Yesterday, Zeus Comics owner Richard Neal started a minor swirl online when he announced his store would not be selling the new Superman series. Neal’s decision was based on the fact that the author of that series, Orson Scott Card, was vehemently homophobic, actively working against gay marriage proposals. Even though today is new release day at the shop, Neal took a few minutes to answer some questions about his decision.
Is this the first author/artist you’ve refused to sell? If not, who else/why? Retailers frequently choose not to carry comics based on sales or content. I’ve declined some titles for graphic content or poor quality. There was a series of collected strips from a popular web comic that I stopped ordering because of their portrayal of rape and their negative jokes about gays.
How do you separate the work of an artist from their personal choices and beliefs? I don’t think Roman Polanski is a good person, but I like his movies. We stock plenty of comics by authors and artist with views I don’t support. Card moves past a belief and into activism. How can I order or support a comic from a person actively working to legislate against me?
Where do you draw the line on personal opinions, as they relate to an artist’s work? Does it have to have an impact on your life, or just the lives of your clientele? Example: I know you’re a gay man, so this has a direct impact on your life. But if DC tapped, I don’t know, a racist to author Superman, how would you handle it?
That’s it though. As an extreme example DC wouldn’t hire a Grand Dragon to write Superman. We as society have moved past that as an acceptable form of spoken discrimination. Does it still exist? Yes. We have lot of work to do on it. But its become socially unacceptable to vocalize. Yet homosexuality is still up for debate to outsiders. The unaffected like Orson Scott Card have their hate speech but as the ultimate consumer I have a hand in the market to make choices.
Why do you think DC made this decision? They had to know it would alienate a large portion of their Superman readership. Not sure really. I can’t tell you what happens or where these decisions come from. That’s a question for DC.
Will you read this Superman series? No. I won’t have a copy to read.