The basic job of a comic book cover is to catch readers’ eyes, but some covers end up attracting attention for all the wrong reasons. This has turned out to be the case for a variant cover for Paul Cornell and Jimmy Broxton’s “Vampirella” #3.
The variant was intended to pastiche the salacious covers of certain 1970s men’s magazines, with cover lines alluding to various kinds of risqué content. But what Cornell missed during the approval process was how one misguided cover line in particular could be viewed by readers.
Once the comic’s cover and solicitation details hit the Internet, a number of fans pointed out on Twitter that the cover line “She was a he! I Found out the Hard Way!” was extremely problematic, tapping into transphobic fears and the associated violence directed at the trans community.
— Chase VanWeerdhuizen (@chasbahlovesyou) February 20, 2017
This prompted a swift mea culpa and a frank apology from Cornell. Posting on his website, the author acknowledged, “That’s a line that impacts the lives of real people. Indeed, let’s be blunt, ends the lives of real people. A number of people called us on this, and I got Dynamite to cut the line. It won’t be appearing on the finished comic. I saw the line and let it through, so this is my responsibility.”
At the suggestion of fellow comics creator Tee Franklin, the “Vampirella” writer went on to announce that he will donate the script fee for the issue to North America-based charity Trans Lifeline, and to make further donations to other similar charities that operate in other parts of the world.
“I can’t stress this enough: the cover line doesn’t reflect what’s in the comic at all,” Cornell explained. “No more than ‘the NYC BDSM Bingo Scandal’ does. The commandant isn’t trans. We don’t address her sexuality. She hasn’t been drawn yet, but I describe her in the script as the sort of part that would be played by the mature Diana Dors. And that’s the tone the issue takes, the opposite of the tone suggested by the cover. (I don’t condone lines like ‘lesbian shame’, either, but… you see what I mean, I hope, about the use of irony.)”
“I hate that a group of people I cherish and support, people who have to live every day with a ton of abuse that the rest of us can’t imagine, have been hurt by something I did,” the writer continued. ” I’m ashamed at having fucked up so badly, and I apologise enormously and sincerely. This isn’t one of those ‘if you were offended’, offhand things. I really should have seen it and I’m kicking myself. It’s especially awful in the current political climate, when more than ever we need to look out for people who are being singled out and victimised.”
Dynamite is expected to make a further statement about the cover soon, according to Cornell.
Written by Paul Cornell and drawn Jimmy Broxton, “Vampirella” #3 and its revised variant cover will hit stores in May 2017.
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