Funnybook Babylon

July 20, 2007

I’m not sure if this makes Didio or Levitz a homophobe or an idiot.

Filed under: Blurbs — David Uzumeri @ 9:51 am

devin-grayson.jpgThe fourth part of CBR’s Homosexuality In Comics contains a particularly interesting bit from former Batman: Gotham Knights, Titans and Nightwing writer Devin Grayson. Many have wondered for a while what happened to rumors of her involvement in a new comic featuring Kate Kane, the new “lipstick lesbian” Batwoman who debuted in the highly successful weekly comic 52.

This was a project fans seemed pretty in demand of, judging simply by the significant sales boost for the issue of her debut in 52.

Grayson actually liked the infamous New York Times write-up that stirred up the Batwoman controversy in the first place, but again, the fact that the piece made such a big deal of the character’s sexuality before the hero even graced the page of a comic book went a long way towards nullifying any positive effect Batwoman might have had on the industry. Consequently, the character was relegated to the backseat of the “52” event rather than the forefront of her own title.

In fact, Grayson was eight months into the development of the proposed “Batwoman” title when she found out from a newspaper article that the project was dead, and to this day, the writer has not received so much as a phone call from upper editorial on the matter. “That reversal really surprised and disappointed me,” Grayson admitted. “I won’t pretend not to be resentful of how badly DC treated me in that exchange, but the majority of my concern and sympathy goes out to the character, who was basically thrown away by a company which had a lot of support to make her successful and unique. My experiences up to that point had been much more positive, although admittedly less ambitious, and it was really sad and discouraging to see the ball so badly dropped.”

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The most reasonable conclusion to infer from this is that DC or Warner Brothers, scared shitless of a media backlash calling them gay-sympathizers or, even worse, gay themselves, canceled the title before it got out of the gate. The only other option is that the book was shaping up to be complete crap, but this is unlikely largely because this certainly hasn’t stopped DC from publishing anything before, or recently. This seems like a fairly stupid move in comparison to just letting the work speak for itself. Nothing actually happened to Marvel when Rawhide Kid came out, and while that was probably a lesser controversy it’s still indicative of the fact that sales figures don’t really show any kind of audience reaction to homosexuality other than maybe a sensationalist sales boost.

As a matter of fact, frankly, I was happy to hear about this because another boring socialite who dresses for vengeance to kick ass at night would be – well – boring. 52 seemed to explore a sort of matrix of dual identities, as Kate is a closeted lesbian (one secret identity) and Batwoman (the other). It probably would have been a pretty refreshing take on that trope.

Devin Grayson is a pretty good writer, and I think that if the book had been given a chance it probably would have continued past the controversy and maybe become a solid book with a solid fanbase. I would have bought it. It disappoints me that it was taken away just because the media called them gay.

5 Comments »

  1. Why do you completely dismiss the notion that the decision to shelve Batwoman may have been a routine one? How many other books are in some stage of development by DC and shelved due to quality issues?

    Comment by Jamaal — July 24, 2007 @ 9:02 am

  2. I dismiss it because this is the company that’s gone ahead with publishing an OBSCENE amount of AWFUL material lately. “This book sucks” has never, ever, ever been a barrier to DC publishing something.

    Comment by David Uzumeri — July 24, 2007 @ 6:24 pm

  3. Yes, it has. It’s just that the preferences of DC editorial are not aligned with the preferences of the audience (or at least the percentage of the audience that posts commentary online). That doesn’t mean that there’s no quality control, just that they have a weird notion of what quality is. In their defense, a lot of the DC titles that are critically acclaimed also sell rather poorly, and some of the titles we all hate are selling well (like Meltzer’s JLA). I just don’t think that DC is ever obligated to publish anything, especially a title by an unproven creator whose sole hook is that the main character is a homosexual.

    Comment by Jamaal — July 25, 2007 @ 9:07 am

  4. An unproven creator? Sole hook?

    Devin Grayson has like 50 issues of Nightwing under her belt, a whole Bat-book they devised just for her (Gotham Knights) for like 30 issues, a Titans run, participation in No Man’s Land… she’s been writing comics since the early 2000s.

    As for the book’s sole hook being that Batwoman is a lesbian, that’s not really the case since the book’s hook was “Batwoman that you saw in 52! Learn more about her here!” There were some interesting clues laid in 52 — especially her fortune being tied up in guns — that could lead to a pretty complex origin story that was being clearly hinted at. Fans were very warm and receptive to the idea of a Batwoman book and to that plotline in 52 (for the most part). There was absolutely no reason not to publish this book other than fear of the media.

    Comment by David Uzumeri — July 25, 2007 @ 10:28 am

  5. But the Batwoman that you saw in 52 was only interesting (at least to me) because she was gay. Outside of that, she seemed to be really flat. And I didn’t mean that Grayson was new to the business, just that she hadn’t experienced the kind of commercial or critical success that would justify special treatment. In the end, I think reasonable persons could differ on this, and the theory that DC killed the book because of a fear of negative publicity is a plausible one. I just don’t believe that its the only possible explanation.

    Comment by Jamaal — July 25, 2007 @ 11:16 am

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