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#thisiscomicsgate, Or; Gate Movements Are Stupid. Here's Some Proof. Part Three

Updated on May 30, 2019
Willsummerdreamer profile image

I'm a Fantasy writer, essayist, and overall nerd with big dreams.

Chuck Dixon.

Chuck Dixon.
Chuck Dixon. | Source

(continued from part two: http://hub.me/amJmF)

Now let’s talk about Chuck Dixon. Dixon at first glance seems to provide solid proof of Ethan’s claim. According to an article published in the April 2017 issue of The Federalist, Dixon claims that he was blacklisted from Marvel based solely on his conservative politics [9]. I should point out, however, that The Federalist is not an objective source. It’s a cartoonishly pro-conservative magazine and is about as subtle about it as a cannon blast to the face, and this is true here. The article in question paints Marvel as this towering anti-Christian bastion of pure evil that makes Republican staffers suffer the torture of Sisyphus for daring to support Donald Trump [9]. And yet the piece is curiously silent on the details as to why Mr. Dixon was blacklisted, claiming that their inquiries to Marvel went unanswered.

Thankfully, Chuck has talked about this at length about this elsewhere, so it wasn’t actually hard to find more reliable sources. For example, in one interview conducted in February of 2018 by Hollywoodintoto.com, Dixon explained that he’s “burnt every bridge by now so the repercussions amount only to sad, breathless rants on Facebook or impotent attempts to boycott me.” [57] He also echoes Ethan’s claims that the election of Donald Trump was the final impetus for his blacklisting. “If I had managed to hold on at DC and Marvel until now,” he says. “That would have ended with Trump’s victory.” [57]

So, does Dixon prove that Ethan is correct? Well not so fast there, young stallion. Look, I do respect Chuck Dixon as a writer, and I personally do believe that he’s been blacklisted. But the more I read about it, the more the simplistic “I was blacklisted for my beliefs” angle began to fall apart.

this screenshot is from Chuck Dixon's crowdfunded comic 'Ravage: Kill All Men.' ...*Facepalm* really, dude? Really?
this screenshot is from Chuck Dixon's crowdfunded comic 'Ravage: Kill All Men.' ...*Facepalm* really, dude? Really? | Source

I found out that Dixon at one point had claimed to have been blacklisted from Marvel for the past fifteen years [57], which was shocking to hear until I learned that Dixon had a history of getting into fights with editors at both Marvel and DC [65] [66]. With former Marvel Senior Editor, Axel Alonso, being a particular sore thorn in Dixon’s backside. Chuck would have you believe that these arguments were never his fault and always political in nature. But you really have to take that with a grain of salt. I’m not saying that none of these arguments were brought on by politics. I’m sure a lot of them were, but there are two things we need to consider here.

The first is that you have to consider which editor we’re actually talking about and take into account factors like their personality, habits in the workplace, etc. In the case of Axel Alonso, well, Chuck Dixon isn’t the only one who seems to have a problem with him. From what I understand, Alonso has been outed by creators of both political persuasions as being an especially crappy guy to work for [64] [56], with countless bad creative and business decisions, punishing employees who don’t kiss up to him, and doing his fair share of fanning the resentment that led to Comicsgate in the first place being commonly cited reasons as to why [64][56][141].

The second thing to consider is Chuck Dixon himself. As I said before, I respect Chuck's talent, but I'm sorry, the man is a sheep, at least in my opinion. When it comes to politics, He falls into the same irrational tribal mind trap that both the left and right adhere to. For him, Conservatism can do no wrong and any and all forms of liberalism are destroying America (and comic books in particular) and he refuses to listen to any argument to the contrary…even when his arguments are flat out wrong and/or doesn’t make any sense.

What? You mean politics has ALWAYS been in comic books?..um...duh.
What? You mean politics has ALWAYS been in comic books?..um...duh. | Source

Comicsgate Manifesto.

This is best exemplified in an op-ed he co-authored for the Wall Street Journal in 20145. In the article, he complains about moral ambiguity in modern comics and tries to paint this beautiful picture of comics of the 1930s and ’40s as a kind of heaven. Where morality was black and white, no politics were involved ever, and Superman was “wonderfully American.”[59] Dixon and his co-author elaborate on this, explaining that “Superman and other “superheroes” like Batman went out of their way to distinguish themselves from villains like Lex Luthor or the Joker. Superman even battled Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan during World War II.”[59]


Sidenote 5: While this Op-ed does pre-date the solidifying of Comicsgate as a movement, I’ve heard a thousand variations of the opinions expressed in it from just as many Comicsgate members (Just swap out the 1930’s & 40’s with the 1980s & 90s). So you can pretty much consider it the movement’s political manifesto.


Dear readers, not only is this view of comics from that era sickeningly nostalgic it’s also plain wrong. Yes, Chuck is right about the simplistic morality in those stories. But even with that simplicity, some comics from that time WERE political. Take Action Comics #1 and #2 for example. Those comics had a story arc where Superman kidnaps a pro-war weapons lobbyist, took him to a war-torn country, coerced him to enlist in said country’s military, and then had him endure the horrors of war…just to prove that War profiteering was wrong.

Source

And then there’s the two-page comic called What If Superman Ended the War? [146] from 1940, where Superman prevents World War II by kidnapping both Hitler and Stalin and flew them to the League of Nations to stand trial for crimes against humanity. This simple comic outraged the Nazi's so much that no less than the Nazi's Minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, wrote in a German newspaper that Superman's co-creator, Jerry Siegel, was "intellectually and physically circumcised" [142] [143]. And later he denounced Superman as a Jew in a cabinet meeting. [142] [144].

Yup, this is real.  (forgive the low quality, this thing is quite old).
Yup, this is real. (forgive the low quality, this thing is quite old). | Source

And then there’s the most obvious of all, Captain America. Captain America’s creators, Joe Simon, and Jack Kirby, had fully admitted that the character’s creation was politically inspired. Both men were Jewish and had read about what the Nazi's were doing. So they decided to create a character that would be the complete opposite of Adolf Hitler [145]. I mean, seriously Chuck, the politics of that book are so obvious that a blind cave worm could see it. The front cover of the first issue alone earned Simon and Kirby death threats from American Pro-Nazi groups [145].


Captain America, the embodiment of all that is great about the USA.
Captain America, the embodiment of all that is great about the USA. | Source

Some of you are no doubt scratching your heads and asking "doesn't this just prove Chuck Dixon right? I mean, we were all fighting the Nazis by then, right?" And the answer to both is no.

Action Comics #1 and #2 were originally published in 1938, while both What If Superman Ended the War? and Captain America #1 were released in 1940. World War II began in 1939, but America wouldn't officially join it until 1941. And keep in mind, before we started fighting, there was a very strong pro-isolationist and (albeit to a lesser extent) pro-Nazi/German sentiment running through the country. So to the people reading these comics back then, this was very political and controversial stuff. And with the exception of Captain America, it wasn't particularly "wonderfully American."

Hey #Comicsgate, Wonder Woman says you can kiss her horses' @$$!
Hey #Comicsgate, Wonder Woman says you can kiss her horses' @$$! | Source

Chuck Dixon's "Wonderfully American" Superhero is purely a product of World War II, when American comics book was nothing BUT political propaganda. That’s why you had so many stories about superheroes fighting the Axis and asking kids to buy war bonds and what not.

Now, in all fairness to Chuck, his point isn't entirely without merit. But not because his delusions about the medium are correct. But rather, in the sense that these propaganda comics helped evolve the medium away from its simplistic roots, and onto something more complex in terms of both visuals and storytelling. How? Well, in his Dissertation on the subject of comic books and Propaganda, Professor Cord Scot of Loyola University argues that, before the war, there was really only one kind of villain in comics, one that was internal, domestic, and very familiar. That was the basic criminal and crimes they committed [147]. You can see this at play in the Action Comics #1 and #2. Superman doesn't fight aliens or beings from other dimensions or anything like that in those issues. No, he fights mundane street thugs, murders, wife beaters, mobsters, you know things that actually exist.

But with propaganda comics, those creators could use the visual medium to "depict an enemy through derogatory illustrations allusions more powerfully than with words. The enemy could signify anything from corporate greed to barbaric violence on the battlefield." [147] and that by the time America entered the War, "racial and military conflicts become intertwined in the comics as they were in the country: the enemy could be perceived at once as internal and external" [147].

Now, of course, there had always been a fantastical element to comic books. But it was these propaganda comics that taught creators how to tell more complex stories with the visual medium, laying the foundation of what modern comics would become. But Chuck Dixon (and Comicsgates) agenda will not allow them to understand this. In fact, the farther Op-Ed goes, the higher the level of stupid gets.

What else would you call this except "political?"

...Wow. Just Wow.
...Wow. Just Wow. | Source

He's Kidding Right?

The article goes on to mourn the loss of the Comics Code Authority [59], an industry-wide self-censoring body formed during the 1950s in the wake of the publication of the Book Seduction of the Innocent and the Senate hearings that it inspired. It’s almost adorable really, especially when you consider that Chuck Dixon is complaining about being censored and creatively stifled by liberals...and his solutions is to censor and stifle everyone [59].

Comics Code Authority Seal.
Comics Code Authority Seal. | Source

Even more amazing, Chuck also blames the “Grim and Gritty” storytelling and moral ambiguity that characterized comics of the mid to late 1980’s and 1990s on liberalism and ties it directly to the disbanding of the Comics Code Authority [59]. This is blatantly false. The Comics Code Authority wasn’t officially disbanded until 2011. And even with it in place, real-world politics and social issues had slowly been creeping back into all parts of the medium since the 1960s. This was helped along in part by the rise of the first dedicated comic book shops, and the non-Code-approved independent comics they carried [68] [63], but the Code’s demise was especially hurried along in 1971 when Stan Lee and Marvel published The Amazing Spider-Man #96-98 to massive success and without the code’s approval [148].

The First Mainstream Comic published without the CCA's approval since its formation in 1954.
The First Mainstream Comic published without the CCA's approval since its formation in 1954. | Source

In response, the Comics Code Authority revised its guidelines to allow for more creative freedom later that year, but by then, the genie was out of the bottle. The organization's relevance diminished more and more over time until finally, the death bell sounded when Marvel pulled its support for the CCA and implemented its own rating system, with DC and other companies following suit.

As for the rise of the “Grim and Gritty Era,” dear readers, even a casual glance at the history of the medium will tell you that it had very little, if anything, to do with liberalism. The truth is that by the 1980s the audience that was reading comics was getting older, and starving for content that appealed to them. This hunger would finally be sated in 1985 when, in one of the great “right place, right time” moments of history, DC released both Alan Moore’s masterpiece, The Watchmen, and Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. These two books were, put simply, unlike anything that had ever come before them.

The plots of both were complex, dark, mature, and most importantly, intelligent. They were also massively successful. As is so often the case in the entertainment business, the industry saw this success and tried very poorly to recreate it, and it got out of hand.

Some of you might be thinking that maybe what Chuck meant here is that Alan Moore and Frank Miller opened the door for more liberals to enter the industry. I mean, Watchman and The Dark Knight Returns aren’t exactly Conservative-friendly books. Well even if that is what Chuck was trying to say, it's still wrong. Liberals have been working alongside conservative creators since the 1930s. To suggest that there was a sudden influx of them in the '90s is idiotic. Besides, while both Alan and Frank do put their political beliefs into their comics in some form, neither of these men are liberals. Alan Moore describes himself as an Anarchist, while Frank Miller is a card-carrying Republican6.


Sidenote 6: So far as I can tell, Comicsgate has not attacked either Alan or Frank, despite both men’s work arguably falling into the same category as the “SJW Comics” they claim to be against. This is especially surprising in Frank’s case because his seminal books are often criticized as being unapologetically pro-fascist. Also, despite his political leanings, Frank Miller has not been ousted from the industry. In fact, at the time of writing, Frank is working on several projects for DC Comics, including the upcoming 'Superman Year One' graphic novel. and a rumored fourth sequel to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

It was during the 1990’s that Chuck’s problems with the industry started. He recalls a particular incident from early in the decade where, according to the Wall Street Journal article, the year 1990, Chuck objected to a storyline involving a realistic depiction of AIDS. He believed that “a frank storyline about AIDS was not right for comics marketed to children.” Dixon claims that he was shouted down and told to apologize to his co-workers for his opinion. After that Dixon started getting less work [59]. This anecdote reeks of a "pity me" tactic. More so since Dixon doesn't go into detail nor name which comic he's referring too. However, a rebuttal published on the website 'Comic Alliance', speculates that the comic in question was from DC Comics and wasn't even written Dixon, but rather writer Judd Winick, who at the time had just lost a loved one to AIDS/HIV [68]. Which, if true...yeah. Chuck, politics had nothing to do with it, you were an ass in that situation. Period.

To be honest, dear readers, Chuck’s Wall Street Journal article feels like selfless ego stroking, in my opinion. Everything he says in it is either a half-truth is or a flat out lie, and the whole “who will think of the children” argument that runs throughout it comes off as pretentious and hypocritical. Especially when you consider that Dixon has gleefully written his own questionably political, dark and ultra-violent comics; such as when he wrote a story where a teenage superheroine got herself pregnant and gave the baby up for adoption[68] and the now famous storyline where Batman's back broken by the villain Bane.

And then there's the fact that, according to a 2014 article from Bleeding Cool News, Chuck Dixon isn't Blacklisted from Marvel [58]. The article states that, during a question and answer session on Tumbler, Marvel's Vice President of Publishing, Tom Brevoort, was asked if Dixon was blacklisting. To which he responded:

"No, he isn’t. [...] Nobody is refusing to look at Chuck’s work because of his beliefs. They might be refusing because of his behavior. Different thing.[...]

What seems to be short-circuiting his career at this point isn’t his politics, it’s his professionalism.

And nobody in this business, absolutely nobody, is owed work." [58]


Apolitical, What's That?

Because an anti-fascist story is totally not political at all...wait.
Because an anti-fascist story is totally not political at all...wait. | Source

Given what I've read about Chuck during the course of my research, I can totally believe that. Then again, I don't think Chuck actually cares about anything Comicsgate is selling. He just comes off as a bitter old man who can't take responsibility for his bull crap.

Hell, I’m not sure that Chuck (or 90% of Comicsgate for that matter) even knows what “apolitical” means. Not only is he wrong about comics from the 1930s and ’40s, but he also claims that the graphic novels Persepolis and Maus are perfect examples of successful apolitical comics [59] [68]. Both of those books are VERY political. Persepolis is an autobiographical piece about writer Marjane Satrapi’s childhood during Iran’s Islamic revolution and is incredibly anti-fascist [68] [63]. Similarly, Maus is based on the true life story of two Holocaust survivors (the creator’s parents to be exact), and once again has anti-fascist themes running throughout it [68].

Now, knowing that I have to ask…Mr. Dixon, a casual glance at its pages will show you that Maus is stuffed with graphic holocaust and Nazi-related imagery, and the cover of the first issue and trade has a giant swastika on it. No, it doesn’t matter that there is a stylized cat skull on top of it, that is clearly a swastika. How did you miss that?


How did you miss this, Chuck?
How did you miss this, Chuck? | Source

In any case, as the years passed, Chuck continued to get into fights with editors. And as a result of this unprofessional behavior, his work assignments for both Marvel and DC began to steadily drop off. So much so that he now claims that he’s been having trouble finding work[9]. My research indicates, however, that this is not entirely accurate. In May of 2017, DC announced that it was launching a mini-series that ran until June of 2018 called ‘Bane Conquest [7], which was planned and written by Dixon. He has also published several prose novels, at least two of which he says have been optioned for movie adaptations [56], and he has several comic book projects in the works (if not already published) for various smaller publishers, including one original limited series set to be published by IDW [56]. Also, at the time of writing, he is currently working producing comics for writer Vox Day’s company, Dark Legion [5] [6] [57]. Chuck, far be it from me to give you career advice, but if you want major comic publishers to start hiring you again. Then maybe the first step should be too, you know, not work for a self-identified misogynist [149] [150] and racist scumbag [147] [148].


(Click here for Part Four: http://hub.me/amKyt )

Further Reading

Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human
Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human

Grant Morrison educates us on the history of the medium, and what it can teach us.

 

Further Reading 2

Take That, Adolf!: The Fighting Comic Books Of The Second World War
Take That, Adolf!: The Fighting Comic Books Of The Second World War

A compilation of old propaganda comics from World War 2.

 

Further Reading 3.

The Evolution of the Costumed Avenger: The 4,000-Year History of the Superhero
The Evolution of the Costumed Avenger: The 4,000-Year History of the Superhero

Probably one of the best sources on the history of the medium that I've come across.

 

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Will English

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