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Editorial dispute over wedding pushes out DC writers

Maggie Sawyer and Kate Kane. _ Photo via thinkprogress.org.

Maggie Sawyer and Kate Kane.
_ Photo via thinkprogress.org.

DC Comics vision for what its brand should be apparently clashes with what its writers think. The brand, hoping to appeal to younger readers, doesn’t want its heroes married off — even though some of its writers have had characters heading toward weddings.

Recently two writers  announced that they are leaving a DC book because of editorial differences. J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman announced last week that they would be leaving their critically acclaimed book “Batwoman” after  creative differences with the company.

“Unfortunately, in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series,” Williams and Blackman posted in statements on their websites.”We were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc’s origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman’s heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end.”

Batwoman, also known as Kate Kane, is one of DC Comics’s only heroes in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Queer (LGBTQ) community. The character and publisher alike made media waves when Kane proposed to her comic book girlfriend Maggie Sawyer. Although some critics feared Williams and Blackman’s departures were tied to an anti-gay marriage stance, Williams said on  Twitter that the editorial dispute over marriage was never part of an anti-gay position.

“We’re both heartbroken over leaving,” Williams and Blackman continued. “We feel strongly that you all deserve stories that push the character and the series forward. We can’t reliably do our best work if our plans are scrapped at the last minute, so we’re stepping aside.”

DC has implemented a rule prohibiting its heroes from getting married.  Superman isn’t married to Lois Lane, The Flash isn’t married to Iris West. Now Batwoman won’t be marrying Maggie Sawyer. It’s almost like the editors are making these rules up as they go along. And frankly, many DC readers are in their 20s and may prefer characters with long-lasting relationships.

In the newsroom reporters typically have a good idea of what their editors expect.  If the DC editors constantly flip-flop (first letting it appear Kate and Maggie were heading toward marriage and then backing off), how are writers going to get anything done?

The big question is why are the DC editors letting stories they know they don’t want wind down to crunch time before addressing them? As an editor shouldn’t your job be to provide feedback and advice to the writer while also remaining flexible toward the writers creativity?

— Jacob Bryant

Categories: guest posts
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