The writer who helped to bring Iceman out of the closet has a bone to pick with Marvel Comics.
While Marvel Comics is considered one of the most progressive comic book companies today, it seems their push for diversifying its characters and employees came with a heavy hand.
Sina Grace is an openly gay comic book writer who helmed the coming-out saga and standalone series for one of the X-Men’s founding members. But according to Grace, Marvel didn’t have good faith in him as a writer and employee. Instead, they tried to micromanage him to a stifling, cowardly, and almost homophobic, degree.
Grace chose to post his frustrations with the publisher through a Tumblr post. In the post he said:
“An editor called, these conversations always happen over the phone, offering to provide “tips and tricks” to deal with the cyber bullying. I cut him off. All he was going to do was tell me how to fend for myself. I needed Marvel to stand by me with more work opportunities to show the trolls that I was more than a diversity hire. ‘We’ll keep you in mind.’ I got so tired of that sentence.:
“Even after a year of the new editor-in-chief saying I was talented and needed to be on a book that wasn’t ‘the gay character,’ the only assignment I got outside of Iceman was six pages along, about a version of Wolverine where he had diamond claws. Fabulous, yes. Heterosexual, yes. Still kind of the gay character, though.”
Grace then shares that his PR was micromanaged even further. Every comment he’d made about the company had to be pre-approved and pre-screened.
“I had to get all opportunities pre-approved, and all interviews pre-reviewed. This would be fine if it was the standard, but I assure you: none of my straight male colleagues seek permission to go on podcasts promoting their books.”
This is important to remember as Marvel tried to cover up the pre-review fact later on. After Grace introduced a drag queen character to the X-Men universe, originally named Shade by then later renamed Darkveil, Marvel’s head publicist acted like he promoted the idea without Marvel’s permission.
“Everyone at Marvel shrugged off two years of goodwill and acted like I’d coordinated behind their backs on an announcement that made headlines. Beyond mentioning on Instagram the queens who inspired the character, I didn’t coordinate shit. Of course, their head publicist can’t admit that my quotes were pre-approved from an unreleased interview.”
By the end of the Tumblr post, Grace was so fed up that he outright called Marvel “cowards.”
“It is my belief that if we are telling stories about heroes doing the right thing in the face of adversity, wouldn’t the hope be to embody those ideals as individuals? Instead of feeling like I worked with some of the most inspiring and brave people in comics, I was surrounded by cowards.”
Of course, these words could be seen as the disgruntled opinion of a former employee. But it would be wrong of us not to listen and learn from Grace’s words. Especially when Marvel Comics, and soon the MCU, continue to promote itself as being diverse and representative of all people.
If you want to read Sina Grace’s full comments, you can do so by clicking this link to the Tumblr post.