The Gutters is a comic written by comics fan and creator Ryan Sohmer that attempts to address current comic news and events. There is nothing wrong with this in and of itself, but ultimately Sohmer often seems confused with what the issue actual is failing both discerning readers and… well everyone who unfortunately chooses to read The Gutters.
I got into a twitter conversation over his newest comic, #451, which attempts to discern the Brian Wood scandal that can be read about here in a set of articles written by people who took a lot of time discerning everything. In his comic, Sohmer breaks the comic down into two panels and ultimately it is at least somewhat unclear what his point is.
A number of male comic professionals are talking via Twitter posts to Gail Simone’s removal of Batgirl. They are in support of her and are generally angry about her unceremonious removal. This includes Brian Wood.
The same group of men are reacting to Brian Wood’s allegations of sexual misconduct. None of them are saying anything. Brian Wood has a Jim Halpert grimace on.
What is the comic about though?
Is it saying that we should feel the same way when a person is removed from a title than when they are accused of sexual harassment? Is it an inditement against the creators for saying nothing about this? Is it suggesting there is a boy’s club that will defend it’s own? Is it saying that they are wrong for not saying anything (since Simone did get back on the book)?
And I want to say that obviously it is about the creators saying nothing against Wood during the allegation but that is unclear. Why use the first panel where they are coming out in positive support of someone? Why not find a pointless Twitter topic that lacked value and comment how they all pile on to something unimportant but avoid the actual issues? Why not point out that the women in comics are talking about this while they are not. Like instead, use the second panel of men not talking and follow it up with the female creators who have come out to discuss this like Anna Scherbina, Farel Dalrymple (who is a dude), Rachel Edidin or even Brandon Graham, aka the guy who started off this entire conversation. If you want to make a point about people not doing anything, make it clear who is not doing anything. And seriously were there no women who were in this position?
Oh wait wait wait. But if you actually go down to the creator’s notes it gets worse. The point here is that the people don’t know what to say here. They are reluctant. Apparently this is what it is about. All of those awkward looking people just don’t know what to say. So that means I missed guessing what the actual “point” of the comic was.
With that said it is just a shitty and poorly thought out comic by Sohmer who routinely seems to not think about the comics that he writes when he tries to address controversial topics. Take a look at this one on the new Ms. Marvel being Muslim. Apparently his issue here is that part of the new Ms. Marvel’s identity is that she is Muslim and he thinks it will be her only defining factor which misses the point and boils her down in the exact same way that the way news stories did before suggesting that I guess, we ignore her religion. His news post goes on to say he wants a day when who or what people believe in “won’t mean a thing” but that misses the point and is just tone deaf. Religion can be a vitally important part and part of respecting other religions is not ignoring their culture but embracing it. You don’t want the “I don’t see race or religion going on here.”
But then, just going back further through the archives, Sohmer frequently has no point, only has a racist or poorly defined point to “make” and ultimately seems to care little about what he comments on. If he is here to make jokes, then he fails at that more often than not, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. He’s got his commenters and his followers. He has enough steady work to continue making comics as he wishes, but where he could be making better written and clearer comics, he doesn’t and typically sticks to making the actual point (or trying to) in the commentary on the comic.
Till next time, make mine Let’s Be Friends Again.