It was incredibly hard to try and get a comment from an artist, much less an actual conversation. Enter the internet and social media.
In the olden days pre-internet, most conversations were between fellow geeks either at comic book shops or just a lazy afternoon at a bedroom or over the phone. A home phone, mind you. Back then, as the old saying goes, everybody was a critic. But there is another saying that goes the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Word of mouth spread at the speed of the internet. Twitter went abuzz about how horrible the movie was as cited by the moviegoers that watched it, and it turned out to be, in Will Smith's own words, one of his most painful failures.
Now a days we don't have to wait a month. We can wait as long as the refresh tab or touch takes to update a feed. That is incredibly beneficial, but at the same time, pretty devastating as well.
People who had strong opinions back then did not have the advantages people with strong opinions have now with the internet and the ability to actually get in contact with companies that produces the actual product. And not only that, add monetization to this ordeal and now you have opinionated people that would like to get clicks for revenue, and the matter gets even more complicated.
It's a story as old as pop culture itself. Controversy creates cash. Views. Hits. Revenues. Blogs and sites get created and get all that with click bait titles and making issues about things that really has no issue to discuss in the first place.
If you see something you do not like, it is not enough anymore to say "I don't like this, moving on." Now virtual "journalists" can clickbate and stir controversy to a point where they enforce their own ideals on everybody else, ironically enough, becoming what most of them hate the most, somebody narrow minded that crams their beliefs down others throats. And on top of that, get nice revenue shares for the views and shares and adds they get. Calling to ban covers or stories, not that much different when religious and parent groups used to burn novels that were not appropriate for schools.
Frank Cho is an industry legend. To say he is an incredibly talented artist would be a gross understatement. Recently he did a sketch cover of popular new character Spider-Gwen, poking fun at Milo Manara's controversial variant cover that got canceled last year for Spider-Woman.
TMS is a very opinionated site. Not that it's a bad thing, mind you. In my personal experience reading the site, they have some articles that actually do have good points and can be very well written. But on the flipside, in my personal opinion, there are other articles that are more personal tirades than anything else. Almost to the point that if they don't like one thing, everybody has to agree with them, if not you're evil, and it doesn't matter what gender you are, if you're female it's even worse because then there's a sense of "betrayal". Despite all this and attempts from the site itself to get opinions from Cho about the controversy they and other sites were stirring, he responded in what I think was the perfect way: with more art.
Ironically, TMS has yet to post a follow up post about the events that happened. The violence in which Rodriguez acted out towards Cho, Campbel and even fans that create fan art.
Personally speaking, I do not criticize the fact that Rodriguez criticized Cho and Campbell. It was the way he did it. The entitlement he wrote with, as if the legends have no business being in comics anymore. An artist that by admission got lucky with Spider-Gwen.
Yes, everybody is open to make opinions and be criticized for it as well. Hell, many creators jumped to defend Cho and Campbell as well as fans. And no, this is not a case of censorship in the sense that this was a personal cover that Cho did, and despite what criticism he may have gotten, he will freely create to cater to his fans and do what he loves. But it's the arrogance that being behind a computer monitor can give to people now. Would Rodriguez actually walk up to Cho at a convention and tell him he's lucky to not be around him for doing "dirty pictures" of his "child" Spider-Gwen? I doubt it.
The thing that pains me the most of all this, is that diversity in comic book characters and creators is FINALLY happening in the industry. But because of the attitudes of some creators and the click baiting from different sites and blogs, is that harming the comic book industry? Will that actually affect in the long run titles like Spider-Gwen and Batgirl that seem to be at the center of controversy every other few months for one reason or another? Or is social media the new comics code authority, the new extreme conservatives, where they want to force everything into a cookie-cutter mass production of a product that only caters to their standards?
The internet has helped artists get into the field more than ever, with sites like Tumblr and deviantArt offering many artists that are talented, but at the same time, some with a chip on their shoulder, with no respect for the artists that came before them.
What do you think? Is social media harming the potential of comic books? Sound off in the comments below and as always, thank you for reading!