There is debate about whether or not a creator’s private life should have anything to do with whether or not consumers choose to buy his or her products has been going on a while. I know where I stand, but in light of recent announcements, I’ve been thinking about that a lot in the past couple of days. Where do you stand?
I tend to avoid the work of creators whose life choices I strongly object to. Simple disagreement isn’t enough: I don’t use drugs of any kind (except for the caffeine in chocolate), but I’ll still enjoy the works of Kevin Smith, Grant Morrison, and others. There are, however, some things that I just cannot stand. I will not, under any circumstances, do anything that puts another dime in Roman Polanski‘s pocket, for example. In the past few days, DC Comics has announced that they are streamlining their operations, and have released many of their Vertigo editorial staff. This has caused a fervor in the community, as Vertigo editor Shelly Bond is among the suddenly unemployed, despite positively glowing reviews about both her work and her ability to function in society as a human being. In contrast, former Executive Editor Eddie Berganza, demoted to Superman Group Editor in 2012 because of his habitual sexual harassment, is still employed.
Let me repeat: the man who oversees the entire Superman line at DC Comics is well known for sexual harassment, to the point where DC will not hire women to work alongside him, other women have turned down jobs at DC because they refuse to be in the same building as him, and male creators have taken jobs at DC on the condition that they will not have to work with him in any capacity because they are so disgusted by his conduct.
DC Comics is owned by Warner Bros, a company that produced and distributed several Roman Polanski movies after his conviction. (See above.) They answer to share holders, so it seems their thought process is clear: if a creator’s work is profitable, that creator can receive continued employment despite his or her conduct. So, I’m going to send DC and Warner Bros. a message the only way I can. From today forward, I will not buy any comic which Eddie Berganza contributes to. I have said for years that I couldn’t imagine the circumstances that would get me to drop Daredevil or Green Lantern, but now I can. If Berganza touches those titles, I’m out. If enough of us do this, Berganza’s works will no longer be profitable. Unfortunately, his collaborators and colleagues will suffer, but maybe that will just increase pressure on DC and Warner Bros. from that end.
I’ve heard that the comic industry is even more difficult to break into than the NBA, simply because aspiring creators grossly outnumber available jobs (proportionately speaking.) If that’s the case, there should be no problems leaving Berganza behind (I can’t bring myself to show him enough respect to put “Mr.” in front of his name) and promoting deserving people up the latter far enough to open an entry level position for someone who deserves it. In an industry this competitive, let’s save the spaces for capable creators who are also great human beings. Given the option, why wouldn’t we?