Superman artist refuses to illustrate Orson Scott Card’s script for DC

ComicsBeat: "Artist Chris Sprouse, who would have been drawing controversial writer Orson Scott Card’s contribution to the upcoming Superman anthology Adventures of Superman, has stepped down from the project today. He cites the media furore over the comic as his reason for dropping the project."


  1. He didn’t say it was because of Card’s views, though. He said it was because of the media furore. 
    I’m glad he’s refused to do it, don’t get me wrong, but he’s done it in the most fence-sittingly way possible.

    1. That’s the point of boycotts. Make OSC a pariah and he can’t make money till he drops the bigotry.

      1. Yes, but the wording of the artist’s reason doesn’t say anything about Card or his views. He’s not agreeing or disagreeing with the boycotts at all.

    2.  It seems likely that also equals ‘way to keep being employed whilst not enabling OSC’s homophobic ass-hattery’

    1. This is not a problem with boycotts. Boycotts make people not want to be associated with hatemongers.

    2. It seems to me that at least in this instance, that is a good thing. There are two halves to creating the comic: writing it, and drawing it. DC now needs to find another writer the artist is happy to work with; another artist happy to work with the writer; or drop the project all together. Given the already considerable negative publicity, I know I’d be picking option one.

  2. With luck this is only the first pillar to collapse.  Whether Sprouse did it for principle or not, he’s done it, and that’s a great thing.  In public life with delicate egos dictating your future work, you’ll always tend to bow out diplomatically, unless you can exercise the bellicose obstinacy of an Oliver Reed without fear of permanent damage.

  3. This is great news.  We need people to be showing more tolerance in this society.

    1. “This is great news.  We need people to be showing more tolerance in this society.”

      I don’t know it this is dumb sarcasm, but we need to show less tolerance towards hate. Intolerance of people who oppress others for reason of gender, race, sexuality, ability is healthy for any society.

  4. Aside from the artist’s reasons for stepping down, I found this line from the article surprising: “Some people thought [Card] should have the right to free speech…”

    Really? Haven’t “some people” yet figured out that this issue isn’t about Card’s freedom of speech? Card is welcome to say whatever he likes. DC is under no obligation to give him a mouthpiece, and if they choose to do so freedom of speech means some of us are welcome to criticize both Card and DC.

  5. “How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.”

    This boycott is a lot less childish than a man who expresses the desire to burn down an entire society that doesn’t conform to his wishes.

    1. Without an attribution, I’d have sworn I was reading an Ayn Rand quote. Which, you know — eww.

        1. I knew it was Card. What I’m saying is that he’s become pretty much indistinguishable from Rand.

    2. I totally agree with his quote, so long as the definition is “two people that love each other enough to dedicate their lives to each other.”

  6. Many artists are objectionable human beings. And it’s as valid to take that into account when deciding to consume their art, as it is to take into account whether a painting looks good over your sofa. As the consumer, you have no obligation to decide according to anyone else’s criteria. Philip Roth seems to be an awful, misogynistic asshole, but he’s a great writer with much to say about America, and the human condition; and he says it with original, beautifully-crafted prose. Orson Scott Card seems to be an awful, homophobic asshole, and not actually that great a writer. Not bad, with some good sci-fi ideas, but by no means an important writer. And his prose, like a lot of genre writers, is clichéd and leaden.

    As for his freedom of speech, he’s got a bigger megaphone than most people, and uses it. Freedom of speech does not imply freedom from criticism. Criticism is, after all, itself speech. Besides, the only freedom of speech we have by law is the 1st amendment, and that’s just a constraint on congress. You have no particular freedom of speech in a private context, or only that which you seize and which the community chooses to grant.

    1. “As for his freedom of speech, he’s got a bigger megaphone than most people, and uses it. ”

      He doesn’t just have a megaphone, he has the ears of several prominent politicians in state government and congress who do the bidding of NOM.

  7. In BoingBoing’s previous post on this topic, where many readers made open suggestions to boycott DC and try to ruin Card’s career, I threw a principle from the American Library Associations’s “Freedom to Read Statement” into the discussion:

    “It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.” people replied suggesting that “Expressing one’s displeasure to DC and ‘barring access to writings’ are not the same thing”.  Moderator Antinous went so far as to challenge me to find one library in America that carried the writings of Osama bin Laden.Unfortunately, when I returned to discover these responses to my appeal for calm, the discussion had closed.So first let me say that it took me less than 5 seconds to verfiy that some 971 English language libraries – the majority of them in America – carry bin Laden’s “Messages to the World”, published in 2005 by Verso Press.  But let me assure you that, even if Verso had not made it convenient to order bin Laden’s writings, handily translated to English, and collected in a monograph, pretty much any decent librarian in America or elsewhere would know how to trace down bin Laden’s writings, in one language or another, in some format or another – perhaps anthologized, perhaps in news accounts, perhaps in critical treatments, but whatever, it would get done.  If you don’t get that about libraries, then you don’t really understand what it is that we do.Next, let me explain how I think this Freedom to Read principle applies to DC, Superman, and Card.  The premise is that Card has this very stupid, undefendable opinion that he has presented and defended in the past.  Now the question is:  are all of his other opinions invalidated, ruined, rendered unpublishable, because of his objectionable position on gay marriage?  The answer is no.  He could still have great stories to tell, and it would not serve “the public interest” for him to be blacklisted by DC comics or the rest of the publishing industry.So how do we square this with our deeply held belief that Card is whack-job wrong on gay marriage?  We ask DC comics not to let Superman become a platform for his writing on this topic.That’s all.  A little editorial oversight.  A liitle house restraint.  No need to call for a blacklist.Allen Ginsburg was a card-carrying member of NAMBLA, for pete’s sake.  But if we all got behind blacklists for every writer who had a kooky idea, we wouldn’t have his late works, his illustrated works, or his career-end anthologies.  That’s all I’m sayin’.

    1. The premise is that Card has this very stupid, undefendable opinion that he has presented and defended in the past.

      Uh. No.
       That’s not the premise. Not at all.
       The premise is that any money payed to Card for services rendered, is money funneled directly into his very public and quite current campaign to take fundamental legal rights away from people today.
      As has been said before in this thread: do some f*cking research on the subject before you climb onto your soapbox.

    2. It’s not a blacklist. It’s a boycott. In a blacklist, a central authority prevents the public from seeing things. In a boycott, the public decides what it’s going to spend it’s money on. Quite opposite ideas.

        1. It doesn’t have to be a single, central authority or even a named one, but in this case, it’s called The Studio System. If you liked their blacklist, wait until you hear about their accounting practices!

    3. “I threw a principle from the American Library Associations’s “Freedom to Read Statement” into the discussion:”

      And you were eaten alive, but I suppose you’re going to repeat yourself without addressing previous criticism.

  8. So I hope everybody is going to put their money where there mouth is when Ender’s Game is released. It’s still going to make a bundle, but one good thing that will come of it is that Card’s views are going to get a lot more coverage as the media latch on.

    1. So I hope everybody is going to put their money where there mouth is when Ender’s Game is released.

      The book’s pretty unfilmable, so that shouldn’t be much of a hardship.
      !!!Thrill to the dramatic ‘using a primitive laptop’ scene!!!
      !!!Heart-stopping fights in little boy’s toilets!!!
      !!!Psychobabble galore!!!

      1.  Not to mention:
        !!!Watch the generals gaping at the moving dots on their video monitors!!!
        !!!See the sister as she blogs!!!!

        1. I liked Ender’s Game, but I can’t imagine filming it without making it unrecognizable. Like Dune: entertaining book, but at the end of the day, it’s almost entirely internal dialog and ruminations about the dewpoint.

      1. If you can find it, I recommend that you read Dave Langford’s excoriating review of Battlefield Earth in a very early (pre-Warhammer days) edition of White Dwarf.

      2. Don’t you see, when we don’t go see his movies he just makes more bad ones to punish us.  Swordfish, Be Cool, Wild Hogs, The (re)Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, From Paris with Love.  We’re all hurting as a result.

      1. I remember that sketch, but for the life of me can’t figure out what you are referencing…..

        1. The web page that you linked contains both a political tract and exotic birds. Tex and Edna Boil’s Organ Emporium offered a free budgie with every organ.

    1.  Someone did post it, but that’s a whole lotta word-salad to chew on to find who, when & where.

    2. A quote that’s probably the most relevant to this discussion, from that article:

      “Anyway, if I wanted to nutshell it, I’d say that my objection to Ender’s Game is that our society already focuses too much on telling the powerless to forgive and forget.”

  9. As a feminist, should I diss Heinlein? Not giving OSC a free pass on bigotry – just making the sci-fi analogy.

    1. At the present time, Heinlein’s not particularly, what you’d call _active_ as far as promoting any specific agenda.

      but, yeah, if you want to call him out, feel free

    2. Was Heinlein on the board of directors of a national organization that was actively lobbying to deny equal rights to women?

    3.  By all means, if you like. I’m not that impressed by him personally, but I’m not aware he ever helped captain something like NOM, just to be a jerk to women. Of course, he may have done, and I’m just not aware of it.

    4. You are free to do so if you want.  I certainly dismiss his “elder guy gets hot babe” plotlines as often as I can, no matter how much I agree with the political principles of The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.

    5.  Women fare a lot better in Heinlein than they do in Hemingway. I say as long as we’re derailing the subject, let’s call ol’ Ernie out on the mat.

    6. Well… yes? Or I would rather discuss, but anyway, his views are pretty obvious in his writing. I loved reading Heinlein as a child/teenager, now I cannot read them. I’m sure I will pick one up again, but I still haven’t got over re-reading Podkayne of Mars, a book I loved when I read it as a kid, as an adult several years ago. Holy crap!!! I still have an intense need to get a shovel, find out where he is buried, and go tell him exactly what I think of his misogynistic views. Especially the last chapter totally turned my stomach.

      Nobody is without their faults, I usually try to view the art as is, although with the understanding of who and where the author is coming from. (So, when I read Podkayne of Mars, I better understand _why_ the rant is included in the book when I understand that the writer is a well known misogynist.) I can appreciate Ender’s Game as a book, but that doesn’t mean that I have to support the writer or his view.

    1. There’s apparently something worse than slacktivism, smugtivism. How about you actually muse more on freedom of speech and stop abusing it to support evil and quash dissent?

      Someone can do horrible things, but they deserve no support and monetary entitlements.

      1. The one imagined by projecting conservatives.

        If you’re a poor human being I don’t need a list to tell me to avoid your product.

  10. You know, I am just about as progressive / liberal as they come for my age group, and I am all for gay rights and equality across the board.  Yet call me naive, but I think an artist’s work should be judged on its own merit, independent of any personal beliefs or lifestyle choices of the artist. Compared to this same story posted on slashdot earlier today, I am surprised that so few people in the comments here so far seem to hold a similar view.

    1. “I am all for gay rights and equality across the board”

      If you provide financial support to someone who is a political lobbyist against gay rights, you are a shitty ally. You go beyond naive to willful ignorance.

    2. I am all for gay rights and equality across the board.

      No, no you’re not.  I can’t decide whether to tell you to look up accurate definitions of “all”, “for”, “equality” or “rights”.

    3. If a writer I liked turned out to be a Klan member it would certainly make me rethink supporting their art.  These days there are a lot of great writers out there whose work deserves support who are trying to help people out instead of actively supporting denial of rights of others.

      But I’m not judging Card’s work here, I haven’t seen it, I can’t say if it’s a good comic or not.  I’m refusing to support it.  The way that Leni Riefenstahl made some bold, dramatic DP choices in Triumph of the Will but that thing is never going to grace my shelf.
      Card isn’t going to go broke without my dollars and neither is NOM, but I’m sure going to sleep a hell of a lot better knowing that they didn’t get any support from me.

    4. Has anybody been discrediting his works due to his views? I only see people saying that they won’t be buying his work and telling others not to buy his work, either.

      Although I do think art should be judged on its own merit, art doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The artist’s views influences the art, so knowing about the artist means we can get a better understanding of the art, too. (Or at least for me it helps when a writer suddenly goes into a rant about something… Heinlein ranting about woman’s place, or Hoyle’s digs about the Big Bang)

    5. For several years the work of Seattle artist Charles Krafft has been judged “on its own merit”. People looked at, say, his teapot shaped like Hitler’s head and thought he was being ironic. It’s recently come out that Krafft is a Holocaust denier, and has expressed white separatist views.

      This has caused people to rethink how they view his work, and to question his intentions when considering the meaning of his work. Are they wrong to do so?

      Admittedly there are a couple of differences here. For one thing, as far as I know, Krafft’s work doesn’t directly state his beliefs the way Card has put anti-gay statements in the mouths of some of his characters. Also, although Krafft has spoken on a white supremacist podcast, he’s not publicly sitting on the board of any racist or anti-Semitic organization, and, when questioned by reporters he knows will probably disagree with his views, he’s shown an unwillingness to share them.

      So the major difference is that Card is a lot more public and a lot more vocal about his prejudices, and we know he financially supports efforts to take away the rights of others. But, still, knowing what I’ve just told you about Krafft, would you still be willing to defend him by saying, “I don’t believe the Holocaust is a myth, but…”? Would you still say his work should be judged solely on its own merits, and, if so, what standards would you use for determining those merits?

      1. Of course you should still judge his work on its own merits. It’s perfectly possible to divorce the art from the artist. That’s how I’m still able to read Lovecraft.

        But — and this is a big but — you can accept the art without supporting or promoting the artist. If you hold certain beliefs you have a responsibility to spend your money in a way that doesn’t support things you find execrable. If you like Ender’s Game, fine (although I think you have terrible taste), but at the point you realise that money you pay for Card’s books is going to finance a hate group, you need to stop paying. And if you want to be able to buy the next Superman comic, you need to send a message to DC that says “I will not give you my money if you make this choice”.

        I’m lucky that I hate Card’s work as much as I hate his politics, so there’s no dissonance for me here. I’m even luckier that Lovecraft is dead, because there’s no way he’d be getting dollar one from me no matter how much I loved “The Colour Out Of Space”.

        1. “you can accept the art without supporting or promoting the artist”

          “Supporting the work” doesn’t have to be providing direct financial benefit to his cause, though.

  11. Some people say we should judge the art.  Ender’s Game would not hold up to that scrutiny very well.  It is a plot without any character development, dialogue, or much descriptive prose.  Simple, not complex sentences.  It espouses an awful concept of morality by suggesting that as long as a person doesn’t intend to do wrong, then they don’t actually do wrong.  Even though Ender does horrible things and is capable of recognizing what he is doing, somehow Card wants us to think he is innocent of genocide because society shaped him to do it and his own intentions were always good. 

    There is a pretty good (but long) article written a while ago about Ender’s problematic morality.  Worth chewing on when you think about the lessons of Ender’s Game.

      1. That is an eternity to the Interwebs!  To be matched only by the ensuing nerd flame war over the word ‘parsec’.

    1. Not to mention that Card can’t write female characters worth a damn.  Ender’s Game gives us TWO female characters – one of which is the absolute epitome of gender essentialism (she’s soft, gentle, kind, loving, forgiving, with never a harsh word to say about anyone), and the other of which no one would identify as a female character if Card hadn’t used female pronouns to refer to her.

  12. I would tend to agree except for his more recent moves to promote and fund his particular bigotry.

  13.  And at the end of the day Card’s still a bigoted jackass who has called for open violence against the society he profits from should they go any further in recognizing the humanity of those he hates. So fuck him and fuck your “how dare you not tolerate his intolerance” concern trolling. That you try to boil this down to a simple difference of opinion glaringly illustrates the privilege you possess that others do not enjoy.

  14. It’s not solely about an author having an opposing viewpoint from that of his readers. The aforementioned ‘furore’ over Card being drafted to write Supes is due to him being on NOM’s (National Organization for Marriage) board. As opposed to just having a homophobic viewpoint, he’s an active participant in their doings.

    So, yeah. When the dude is out there campaigning against ‘the gay agenda’, or whatever NOM is calling it today, I do not feel compelled to support his professional career. It makes me even less interested in buying his books (give him money, when he’s donated to places like NOM? Pass.), and it makes me want to boycott his writing of a character who is supposed to stand for all things good and just.

  15.  No one’s stopping him from writing novels.  No one’s boycotting his publisher to try to prevent him from writing novels.  No one is preventing him from doing his own independent comic featuring characters of his own creation.

    Instead, people are boycotting this series on the basis they (Superman fans) don’t want Superman written by a bigoted loon.  Superman is owned by DC, not by Card, and furthermore the Superman franchise just has a wee bit more cultural ubiquity than, say, Ender’s Game.  This is a conversation between Superman fans and the owner of Superman — DC comics — about what the fans think is appropriate, and since it is fandom that has made Superman a winning title for DC for something like five decades now I think that’s pretty reasonable.

    And bashing someone for his or her opinions is completely fair game and not at all hypocritical.  Censoring Card for his views would indeed be hypocritical but that is not what’s happening.  Again, he’s free to write and publish whatever he likes as long as he’s the creator or has permission from the creator.  Some people don’t think DC should give him permission (let alone pay him) to write Superman.

  16. I think a lot of people have more objections because Card is writing “superman” and people like to think of superman as an avatar of their own conceptions of goodness.

    I note that Card wrote Iron Man for Marvel and there were not this kind of furor. Maybe its because Iron Man is the go-to guy for jerkiness in the Marvel Universe. 

  17. It helps that Hemingway and Twain are not still alive so I don’t have to worry about my fandom supporting their extracurricular douchbaggery.

  18. Oh for the love of… This isn’t about his views. He actively campaigns against gay people’s rights. When one’s personal opinions crosses into activism and funding to promote social inequality and discrimination against a minority, people are completely entitled to decide they don’t want to contribute to the cause.

    I can live with the fact that some of my favourite artists may have flaws, or be total curmudgeons or have really weird world views… But promoting hate and discrimination is where I draw a line. There are enough talented artists out there who can also manage to be reasonably decent towards humanity and I’d much rather encourage them. It also does not make me a hypocrite: I don’t expect people to shower me with admiration and support my art if I go out of my way to make the world a shittier place for them. I think that’s pretty fair.

  19. Actually, OSC IS trying to promote discrimination against gays – he’s a board member of the National Organization for Marriage.

    So, basically, and with all due respect, your argument is bad and you should feel bad.

  20. I find OSC’s religious beliefs silly and annoying, but he is a pro, and don’t let his opinions or beliefs to seep into his work, I respect that.


    He doesn’t like gays, for whatever reason, somebody asked, he answered, that’s his opinion and he is entitled to it, he is not trying to promote discrimination agains gays,


    he is not attacking them,


    he never wrote a word against them in his books,


    this whole thing was just because somebody asked a question and he just didn’t lie about it just to please the masses.


  21. >He is not trying to promote discrimination agains gays, he is not attacking them.

    Yes he is, and yes he is.

  22. It is true that you are not calling for Card to be “censored.”

    “Blacklisted” is the correct term for what you are requesting.In a longer post (below) I lay out a case that what we should be asking of DC is simply that they exercise good editorial oversight and house restraint in keeping Card’s objectionable views out of Superman.  Because it does not serve society to have authors blacklisted (ie. careers ended) because some of their ideas are objectionable.

  23. I don’t know.  According to the logic of my argument that would be between Iron Man fans and Marvel.  I am not an Iron Man fan.

    Edit: It occurs to me he may also not have been on the board of NOM at the time, in which case there was considerably less at stake from the point of view of equality advocates.

  24. Pretty sure that was before this whole anti-gay bullshit, at least at this level.  And most people are now only becoming aware. Not a problem, in my opinion.

  25. I should hope so. I read it long after it was published, and thought it was not just terrible but undercut the central thesis of the character by giving him super-powers. 

  26. IIRC it was before 2008 when he joined NOM and wrote direct screeds about violent overthrow of any government that supported human rights for gays, but I could be wrong.

  27. People were more concerned about the war then, things have shifted more to social issues.  Just my 2 cents.  It probably wouldn’t be tolerated by the community today.

  28. “I note that Card wrote Iron Man for Marvel and there were not this kind of furor”

    And, again, what year was this? You failed to note.

  29. It’s not blacklisting any more than suggesting that Oliver Stone might be the wrong person to direct a film about 9/11 given his penchant for historical revisionism and conspiracy theories.

    No one is saying he can’t work in the comics industry.  Superman readers are saying they’d prefer he not write this particular title.

    “Careers ended” is a ridiculous bit of hyperbole here and to me it really detracts from your argument.

    The comparison to Ginsberg is also a little silly given the fact that Ginsberg was never invited to write Superman. Regardless of whether Card is being “blacklisted” it’s not as though his publisher is removing all copies of Ender’s Game from the shelves — or even refusing to publish future works. Card is free to write and publish as he sees fit and his works will continue to be available — exactly as is the case with Ginsberg. But I’ve already explained all this in my comment above.

  30. Blacklisting? It’s boycotting.

    And it’s more than Card’s “objectionable ideas” — it’s about his actions:Hollywood Reporter: “In 2009, he joined the board of directors of the right-leaning National Organization for Marriage, which has been at the forefront of opposing same-sex marriage laws.”

  31. “it does not serve society to have authors blacklisted (ie. careers ended) because some of their ideas are objectionable.”

    It depends entirely on what those ideas are. You can go out of your way to support them, and we can make them unwanted in society.

  32. In before anybody else educates you on the fact that freedom of expression is not freedom from consequences.

  33. He has every right to express his opinions, and his detractors have every right to try to prevent him from writing the next Superman comic, and the publishers have every right to decide they’d rather disassociate themselves from Card if they so choose.

    Freedom of expression is not freedom from criticism. A common mistake.

  34. Translation: “Don’t pillory Card for pillorying gays. Stand silently on the sidelines while he carries out his hateful cause.”

  35.  Oh, good grief. Must we? Again? I can’t see the tedious argle-bargle ‘guest’ is spouting, cos I got to the party late, but I can probably hack up a reasonable facsimile of its bigoted jackassed-ness, were I so inclined. Butthurt Ender fan decrying the cruel folks who can’t accept OSC’s inalienable right to be awful to others without being called a jerk for it amirite?

  36. Nononono, you’ve got it all wrong: NO-ONE wants Big Government interfering in people’s sex lives. Least of all Orson. That would be WRONG. They want Small Government; nasty, mean-spirited, prurient, busybodying small government, the kind that can get right up close, and really twist the knife…

  37.  What’s your opinion on ‘He is deeply unsettled by them because, secretly, he thinks he might kinda like it, cos sometimes he sees some guy, and they give him a funny feeling in his tummy that he’s sure God would be sad about’? ;)

  38. Butthurt Ender fan

    Do keep in mind that Mr. Card is now a director of what is essentially a highly-organized political astroturfing business.  We’re a bit past ‘fans’.

  39. Just to be clear Mark, are you saying that people who join unpopular organizations might lose their ability to get a job, and that is a reasonable outcome?  

  40. People don’t want to buy his work. He can still create and he can still sell, in another venue or for another company.  He’s not lost his ability to get a job. That’s bullshit.  People just don’t want to buy his creations.

  41. So we’re supposed to buy his work in order to support him even if he produces hateful and awful work?

  42. “are you saying that people who join unpopular organizations might lose their ability to get a job, and that is a reasonable outcome?  ”

    If those people operate human-rights denying lobbying groups, yes.

  43.  I think that is exactly right.
    To take it to an extreme, if he were involved in a holocaust denial organization or was a KKK grand dragon, I should hope that his job prospects would be limited. His own choices are less universally reviled, but still objectionable to many.

  44. Yes. He can say whatever he wants about gays deserving arrest, but if we say he isn’t entitled to represent a symbol of Americana, we’re “wrong”.

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