Heidi MacDonald over at The Beat published an article yesterday about a series of "torture" variant covers for the Avatar Comics series, Crossed, which asked the question: "what kind of person buys a torture variant cover anyway?" In the article, MacDonald posted a sampling of these covers, which are typically sold at a high price to collectors, and commented:
I get the appeal of a little transgressive gore now and then, but these are basically images of sawed off limbs, flaying and twisted sexual situations that make Mark Millar look like Hannah Montana. And yes, I know people are getting what they asked for but….seriously what kind of people are they?
Well, Crossed writer Justin Jordan had a response on his blog:
I suspect if someone were to publically say “WHAT KIND OF SICK FUCK BUYS THIS SHIT????” about, say, S and M, then you’d get a much different kind of response. But understand that whether you think enjoying S and M or gay porn is equivalent to enjoying gore, you are essentially judging someone by their taste in fiction in a way that demonizes and marginalizes them. It says that if you like this, you are a fucked up human being. Torture covers are apparently an acceptable target.
The conversation quickly erupted on The Beat's comments section, with notable personalities like Jimmie Robinson, Kurt Busiek, Gary Scott Beatty, Heidi MacDonald's cat Lucy, and Dirk Manning adding their two cents. Even our pal Briane Keene got in on the action, posting a long comment which concluded with this:
I do have a problem, however, with others telling people what they should or should not read, and suggesting they suffer some sort of mental illness for their preference in fictional entertainment. Personally, I’d rather gouge my eyes out with spoons than read vampire erotica (another facet of the horror genre) but I would never presume to suggest that anyone who reads vampire erotica has something wrong with them.
This attracted the attention of Anita Blake novelist Laurell K. Hamilton, the reigning queen of vampire erotica, who tweeted in response:
But Keene was quick to make sure that Hamilton was shown the proper respect, proving that this was an e-fight like none we've ever seen before:
And speaking of Laurell, that reminds me to leave an addendum, if I may. Laurell’s a friend and peer, and her accomplishments in the genre are legend. The work she’s best known for is not my cup of tea, personally, but it has merit and value and serves the genre and many, many readers enjoy it. I would never think to suggest they must be fucked up for doing so, nor suggest the same of her for writing it.
Which brings us back to Crossed…
Keene then took his commentary to Twitter, where he joined Justin Jordan in trying to talk Rachel Deering into throwing away her dignity for some cheap publicity:
Rachel wasn't biting, but another tangent broke out between Beat writer Steve Morris and Bleeding Cool mogul Rich Johnston, who technically works for Avatar, about why the comics media, aside from The Beat and Bleeding Cool itself, never talk about this torture porn stuff:
Gail Simone got in on the action too:
And as Johnston shifted the argument to satire in general and started referencing Starship Troopers, even the arguing about the arguing remained entirely well-mannered:
@Comixace thank you— Rich Johnston (@richjohnston) August 21, 2013
Oh, and here's a very good side point from Johnston:
@stevewmorris There are other good sites too. May I recommend The Outhousers? But their issues with DC may give you the answer.— Rich Johnston (@richjohnston) August 21, 2013
What's truly impressive about the whole thing is that so many people were debating each other on multiple platforms, and there was not a single call to ostracize one of them from the internet for their opinions. Is this the dawning of a new age of unprecedented civil discussion on the web? And, if so, what the hell, internet comics community? Don't go soft on us now!
Why has no one called for a boycott of Avatar Comics? Why is nobody demanding Heidi MacDonald be fired from her own blog? When will someone make a one page website dedicated to trolling a major comics publisher? Who will have the guts to tell Rich Johnston he's not a real journalist and they're never reading his rat-fink site again?!
Well folks, this may be the end for The Outhouse. If people don't lose their fucking minds on the internet over comic books anymore and resort to insane hyperbole and melodrama often more interesting than the actual comic books this industry produces, we'll have nothing left to make fun of. I mean, we haven't updated the DC counter in six days! Six days! It was a nice run while it...
What's that? Oh, bless your heart, Rich Johnston, you wonderful man, you!
Looks like Johnston posted an extremely passive aggressive article, ironically about how people on the internet were not fighting, and the attacks on his integrity from readers began almost immediately:
@bleedingcool This is tabloid journalism. Unfollowed.— Carl Shinyama (@CarlShinyama) August 21, 2013
That was a close one, folks, but it looks like we're back in business!
It's a slow week here with a couple of our writers indisposed and nobody doing anything remarkably stupid, so why not take the time to check out the links and twitter accounts linked throughout this article, and maybe join in the discussion yourself.
You're welcome to post your thoughts on torture porn here in our comments section, where we promise the conversation will lack any of the tact and subtlety that's bizarrely engulfed this issue.
Oh, and you can see the covers in question at The Beat. Let Heidi take the Google Page Rank hit on those NSFW monstrosities.
Oh, okay, fine, just one: