Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Protect Yourself At All Times"

Regular readers will probably notice this anyway, but just to be clear:

This site will no longer be host to my opinions on politics, feminism, ethics, morality, and, most importantly of course, "which comic is bad?" I certainly might on occasion put the question out to you, the reader, without any sort of deep commentary: for example, I might show a comic book cover and ask for your two cents. But for reasons of personal peace & safety, I can no longer "get too much into it" anymore.

On one hand, there is the taboo against expressing certain views that are not "the correct views." For example, the view that an artist might hold a degree of personal responsibility for what they produce. On the surface, this may not seem like that much of an explosive and divisive thing to say. It is an opinion, and not one that includes a request for governmental interference or any other compulsory limitations. However, just to mention such an opinion provokes such a reaction of hysteria, that it is clear to me that there can be no rational discussion in this format. And that's too bad.

When the breaking of this aforementioned taboo is coupled with the obsessiveness of certain hardcore fans, it produces something that I personally find disturbing and dangerous. And when I show somebody who is unfamiliar with this aspect of comic book fandom and online discourse what the results are -- both the reaction on my blog and off -- they get scared for me and usually suggest I shut Occasional Superheroine down completely.

I've done this for about two years now. Over that time, I have encountered many wonderful people. I have had many, many people email me privately and thank me for being so open about my experiences and opinions, and I have saved every email to remind me that this was not all for nothing. It is in deference to these people that I am explaining the current direction of this blog, rather than just quietly let the change take place with no acknowledgment.

I'm proud to have had the opportunity to express myself so openly regarding a whole range of issues. I am glad those opinions are on this site, and I have no plans to remove any of them. And in the future I might print some of these opinions in a book or in an alternate format. But like I said, I've been doing this for a couple of years now. In that time, I have had to weather at least fifty of what I refer to as "forest fires." These have included other people publicly ridiculing my most personal tragedies, and sending me explicit and threatening emails. The ferocity of these attacks have shocked even the most cynical comic industry friends I know.

Friends of mine who are professional comic creators tell me that some of this will not go away regardless of whether I post my opinions or not. Once I get into the realm of writing comics, there will be those who will go ballistic regarding even the seemingly most harmless plot point. I accept that. I accept that a wall, to an extent, has to go up. That you have filter a lot of the noise out, and perform the balance between letting fans in and keeping abusive people out. And that you can't react, that reacting and defending yourself publicly only throws gasoline on the situation. Okay. I get that.

But to regularly post opinions on this blog -- opinions that it has already been established some people do not react to rationally, or use and distort to pursue their own agendas -- only increases my exposure to this sort of abuse. I can't do it anymore, even to "be brave." I'm almost 35 years old. My health has never been quite as robust as I would like, and there is a tendency in my family to expire in one's late 30s/early 40s from heart-attacks and stroke. My dad died at 42, and his dad died at 40. Massive heart attacks. I don't need a doctor right now to advise me to stay away from stress, because I am more than aware of this. I have an immediate family member who is gravely ill, and another who I've been too preoccupied to give the help she really needs to raise her child. This is real life, and this is what's important.

My writing career is important to me as well. I think the people who create nefarious reasons about why I have a writing career are only about a few degrees above the anonymous emailer who writes about how I "fuck to get ahead," how I am a whore, complete with explicit descriptions of all the sexual favors I must be so freely giving. To me, it's all part of the same continuity. This has been done to women in the industry before -- and not just by men, but, most sadly, by other women. I particularly enjoy the conspiracy theories about how Marvel controls the content of my blog. Wow. Marvel Comics has never, ever expressed a single opinion, direction, or any words whatsoever to me regarding my blog, except for the comment, when we had our first communication, that I had a "powerful voice" in my writing. That was it. I have saved on Gmail hundreds of emails from people telling me that I have a powerful voice in my writing. So I guess Marvel and those hundreds of people were on the same page.

To be honest, some of the ways I've been treated within my own "community" have disillusioned me to a degree that "Goodbye To Comics" just couldn't touch.

But I'm still very grateful to the fans, to the people who have written in, to the friends that I have made through this blog. I hope you can think of this blog as a place where you can find out some relevant news about comics & pop-culture, be introduced or reintroduced to some great comic book creators, and can have some good conversations. I will also keep you posted on what's going on with me and my projects.

Part of me is too exhausted to even wrap my head around New York Comic Con, but I think I will use the opportunity to do what I did before I wrote "Goodbye To Comics" -- just getting in touch with the nuts and bolts and heart of what makes comics positive and fun. I did that for a whole year before "GTC," and while I wasn't very well-known, there was a purity to it that sustained me.

Onwards and upwards, folks.

Frankie Dunn: You forgot the rule. Now, what is the rule?
Maggie Fitzgerald: Keep my left up?
Frankie Dunn: Is to protect yourself at all times. Now, what is the rule?
Maggie Fitzgerald: Protect myself at all times.
Frankie Dunn: Good. Good.