Over the weekend the comic book community and beyond was once again reminded of how toxic and off-putting the community can be.
Marvel Comics Editor Heather Antos posted a picture of herself and various other women that work at Marvel getting milkshakes, with the picture tagged as a tribute to Florence “Flo” Steinberg who passed away last week. Flo was a major influence to many and helped build up the Marvel Comics fan community in the early years of the company’s change from Atlas to Marvel.
Of course, once this photo went up, the internet decided to be the internet.
Right away Heather and others were harassed as vile people began to claim everything from women and diversity being in comics is the reason that Marvel’s sales are down to various other sexist comments.
The internet and community response though was not all those awful people. Right away others that work in comics and fans began to stand up to knock the trolls down and a whole movement began with #MakeMineMilkshake where people shared photos of themselves getting milkshakes and/or showing off their love of various comic book related characters and series.
It was a great thing to see happen through the internet over the weekend and brought a nice wave of positivity.
It’s not enough though.
We need to be doing this all the time.
What happened to Heather is not even close to the first time this has happened to women, people of color or members of the LGBTQ community that work in comics. It’s a daily thing that many have to deal with from a community full of loud mouths that fear comics not being this imagined white male only haven that they seemed to have convinced themselves it should be and always has been.
While these moments like the #MakeMineMilkshake are great, we can’t leave it at that. This type of movement to bring positivity and inclusion into the community needs to be a daily thing.
There are plenty out there that do that, but we all need to be doing it as much as we can. The community is seen as toxic because those that are hateful assholes tend to be louder and are consistent with their loud hate.
It should not be up to the writers, artists, colorists, letterers, inkers, editors, etc involved in comics to battle the negativity. Being in the thick of the field there is only so much they can do.
All of us in this community should be doing everything we can to drown those hateful people out. We need to take the community and make it what we want it to be and what it needs to be.
Share your love of a series through social media. Tell the creators or those that work on the books you love why you love and what it does.
Welcome those that are new to the community whether as fans or as creators and make them feel safe in this community.
Kick off regular discussions about the things that you like in comics, what has drawn you to be in this community. Share the ideals and beliefs of the characters you love with others.
Keep your criticisms of a series or character to a constructive nature. If you aren’t liking a series, just choose not to read it and read something else that you do feel you would enjoy. Continuous complaining and negativity aimed at creators about something you don’t enjoy is a waste of everyone’s time.
Not all entertainment is meant to be aimed at you. There are things for everyone out there.
Use your time to try and educate those that spout the hateful or disgusting things. Let them know that women and others have always been a part of comics.
Sure they won’t all listen, as trolls are just there to troll, but spreading positivity or shutting these people down will help us all in the end.
Comics books have been a huge part of my life since I was a small child, as both my parents introduced me to them. I used to sneak into their room to read my mom’s extensive collection of X-Men comics which is what spurred my love for those characters.
I love the comic book community and I refuse to see it continue to be seen as a wretched hive of scum and villainy because of these awful people that continue to make the community a vile place on too many occasions.
Now is the time for us all to stand up and say “No!” to those that are trying to tear us all down and hold us back to a time that we have long passed.
If you shared anything under that #MakeMineMilkshake movement, it’s time to keep doing that and more. Do not let yourself stop there.
This should not be a one time wave of positivity.
The power to fix this community lies in all of our hands.
With that great power comes great responsibility. The question is, will you actually use that power to do something good?