Thursday’s installment of CBR’s long-running (and infamously blunt) review column “The Buy Pile” attracted more controversy than usual when writer Hannibal Tabu described the retailer at his local comic book store — Comics Ink in Culver City, just outside LA city limits — tearing up a copy of Image’s Pretty Deadly #1 in front of customers. Tabu made it know that he also had a negative take on the issue, calling it “remarkable in its rough hewn, unfinished looking art, drifting narrative and tedium.”
The incident as reported quickly took a life of its own, with sites like Bleeding Cool and Multiversity Comics weighing in on the situation, and industry professionals discussing and debating the topic; including Secret Avengers and Zero writer Ales Kot asking if the destruction was prompted by “anger about the product, or also by misogyny” given that three of the four main creative forces on the book — writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, penciler and inker Emma Rios and colorist Jordie Bellaire — are female (letter Claytown Cowles is male).
DeConnick remained silent on the issue until Friday, in a Tumblr post titled, “The Only Statement I Will Make On The Matter.” In it, the writer says she first found humor in getting a negative review in The Buy Pile, viewing it as something of a rite of passage: “I literally laughed out loud. Hey! I got jumped in!”
As far as her comic being torn in half, DeConnick takes it in stride, saying, “It’s his shop, his book, he can do whatever he wants. Doesn’t seem like good business to me, but what do I know? I don’t run a store. Maybe his customer eat that kind of thing up like pro wrestling. If it’s working for him, good on ‘im.” (She also writes that she doesn’t think her gender “had anything to do with anything.”)
What the post does target as a problem is the resulting distraction, which has changed the dialogue surrounding “Pretty Deadly” to focus on the actions of a single retailer. Yet there’s plenty worth noting about “Pretty Deadly” #1 itself: Buy Pile aside, the first issue has netted nearly universally positive reviews (CBR reviewer Doug Zawisza gave it 4.5 stars, among other high praise). Along with fellow Image newcomer “Velvet” (both debuted on Oct. 23), it’s sold out of a reported initial 57,000 print run at the distributor level, and is going into a second printing — which, according to DeConnick, far outpaced her expectations.
“You know what we thought this book would do? 9-12K,” her post reads. “A couple of our more experienced friends at Image said that they thought it might do as well as 20K — we guffawed.”
So recognition of significant achievements in the field of creator-owned comics was drowned out by one person ripping up a comic book, and DeConnick’s disappointment is clear. “My team got ONE WHOLE DAY to feel good about defying expectations before what should have been a non-event became the ubiquitous headline.”
Perhaps the most wisdom comes in the closing words of DeConnick’s post: “All we want to do is have fun, hang out and make comics. Can we pleeeeeeeaaase move on from this shit now?”