Marvel comics launched a new platform where fans can create their own comics: Create Your Own. The platform essentially boils down to a doll-maker game for comic nerds, that allows users to pick characters, poses, angles, and scenes.
Create Your Own does not, however, allow for users to tell their own stories. Though this is supposedly the draw of the entire platform, Create Your Own has strict terms and conditions. They dictate what can and cannot be covered in Create Your Own comics.#Marvel #CreateYourOwn essentially boils down to a doll-maker game for #comic nerds, but does not allow for users to tell their own stories. - @armustdie Click To Tweet
The Create Your Own no-go topics are listed in full here. But let’s talk about these in particular:
- Content that could frighten or upset young children or the parents of young children
- Sexually explicit images (pornography, etc.)
- Suggestive or revealing images (bare midriffs, lets, etc.)
- Sensationalism (killer bees, gossip, aliens, scandal, etc.)
- Obscenity, bad or offensive language, proxies for bad or offensive language (X@#%!), body parts, or noises related to bodily functions
- Politics (lobbyists, PAC sites, political campaigns, alternative lifestyle advocacies)
- Graphic violence (including certain types of game sites) unless approved by Tap Tap on a case-by-case basis
- Guns (firearms, bullets, etc.)
- Double entendres
These particular restrictions are hilarious considering Marvel’s promotional video for Create Your Own features none other than Gwenpool.
The Create Your Own demo creates a Gwenpool comic that violates at least two of the site’s terms without even trying. Her bare legs are exposed (“suggestive or revealing images”) and she’s carrying at least one gun. Not to mention, there’s no Deadpool or Gwenpool without heaping servings of death, graphic violence, obscenity, double entendre, and a whole lot of “content that could frighten or upset young children or the parents of young children.”
Oh, and Gwenpool was cancelled this month, along with nearly every other diverse book Marvel had on its roster.The #Marvel #CreateYourOwn demo creates a Gwenpool comic that violates at least two of the site's terms without even trying. - @armustdie Click To Tweet
I guess Marvel realized that their books violated the terms that forbid “Politics (lobbyists, PAC sites, political campaigns, alternative lifestyle advocacies)” from being published. If Create Your Own is supposed to be our shitty consolation prize for books like America and Gwenpool being cancelled, then why can’t we tell the diverse “alternative lifestyle” stories that made those books special to us?
What does this mean for the rest of Marvel’s books?
The promotional image for Create Your Own doesn’t just feature Gwenpool (though she is front and center):
Gwenpool isn’t alone. Iron Man and War Machine stand alongside The Punisher. All three of these characters’ stories rely on guns. Iron Man and War Machine are literally walking guns! The Punisher’s appeal has always been, for better or for worse, that he shoots people. Frequently.
Create Your Own asks its users to create their comics, but tells them in the same breath to keep from “sensationalism (killer bees, gossip, aliens, scandal, etc.).”
Without aliens, Carol Danvers is just an officer in the Air Force. Does Thor count as an alien? What happens to Groot?
Sensationalism is essential to comics. Comics are always absurd. Hulk is a giant green man made of anger. Ant-Man’s power is that he gets really, really small or really, really big. Comics are bombastic. Their heroes have penchants for being overdramatic (open any Daredevil issue and you’ll know what I mean).
By cutting out violence, double entendre, sensationalism – Marvel has, with one broad axe, removed every single essential part of what makes a superhero comic.
The most damning of these forbidden topics, however, is one of the most often overlooked parts of the comic industry’s DNA: “Politics (lobbyists, PAC sites, political campaigns, alternative lifestyle advocacies).”
It’s not just that this policy would remove LGBTQ stories from the Create Your Own Comics. This is a complete denial of comics’ cultural history.The most damning of #Marvel #CreateYourOwn's forbidden topics, however, is one of the most often overlooked parts of the comic industry's DNA: politics. - @armustdie Click To Tweet
Comics, at the day’s end, come to us from Jewish people reacting to the violent rise of fascism and anti-semitism in the early 20th century. As Simcha Weinstein tells us in Up, Up, and Oy Vey!: How Jewish History, Culture, and Values Shaped The Comic Book Superhero, “Captain America’s costume featured a star at the same time that Simon and Kirby’s European brethren were being forced to wear a star of a very different kind.”
Comics have always been political. To strip comics of their politics (or to change them to something inherently anti-semitic such as Nick Spencer did), is to destroy them.
Et tu, Marvel?