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Image Comics Claims Howard Chaykin's The Divided States Of Hysteria Sparks Industry Conversation

Written by Tim Midura on Wednesday, June 14 2017 and posted in News with Benefits

Image Comics Claims Howard Chaykin's The Divided States Of Hysteria Sparks Industry Conversation

It's kind of a one-sided conversation at this point.

Source: Press Release

Howard Chaykin's The Divided States Of Hysteria was released last week, published by Image Comics. The first issue, which came out during the first week of Pride Month, featured a a graphic, violent attack on a trans sex worker. The issue, which shipped with a Pride Month variant cover, came under fire early on by Magdalene Visaggio, creator of the Eisner-nominated Kim & Kim and Quantum Teens Are Go!.

Bleeding Cool reached out to Image for a statement and were given an essay by Chaykin that he had prepared in advance, which you can read in full here. When the initial round of Pride Month variant covers were announced, Image Comics gave a statement on the importance of these covers, which part of is below and can be read in full here.

"We are so thankful for the opportunity to support the LGBTQ community during Pride Month this year by partnering once again with the Human Rights Campaign," said Eric Stephenson, Publisher at Image Comics. "It's never been a secret that Image Comics is supportive of creative freedom, but it's important that we also make it clear that we stand for inclusivity, diversity, and equality, now more than ever. We hope these variants will serve as a positive display of that ongoing commitment."

In a new press release titled "CHAYKIN'S THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA SPARKS INDUSTRY CONVERSATION" about the issue being rushed to a second printing, Image responded to the controversy garnered by the first issue, with Publisher Eric Stephenson saying:

One of the things I've always admired about Howard's work is his unflinching reluctance to pull any punches, and this series about a society, not on the verge, but in the midst of collapse is no different. If you're looking for escapism, this probably isn't the book for you, as its warts-and-all depiction of the modern world reveals it to be an ugly place, governed by hatred, fear, and intolerance. Rooted in the worst aspects of reality, this is indignant, rebellious fiction, designed to make readers both angry and uncomfortable, but more than that, it's intended to provoke thought about how and why things have reached a state where the tools for progress—discourse, understanding, cooperation—are shunned in favor of treating anyone with an opposing viewpoint as an enemy combatant. If The Divided States of Hysteria prompts just a single productive conversation about the present state of our society, then it has succeeded in its goals and is a story worth sharing.

While we're not sure what would qualify as productive for Stephenson, a conversation on Twitter is certainly taking place. Below is Image's tweet regarding the sparking conversations and a few of the conversations themselves.

The always outspoken Alex de Campi weighed in as well.

As I said previously, I don't think Chaykin is transphobic, but that he included transphobic scenes in the comic. A trans sex worker is assaulted by multiple men and gets arrested after shooting them. It also includes black men shooting white people and subsequently getting arrested, a white man robbing and poisoning the rich and getting arrested, and a white cop getting arrested for murder. It ends with an Islamic suicide bomber detonating. Spoilers.

This is a segment from Chaykin's essay about The Divided States Of Hysteria.

"Instead of 'trigger warnings,' 'cultural appropriation,' 'safe spaces,' and 'Social Justice Warriors,' maybe we on the left should have put aside all this balkanizing nonsense and been fucking Americans for fuck's sake, instead of allowing this nihilistic shithead to mainstream and legitimize the racist, sexist, bigoted and flat-out moronic sensibilities that have always been there, but were held in check by a common understanding that one doesn't get away with that shit in the United States of America."

It's all nice and well to say we should have done this or we should have done that, but let's figure out where to go from here. Let's continue the conversation.

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