“Comics readers are 99 percent the best people you’d ever want to meet,” Cain wrote. “The other 1 percent can be really mean. Perhaps that statistic holds up across humans, in general, but in my experience, this is a different kind of mean. It’s misogynist and dismissive and obsessive and it thrives off taking down other people.”
Cain deleted her Twitter account on Wednesday, a week after the publication of “Mockingbird” #8, the final issue of the series. In her post on her site, Cain said she became used to a “certain level of take-down tweets” over the course of the series, stemming from one several months back that read, “Thanks, @chelseacain for ruining my favorite character with your feminist crap.”
Feminist messages were strong throughout the series; artist Joelle Jones’ cover of “Mockingbird” #8 depicted the title character wearing a shirt that read “Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda.” On Oct. 17, Cain tweeted that even though “Mockingbird” was cancelled, fans “need to make sure Marvel makes room for more titles by women about women kicking ass.” Eight days later, she tweeted, “I’m amazed at the cruelty comics brings out in people” and announced her intention to leave the social networking site.
In subsequent tweets, Cain clarified that her experience in comics was unique — in years as a best-selling novelist, she shared, she never encountered the type of ongoing verbal abuse that she received in a few months writing comic books.
“Know that I did not leave Twitter because of rape threats or because someone had posted my address, or any of the truly vile tactics you hear about,” Cain wrote. “I left Twitter because of the ordinary daily abuse that I decided I didn’t want to live with anymore. The base level of casual crassness and sexism.”
Cain noted that her departure from Twitter was a microcosm of a larger problem of comic book readers acting as bullies — frequently towards women in the industry — given a platform via social media.
“I think the larger cultural story is important,” she wrote. “People are trolled. People are ruined. And trolls get away with it, because they can take down anyone, if their ire is raised. There is still a vocal segment of the comic book readership that is dominated by sexist jerks with Twitter accounts. Twitter is still a highly flawed platform that nurtures a culture of bullying.”
As part of the ongoing dialogue surrounding the situation, superstar comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis, who is personal friends with Cain, received criticism for saying on Twitter that “it’s not comics” that was the problem, which was perceived as dismissive of Cain’s concerns. Cain posted on Facebook that Bendis’ comment was “completely misunderstood.”
“I want you all to know that he is one of my dearest friends, a mentor, and someone who absolutely has my back,” Cain wrote. “I thought his tweets were supportive and awesome. I went to bed thinking his tweets were supportive and awesome. Somehow, by the time I woke up, a whole other narrative had formed. We were friends, talking in the middle of the night, and we were talking like friends, in the sense that we know each other and we’ve had larger discussions that provide context for his remarks. He’s right, by the way, there are misogynistic twerps in all industries.”
“Mockingbird” was the first ongoing comic book series for Cain, who is best known as the author of the “Heartsick” series of thriller novels. Though one of Marvel’s lower-selling titles, “Mockingbird,” illustrated by artist Kate Niemczyk, received critical praise throughout its run for its clever approach to format and its keen depiction of the series’ lead character, long-running Marvel hero Mockingbird/Bobbi Morse.
When Cain’s Twitter exit came to light, fans and creators supported the writer with the “#StandWithChelseaCain” hashtag, which was a trending topic for much of Wednesday. The first collected edition of the series, “I Can Explain,” is currently Amazon’s No. 1 seller in both superhero graphic novels and books published by Marvel, with sales likely buoyed due to increased awareness of the series following recent events.
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