By Laura Hudson
As most of you know, I’m the editor-in-chief of ComicsAlliance. I created this site a little over three years ago at the behest of AOL, and because I am a very lucky person, it somehow grew from a weird little blog where I was the sole contributor — an awkward era I in no way encourage you to revisit — to one of the biggest comics sites on the Internet with a staff of enormously talented editors and contributors who have made ComicsAlliance into something so much larger than just me, something shaped and infused with the individual passions and personalities of some pretty amazing people. It has been, without a doubt, the most gratifying professional experience of my life, which is also what makes this the most difficult post I’ve ever written for the site: because it’s the one where I tell you that I’m leaving.
Although I fully support Laura Hudson’s decision to focus on writing (and look forward to reading some of it), this news makes me sad. Comics Alliance is one of the few comics sites on the internet (and certainly the only really big one) where being a woman doesn’t automatically mean being an outsider. I doubt I ever would have gotten back into comics as much as I have over the last couple of years, and certainly wouldn’t have decided to blog about them myself, if it wasn’t for Laura’s influence.
(Of course, the comment section of CA is a whole other matter, but I don’t think it’s fair to blame her for that.)
Not only is Comics Alliance woman-friendly, it’s queer positive and racially engaged as well. There’s a segment of the fanboy population (again, see the comments) who like to accuse CA and Laura specifically of “left wing bias,” but in this context left wing bias seems to mean treating everyone like they’re equal without asking them to shut up about their differences. So I say, hooray for left wing bias!
Comics culture has so long been dominated by straight white dudes who think everyone who’s not like them should be quiet, that just pointing that fact out feels clichéd. But Laura didn’t just point it out, she actively worked to counter it, both in her own writing and by hiring and supporting excellent staff writers like David Brothers, Andrew Wheeler, and Bethany Fong. I don’t think Bethany ever even wrote an “issues” piece, but just her presence on the site as a woman of color writing about fashion serves as a refutation of the aforementioned fanboy ideas of what comics culture should look like (which is not to say she’s a token; she’s a great writer with probably the best eye for style in comics). And then there’s Chris Sims, the star writer of CA. A straight white dude, yes, but also one of the only successful “nerd humorists” I’ve ever read who never punches down. He also had a memorably serious moment a couple of years back, when he called out DC Comics on their racial bullshit.
Laura has offered assurances that the editorial tone of Comics Alliance won’t change when she leaves. I really really want to believe her about that, and certainly she’s proven trustworthy in the past. But the site under her leadership has been such an exception compared to just about everything else, that the cynic inside me won’t really believe it till I see it. I look forward to that inner cynic being proven wrong.
For now though, thanks, Laura Hudson, for making a real difference and for making comics a world I want to live in (and write about) again.
I was gonna write about Laura leaving CA, but Elle pretty much covers what I would have said. So, there you go.
However, a few codas:
1. No matter where CA goes from here—and I fervently hope it’ll continue in the direction Laura set it—Laura’s tenure there significantly raised the bar for conscientious comics journalism. We are not a high-accountability industry, nor one that responds well to being called on its bullshit, and comics journalism is saturated with conflict-of-interest and pandering. I am so tremendously grateful for the journalists (and publications) who hold us to a higher standard. This is why critical media exists, and why it matters, and CA has set what is likely to remain the gold standard for years to come.
2. Chris Sims has called out shit like that pretty consistently, both on CA and over at ISB. He’s a super stand-up dude, and a really skilled critic; humor might be what he’s known for, but it’s supported on some damn solid substance.
3. It would be nice to see more women in CA’s senior editorial staff. I may be mistaken, but I think Laura was the only one. I really hope that, as it goes forward, CA makes a concerted effort to improve those numbers.
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