cater to the "perverted" adults who read the book and he mentions characters getting "raped in the a–" and characters being gay as if those two are related.  What else are we supposed to think?  

    This new statement clears things up for me.  But I understand how someone would reach the wrong conclusion from the video alone.

  15. I like how people have immediately started thinking he was talking about Batwoman. Personally when i heard that I thought of The Question.
    They replaced Charlie with Renee and the character has been around since 1967.

  16. What I got out of that segment is "No more All-Star Batman."  Fair enough.

  17. I love the guy and see where he’s coming from on his points, but I’m not sure they’re really valid vis-a-vis getting kids to read more comics.

    The level of violence in Batman (or other mainstream super-hero books) is NOT enough to dissuade parents from allowing kids to read them. It’s no different from the level of violence found in, for example, X-Men comics of the early ’90s, which sold by the truckload to kids.

    And the video games kids love so much? Yeah, tons of violence in those–violence well beyond the scope of your average comic book.

    I DO take Cooke’s points to heart, but, to my mind, there’s some sort of disconnect going on. It’s not just him, but it’s a lot of guys and fans throughout the industry. They think nostalgia kid-safe comics will attract kids, but they won’t, and don’t. Darwyn Cooke has said that he specifically creates (great) comics like New Frontier FOR KIDS. But all those comics do is attract the middle-aged crowd who soak up the nostalgic of it all. I don’t know what the answer is to attract more kids to comics. Maybe there isn’t an answer. But comics like New Frontier, however great, do not attract many younger readers at all. They pretty much only exist the crowd that already knows the characters and is keen to appreciate a more backward-looking nostalgic view. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s completely wrong-headed thinking to throwdown the gauntlet and say that THIS is the way to attract more readers.

    The average age of a Darwyn Cooke fan has got to be 30+. Just sayin’.

  18. ^Oops, I meant that those comics "pretty much only EXCITE the crowd that already knows the characters." "Excite" not "exist".

  19. He uses the word "decent" and says that the industry behind super hero comics should "realign its sights for the young people it was meant for."  He’s not describing a "new time" – or even new characters.  He’s advocating a return to the Silver Age. 

  20. Darwyn Cooke is an amazing talent and a great guy. I don’t for a second think that he meant it as a homophobic statement. He was just criticizing the fact that you can’t have a comic book be geared towards kids and still be over sexualized.

    I think he is right about the fact that when Kathy Kane was created, some part of the marketing department was excited about the sexy "lesbian" character that will attract men. That said, I do not agree with his criticism. When he gets a chance to read it, he’ll realize that Rucka did an amazing job of not taking advantage of or capitalizing on Kathy’s sexual orientation.

  21. If you Darwyns statements as homophobic, then maybe you need to get your head out of the sand. I support what Darwyn Cooke says

  22. Wait there are two Batman(men)???

  23. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    People really aren’t questioning Cooke’s statement as being homophobic (it isn’t) at this point. 

    The question is whether his opinion is based on actual reading or what he seems to have heard in the media or industry conversation. If he is talking about Kate Kane, the character isn’t old. She’s the kind of new character he seems to be calling for. This new character’s sexuality isn’t at all arbitrary and plays a significant role in her foundation as a hero. 

  24. Darwyn made a very safe comment that is not at all controversial.

  25. So are we advocating a don’t ask, don’t tell policy in comics?  It’s okay to have gay characters as long as they don’t get any publicity!

  26. Maybe he is just saying that Batwoman simply = a lesbian Batman character.

    I don’t really care. His clarification was well stated.

    Even if he was all the horrible things that I guess people spun his initial video comments into, I’d still buy his stuff and like it.

    We buy stuff from racists, sexist, homophobic, classists and all other kinds of ists all the time.

    But the my biggest concern with all this is this:

    How come we don’t defend Alan Moore when he pisses of the comic public?

    I think iFanboy are nationalists.

  27. Ron, I certainly respect your opinion and everyone’s on the site, but I wouldn’t characterize his comments as particularly insightful or relevant to the state of superhero comics today. 

    Furthermore, his ‘clarification’ shows that he does not understand the issues he is talking about.  As far as I know, there are no characters who have been lesbians in comics for 60  years.  (If I’m wrong and there are, please tell me, as I’d like to read about their adventures).  The comparison is apples and oranges.   Furthermore, the assumption that just because a character has been shown in relationships with members of the opposite sex that they cannot be gay or bisexual contradicts reality.

    I do not think Darwyn Cooke is a homophobe, I have no insight into him as a person.  But the mentality that it’s impossible to question or criticize things people say, based on the actual words that they choose to use, without disparaging them as a person frustrates me to no end.  You are basically saying that because you think this person is good, discussing the implications of what they say is off limits.  I respectfully disagree with that. I also disagree wtih Mr. Cooke’s views about gay characters,

  28. @ohcaroline:  I don’t think Darwyn Cooke is at all talking about gay characters in general.  He is saying that he dislikes when a character is revamped to be gay in order to play to the aging demographic of comic book readers.

    If, and it’s a big if here, he is talking about Batwoman, then I disagree with hm, andd think he, perhaps, hasn’t read the issues.  If he’s not talking about Batwoman, then I’d love to hear, specifically, which characters he’s talking about.  

    What I take from that statement, and the context of the statements around it, is that he doesn’t like when characters are changed without reason.  Be it for sexual preference, race, political beliefs, hair color, etc.  I wish he had made this statement as part of a larger panel or speech as opposed to a two minute rant at a con, so that people could have more insight into his point.  Because I think, and hope,  that the interpretation that he dislikes gay characters is off base.

  29. If you had a well-rounded realistic and empowered lesbian character, and you plastered a marketing bubble onto the cover of her comic that said "___________ goes straight!" to get a sales bump that is just . . . good soap opera?

  30. The one thing I will agree with is that I seriously doubt he has read the Batwoman issues. 

  31. I love everything that Cooke does in the medium. However, he does make it sound like there is this LESBIAN Batwoman comic out there, rather than (more accurately) there being a BATWOMAN comic out there, and she happens to be a lesbian. Greg & JHW3 crafted a brilliant story that rightfully deserves all the praise it gets. Sorry Cooke. No.

  32. @ScorpionMasada  You are making a hypothetical statement of something has never happened based on another hypothetical that has never happened.  So. . .

  33. What he’s trying to get across: I completely agree.

    How he put it together: Totally disagree.

    Shame he couldn’t articulate better for this. 

  34. @Scorpion Nope, it wouldn’t.

  35. Why is everybody focusing on that example?  It was a probably a bad decision to use that example but please if you common sense you need to understand the bigger picture of what he is saying.  I totally agree.  Kids don’t read comics and DC and Marvel are only half assing it  trying to appeal to them.  There are charecters that are stuck on a loop of gimmicks.

  36. Haha, way to go Darwyn!  And that goes for Power Girl and her stupid boob window, too. Cheesy and juvenile.

  37. So you saying I ain’t got shit to say and I’m not disagreeing.

    Lesbian comic characters:

    Lost Girls (mostly Alice)

    Palomar

  38. My main problem with the (potentially) Batwoman-related comment is that it represents a hole in Cooke’s own argument. If he wants comics to relate to the current generation of kids, shouldn’t he also have to accept that some of those kids are gay or lesbian?

    Now excuse me while I get back to reading Cooke’s adaptation of the violent not-for-children story Parker: The Hunter.

  39. Believe or not, homosexuals existed 70 years ago too.

  40. I finally just watched the video. I didn’t hear any mention of a Bat-related character changing their sexual orientation.

    Maybe he found out JMS’s plans for Wonder Woman?

  41. So you’re saying your previous comments were basedon you not seeing the video?

  42. To you, yes.

    To the iFanboy moderators, no.

    I based my comments on the article/responses.

    (The video didn’t show on the computer I was originally on–didn’t even know it was embedded)

  43. I’m with @g0ofgnewt, why assume it’s Batwoman? Sure she is the more prominent gay/lesbian character right now but it could be anyone or no one one specific. What he said didn’t sound PC and in fact didn’t sound good but it was taken out of context. Don’t focus on the example focus on his point.

  44. Sorry, Darwyn, you can’t shove the shit back in the horse.  When you equate a character’s sexual orientation with negativity in comics, you’re just asking for it.  Had anyone else said it, the backlash would have been much, much worse.

  45. I hear the new Parker is coming out in october, man, I can’t wait!

  46. Hey, I want to read the new Parker too.  That doesn’t have anything to do with the guy’s opinions about a  genre of comics he’s apparently stopped writing in (and I suspect, stopped reading some time ago).

  47. I’m going to say comment on this by saying who cares.

  48. So watching this clip again it makes me think he’s only read 2 things from DC:

    All Star Batman and Robin

    Identity Crisis

    With a vague idea of what Rucka/Williams III did with Batwoman. Or maybe he just read 52 a bit and saw what Rucka (and others) did to her there. 

  49. I’d be surprised if he’s read anything in continuity since 2005 or so.   And he doesn’t seem to be familiar with Marvel’s all-ages lines, either, which are extremely high quality across the board. 

  50. @ultimatehoratio (and many others):  Please go back and watch the video more closely.  The thesis statement to this little rant is that "I want (the industry) to stop catering to perverted forty-five year old men."

    He never mentions Batwoman, he doesn’t say "And then there was all the Northstar bullshit, stay out of comics, homos!"  He gives a series of ways in which the comic industry caters to its aging demographic.

    I’m guessing I date/sleep with people of my own gender a lot more than anybody else that has commented so far (If I’m wrong there, I apologize), and don’t find his statement in any way offensive.  He’s NOT saying gay characters in comics are bad.  At all.  He’s saying he doesn’t like to see characters change to service an audience.

    I agree with his point there.  Even though it is clearly done for media attention, I applaud Archie Comics for introducing a brand new character who is gay, instead of doing a "Who’s The Closet Case?" storyline where Reggie or Jughead get outed.

    Another bit of context, he gives the changing a character to be lesbian as an example of "lazy writing".  Cooke has worked with Brubaker a bunch.  Brubaker and Rucka (who has written all the Batwoman issues up until now) have done several Bat Projects together.  Do you really think Cooke is calling Greg Rucka a lazy writer?  Honestly?

  51. @akamuu    What I think is that he is not very knowledgeable about what the big 2 companies are doing right now, and he doesn’t really care.  Which is his right — I applaud him for doing creator-owned books.  But I am skeptical about treating these comments as "insightful" when they don’t, to me, portray an accurate picture of the state of the industry to day but seem to be directed at a handful of things that pissed Mr. Cooke off in 2005.   I’m not planning to say anything more on this topic, but that’s how I view it.

  52. @akamuu: The problem is that

    A) He never stated in the video that making a character gay was a good thing. He didn’t say it was a bad thing here, but his rant was pretty negative so that set off warning flags.

    B) Even with his ‘apology’ in the letter he still is pretty ignorant that Kate Kane is a new character and not the Golden Age version.

    Another problem is that all he does is rant off DC ideas……Okay so maybe that’s not that huge of a deal. But it’s weird that the question was for Marvel/DC and all he gives out if DC ideas. 

  53. @akamuu  I don’t need to watch it more closely.  His words were not particularly deep nor well thought out.

    I have no doubt that his statement was not intentionally homophobic, but when you follow "pervert" and "eating rats" with "lesbian", it looks bad.  He simply did not think before he spoke.  Just because there’s a mike in your face it doesn’t mean you have to fill it with what’s swirling in your head.

    If (and I mean if) Cooke was referring to Batwoman, then, yes, he’s calling him a lazy writer.  There’s no other way to interpret it.

     

  54. @ohcaroline: I agree with you that his comments aren’t insightful.  And that he probably doesn’t read/know a lot about current work.  But I see this rant as much more anti-Frank Miller than anything else.  While he never mentions Batwoman, he does mention Batman, and I would bet money that he’s talking about the controversial All-Star Batman and Robin run.

    Also, he’s not speaking about "all of comics", he is asked what he would change.  So that’s what he spoke to.

    @TNC: "He never stated in the video that making a character gay was a good thing." Well, not on the video, but in the apology he says "I think gay characters are an important and welcome part of any contemporary expression. What I want is to see creators and publishers creating new characters that are gay and lesbian, and spend the decades needed creating and supporting stories about these characters. It strikes me as opportunistic and somewhat wrongheaded to take someone else’s creation and after decades of established character action make that drastic a change."

    Ignorant of Rucka’s Batwoman?  If that’s who he’s talking about, then, yes.  And his commentary is definitely DC-centric, but that appears to be the universe he enjoys reading, and is therefore the one he is most knowledgable of.

  55. Here’s a question. Why do all of you care about an independent comic creator complaining about the way the big time comics are made. In all honestly it’s not worth the time. Plus no one cares About batwoman 70 years ago and now no one cares today

  56. @akamuu: Well his statement in the letter is still foolish. Cause Batwoman today is very well characterized and her sexual preference is not exploited…..well at least not anymore. Plus there are a good amount of gay/lesbian characters who has been written well over the years. It just seems like Cooke doesn’t seem to care to find out.

  57. So people are going to deny that lesbians are marketed to appeal to the desires of men?

  58. Cooke is insinuating that the purpose in making this mystery character (Batwoman?) a lesbian is to appeal to the prurient interests of 45 year-old men, which is a bone-headed assertion.

  59. hey guys there are two batmans

  60. @ScorpionMasada: 

    "I think iFanboy are nationalists"

    Cooke is Canadian. 

  61. @Cornelius – iFanboy are continentalists?

  62. Damn! hahahah

    I ruined my joke that wasn’t funny in the first place.

    His Jonah Hex issue was set in Canada cuz of that . . .

    Well, he runs his mouth like an American, so I’ll make him an honorary American.

  63. Good save, ultimatehoratio.

  64. ultimatehoratio:  when you follow "pervert" and "eating rats" with "lesbian", it looks bad.

    Well said.

  65. Akamuu, don’t you have reviews to write?

  66. All the 45-year-old-men I know totally get off on nuanced stories critiquing the effects of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell at the United States Service Academies.  Hot! Hot! Hot!  They say.  Give  me some more of that social commentary action!  

  67. I’d like to meet the person brave enough to ask Greg Rucka if he reinvented Batwoman to appeal to the perverted interests of 45-year-old men.

  68. If we talking badasses in comics, I’d say Cooke & Jimmy will bury you in a Canadian wasteland.

    Alan Moore is a wizard though.

  69. @tnc: "Batwoman today is very well characterized and her sexual preference is not exploited…..well at least not anymore"  But, it was at some point?  SO are you saying you once would have agreed with his statement?

    @ohcaroline:  Do you have their phone numbers?  Are they currently seeing anyone?  😉

    @Scorpion: The first three comics I read depressed the hell out of me (and not in a good way), so I’m taking a break.  Review Spoiler: Deadpool Pulp?  Still a Deadpool book.

  70. @ultimatehoratio  If someone will do that, I will ask Darwyn Cooke for a Batwoman sketch while wearing one of the Kate Kane "stunt lesbian" buttons that i am making.  

    @akamuu   You have to get in line!  My imaginary friends are totally booked!

    It’s late, y’all.   Can we just agree that Darwyn Cooke is a cranky genius and Batwoman is awesome?

  71. @akamuu: Yes, if this was 2006-2007 then I would agree. But it’s been 5 years (!) and Rucka/Williams have completed changed Batwoman into a full fledge character. With feelings, emotions, and a personality. Not just some lipstick lesbian as she was trotted out to be in 52.

    So if Darwyn Cooke is living in the year 2006, then I can see why he still feels like this. Someone should remind him it’s August 2010. 

  72. Here’s the thing about a ‘stunt’ breakthrough in representation.  It’s still a breakthrough, and it makes the next one easier.  But, you know, God forbid stunt lesbians should get in the way of totally organic story choices like turning Punisher into Frankenstein.  Okay, it really is late and I really am done.  

  73. If there were more cocaine busts/intern trysts/sex tapes involving comic creators we wouldn’t have to make a big deal out of stuff like this.

    @ohcaroline – Now that FrankenCastle has broken the glass ceiling for organic story choices involving classic Marvel(tm) heroes and Universal Monsters(tm), perhaps we’ll soon live in a world where something like Black Panther from the Black Lagoon can exist.

    @ohcaroline – I want to see this button.

  74. Jumping into this a bit late, but I don’t think "misunderstood" is at all the problem here.  I understand exactly what Cooke is saying in the video, and in his clarification, and I firmly disagree.  (With regard to gay characters, that is.  I fully agree with his points about rape and violence, and that only makes his lumping in gay plots with those that much more frustrating.)

    There need to be more gay characters in comics.  Full stop.  And since the chances of new characters succeeding in this market are very slim (considering how many WONDERFUL new characters and books I’ve read that have been cancelled in under a year), one of the best ways to increase that visibility is through revelations about older characters.  If we never changed anything about characters, then we’d still be stuck in the same racist and sexist tropes of the golden and silver ages.  Now, when it comes to characters of color, there’s no choice but to create new characters — or reinvent the characters in different universes, a la Ultimate Nick Fury.  But just as most female characters who were little more than simpering love interests and secretaries in the 60s have been granted agency and previously-unexplored talents, intelligences, and superheroic roles in the modern age, other characters have been revealed as something other than completely heterosexual.

    It’s completely reasonable that a gay person might have experimented with the opposite sex at some point before coming out.  That’s just reality.  And then there’s bisexuality, which exists and is always an option for any character, even those who have had consistent interest in the opposite sex.  These options are open, and revealing them for a certain character does not change who they are any more than making Pepper Potts a CEO, or Rescue, does.  They’re still the same character — we’re just learning more about them.  And what are comics if not a collaborative medium in which each new writer reveals something new about the particular characters he or she is playing with?

    Kate Kane has, thankfully, been an exception to the "new characters don’t pick up readers" rule, and I’m very happy about that.  But I’m equally happy about storylines like Rictor and Shatterstar’s in X-Factor, where established characters are allowed to organically reveal their non-heterosexuality, increasing representation and, consequently, tolerance and understanding, for the fanbase young and old.

  75. @ohcaroline: The crankiest.  And I, too, would buy the button.  But when people asked I’d be all like "I mean, did you see her jump out of that helicopter?  Daaaaaaaaaaamn."  And I also think Cooke would have been better served by using the Punisher/monster scenario rather than the Batwoman/Whole Foods Customer angle.  Great point.

    @tnc: But (the big if again) IF he’s talking about when they changed Batwoman into a lesbian then he IS talking about 2005, not now.  So you’re saying that you agree with his point.  But that Rucka’s writing is improved.  (I’m sure that’s not what you intend to say, but that’s what’s coming across here.  You are immediately commenting on something that bothers you in the same fashion Cooke was responding to something that was bothering him: quickly, and without making good arguments.)

    @ultimatehoratio: Right after I get done asking Robrt Kirkman why he "jumped on the zombie comic bandwagon".  😉

  76. The fact that Batwoman being lesbian made the press before the comic hit the stand says that their was a little bit of exploitation in the idea.

    Darwyn has valid points that should be considered. Are we alienating youth through violence and sexuality in mainstream comics? I don’t think so, I think the youth aren’t interested. I think the main aim (not only) of mainstream comics should be 18 to 35 year old males with disposable income. That group spends the most money on comics so Batman should appeal to them, same with Batwoman. 

    The other argument that making a gay character straight is the equivalent of making a straight character gay would be correct if both were represented proportionally. DC made an active decision to represent more minorities, Batwoman, The Question, Blue Beetle and Pied Piper were changed to fit, I’m sure there are others that I’m missing. Making a new unknown character that is gay, is a character most people won’t attach to and won’t see press, putting a new strong lesbian woman with Bat elevates the character. 

    Someone also commented that no one cares about Batwoman, that person is wrong, she’s a wonderful character and my second favorite comic in recent history was featuring her. I can’t wait to read more.

  77. I think you guys are focusing too much on one part of his statement without looking at the whole thing. He gave a rant on camera that was meant to be provocative, and I agree with him to a point. I’d love to see a nice portion of mainstream comics regain their innocence and be made for more of an all ages audience. Thats kinda why i’m liking the new Flash so much…it just feels like a classic, fun comic book thats not trying too hard.

    Although if Darwyn really wants us to go back to the sliver age, there was lots of stuff made for "perverted 45 year old men" back then too. I mean how come Wonder Woman, the great Amazonian warrior always found herself in Betty Page like bondage at the hands of a gang of skeevy looking dudes on a regular basis? Lois Lane found herself in peril with stockings and garters showing often enough as well. Not to mention all the other kinds of innuendoes in those books…..There have been all kinds of academic essays written about subversive and smutty stuff blatantly hidden in Gold and Silver age stories.

  78. I don’t hold Darwyn’s prickliness against him; conventions are long, tedious affairs especially for someone of his stature.

    But I can’t agree with him.  If violence was alienating young readers, then there wouldn’t be a roughly infinite number of Deadpool books out there.  To the degree that kids are buying comics at all, kids are buying those books.

    So the real issue must be sex – and by "sex" I must assume he means homosexuality, since Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark aren’t getting naked any more often now than they did when I was thirteen. To which I say, I don’t care if Kate Kane’s lesbianism is a "stunt" or not … as long as the books are good, that’s all I care about.  If that makes me a dirty old man, so be it.

  79. I guess Darwyn Cooke isnt a fan of All Star Batman

    I can see why Cooke feels that way but lets be honest, but I feel that its a bit hypocritical. His Catwoman work wasnt exactly kid friendly, and I dont think some comics(like Catwoman for example) need to be catered to younger audience. Some characters just demand a more mature direction. Now, for a character like Superman, then definitely there needs to be a more emphasis on the fun and bright nature(something that might be missing from Superman right now) but to generalize that all superheroes should be like this would be stupid. I’d feel like I was reading kids stuff, and Im only 23 so I dont know where his argument is targetted at

     

  80. You know people who don’t read comics, should not comment on them. Its the same as when Alan Moore comments in the industry, even if his points are valid, he comes off as an ignoramus. I would also like to say that to the people who wholeheartedly agree with his points; where were you when Blue Beetle and Plastic Man were cancelled?

  81. All these comments and not one Shatterstar joke. The internet has failed me this day.

    And, no one even mentioned Shatterstar or Rawhide Kid, who are actual examples of what Cooke was saying (though not lesbians, obviously).

    It’s annoying how so many people are ready to demonize someone for having an opinion that they don’t share. People were calling for him to not be allowed to work today, and that’s just ridiculous and juvenile. (Not on here, but I saw plenty of it on Twitter and elsewhere. Good job on keeping it more or less civil, fellow iFans.)

  82. I’m wondering what the younger audience I keep hearing about is.  I’m 21, and the youngest person visiting my comic store, except on free comic book day.

  83. Love that guy, and for the most part agree. Not sure why there’s so much fuss, aren’t we supposed to be all about freedom of speech?? People need to stop looking for reasons to get offended. We’re all gonna die sooner than later, why do we spend so much time purposely upset…?

  84. Yes, the next time somebody throws a racial slur at you, think about your mortality.

  85. @MegaPhilip  I agree with you 100%, folks need to stop looking for reasons to get angry.

    It’s amazing to me that out of 1:05 worth of commentary on an industry in which the man works (and very successfully, I might add), this whole thing is about one word. 

    Cooke is entitled to his opinion and can express it however he likes.  The whole ‘show some tolerance’ crowd seems to be lacking that very same tolerance if the opinion differs from their own. 

  86. As somebody who works with kids in a neighborhood where reading is extremely low on most family’s list of priorities, I’m here to tell you that the market for kids books exists. It’s right there. The kids love this stuff, and when I bring in comics to share with them, they devour them in a way that I wish most kids would react to literature.

    I’m not saying that ignoring children as a demographic is irresponsible, but I am saying that, if the big companies tried even a little bit harder to get their products into the hands of these kids, they would be shocked at the result. Kids want to read about superheroes. It’s as simple as that. And let’s focus on the four most important words in that sentence: "Kids want to read." In my mind, it’s the only way to save an industry that’s slowly dying (we’re not gonna live forever, guys), and it’s a smart way to capitalize on all of the tremendous good will and attention that all of the media ventures these companies undertake (movies, tv, shoes, etc). 

    I was sorting through my old comics for books that were kid friendly to bring in to work, and the results were staggeringly uneven, even in the elemental, broad appeal series like Spider-Man and Superman. Now, I’m not saying that these books should be de-matured, but there really does need to be a better in for kids than three Marvel Adventures books and Tiny Titans. 

    Oh… did Darwyn say something up there?

  87. I always love it how people are entitled to have their own opinion but nobody is entitled to have an opinion about their opinion.  That’s not how it works. 

  88. @CaseyJustice – I’ve seen the same thing.  Kids love these books.  The problem is getting them to pay for them.  The average 45 year old dude simply have more disposable income than the average 8 year old.  Perhaps if the parents respected the medium a bit more they would be more likely to expose their children to some of the excellent work being done, but that isn’t common at this point.

    @Mach5 – Everyone is entitle to an opinion (about ANYTHING), but you are correct.  There is often considerable hypocrisy radiating out of the tolerance gestapo.  Thankfully this site is consistently populated by people who are very intelligent and respectful toward others.  This thread could’ve been bloody and embarrassing, but has been relatively cordial.

  89. @stuclach  Wow, you praised a thread for tolerance and violated Godwin’s law in one comment.  *Darth Vader voice* ‘Impressive’

  90. @ohcaroline – I’m glad someone caught that.  I was afraid it was too subtle.

  91. @caseyjustice–i totally agree with your points. Its a sad state of affairs but its reality. I was talking with an acquaintance who works in an editorial role at one of the big 2 publishers and he told me that the small crop of kid comics are really published for nostalgia and PR purposes more than filling the need in the marketplace. The marketing attitude is that obsessive adult collectors with pull lists will keep them all employed more than tweens with an allowance. 

  92. @wallythegreenmonster – Tiny Titans outsells Locke & Key (which can be viewed as either very sad or very good, depending on your perspective).  I doubt that any publisher ever publishes anything for nostalgia purposes, but the PR reason is conceivable.  I’d wager they make some money on the book, though, or it wouldn’t exist.

    Source: http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales/2010/2010-07.html 

  93. @stuclach – I agree that it isn’t common, and that money is a big problem when it comes to gettin kids reading comics (or anything, for that matter). My problem is when the topic is brought up and fans and publishers alike turn their palms up and sigh, "Well, that’s just the way things are." With even a bit of effort, some manpower thrown into some sort of Comics Literacy Program, not only would the companies bring in young readers, but also draw positive attention toward the medium. It just seems like there’s something that could be done to improve the situation, rather than simply lamenting it. But that’s just me.

  94. PS, this is a fantastic and fascinating thread! Kudos to everyone involved for, as @stuc pointed out, keeping everything on the level.

    As far as the Great Cooke Debate, I’ll go ahead and say that I see his point about unnecessary changes to longstanding characters, but boy did he choose a terrible example. Quite simply he’s incorrect about the current Batwoman sharing anything with her Silver Age analogue, names notwithstanding, and that seems to make the argument (and debate, in my humble) somewhat moot. Or, he might not have been talking about Kate at all.

    I guess I don’t see it as a tolerance debate, but rather a continuity debate. And that’s an argument that no one wins.

    ——-* The More You Know

  95.  @stulach–by nostalgia i mean the "oh well comics are supposed to be for kids…so we should at least publish something" kinda approach. I’m sure the books make money..at least enough to break even, but they have much smaller budgets and prioritization…at least that was the gist of the convo i had. Again i was just mentioning an observation that someone i know who works on the front lines made to me. 

  96. @CaseyJustice – I’d love to see a solid comics literacy program.  I do a lot of research on education and adolescence and students who can’t/don’t read are generally at a massive disadvantage.  I think my point is that it is hard to blame these companies for tailoring their work to middle aged men due to basic profit motives.  That doesn’t mean they should ignore boys and girls, but we can’t forget that incentives matter.  I’m always excited when I see programs getting comics (or any other appropriate reading material) into the hands of youngsters.

  97. @wallythegreenmonster – Absolutely. I’m sure they have considerably smaller budgets and receive less attention (unfortunately).

  98. Y’know, usually these contentious threads devolve like ray-blasted characters in a Silver Age Flash story, but reading through it this morning, I have to say that this thread has gotten more and more entertaining as its gone along! Kudos, all! 🙂  (And I am glad I sat this one out. Thank you, yesterday’s heavy-duty editing project!)

  99. @stuc – You’re right, it’s wrong of me to blame the companies for focusing on the people who actually buy their books. I just get frustrated with the lack of attention that this potentially huge market gets. In addition, I really should stop whining and put together a program of my own!

  100. @CaseyJustice – You put it together and I’ll send you your first donation.

  101. I want a T-shirt with Batwoman & the Question that says "We do our own stunts."  Who’s with me?

  102. @stuclach – Deal! *shakes virtual hand*

  103. @ohcaroline – Is a Stunt Lesbian anything like an Action Transvestite?

  104. @CaseyJustice  Team-up!!!

  105. UPDATED with comments from J Bone who confirms that Cooke was not referring to Batwoman, as many people speculated based on no real evidence.

  106. @connor: But yet you posted the video anyway just to rile as up?

  107. @TNC: I didn’t do anything, but no, that’s not why. Read the words that accompany the video.

  108. The comments being about the Question don’t make any more sense than if they’d been about Batwoman, considering Renee Montoya’s first appearance was in 1992.  Unless it’s 2052 and someone forgot to tell me.

  109. @conor: You do realize that the whole comment, even if it wasn’t about Batwoman, is still pretty bad right?

  110. Yes, we speculated on no real evidence except it being the only character that statement could remotely have been considered to apply to.  Though it doesn’t accurately apply to the Question either.  Whether it’s a hypothetical or a real situation that he’s talking about doesn’t change the argument, either.

  111. @TNC: I do realize that that’s your opinion.

  112. @ohcaroline: Oh but in conor’s cause it does change the argument.

    It’s alright everyone, it’s okay to lump up gay characters with rape in terms of shock value. 

  113. @TNC  Not a single person on this thread has said that, and I’m sure that wasn’t what Cooke meant either. 

  114. So he doesn’t like the concept of legacy characters. To the point that taking an existing gay character and giving her the mantle of a straight character is equivalent to changing the orientation of the former character. So, is Wally West a terrible addition to the DC catalog? Is Barry? Remember, he’s not the original Flash. 

  115. Hmm, from what he said in the video, he lumps rape and turning a character gay as negatives in the comic industry in terms of storytelling.

    Oh that and implying that you’re a lazy writer if you try and turn someone gay…..Yeah nothing wrong there. 

  116. I feel like at this point we’re trying to find a coherent argument where there isn’t one.  And for what it’s worth, with all due respect to J. Bone, I don’t see anything in that comment indicating that he is certain what Darwyn meant, either, or is authorized to speak for him.  Speculation by a close friend and collaborator is still speculation.  Darwyn commented himself, had a chance to clear it up, and chose not to.   

  117. @TNC  This thread has moved on, darlin’.  😉

  118. I don’t want to demonize the guy either. As a fan, I’m just trying to make sense out of what seems to be a nonsensical complaint. 

  119. @TNC – What, you’re mad at iFanboy for posting a video of Darwyn making an off-the-cuff comment that you then made an off-the-cuff-comment to?

    As for the all-ages thing, I think that it’s not just content, which shouldn’t be too mature anyway, but also access.  Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, these should all be in every bookstore, grocery store and convenience store across North America.  Any comic that is should be all ages, but not all comics should be there, just the main characters that have mass appeal.  And forget DC and Marvel’s kids lines, who wants to read those?  Obviously the kids that read those don’t "graduate" onto the main titles, they just get bored and leave.  Get them into the main titles.  And don’t argue continuity, how many people here started reading as kids?  There was continuity then, there’s continuity now.  That’s a lame excuse.  I don’t think a kid picks up a comic and goes "this is part 4 of 6 I’m not interested".  They don’t get that far, they see Superman on the cover and either want it or don’t.  Which also leads to comics needs to appeal to parents to buy for their kids.  That can mean content, but let’s face it, there are a lot of parents who let their kids watch or play some stuff that they shouldn’t.  Really it means cost.  I know it will never happen, but those newsstand comics should be cheaper.  Parents won’t pay $4 for a comic.  If the company’s can’t do that, then do something similar to those new DC Showcase Presents comics out in November, 96 page comics with 4 issues.  The only thing I’d argue is the cost, $8 is too much, make it $5 or $6.  They can have a new issues followed with reprints from the last few years back to maybe the 80’s. Of course digital may also open up avenues, but the Big Two are dragging their feet on that as well.  Sadly they’re not interested in new readership, just milking the current one, which is why comics went up a $1.  And anyone who thinks that’s okay should think about if they want to be reading comics in another 20 years, because you won’t be if they continue along this path.

  120. You know, my BEST GUESS is that he might have been thinking of the Rawhide Kid situation (which from my understanding really was gimmicky and exploitative) and got the situations/ genders mixed up.  

  121. That comic was the biggest piece of shit ever.

  122. I’m glad there is something that everybody can rally together to hate!  (Cue 50 comments about how ‘The Rawhide Kid’ was misunderstood).

  123. @ohcaroline/josh: Well I haven’t read it yet so….

  124. Oh, Champ.  Like that’s ever stopped you from having an opinion before. 

  125. Good one.

  126. Cooke has me by the balls anyways. I need more Parker.

  127. Well he wasn’t talking about Batwoman which is one of three DC comics I actually read. Which is good.

     

    I love Darwyn, he worded this kind of poorly but I didn’t take any offense to it and I didn’t walk out of it thinking "THAT SHATTERSTAR RICTOR THING IS HORSESHIT". He was simply just saying that drastically changing an established character bothers long time readers unless done tastefully. I think sexual preference had nothing to do with it.

     

    Chuck Austen should probably never be able to mutter the words Northstar though without getting 5 years in prison.

     

  128. Who’s Darwyn Cooke?

  129. So he was talking about The Question. I guess I’m not as insane as i thought.

  130. Yeah unfortunately it makes him a little more insane 🙂

  131. This is true oh ex-mayor or wendy’s.

  132. I kinda liked Chuck Austen’s Northstar!  Especially relative to everything else Chuck Austen has ever written. 

  133. Just listen to the video everyone is over reacting. Not one time did he mention Batwoman. And can’t believe that the thing everyone remember the most about that clip when did Batman feed a rat to a kid.

  134. All-Star Batman, once he finally gets Robin back to the Batcave.

  135. So, if its the Question, we are talking about Renee right? A character created 60 years ago? (1992) Go back and listen again. Who is it exactly from 60 years ago that just turns lesbian over night? Funny thing is how Mr. Rucka seems to be linked… again.

    Vic (Charlie) was created in ’67 (and men don’t turn lesbian overnight).

     

     

     

  136. the gay conversation aside I think the comments are off the cuff and state a valid opinion.  I don’t dissagree with most of what he said, but I also don’t feel like any of the things he complained about are reason enough to stop buying comics which would be my only outlet to vent. 

  137. @ohcaroline: I also hope his comments were about The Rawhide Kid, because that comic was offuckenfensively bad.

  138. Jesus Christ you guys, he says in the same breath, "because writers are too lazy to think up anything else".  if anything he is saying that just suddenly making "The Question" gay is a lazy hack trick used to breathe life into older character.  Mine the continuity you lazy fuckers.  Grant Morrison can be the only one to work within Silver Age guidelines.

  139. Sorry, but J. Bone’s winking aside about the identity of who Cooke was talking about is bullshit.  While The Question may have been around for sixty years, Renee Montoya was barely around for ten years before she was outed as a lesbian, and it is in no way contradictory to her character before she was outed.

  140. @akamuu: He’s not talking about outing Renee. He’s talking about replacing Vic Sage with Renee.

  141. @conor: Ok.  Then Cooke’s argument, while in no way hateful, seems even moreso Out Of Touch than I thought.

    This is why I tend to not read or listen to interviews with creators.