Tuesday, February 12, 2013

CARD'S ON THE TABLE

DC Comics is being targeted by an online campaign for the publisher to drop one of its writers.  DC, one of the publishing arms of Time-Warner, Inc., owns the Superman character and has recently hired science fiction author Orson Scott Card to write a series of Superman stories, "Adventures of Superman" for its digital-exclusive publishing endeavors.

Card, who has dozens of novels, short stories, stage plays and non-fiction works to his credit, is perhaps best known for his Ender's Game series of novels and short stories, the eponymous first of which is currently being adapted into a feature film by Summit Entertainment.  He is also known for his conservative social activism:  Card is a board member for the National Organization for Marriage (which formally campaigns against gay marriage policy in the U.S.), and he has reportedly written a number of essays sharply criticizing gay marriage and other LGBT rights issues.

Some in the comic book fan community (notably, a recent editorial published on ComicBookResources.com) are calling out Card as a bigot and suggest that DC cancel Card's contract, citing in part the Superman character's lean toward social tolerance (a famous Adventures of Superman radio serial was produced in the 1950s pitting the character against the Ku Klux Klan).  To this end, an online petition has surfaced directed toward DC comics calling for Card's ouster.  Some are even calling for a boycott of DC Comics should the publisher continue its relationship with Card.  Still others have cited freedom of speech issues, and that Card's political views should not be a determinant on being able to write Superman stories.

Apropos of nothing, while perusing biographical informatoin on Mr. Card, it seems that he is of the Mormon faith (reportedly a direct descendant of LDS founder Brigham Young)– which is his business, of course. But I think it’s important to look into the backgrounds of various authors before people consider themselves “shocked” that he or she might have certain social views that the observer may disagree with.

As a communications graduate, this author can't help but to notice that this unfolding situation actually presents an interesting challenge (of sorts) from a public relations standpoint. Many comic book fans wish that they could work for DC or Marvel. So if you were working for DC in their PR department, and you were tasked with handling this should the press come calling (comic-industry press, fan websites, mainstream news outlets), then how would you handle this? Bear in mind, whatever your personal take is on Mr. Card or his political views, this is about servicing the client (DC Comics). Your bosses say “we’re publishing the series as is, uninterrupted. Handle this.” Okay, now what?