I was quite happy to see Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ new comic SAGA on the cover of this month’s PREVIEWS catalogue for a couple of different reasons. For one it’s an independent, fully creator-owned series from Vaughan, whose “Y The Last Man” and “Ex Machina” are at least partially owned by DC, despite him creating them from whole cloth. For another it’s the highest-profile work Canadian Fiona Staples has ever done, and she’s wonderfully talented and deserves all the accolades sent her way. It’s another high-profile book for Image and I’m always happy to see them in the spotlight. And the cover features two action/adventure heroes, one with a sword and one with a gun, a man and a woman standing shoulder-to-shoulder, and the woman’s even breastfeeding her baby. If there’s a better “our family against the whole universe” image I can’t really think of what it might be.
Then I thought “Maybe I should point this out on the blog, this is a cool thing.” Then I thought “If I’m the first one to point out breastfeeding on the cover of Previews and the cover of a comic book, it’s just going to tip-off some neanderthal who objects to a woman’s breasts (but covers that up with some other sort of rationalization).” Then I thought “I’ll just enjoy that it’s happening, let those who would object discover it for themselves.”
Cut to: Vaughn and Staples end up with a feature in USA Today! As expected, the wide release/distribution of said image did bring an unsavoury objection from someone in comics, in the form of a nasty little screed from Dave Dorman, since deleted. I had a list of awful conservative comics ‘pundits’ who I thought would be the first to take a swipe at the image… Dave Dorman though, who’da thunk? His objections mostly centered around the fact that the image of a baby being breast-fed was inappropriate for children to see (think about that for a moment), and that the act of breast-feeding on a comic cover was exploitative, but unspecifically exploitative, as the rest of his post seemed concerned with “women having it all” and what not… it was a muddled and confused thing, that post, very irrational and for someone like me an absolute joy to read. Basically, whatever point he may have thought he logically had was so totally obfusticated by his puffery and indignation that he came off, rightly, like an ass.
Now of course the reactions/round-ups have been posted (I’ll link to my friend Andrew Wheeler’s because maybe he gets paid by the hit or something: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/01/09/saga-fiona-staples-dave-dorman-breastfeeding/), and people on the internet have torn a strip off of Dorman. As I’ve noted, Dorman has pulled down his post and is doubtlessly going to follow-up explaining that he was ‘misunderstood’ doesn’t find breastfeeding objectionable, just that it’s been exploited for this comic, yadda yadda yadda. Same old bullshit internet spin cycle, no one is accountable for anything, everything’s misunderstood, and it all gets swept under the rug as soon as Marvel makes an announcement about a new variant cover or some other such bullshit.
I’m just saying, congrats to Vaughan and especially Staples, on a great-sounding new series, on a lovely piece of promotional artwork, and on the boost to your sales that will surely follow a 10s of thousands of people being made aware of your series that might have missed it otherwise, even on the cover of Previews.
P.S.: If Dave Dorman is reading this, hey, I like your work. Sorry you said something stupid on the internet. As someone who was there for the ‘birth’ of internet comics journalism, which you now find yourself trapped in, I strongly suggest you just flat-out apologize, with no conditions or ‘explanations’. Anything else will just be incessantly picked apart by blogs/websites/angry fans, who honestly have nothing better to do until Marvel makes that variant cover announcement. Just “I’m absolutely sorry, I spoke entirely in haste without thinking, my apologies to the creative team, I wish them well.” That will placate all but the craziest of commenters. Then spend a few days and figure out where all of that anger is coming from inside you about breastfeeding and maybe try and work that out, because… yeesh.