The world of comic book fandom had strong, primarily negative reactions to the February announcement that DC Comics had hired noted science fiction author Orson Scott Card, 61, to write a story arc for an upcoming Adventures of Superman series.
Card would be one of several contributors to the series, which is scheduled to be published online. The entire series will be issued in a print edition at a yet-to-be-announced date.
Card has campaigned extensively against marriage equality, and sits on the Board of Directors for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).
NOM was formed in 2007 specifically to work towards the passage of Proposition 8, California's gay marriage ban. Prop 8 has since been ruled unconstitutional by several California courts. NOM is also opposed to civil unions and gay adoptions. Many LGBT activists have petitioned the Southern Poverty Law Center to classify NOM as a designated hate group. While SPLC has yet to accord hate group status to NOM, they cited the organization on their Winter 2010 watch list of anti-gay groups, pointing to the "demonizing propaganda" about LGBT people, which NOM perpetuates.
Card's enormous fan base among science fiction readers has given NOM a celebrity spokesperson.
"It is a flat lie to say that homosexuals are deprived of any civil rights pertaining to marriage," Card wrote in his 2004 essay Homosexual Marriage and Civilization. "To get those civil rights, all homosexuals have to do is find someone of the opposite sex to marry."
More recently, Card issued this statement to Donna Minkowitz of Salon: "I find the comparison between civil rights based on race and supposed new rights being granted for what amounts to deviant behavior to be really kind of ridiculous."
DC Comics has owned and operated the Superman franchise since the character's 1938 debut. Superman has always had a diverse fan base, many of whom continue to embrace beloved, now openly gay actor Jack Larson, who played cub reporter Jimmy Olsen on the iconic Adventures of Superman TV series during the 1950s. Larkin was in a 35-year relationship with the late film director James Bridges, serving as producer on many of Bridges' films. The former actor has also composed for the opera, and made cameo appearances on the Lois and Clark and Superboy TV series, as well as in the film Superman Returns (2006).
As of press time, SFGN was unable to reach Larson for a comment regarding DC's hiring of Card. DC comics representative Courtney Simmons provided SFGN with the company's official statement regarding Card:
"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,” she wrote.
Zeus Comics, a gay-owned shop in Dallas, Texas, posted this statement on their Facebook page: "It is shocking that DC would hire Card to write Superman, a character whose ideals represent us all. If you replaced the word 'homosexuals' in his essays with women or Jews he would not be hired."
Similar sentiments were expressed by Rich and Cougar, a gay couple in San Francisco who own and operate Whatever Comics on Castro Street, the heart of the city's self-proclaimed "gayborhood'.
"We refuse to give money to someone who will turn around to use that money to fund more anti-gay hatred" was the statement posted at Whatever Comics' Facebook page.
Larry Hart is an openly gay comic book fan who lives in suburban New York. He works at Stinky's, a comic book store on Long Island.
"I won't be reading Superman as long as Card's writing it," Hart stated in an email to SFGN. "It could be one of the best Superman arcs written. However, with a man that has so much hate towards one group of people, he doesn't deserve the support from the LGBT community." Hart said that DC had the right to hire whoever they chose, but further specified that Card's views were "extreme, outdated, and scary."
Viktor Kerney is a spokesperson for Bent Con, the annual Los Angeles-based convention for LGBT comic book fans, artists and writers.
"Card's views are greatly demeaning and completely insulting to the LGBT community," Kerney told SFGN. "He truly believes that we should not be married or happy. DC Comics should have known about Card's history and the impact of his statements. While I applaud DC Comics for trying to be inclusive of the LGBT community, employing Card immediately tarnished their new found stance."
(NOTE: In their recent graphic novel 52, DC introduced a new Batgirl character as an out lesbian. The company has since rebooted their Green Lantern books, outing the superhero as a gay man.)
At press time, Card had not responded to SFGN's request for a statement.
"Thank you for for the invitation to Mr. Card for an interview," Kristine Card, Card's wife, replied in an email to SFGN. "At the moment he's working on a novel and not doing interviews. It's a rather large distraction as you can imagine. He wanted me to let you know he appreciates the invitation."
NOM did not respond to SFGN's email and phone call.