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Stereotypical Weekend

by  in Comic News Comment
Stereotypical Weekend

People get offended over the damnedest things. I got this press release a couple of days ago…

 

Basically it was about this entry from the BOOM! Studios blog….the relevant part, for those too lazy to click, went as follows:

To All Concerned Parties,

We agree that a comic book that asserts Pagans are evil and destructive might well be considered insensitive, offensive and even slanderous. However, SALEM: QUEEN OF THORNS is not that book. We appreciate your criticisms, but feel they are based on a mistaken understanding of the true content of our story.

In SALEM, the religious authorities are an evil force that persecutes innocents in the witch trials. They aren’t celebrated in any way and are, in fact, major villains.

Our protagonist, Elias Hooke, is a reformed member of the Church who carries a heavy burden of guilt for the evil he performed for them in ignorance. And his quest to redeem himself is one of his main motivations.

More importantly, one of our chief characters, Hannah Foster, is a healer accused of witchcraft. She is in no way the “demonized” villain of the piece. Rather, she is one of the key heroes on a noble journey to combat evil and save the world.

We welcome your opinions and realize that when all is said and done, you may still disagree with what we feel to be a positive depiction of Pagans and a strong pro-tolerance theme in SALEM. But we respectfully request that you base such judgment on the content of the work itself, rather than incorrect assumptions and incomplete information. Because you are correct about one thing — prejudice in all forms is an ugly thing.

Sincerely,

Kevin Walsh and Chris Morgan
Creators, SALEM: QUEEN OF THORNS

Now, at first glance, this seems like a very high-minded concern, and an equally high-minded response. And certainly the creators of Salem are to be applauded for being sensitive to these concerns in the first place. It’s just that… the more I thought about it, the more I wondered why anyone would be concerned in the first place.

I mean, witches are worried about comics? Come on.

Comics have been GREAT to witches.

Other media, yes, absolutely, there’s a concern. Most non-comics people, granted, think of the usual stereotype when the subject gets brought up…

 

But comics fans, if you say ‘witchcraft’ or ‘magick’ or even ‘pagan,’ would be much more likely to think of someone like the Scarlet Witch.

 

And then mutter a few curses about ‘goddamn Disassembled.’

Or, old-school superhero guys like me might very well flash on the image of Dr. Strange’s apprentice Clea.

I miss Clea. I remember when Strange and Clea were obviously living in sin in Greenwich Village and nobody raised an eyebrow, not even when Clea cheated on Stephen with Ben Franklin… and then a couple of years later there was some sort of panic over DC showing Nightwing and Starfire cohabiting in Titans Tower. Good times.

Though really, when someone says ‘white magic’ to me I automatically think of the Legionnaire, the one related to Dream Girl… Mysa something.

 

I’m not even a Legion fan, it’s just a word-association thing. Because her actual Legion name was “White Witch.” And because… uh… well… I’m a huge nerd.

Of course, for the X-fans, there’s really only one place to go.

 

At least, it USED to be Illyana Rasputin. Haven’t really kept up there, I confess, not since Grant Morrison left.

But the point is, there just aren’t a whole lot of negative associations for witches in superhero or adventure comics. For a comics fan, it’s basically a word that means “Young hot chick that does magic.”

Even at Archie Comics.

 

I’ll grant you that Sabrina’s aunts Hilda and Zelda weren’t too great-looking to start with but even they got a makeover for the TV show.  

 

Caroline Rhea may not exactly qualify as ‘hot,’ admittedly, but that’s still definitely trading up from where Aunt Hilda started.

So really, witches don’t have an image problem as far as comics are concerned. Even the traditionally designed ones — athough Agatha Harkness or EC’s Old Witch might have been a little hagged out in their looks, they were still cool.

Certainly there’s not many accurate depictions of the Craft in comics, but so what? They can get in line with all the other positive-but-inaccurate stereotypes.

Just pulling another stereotype out of a hat — in real life, “millionaire playboys” are overprivileged jerks getting in drunken brawls outside the Viper Room after getting dumped by Paris Hilton, not intuitive geniuses in peak physical condition who have devoted their lives to fighting crime. There are lots of others. Let’s face the facts here. Comics is not where you go for documentary accuracy. We won’t even get started talking about the sciences.

The point is, witches don’t have an image problem with comics fans. There’s no negativity there.

You know who SHOULD be writing angry letters? The ones who suffer from negativity? The people with a HUGE image problem?

Doctors.

 

Think of the roll call of doctors in comics. Even the good ones tend to have… issues.

But never mind the portrayal. Just the names:

…Dr. Doom…

 

…Dr. Octopus…

 

…Dr. Death…

 

… and so on.

Psychiatrists would REALLY have a bone to pick, it seems to me. In the DC universe particularly, not only are they the most ineffectual guys ever to staff an asylum, but a great many of their number are real Bat-haters.

 

And I don’t even want to re-open the can of worms about the image problem THIS doctor gave to the profession. Even his fellow villains are looking like they’re a little skeeved by him lately.

 

Good-guy doctors are a lot fewer in number, and they’re not really doing all that much to drag the profession out of the mud. Look at the way this one can’t dress himself properly; doesn’t matter what the situation is, he can’t seem to keep a shirt on.

 

Doctor Mid-Nite is probably the pick of the lot even though he can’t spell and lets his owl have the run of the house.

 

Consider that. Yeah, sure, trained owl, whatever. But… he still has to eat. Have you ever seen the way a real owl behaves at dinnertime?

 

Okay, I admit that was an osprey. But the point is, I don’t want any damn owl catching mice in MY office, I’ll tell you that.

DC just relaunched THIS doctor, as it happens.

 

As… a failed drunken psychiatrist living by doing bum fights for the internet, introduced to us as he’s waking up in a dumpster. I don’t think the AMA gets to put that one in the plus column just yet.

On the other hand, this guy is my favorite character at Marvel Comics.

 

He’s a doctor, he’s cool, he’s got his act together, he’s got class and brains and a great house in Greenwich Village. History shows that the chicks clearly dig him. Only he’s not really a doctor any more. He gave it up for… what?

Oh yeah. Witchcraft.

*

I’m just goofing off here, of course. But there is one group that comics writers pick on endlessly and I am getting a little peevish about it.

Married people.

I really have no idea WHAT creators have against matrimony, but the constant disdain for the institution is getting on my last nerve.

But this is already starting to get a bit long, so we’ll come back to it… next week. See you then.

 

 

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