Publisher draws fire over anti-gay writer
A writer commissioned to help launch a new "Adventures of Superman" digital comics series is drawing controversy for the comics' publisher not for his perception of the Man of Steel, but for his perception of marriage -- specifically, his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Science fiction writer Orson Scott Card has been commissioned by longtime "Superman" publisher DC Comics to write a two-part story launching its new "Adventures of Superman" digital series.
Card is perhaps best known for the classic 1985 sci-fi novel "Ender's Game," but he also has sparked controversy with his outspoken criticism of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
"Just because you give legal sanction to a homosexual couple and call their contract a 'marriage' does not make it a marriage," Card wrote in a 2004 essay titled "Homosexual 'Marriage' and Civilization." The essay concluded, " ... either civilized people will succeed in establishing a government that protects the family...or the politically correct barbarians will have complete victory over the family -- and, lacking the strong family structure on which civilization depends, our civilization will collapse or fade away."
News that Card would be among writers on the new "Adventures of Superman" digital comics prompted marriage-equality group AllOut.org to launch a petition drive aimed at DC Comics.
"By hiring Orson Scott Card despite his anti-gay efforts you are giving him a new platform and supporting his hate," reads the petition -- now with nearly 12,000 signatures, according to the group.
Card is no stranger to comic-book writing. He has written for Marvel Comics, penning series such as "Ultimate Iron Man" and comics based on his own "Ender's Game" among others.
The new "Adventures of Superman" is not DC Comics' long-running, flagship "Superman" comic books but an ongoing digital anthology series of short stories about the hero that will be written by various authors.
DC Comics, a division of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, issued a statement Wednesday defending its decision to include Card among the writers.
"As content creators we steadfastly support freedom of expression, however the personal views of individuals associated with DC Comics are just that -- personal views -- and not those of the company itself," the statement said.
Card declined to comment to CNN.
Mitch Cutler, whose store, St. Mark's Comics has been open in New York City's East Village neighborhood for nearly 30 years, seemed to agree.
"Someone did tweet to us about boycotting the series, but since the first day (we opened) we have been committed to carrying everything we can in comics," Cutler said. "I'm sure right now on the shelves there is content I might not necessarily agree with. So while I understand Mr. Card may have advocated things that might upset people, it would be very uncharacteristic of us to refuse to carry something for that reason."
Jermaine Exum who manages Acme Comics in Greensboro, North Carolina -- the city where Card lives -- has a slightly different reason for deciding to carry the comics.
"Our main focus is that other creators are working on this," including artists like Jeff Parker who has ties to Acme, Exum said. "The public is running away with the Orson Scott Card story, but I don't want to short-change these other people working on the series."
Phil Jimenez, an openly gay writer and comic-book artist who has worked on "Astonishing X-men," "Captain America Corps," "The Amazing Spiderman" and more, is not OK with the decision, and believes Card's stance on homosexuality and same-sex marriage takes away certain people's civil rights.
"I'm encouraging people not to buy his work because when they do they actively support a foully bigoted man who uses his power and influence to affect public policy," Jimenez tweeted.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which has actively campaigned against same-sex marriage efforts and which counts Card as a member of its board of directors, says protesting Card's comics is un-American.
"For a movement that says it's focused on civil rights, it's surprising that supporters of gay marriage want to attack an opposing viewpoint and become violent," Brown told CNN.
The decision to include Card comes at a time when the world of comics, while sometimes still criticized for over-sexualizing female characters, has moved to make homosexual characters a big part of storylines.
In July 2012, in the second issue of "Earth 2," a new series in DC Comics' "The New 52," reimagining of many classic DC characters, Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern is an openly gay man. The series, along with DC's Batwoman, is up for a 2013 Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Award.
Marvel Comics had its first same-sex wedding in a June 2012 issue of "Astonishing X-Men" with superhero Northstar -- the first major comic-book character to come out as gay in 1992 -- marrying his longtime partner, Kyle.