Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Comics Writer Sina Grace Talks the Lack of Support He Received From Marvel While Writing Iceman

Bobby Drake as Iceman.
Bobby Drake as Iceman.
Illustration: Marvel Comics

In 2017, writer and artist Sina Grace had a historically significant run on Iceman, a book we covered as it came out, in which the powerful mutant struggled as much with superheroic shenanigans as he did with the lived experience of life as a gay man, work for which he was nominated for a GLAAD award. According to its author, though, the struggles of Bobby Drake were matched by the struggles he faced writing them.

Advertisement

In a post on Tumblr, Sina Grace, writing on yesterday’s anniversary of the Stonewall Riot, a major historical event in the struggle for LGBT+ liberation, details experiences in his work for Marvel that were, according to him, far from affirming.

He details, in his post, what he calls “shady moves,” which he alleges “all aligned with an experience I had in retail where a corrupt manager kept lying and moving the goal posts in order to keep me selling in a department I didn’t want to work in.”

Advertisement

He explains how his attempts to get publicity for Iceman and subsequent moves in it—like the decision to create a new mutant character who was also a drag queen—were allegedly tightly controlled and often shut down by Marvel, leading to a general sense by Grace that his work was not supported or even understood:

You may be asking if my Iceman book was any good, or if I’m just being sour grapes over a bad work experience. Believe me, I asked that, too. From the get-go, my first editor asserted that Iceman would be DOA if it were “too gay,” while also telling me to prepare for a cancellation anyway, given that most solo X-Men titles don’t last beyond a year. Never mind that my work on Iceman had gotten positive press in the New York Times (in-print), or that in spite of (since-deleted) critical sandbagging, the series nets glowing reviews on Amazon… Marvel still treated me as someone to be contained, and the book as something to be nervous about. Do you know how hard it is to not argue with a publicist when he’s explaining the value of announcing Iceman’s revival via the Marvel homepage? Sis, that’s a burial. Instead of clapping back, I just went and got myself more press from the New York Times. From there, they tightened my leash. 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.

He also alleges, among other things, that, under editor-in-chief Alex Alonso, an additional month was given to his book, an offer that evaporated after Alonso left. Altogether, Grace describes a climate that’s broadly unsupportive to both freelance talent and LGBT+ talent, unwilling to engage with the needs and interests of queer creators and disinterested in doing the work to make their books successful.

As Grace put it, “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.”

Advertisement

Sina’s words are well worth reading as Pride Month wraps up. It’s troubling information for fans seeking LGBT+ representation from Marvel, suggesting that the company views their interests as a vessel for good publicity and not much else. We’ve reached out to Marvel for comment, and will update this post if we hear back. If you’re interested in Grace’s work, his Iceman collections are available for purchase and his website can be found here.


For more, make sure you’re following us on our new Instagram @io9dotcom.

Advertisement

io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

deerseason
deerseason

Marvel was clearly having internal issues wherein they both didn’t know how to properly promote such a development nor defend it from bad actors, which seemed really naive on their part. I totally understand Sina’s frustration.

That said, this just bolsters my argument that mainstream comics need to work in official season-like chunks like in TV (specifically cable TV): greenlight entire seasons ahead of time (6 or 12 issue runs), with a defined arc, produce the entire thing ahead of time, release once a month on a regular schedule.

Then, at the end of the season, decide whether it’s worth it to do another season. Repeat.

Call them seasons or call them volumes*

The current system of announcing brand new ongoing lines while simultaneously canceling new or existing lines out of the blue just engenders resentment from both fans and creators, who feel like they’re being jerked around whenever they announce a new status quo, act like it’s a “permanent” change, and then cancel the books after 6 months before the creators have a chance to finish their arc.

With seasons, creators are on blast to make sure their story has some type of ending, and publishers have to commit to releasing at least the entire season’s worth of material.

AND THEN THEY GET TO RELEASE IT AS A TPB, which is a gigantic part of their revenue nowadays anyway.

*officially or not many publishers already do this, but I think the practice of seasons/volumes should be adopted systemwide, versus just announcing a new “ongoing” Batman or Thor or X-Men series.

(Btw, as a person who works in TV, I always find it weird when a company produces an entire season of TV ahead of time only to cancel it 2 episodes in and bury the rest of the season. It happens less now with cable and streaming, but, like, you paid for the content already, just find a place to release it)