Writers are fluid in the big two comic publishers. That is as bankable as the fan outrage that will pour out after popular writers are left in the cold.
Gail Simone’s announcement about being fired from DC Comics Batgirl title, on Wednesday December 5th, by email, flabbergasted the comics community. Readers across the Internet found tons of condolences, outrage and concern. One thing hard pressed to find, perhaps it cannot be found at all, were those happy about the announcement. That’s because Simone’s run on Batgirl was successful, bringing the company money, and the most high profiled female character in the DCnU right now. Also, Simone was known in the online community for continually towing the company line. Her “Ape in a Cape” tumblr was always peppered with questions from fans about what was really going on with Stephanie Brown, Barbara being Batgirl again and how it all came about. No matter what, Simone handled the questions tactfully and directly siding with DC and the editor’s decisions.
With no explanation from the publisher about why the change happened, it left the comics community uncertain. The biggest question from both male and female readers is “how could someone selling so well be let go?”
However, many female readers (myself included) are left with even more concerns.
You can look at the complaints of, ‘It’s one fewer female writer… it’s not fair… it’s just the editors being part of an old boys club.’ Those complaints are just that: complaints with no pure factual foundation. However, with little to go on uneasy can easily grow.
Karen Berger had just stepped down from Vertigo that same week. The loss of another influential female under the same company umbrella did not sit well. Especially, since Simone had been paraded out for an SDCC media blitz with other new 52 creators. DC has been hit hard the last year with a laundry list of complaints from female readers: The loss of Stephanie Brown, over-sexualization of Catwoman and Starfire, the low percentage of female writers and artists as compared to previous years, online readership surveys that weed-out only the strictest of fans and under report the number of female readers when compared to social media measurement tools like Facebook (five percent as compared to the 25% reported just back in 2011, etc.)
These small pieces looked at individually are not seen as much. When viewed as a whole they can just leave a fangirl feeling sick. Especially if the fan has tried justifying some of these decisions thinking, “editorial must have some long term plan.” Revelations lately would speak to the contrary. In the end a fangirl has to decide with her wallet if the character is more important than the loss of that same character’s defining writer.
Let’s be clear, that is not a call for a boycott. It’s a statement of fact. The only thing that matters in the comics industry is sales.
Or it was, until Wednesday December 5th.