Jason Aaron and Jason Latour’s “Southern Bastards” is simultaneously a love letter and a scathing critique of the American South. The comic follows a number of people living across Craw County, Alabama. The fictional region is dominated by high school football, unreported crimes, and delicious sweet tea.
Both Jasons are actually from the Deep South, and use the comic to work through their ideas on what this part of America is really like. In the past, that criticism transcended the comic to the real world with a variant cover condemning the Confederate Battle Flag and raising $18,000 for the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, a charity set up in response to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting.
Today “Southern Bastards” announced a new charity cover. Telling readers “Don’t Be a Bastard”, this variant features a main character of the series, Berta Tubb, wielding her grandaddy’s stick. She’s wearing a shirt that says “Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda”, the same slogan Marvel character Mockingbird wore in a cover of her recently cancelled solo series. Chelsea Cain, the writer of “Mockingbird”, left Twitter after multiple cases of harassment. This did not prevent the book from being a bestseller, but put the narrative surrounding the book into a darker context.
The money raised from the variant cover’s sales will be split between the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU. The cover comes as part of an ongoing series of variants, showcasing multiple artists’ interpretations of Berta Tubb.
While the money raised for charity seems to be motivated by recent events in American politics, the “Don’t Be a Bastard” and “Feminist Agenda” message is clear and specific: online harassment is wrong, don’t do it. On its surface, the message may seem obvious, but it is part of a larger ongoing conversation in the comics community about harassment and how to best deal with it. This cover is one of the most explicit instances of a popular comic publicly condemning harassment.
“Southern Bastards” #16 will be on shelves Wednesday, January 11.
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