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Artist Chris Sprouse Leaves Orson Scott Card-Penned Superman Story

DC hiring Orson Scott Card as one of the writers in a digital-first anthology of Superman stories is proving the controversy that won’t die, not simply because fans who appreciate the conflict between the themes associated with Superman as a character and the views that Card openly and publicly espouses about the basic rights of the LGBTQ community, along with the actions he’s taken to make those views into actual legislation, are being vocal about their disappointment regarding the choice. It’s still making news because actual members of the comic book community are doing things like refusing to stock the issue when it eventually comes to print, and movie executives are getting nervous about their blockbusters.

But while the retailer is still a big part of the comics community, you couldn’t call them as central to the industry as the artists who draw the books in the first place, and it’s now, according to USA Today, that the artist on Card’s Superman book has walked off the project, citing the negative attention that its drawn.

Chris Sprouse, who’s done much cover work and interiors for DC Comics before, and also on Midnighter, a series featuring an out gay superhero who is currently a part of the DC Universe, said in a statement:

It took a lot of thought to come to this conclusion, but I’ve decided to step back as the artist on this story. The media surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from the actual work, and that’s something I wasn’t comfortable with. My relationship with DC Comics remains as strong as ever and I look forward to my next project with them.

Sprouse was also due to illustrate another story for the anthology by another writer, but according to USA Today, he is departing the anthology entire. For the moment, DC comics is delaying Card’s story until another illustrator can be found, and it won’t be published in the initial collected print issue on May 29th. From their own statement: “We fully support, understand and respect Chris’s decision to step back from his Adventures of Superman assignment. Chris is a hugely talented artist, and we’re excited to work with him on his next DC Comics project.” DC says they will re-solicit the story at “a later date” once they’ve locked down a new artist, a promise that, I note, does not come with much of a firm time frame. If there’s any kind of desire at DC to sweep this under the rug and hope people forget that it ever happened, this is it. I would hope that finding another artist willing to take on the job after this is a difficult one.

(via USA Today.)

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  • Anonymous

    I’m sure they’ll find someone new, but at least Sprouse removed himself from this.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting, tbh I would hope it doesn’t get shipped – doubtful. I actually had to stop reading his rant about gays , because it became incredible nasty views. Granted all views of its like are bad and get pretty nasty sometimes. His came of as really nasty.

  • Captain ZADL

    Or they could just fire OSC and end the controversy.

  • Veronica Cristina

    easier way

  • Anders Vesterberg

    doubtfull that means they have to THINK ahead and you know how hard THAT is for people with fancy titles as “chairman of the board”

  • Anonymous

    I would not be surprised if they were actually counting on the controversy to gain exposure. Remember how they had the whole hyped up “Superman renounces his citizenship” story line and it got all sorts of news coverage? And then at the last possible second they went back and declared the story non-canon.

  • Sara Sakana

    “The media surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from the actual work, and that’s something I wasn’t comfortable with.”

    So basically he’s saying he quit not because Card is a disgusting bigot, but because he’s tired of hearing that Card is a disgusting bigot.

    Yeah, he’s not getting any ~bestest ally~ medals from me.

  • Pamela

    Yeah, I’m wondering how long DC is going to stick to its guns on this one. It kind of feels like they’ve moved past “ooh we’re getting more attention for this!” and into “uh oh, people are really pissed off” territory.

  • Ryan Anti-Hero

    Despite the fact that it wouldn’t be possible for me to care less about Superman, this is a difficult issue for me. I do not share OSC’s views on sexuality in the slightest, and I do believe his views are awful. But I have been a long-time fan of OSC’s work. The Ender’s Game series is still one of my favorites. I’m sure he could do an excellent job, possibly taking a comic character who is, by all rights, fairly lame and uninteresting, and actually making his story readable. Should his personal views color how we look at his writing?

  • Jill Pantozzi
  • Catherine Devlin

    If it were just his views, I’d totally agree and understand. The thing is, Card has made himself a key activist, sitting on the board of directors of NOM, for instance. Having and speaking an ugly opinion is one thing; making a life mission out of pushing it takes the ugliness to a higher level. It’s like simply being a racist vs. being David Duke.

  • Jenn Muzquiz

    Or he knows better than to come right out and say it’s because Card is a bigot, which would make DC look bad. I think the action in itself speaks volumes of his character and we should be a bit more supportive of his decision to step away because of Card and not nitpick too much.

  • Vic Horsham

    My issue isn’t that he just doesn’t like gay people. I’d dislike him for that, but it wouldn’t make me feel as strongly as I do about boycotting his work. My issue is he isn’t just standing there saying “I don’t like the gays”.

    He’s a BOARD MEMBER for NOM, and pumps massive amounts of money into organisations that work to not only try to roll back the civil and human rights of gay people in the USA but in countries where “rolling back their rights” can mean not just blocking gay marriage but keeping homosexuality itself illegal, even punishable by death.

    They money card pumps into those causes stems directly from his income as a writer. Therefore, if I spend money on his work, a portion of my money WILL go to NOM and those causes.

    This is the difference for me between buying Card’s work and buying, say, Lovecraft’s work. Lovecraft was incredibly racist, but he’s dead and buying his books doesn’t fund racist organisations. Same with the Chick-Fil-A thing last year. This link explains why that boycott mattered, and my motivations are similar here.

  • WonderScott

    I’m glad Sprouse made this decision. He’s right that the story is no longer about the story.

  • Michelle Mista

    Simple solution, right?? I have to wonder why they refuse to (or can’t?) fire OSC.

  • Anonymous

    There’s also a significant difference between being racist in the 1930s, where there were *laws* against miscegenation and severe restrictions on minorities’ basic human rights, and being racist in the 2010s, after decades of civil rights advances and dissemination of information. The average person in the 1930s was bombarded by constant affirmation that White Is Right from politics, science, society, everything, so even an otherwise sensitive and intelligent person can harbour racist ideas through sheer ignorance. It’s much harder to be a racist in the 2010s (as in, you have to make a concerted effort to ignore what politics, science and society are saying about race now) – which makes modern racists all the more frightening.

  • Travis Kyle Fischer

    How do you fire somebody that doesn’t work for you? DC already HAS the story. OSC has already been paid for it.

  • Travis Kyle Fischer

    I suspect Polo is on the right track. Without an artist DC now has an excuse to shelve the story and the controversy with it. I suspect that their search for a replacement artist will consist of an editor mumbling, “HeyanybodywanttodrawafewpagesofSuperman” in the bullpin (does DC have a bullpin or is that just Marvel?) and then saying, “Whelp, we tried” before writing off the whole thing.

  • Anonymous

    ^ THIS.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Wow. That takes brass ones. Good on him.

  • Laura Truxillo

    At this point, the story’s been bought and paid for. What’s more likely to happen is that it just goes into development purgatory and never gets turned into an actual book. “Firing” isn’t really an option on Work For Hire that’s already been completed.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Stepping back from a highly publicized (even with negative publicity) story that your name was attached to, especially an assignment from one of the Big Two, is a seriously risky move. I think it’s entirely possible that, like a lot of people, he had no idea about Card’s full opinions on LGBTQ folks when he signed on.

    Talent in the comic industry has to go hand in hand with reliability. It’s not an easy industry to get in or to stay in, and turning down a gig like this because it’s not something he’s comfortable being associated with couldn’t have been easy.

  • Laura Truxillo

    It wouldn’t be the first time a completed story languished for “reasons.” Heck, there was a Teen Titans issue Sean Murphy did, finished pages and everything all ready to go, that only saw the light of day yeeeeeaaars later. For no good reason. (The best I can figure is it featured the Rogues heavily, and slightly out of character, and it was at a time when Johns wasn’t letting anyone else play with his toys.)

    You hear tales of fully-written, half-completed, or even all done comics just Not Being. It happens.

  • shakeyquant

    Card overt hatred of all things gay makes me think “the man doth protest too much”.

  • Brian

    Interesting choice of quote, as Card wrote a novel based on Hamlet where the old king is in hell for being a gay pedophile rapist who turns everyone else gay by raping them.

  • Brian

    I do the moral offset every time my love of Chick-fil-a overcomes me.

  • Ryan Colson

    Oh look, blacklisting