In lieu of a blog post today, here’s my letter to Sex Criminals #3, on the subject of “porn in the forest” stories.
By the way - if you’re not reading Sex Criminals, you’re wrong.
Next week on “boys and penises,” more stuff about boys - and their penises.
Ah, being a boy.
"But the real reason I had to chime in was that Steve Rogers is my favorite superhero. Why? Because unlike other patriotism-themed characters, Steve Rogers doesn’t represent a genericized America but rather a very specific time and place – 1930’s New York City. We know he was born July 4, 1920 (not kidding about the 4th of July) to a working-class family of Irish Catholic immigrants who lived in New York’s Lower East Side. This biographical detail has political meaning: given the era he was born in and his class and religious/ethnic background, there is no way in hell Steve Rogers didn’t grow up as a Democrat, and a New Deal Democrat at that, complete with a picture of FDR on the wall.
Steve Rogers grew up poor in the Great Depression, the son of a single mother who insisted he stayed in school despite the trend of the time (his father died when he was a child; in some versions, his father is a brave WWI veteran, in others an alcoholic, either or both of which would be appropriate given what happened to WWI veterans in the Great Depression) and then orphaned in his late teens when his mother died of TB. And he came of age in New York City at a time when the New Deal was in full swing, Fiorello LaGuardia was mayor, the American Labor Party was a major force in city politics, labor unions were on the move, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was organizing to fight fascism in Spain in the name of the Popular Front, and a militant anti-racist movement was growing that equated segregation at home with Nazism abroad that will eventually feed into the “Double V” campaign.
Then he became a fine arts student. To be an artist in New York City in the 1930s was to be surrounded by the “Cultural Front.” We’re talking the WPA Arts and Theater Projects, Diego Rivera painting socialist murals in Rockefeller Center, Orson Welles turning Julius Caesar into an anti-fascist play and running an all-black Macbeth and “The Cradle Will Rock,” Paul Robeson was a major star, and so on. You couldn’t really be an artist and have escaped left-wing politics. And if a poor kid like Steve Rogers was going to college as a fine arts student, odds are very good that he was going to the City College of New York at a time when an 80% Jewish student body is organizing student trade unions, anti-fascist rallies, and the “New York Intellectuals” were busily debating Trotskyism vs. Stalinism vs. Norman Thomas Socialism vs. the New Deal in the dining halls and study carrels.”
CAROL DANVERS MOVIE, @MARVEL. NOW.
(How good would it be if, while continuing to destroy DC in the movie-building game, Marvel stepped up and made the Wonder Woman movie that DC is too chickenshit to greenlight - by way of making CAPTAIN MARVEL. Which, by the way, over in the comics world, Kelly Sue DeConnick’s issue #17 does in a single issue what DC’s female-lead books have been trying to do since the New 52 launch, and have categorically failed at.)
The natural expectation was that it would be Marvel vs. DC for control of the comic book movie universe; but with DC shitting the bed so spectacularly in the matter of setting up any non-Bat franchises, it’s actually gonna be Marvel vs. Fox - fought entirely with Marvel characters. Suits me fine; competition makes for a healthy marketplace. Here’s hoping Marvel never folds the Fox properties back under their umbrella.
So a dude wrote a column. In it, he expressed his disappointment in our comic book and described his retailer tearing up a copy. (Please don’t go looking for the column; just take my word for it—dude gets paid every time you click and in an unbelievably classy move I should have seen coming, is now using the attention to promote his own books. Comics!) Follow me so far? Dude wrote a column… Then the internet blew up. This is the only statement I’m going to make on the matter, so read slow.
When I got the email giving me the heads up, I thought it was funny. I don’t know if that makes me sound like an ass—if it does, please understand that dude has been around for as long as I have and he’s been hilariously condescending to people far more talented than I am for so long that it’s almost a rite of passage. Like… okay, years ago I was an operator on the graveyard shift at Home Shopping Network and there was a masturbator who called every night. You didn’t actuallywant to be the one who took that call, but when you finally got it… you sort of felt like you’d finally earned your wings.
So when the email came, I literally laughed out loud. Hey! I got jumped in!
The guy tearing up the book? I dunno. It’s a little theatrical for my taste (and look at me, my favorite color is leopard print) but whatever. It’s his shop, his book, he can do whatever he wants. Doesn’t seem like good business to me, but what do I know? I don’t run a store. Maybe his customer eat that kind of thing up like pro wrestling. If it’s working for him, good on ‘im. (Also: same guy tore up SCARLET #1, which is a book I LOVE, so hey — win! For the record, I don’t think my gender had anything to do with anything, but given the Scarlet thing, it’s possible dude might have an issue with artificial redheads. I dunno. It’s a theory.**)
Not everybody’s gonna like the book. Did you miss the part where I said it’s a weird book? It’s a weird book. I’m proud of it. I’m bursting with pride at Emma’s innovative layouts, Jordie’s gorgeous colors, Clayton’s… well, Clayton’s infinite patience with my foibles, more than anything else probably, but that’s saying something. (I’m teasing you, Clayton. I’m proud of you too.) I’m proud of Sigrid for keeping us on schedule and Caitlin for having all our backs like the fierce little mama bear she is. I’m as proud of my contribution as I’m capable of being. Mostly, I’m proud of myself for stepping outside my comfort zone.
All that said, not everybody’s gonna dig it and that’s okay. That doesn’t make us failures and it doesn’t make them misogynists. If you didn’t “get” the book, that’s okay; you’re not dumb. (Am I being clear enough? No one is calling you dumb.) Taste is subjective. I like liver and onions and Offspring*. Probably you don’t. That doesn’t make either of us dumb or even wrong. (The way you chose to express your taste says more about you than your taste itself.)
So, when the email came in, I laughed. Can’t please everybody. And hey, we had a hell of a Wednesday.
Then… the internet exploded. I keep not-commenting hoping it’ll just go away, but every ten minutes somebody new decides to run the “story,” folks are saying I said things I not only never said, I never THOUGHT… it’s just… WTF?
Look, I’ve got a hide like a rhino, I can take it. And I know a lot of folks who are perpetuating this are doing so out of love, wanting to come to our defense. And I love them for it, I do. But every outraged post magically puts words in my mouth I never said and makes that one dude THE story.
THAT IS NOT THE STORY. THAT ONE DUDE IS NOT THE STORY.
THIS is the story: You know what we thought this book would do? 9-12K. A couple of our more experienced friends at Image said that they thought it might do as well as 20K — we guffawed. When I saw the initial orders I was in Brisbane — Fraction will tell you, I got light-headed. My hearing went out. As of right now, we have we have blown through our print run of 57K and are going to a second printing. Do the math. With the second printing we’re going to be at THREE TIMES our DREAM NUMBER. How is that even possible?
That is the story.
The book—our weird little book that has surprised and defied us at every turn—came out Wednesday and surprised and defied us yet again. The same site that ran the piece that started all this gave us 4.5/5.0. We got 3 reviews that gave us 10/10. We’ve gotten tons of great mail already, beautiful fan art and it’s starting to feel like there’s a Pretty Deadly community burgeoning.
JH FUCKING WILLIAMS WROTE TO US THIS MORNING. I know it’s impolite to namedrop, but hello–JH FUCKING WILLIAMS!!
My team got ONE WHOLE DAY to feel good about defying expectations before what should have been a non-event became the ubiquitous headline.
So here’s the tl;dr — nobody on our team thinks they’re a genius. (You don’t like my stuff? Hell, a good half the time, I agree with you.) We’re trying some things. If our things are not your bag, that’s okay. As long as you don’t tut tut me, put words in my mouth, call me pretentious or try to profit from bad-mouthing my team, we’re totally gonna stay friends. And if they are your bag? Know we don’t take your support for granted. We’re gonna keep trying things and, well, cheer up, haters! We may well fall flat on our faces yet. I like issue 2 more than issue 1 and issue 3 more than issue 2, but I dunno… your mileage may vary, as they kids say.
All we want to do is have fun, hang out and make comics. Can we pleeeeeeeaaase move on from this shit now?
— Kelly Sue DeConnick
* Not together. Ew.
** Not actually a theory; actually a joke. Please do not send letters.
whiskyjack asked: Sorry to put this on you but I have an honest question about depression an suicide. Isn't it completely possible for it to be a alternative for someone. Can't there be someone out there who genuinely is tired and doesn't want to continue. I know there is beauty and wonderful things in this world. There are things to look forward to. There will be more pain but also more laughter. But what if I'm not interested?
well… well first off, i’d say, seek professional help immediately. because i am wildly unqualified to answer your question with anything but experience. and first off, my experience says, if you are in such a deep and dark place where you say things like this to total strangers on the internet, you need to be in contact with someone that can help you start to heal.
second, i’d say… you’re wrong. i’d say the things any of us don’t know, especially about tomorrow, could blanket every grain of sand on every beach of the world with bullshit. And to simply assume you are done tomorrow because you are done today is a mistake. a factual mistake, an error, a critical miscalculation.
i’d say, read Tad Friend’s piece JUMPERS in which he seeks and finds and talks to people that jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge — and lived. And they all say the same variations this: “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”
And know that this piece has kept me in my seat on more than a couple dark nights.
And i’d say — i’d say i felt that way before too, and i was wrong.
And then i’d tell you something i don’t even think my wife knows. this happend years before we met — shit, more than a decade — and it’s not the first time i came close to suicide was on a thanksgiving night. i’d eaten well and then as the house shut down i went into the bathroom, drew a bath as hot as i could manage to stand, and climbed into the tub with a razor blade.
As i started to cut, as the corner touched my skin and that jolt of pain fired into my head, i stopped and thought — y’know, last chance. Are you SURE?
And i was tired. I sounded like you, that i knew there’d be ups again and downs but i was just so fucking TIRED i couldn’t stand the thought of having to get there. I felt this… this never-ending crush of days that were grey and tepid but for some reason i was supposed to greet each one with a smile. the constant pressure of having to keep my shit in all the time was just exhausting.
I wondered, then — well, is there anything you’re curious about. Anything you want to see play out. And i thought of a comic i was reading and i’d not figured out the end of the current storyline. And i realized I had curiosity. And that was the hook i’d hang my hat on. that by wanting to see how something played out I wasn’t really ready. That little sprout of a thing poking up through all that black earth kept me around a little longer.
I realized then that it had been so long since i’d laughed. I was numbed out and shut down and just… i missed laughing. maybe if i laughed a little i could get moving again. so i’d wait for my comic to conclude, try to find a few laughs, and then reevaluate.
So I’m in the bathtub and i got this real sharp-ass razor, right? And i look down and there’s all my bits floating in the water like they do and i thought okay, let’s get funny and i got to work.
I shaved off exactly half my pubic hair vertically. The end result was a ‘fro of pubes that looked like a Chia Pet that only half-worked. I started to laugh as I did it. And every time i’d piss, looking down made me laugh.
Because JESUS what a nightmare.
Shortly thereafter I got very heavily into Chuck Jones and Tex Avery. Way less chafing and way more funny.
jesus. i was still in high school at the time. dig if you will a picture of the chubby weirdo that was always giggling at his dick in the bathroom. that was me.
And then I guess I’d tell you about Dave, who did the same thing as me a few years later, only DIDN’T have my hilarious Chia Dick strategy in mind and got the razor in and up. And as he started to bleed out “Brown Eyed Girl” came on the radio and he realized he’d never get to hear that again so, in a bloody comedy of errors — I swear to god this is true — he got out of the tub, tried to get dressed the best he could, went downstairs calling for help only to find his family gone, went out to his car, and drove to doug’s house only to find doug not home and so, then, finally, he blacked out from blood loss sitting there in his car, playing a van morrison CD on repeat, until, by luck, Doug’s mom came home and found him.
Fucking Van Morrison, y’know?
A song, a comic, something dumb, something small. From that seed can come everything else, I swear to god.
I guess last I’d say… I’d say that, look — if you reached out to me for an answer, than I have to reach back out to you and insist you hear it. Because it means, what, you know me? My work? You read my stuff and thought, well, fuck, if anyone would know why I shouldn’t end my life, if anyone alive is QUALIFIED TO SAVE ME it’s the guy that had britney spears punch a bear? okay — okay, then, so as THAT GUY I’m saying: Get help. Now, today, tonight, whenever — get to a phone and find a doctor that can try to help you heal, that can try to recolorize your world again, that can help you start caring again. All you need is that one tiny thing, that speck, that little grain of sand. the World Series, AVENGERS 2, Tina Fey’s new show, the first issue of PRETTY DEADLY, some slice of the world you’ve never seen, some drink you love, who the fuck will love your dog like you do if you’re gone, what if jabrams KILLS it on the new STAR WARS, the hell are you doing for Halloween, you ever feed a dolphin with your bare hand? because i have and I am fucking telling you IT IS A THING TO EXPERIENCE and oh god WHAT FUCKING FONT WILL STARBUCKS USE ON THE CHRISTMAS DRINK SLEEVES THIS YEAR — i don’t care what or how dumb but i promise you somewhere in your life is that one fleck of dust that can help start you on the road back. That’s all it takes. One fucking mote, drifting through your head.
And because you asked me I am answering you because i know, motherfucker, i know, i know, i know the hole you are fucking in because I was there myself and if you look hard you can still see my writing on those walls and if you stare long enough i swear to god it’s pointing to up
There are no words.
See, the thing is, whenever Suzie and Jon (independently) have sex they stop time. It’s very confusing (or it was for Suzie; I’m sure Jon was unsettled at first, too) but then they get used to it and then they meet and have sex with each other and OH SHI-
And, at some point, they decide to become criminals. Because if you can STOP TIME by having sex, what else are you going to do?
Have I mentioned how wonderful and brilliant and amazing and funny and oddly down to earth this book is? Because it’s really good and this is only the first issue.
Sorry, a week late with this - Fraction and Zdarsky’s SEX CRIMINALS is the BOMB.