In Which I Am Fired From Marvel

In Which I Am Fired From Marvel

Hello! I was fired from Marvel — from two Star Wars projects. The detail from the tweets I tweeted:

So, here’s a thing that has happened – I just got fired from Marvel. Taken off issues 4 and 5 of SHADOW OF VADER, and taken off an as-yet-unannounced SW book. This might be a long thread, so apologies in advance. (I hesitate to talk about this, because honestly, it gives the Worst Possible People a win, something they’ve wanted for a while. But I also feel like I’ve long held to honesty and forthrightness, and I don’t feel like lying when people realize I’m not on these books anymore.)

To rewind a little bit, when SW: AFTERMATH came out, I assume most know but maybe you don’t, I put some ahh, elements in there (LGBT characters) that were not received well by a certain subset of fandom. That resulted in both a negative review campaign, found across various FB groups and other Worst Places on the Internet, that began mounting the very minute the book dropped online. I was literally at a midnight release of the book, and when I got done, there were already a pile of one-star reviews piling up – which seemed strange, obviously. And scary, too. I didn’t understand what was happening at the time. (And as a caveat, obviously I recognize that yes, some people just don’t like the book for the Usual Reasons, and people who hold those reasons are not to be lumped in with the more septic side of fandom. Tl;dr see also TLJ reviews.)

I also started receiving TONS of harassment – harassment that has gone on for years, harassment that has required me to contact local police and warn them of SWATting attempts, harassment across all corners of the Internet, here, FB, Reddit, YouTube. Some of it was bot stuff, obviously, or sock puppets, but some of it was pretty creepy, and very personal. I didn’t call a lot of it out or even highlight, but it was there, a sort of… constant background noise. (Christ, for an extra special treat go search for my name and check out the YouTube videos if you want an eye-opening glimpse.)

And I was worried of course because, jeez, I thought I had screwed up. I wondered for a time if the book was bad. But then it hit list and stayed on list for four weeks – and the next two books hit list, too, and EMPIRE’S END landed even higher on the list than the first book. And privately, I was told by folks inside LFL that there was no worry here, that they valued that I spoke out both speaking up for myself and for STAR WARS, which has always honestly been a progressive brand and company. And it made me very proud to work for them, too, not just because — holy hell, basking in the glow of STAR WARS, but because the people were great, and they totally got it. (Hell, a lot of the people inside LFL have experience considerable harassment. I mean, that’s not news, but Kelly Marie-Tran? Bueller? Bueller?)

After I did HYPERION with Marvel, they hired me then to write the TFA adaptation, which meant I got to work with some wonderful folks – @hantos and @cracksh0t – on a project that was tricky, because it ended up being more a translation of the movie than an adaptation. (I know Heather received some of the worst harassment in the entire industry – I can’t speak to how well Marvel did or did not protect her from it, but I know she was at the bottom of a major misery funnel from Comicsgate and their ilk. Far worse than I suffered.)

Still, I thought things were good, and I hoped to do more work with Marvel or SW or a combo of the two someday – comics isn’t really my “thing,” per se, but I felt like I was getting a handle on it. Of course, the harassment continued – and it got worse again when TLJ came out. Which I’m sure is no surprise to anyone who has ever tweeted, “Hey, I really liked THE LAST JEDI!” That’s really when I started to see lots of YouTube videos and stuff about me and it was… Well, it was creepy. And I’d seen other signs of people being… fired for political reasons, or folks like @ChelseaCain who was yanked around and was also the subject of considerable nastiness.

And then we announced SHADOW OF VADER juuuuust last weekend, and people were excited, and I thought everything was good. I was not made aware of any issues, and my online self has always been my online self, so. Except, yeah, no. Today I got the call. I’m fired. Because of the negativity and vulgarity that my tweets bring. Seriously, that’s what Mark, the editor said. It was too much politics, too much vulgarity, too much negativity on my part.

Basically, because I was not civil.

Which, of course, is their decision to make. I’m not their boss. (And, turns out, they’re not the boss of me, either. Har har.) (I joke because otherwise, I cry.)

My understanding over this call was that this was a Marvel decision, not an LFL decision, but I can’t really confirm that. The editor said he had made the call. He seemed genuinely upset at my tweets and profanity, so maybe that’s accurate. And again, that’s his right to do so. If they honestly feel that my presence will damage the book, I don’t want that. I want the book to shine, and artists like Juanan Ramirez and Greg Smallwood to do their amazing thing. Artists like that are gods in my mind, so I’m happy to not distract from their literal magic.

But it does set a troubling precedent. One we’ve seen already – James Gunn, Jessica White, and so on – of folks fired because they riled up the wasp’s nest of asterisk-gate. And it seems odd to be mad that I’m mad about politics when – well, look around. Climate change, kids in cages, sexual harassers at the topmost tiers of power, and so on. A call for civility as the PA GOP candidate threatens Tom Wolf with a golf cleat stomping. I dunno, man.

I know it hands Comicsgate a big win. It will embolden them. But they won — I’m out of Marvel and, I guess for now, at least, out of any kind of Star Wars. Do your victory lap, I guess. (Just please leave me out of it.) (All that being said, a lot of wonderful people still work inside those institutions and storyworlds, and I hope you’ll continue to support them and the stories they’re telling.) To conclude: this is really quite chilling. And it breaks my heart. I am very sad, and worried for the country I live in, and the world, and for creative people all around. Courage to you all. I have a dire fear this is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

P.S. Vote in November like your life depends on it. Because it just might.

189 responses to “In Which I Am Fired From Marvel”

  1. “He seemed genuinely upset at my tweets and profanity.” Isn’t that like getting mad at Sam Sykes for his “buy my book” tweets? Creativity profanity certainly isn’t all you’re known for, but it’s certainly an aspect. And I would think that people knew that when they tagged you to do projects.

    Ugh. Either way, I’m sorry this is something you experienced. You have my support, for what it’s worth.

  2. I’m devastated. I just don’t get it. It seems like Marvel didn’t have a twitter policy for their authors you violated, that it was an individual decision on behalf of a manager who was disturbed by you being outspoken. And I’m like? Dude? We’re adults? Expecting artists to be apolitical is such rubbish. Objectivity doesn’t exist. You shouldn’t just smile and nod and advertise a product on your own damn social media. Firing you for a bullshit reason, over the phone on a Friday (so the media doesn’t have enough time to cover it properly…) is just cowardly and all kinds of wrong.

    The Aftermath trilogy gave me so much hope for the future of Star Wars. Rae’s characterization mattered so much to me. You’re a wonderful storyteller, and I was looking forward to more works for you in the SW verse (had my fingers crossed for a Hux novel by you, the scene with the feral kids really stuck with me); I was so excited when Shadow of Vader was announced with your name. I’ll keep supporting your work, reading your stories, but the SW fandom won’t be the same without you. One would think that a fandom that big is open to multiple voices. I’m sick and tired of multimillionaire companies giving in to bullies. It would be their best interest to protect authors and actors from online harassment instead of catering to the worst kind of fans.

  3. I am so angry that this happened. You’ve given so much to the Star Wars books and your presence on Twitter has been a constant, actually comforting reminder that people I admire aren’t going to take the shit that this country is throwing at us silently.

    You’ve been my favorite writer for some time now. I didn’t discover you through Star Wars, just through your blog and eventually with Miriam Black and Zer0es. I’ve learned a lot and have loved all your books and I’m thankful for the fact that likely these jobs allowed other fans to find you and for you to be properly compensated for your talent. But I can’t believe they’ve screwed this up so badly. I’m done giving them my money or attention.

    Good luck with everything. Know many of us are still with you!

  4. “He seemed genuinely upset at my tweets and profanity”

    I’m reminded of how the likes of Mary Whitehouse would rail against swearing, sex and violence on TV, but would gladly have photo ops with, err, Jimmy Savile. In any case, that editor sounds like a right prissy knob.

  5. As a writer with practically no following (yet!) I can’t even imagine how this makes you feel. I am right-properly pissed off that this happened, though, and will be beating the Chuck drum louder and prouder than ever. I’m also a couple Miriam Black books behind, so I’ll be hitting up the ole Amazons to remedy that.

    I’m also a bit worried because my first fiction novel drops in late November and it’s about a misogynistic narcissist real estate “tycoon” and self-proclaimed Best Everything Ever getting trapped in a fancy elevator and, well, getting some comeuppance. I can only imagine what the Trumpeters are going to think of it.

    Keep on keepin’ on, Chuck. Lots of people have got your back.

  6. A re-wording of that French proverb:

    Wonder at whatever made planet Earth possible
    Drink your favourite beverage
    And let Chuck be Chuck

  7. I’m sorry you were fired for being your complex and emotional self. But I also want to thank you for being that person, for standing up and making difficult points and not shying away. You have always been all in and it inspires me. Please carry on.

  8. Ugh this blows! I really enjoyed your books and have talked about them and you to many people in positive light. As a lesbian star Wars fan I love seeing representation whether major or minor. It never felt forced or anything either, just natural and normal for characters to come up and gradually topics of sexuality or gender happen in various situations. I really hope you still are able to produce other star Wars books!

  9. Established brands can eat a fat load of shit. They can’t stand up and just make a blanket, “we support our artists – leave them alone” announcement? What are they so scared of? Bad press? These motherfuckers PRINT money. Really sad for you Chuck, and for what this presages.

    Vote, people.

  10. I’ve read your work for years and never commented. You simply have always brought me laughter, an amazing perspective on the writing gig, and have magically put my rage about the current state of the world into gobble-bites. I so appreciate your work, your integrity as a human being, how intentional you have been about pushing boundaries in some of our most-classic stories. You’ve split open the franchises to include all people without falling into cliche. Thank you for that. I wish you safety and peace this weekend and always. I hope you know how important your work has been in the world, but also in my little corner of the world.

  11. I hardly know what to say. Wow, just wow. I know I am not the only one who views you as a Champion, the voice of incredible reason amongst a heck of a lot of shit. Incredibly disappointing as a fan and incredibly disturbing as this does hand ‘them’ a win. WTH, just WTH.

  12. What a bunch of cowards. Profanity never killed anyone, but the harmful politics you’re opposing most definitely do. Very messed up. So sorry to hear that artists are being threatened and harassed, that’s really disturbing. Stay strong, dude.

    • I totally agree, but as a writer, and someone so (formerly) intrinsic to the brand, could he not have focused on the issues and left the profanity behind? Honestly asking bc I’m in comms, job searching, and quite active in political issues right now. Over the last 6 months I’ve made a conscious effort to take the high ground knowing that possible employers may be looking at my activity. Yes, I get attacked. No, I haven’t experienced anything like others have, incl him. But where’s the benefit of inflaming the situation vs focusing on the issue and/or blocking?

      • You’ll have to ask him what he could or couldn’t have done, but Chuck has been active on this blog for like ten years, swearing and using vulgar profanity, also in the context of politics since 2016. It’s also part of his persona since he established himself as a free-lance writer. If they (the people who fired him) didn’t have a problem with that when they hired him – because they did have an excellent opportunity checking this blog (and his books!) out beforehand – why is it suddenly a problem when he talks politics on another forum? He is that guy, he uses strong language discussing harmful politics out of concern for his country. It wasn’t like he badmouthed the companies he worked for or put these oh so dangerous profanties in the books he wrote for Marvel. He did it as an individual, angry at what happens, like a lot of people who read his tweets are, and they may feel he says what they wish they dared to. Isn’t that the job of writers, to express themselves in a way others can’t? The benefit might be that we see how policed expression is, and how hypocritical, when humanistic views with some profanity are for some reason horrible, prompting firings, but racist propaganda and offensive lies are spewing from media outlets and politicians constantly. Good luck job hunting though, and I hope you get a job where they let you clock out, politically and all, and be yourself when the day is over. 🙂

  13. I happened upon this by following the rabbit hole that is Twitter. Full transparency, I’ve not read one word of your work, comics or prose. Gonna go buy a few of each to lend some support though, and judge the work on its merits for myself. Whatever happened to the old, “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to (watch, read) it? This all smacks of a form of mob rules-censorship to me, and I think it’s a sham(e).

  14. What a shitshow. I’m so sorry. We’re living in a world in which words and the people who use them are deemed more reprehensible than the abuses to which they relate – and we all know how that story ends. So, keep saying the words. Because in a world of corruption, hypocrisy and lies, the right words may just save us.

  15. I’m sickened, but I know you will keep speaking out, Chuck, and doing the right thing. We need to fight fire with fire and have to bash back. The tide will not turn until we are as aggressive as the other side. A serious mistake has been made in firing you and Marvel is allowing a vocal minority to have its way. And that’s very much like the United States these days with a crass, classless leader who lost the popular vote. The Tangerine Tyrant is intent on destroying all that is right and good for his own vanity and his followers admire his selfish impulses. Some of those followers have had too much sway in this decision but they are a tiny minority in the market that Marvel is trying to keep intact as most of President Pussy Grabber’s followers don’t read more than the backs of their cereal boxes or the tops of their snuff tins.

  16. I hope the people who mocked #freezepeach will wake up now. Gunn was taken down by the authoritarian left, and you, by the authoritarian right, but ultimately, the views of the censors don’t matter. No one should be fired for saying what they think when they’re not on the job.

    • No, the authoritarian right also took down James Gunn. It was right-wingers who screamed blue murder about those tweets he did six years ago that led to his being fired. Please check the reality behind the story instead of playing a fake both sides on this one.

      • You may wish to deflect criticism of your side, but the right is less critical of rape jokes than the left. If you want another example of the authoritarian left’s love of corporate censorship, see DC’s firing of Orson Scott Card, whose views on homosexuality I reject, but who also deserved to keep his job.

  17. When we met at WDC18 – I told you that I appreciated that you stood up for the LGBT community, that you stood up to what’s happening in our country. I hate that Marvel felt your politics overshadowed your literary talent. But, I hope that you know in your heart that your son’s future depends on how hard we fight. Stay strong and keep your head held high. We are proud to stand with you.

  18. I’m sorry to hear this happened to you. You are moving to the top of my, “have you heard?” pile. The one i use to give gifts from. Everyone gets copies~! Not just for christmas and birthdays, but for thanksgiving, valentines day, merry tuesday, everything! i know its not actually much, but its what support i can give. thanks for letting me ramble.

  19. I am so angry this happened. Marvel should have had your back against the mob of malicious twitter trolls, and they didn’t. This just emboldens the worst impulses of humanity.

  20. This is such bullshit, I’m so sorry, man. We’ll always support you wherever you write! They didn’t deserve your word nuggets.

  21. Chuck, my hubby held off telling me this until I had my coffee. I don’t mind telling you (when have I ever shied from adulation) I’ve been in a hole. A deep, fucking dark hole given the political and social climate and YOU, my friend, have been a beacon for me. I’ve wished I’d come up with some of your rants on my own. I’ve shared them. I still praise you to the Moon and back again! How can I support Disney/Marvel when they’ve shown their fascism in the name of profit over the sanctity of basic human grace?

    I’m going to buy every single non-SW, non- Marvel title you have even if I own them already. I’m happy to call you friend and colleague. I’m proud of your honesty and moral stance against Drumpf and this utter clusterfuck of American politics. We all lose when companies like Marvel don’t stand behind their artists and stand up for everything embodied in the very fabric of every single story they tell.

    Disney has no business being in EITHER universe since the storylines are about the fight AGAINST fascism. Stand up, my friend because I’m standing with you!

    • I couldn’t have put it better, I know the saying goes it’s always darkest before the dawn, but fuck man how dark does this shit get? How ironic though that Chuck is symbolic of Rebellion whilst those that fired him and their bigoted zealots have come to represent The Evil Empire. I know which side I’ve no desire to enlist as stormtrooper anytime soon. I’m with Chuck, the force is with you friend.

  22. Disney’s failure to have your back will come around to bite them hard when the culture war gets weapons big enough to actually damage them. Which, y’know, is definitely coming.

  23. For the people championed by Fox and its ilk, for the people who condone nazi rallies, for the people who dox and pester and anooy and miserify (that’s a word. I just made it up. so there) people because they dare to disagree with THEIR worldview – for THOSE people to speak about “civility” in any context to justify ANYTHING -hell’s bells, I’d rather hear someone use blue language for good reason than someone who simpers sycophantically to suck up to stooges in power and to hell what they actually think or believe or who has to pay the piper so long as they remain “in charge”. I’m horrified this has happened. Not just because it happened TO YOU – and I respect your integrity – but because of the precedent it is setting for future happenings to other people. You, we know about, because your profile is high and there is no way to silence-wrap this. To others, whose profile might not be as high, this can now happen and we might never even know about it. There are times I honestly sincerely want OFF THIS PLANET.

  24. I have been a fan of yours for a long time. I’m sorry that this happened to you. Thank you for standing up for what is right.

  25. Chuck, as one who has gone through a situation similar to yours—having to leave a job because of being deemed “too controversial”—- this visual artist finds both comfort and validation from your words, every “vulgar” one of them. Speak them loud, speak them strong, because you help keep the inner flame alight for so many creatives in these dark and toxic winds.

  26. Living in distant Australia we can’t believe what is happening to you nation. This adds to the endless tales of horror. Wishing you luck – lols like you’re all gonna need it.

  27. Having the opportunity to work in two universes one has long treasured yanked away must be crushing. Let it not effect your belief in yourself and your creative power. You have already succeeded.

    Fly your flag, dude; we’ll be right behind you. <3

  28. I’m sorry about what happened. This is maybe a silly question, but when you were “taken off an as-yet-unannounced SW book,” does book mean a multivolume comic book, or does it mean a novel? Thinking about what we as readers are missing out on as a result of Marvel’s decision.

  29. Very sorry to hear, Chuck. For all the good you did for them, you deserve better. You know it, and we know it, and while it may not feel like it now, all the right people know it. But sometimes, as the world has seen again and again the last couple of years, the wrong people have too much influence and call the shots.
    Too many people have too much time on their hands and are opting to be shitty and destructive with it instead of being good and supportive (let alone *gasp* create something positive).
    Don’t let their darkness overwhelm your light.
    The pendulum will swing the other way again, as it does, and here’s hoping you’ll be able to enjoy the ride back.

  30. HAng in there, Chuck. It’s times like these that the intelligent people (those who do things that both help others, and themselves) MUST keep going in order outweigh the Stupid people (those that do things that help NO-one, including themselves). If the world is to come through this phase of extreme stupidity, the intelligent (like yourself) must keep trying to do the right thing. Your work is good. Your words are good. Don’t let this stop you.

  31. That’s two strikes I know of against Marvel properties when it comes to pandering to right wing trolls. First we lose James Gunn from GotG then you get fired from a Marvel writing gig. Sucks hugely. But I will always love reading your brain babies – am currently in the middle of The Raptor and the Wren and it’s INCREDIBLE! How the fuck do you keep coming up with such brilliantly uncouth, visceral and hilarious permutations of words!
    Fuck Marvel. I’ll follow wherever the winds take you, Chuck.

  32. I’m hearbroken for what happened to you and I’m terrified that things like this keep happening.
    I think you’re brave and you always raise your voice for what is right. I know there’s a lot of people who will always support you. We’re here, you’re not alone.
    Keep on speaking your mind and telling your stories. We desperately need people like you. Creative people with a big heart, who are not afraid to speak the truth.

  33. Hey Chuck, this is real shitty news. I’m sorry to hear it, but I think this is their loss more than yours, and the fact they’re not prepared to stand behind you, means you’re probably better off out of it. Keep doing you, it’s what got you here in the first place, and there’s better things to come.

  34. Hey Chuck – it’s a small consolation but this incident with you was the final straw for me–I deactivated my Twitter. When you started trending and I spent a solid 20 minutes reporting 20+ accounts who were, proverbially, dancing on your grave I had the realization that Twitter is never going to go back to what it was and I just didn’t want to be part of it.

    I don’t think I can support Marvel or LFL anymore either. I know like you said there are wonderful people and I’m 100% agreed, but … I can’t be there.

    Thanks for being the kick-ass human you are. Keep writing, I’ll keep buying.

  35. Dear Chuck, I am from germany and yours is the only blog I read, and almost every time (I read no other blogs). I admire you and love your books and your power for everything. I am an author myself and can feel your loss and shock. I know, that this is a wrong decision, marvel will regret that in the long term. But this is not what helps you now. But I want to give you the feeling, that you help people like me to be courageous and to speak your mind, to fight for what you believe. Thank you for everything and feel my best wishes for you.

  36. We’re back to McCarthy, then. Well, brilliant. Tell me why I had left a dictatorial, communist regime as a teen just to land in the Land of the Free? But the Tree of Liberty needs to be watered with the blood of patriots. And sometimes, that blood is ink spilled (or not spent on cool projects,) and sometimes that blood is counting money lost, word-fame denied, and harassment garnered in the pursuit of what matters. Lucky us, we have other venues now. Indie venues, other channels and netflix and whatnot. The problem is, how do we get uncensored content into the hearts and minds of those who blindly follow “popular culture?” How does one make the average theatre-goer aware that, shit, the writer of that one favorite show got fucking CENSORED???

    We need a strategy. How can we this go viral?

  37. Chuck,
    Marvel/Disney has show itself as the Evil Empire. Fuck them. You have the Force… you have the light saber… use them to vanquish and ascend!

  38. I legit hands down loved your Star Wars novels. I’m sorry that people have been so awful to you over it, and over your political opinions.

  39. I’m so sorry this has happened, Chuck. Your posts are always a bright spot in my day when I get them, and your battle cries in a world become unstuck have meant a lot to me. Are there any ways in which I can help to support you? Buying more of your books? reviewing? Expressing my discontent to Marvel? When you feel like dealing with stuff again, I would like to know how best to stand with you.

  40. Chuck: I loved your Aftermath books and was grateful to read a character that was gay and not a stereotype. It was nice to see a character with depth, meaning, and personal growth that was not shoehorned into the story or made sterile/ pointless. Thank you for what you gave us and I hope you will be back in the LFL Star Wars world soon.

  41. I am so sorry to hear that! Sometimes bad things have to happen in order to wake up the good people. But it is very sad that you have to suffer just because other people are not very smart. For what it’s worth: the comeback is always stronger than the setback. Keep fighting and concentrate on the people who do you right not on the ones who do you wrong. Hugs, Annegret

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