Dynamite Entertainment, the comics publisher behind titles like Red Sonja, The Boys, James Bond, Vampirella and more, has pulled a controversial variant cover project after numerous creators spoke out against the artist's association with the movement known as "Comicsgate."
Several prominent current and former Dynamite creators, including Bettie Page writer Karla Pacheco, Red Sonja writer Mark Russell, and Red Sonja cover artist Christian Ward went as far as pledging to cease working with Dynamite until the publisher had removed all associations with the movement, which has a long history of hateful attacks and harassment in various online communities.
The controversy began earlier this month, when Twitter users began pointing out Dynamite publisher Nick Barrucci's apparent support for a Comicsgate-associated livestream event. The outcry intensified after Dynamite launched a crowdfunding campaign for an upcoming Vegeance of Vampirella variant cover (Dynamite frequently crowdfunds variant cover projects) featuring the character Cecil from the indie comic Cash Grab by writer Cecil Jones and artist Donal DeLay. The project received backing from Comicsgate supporters, and both Jones and DeLay have their own histories with alleged harassment aimed at other comics creators.
In response to Dynamite's support of the Cash Grab creators, various current and former Dynamite creators came forward with criticism, and some pledged to stop working with the publisher entirely until they changed direction.
In response to the outcry, Dynamite announced Sunday afternoon that it has pulled the "polarizing" Cecil variant cover. The project's IndieGogo page was updated to indicate that all backers would receive refunds.
Though the cover project is now dead, some creators and fans noted that Dynamite's statement only acknowledged the controversy surrounding the cover itself, and not the larger problem stemming from those supporting it. Calls to address the larger issue are already spreading online.
Comicsgate, a group that grew out of the "Gamergate" movement, ostensibly exists to criticize and push back against things like perceived "forced diversity" and "political correctness" in comics publishing, including things like the addition of diverse characters to publishing lineups and the hiring of diverse creators by major publishers. In practice, the movement has sometimes taken the form of targeted harassment against women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ creators. This has led to repeated denunciation of the movement from various major creators, and the Dynamite controversy is a particularly notable example of that.
We have reached out to Dynamite for further comment on the issue, and will update this story if we hear back.