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. I’ve always enjoyed your writing advice, and I’ve tried some of your books. Losing a gig must sting, but this is the era we live in now. It needs to stop, and allow people to separate art from artist and individual from commercial entity.
    You’ll be alright, Chuck. These things happen and they pass.

  2. I count you as one of my thought heroes and have always admired how you write without apology and stand up for the power of literature, art, and ideas. Please know I share your disappointment and anger whenever smaller minds and nefarious agendas seem to triumph. I’m comforted by my strong belief that writers, artists, and big thinkers are not going to be silenced. I sincerely hope it helps you to know that so many are behind you.

  3. Dear Chuck,
    I’m sorry this happened. You are a talented writer and didn’t deserve the kind of mean-spirited cruelty trolls so enjoy dishing out. Marvel does some great things. Firing you is not one of them. I hope you shake off the discouragement, and the sadness and continue to write and create as you always have. Best, clr

  4. UGH. I’m so sorry. You’ve always been the voice of reason to me, in so many ways. Thank you for your thoughtful, creative, intelligent work – and the way you continue to help writers. I send my students to your site all the time, and eagerly read each article you post. I’m sorry others don’t get that.

  5. Keep writing books about writing and I will keep buying them. I’m sorry about this particular loss because I know it is painful, but I hope it doesn’t deter you from continuing to speak out.

  6. You are amazing and you deserve only the best things. I’m so sorry this has happened to you, and I hope you don’t let it deter you from speaking the truth and giving others hope that they aren’t alone in this insane world. Your writing advice makes me want to be better, and has helped put me on the path to BE better.

  7. I hope this doesn’t deter you from speaking your mind. I admire your work and your socially conscious online presence. You have my respect and support

  8. You know I want to saw something irreverent but I’ll just keep it myself and pour you a beer- of shit, I forgot everything is upside-down in Australia and it’s now all over the floor.

  9. I honestly have no idea what is happening in this world. We have utterly lost all sense. It was not that long ago that we collectively recognized that it is distasteful to discuss money, politics or religion unless in the company of those who you were close with, or made their openness to these topics known.

    Now? Everyone thinks it is their duty to be the guy on the soapbox screaming that the end is nigh.

    I have no doubt that in this age of self-righteous fury, you saw yourself as bravely falling on your sword to protect (insert group here) but in reality, you are simply adding your voice to a endless echo that refuses to allow any of us to have even a moments escape from politics.

    If you had simply included the character you wanted, not made a huge deal of it, and wrote, sure you might have had a few ignorant complaints, but nothing outside of the pale.

    Instead, you spent a lot of time shouting your fanatical politics, and thus, ensured that any such addition to your books would, of course, look like a shoehorned extension of this fanatical politicking. You, wrongly, figured that because your political fanaticism happens to be trendy at the moment, this would be completely fine. It isn’t. And it wouldn’t have been fine regardless of what your political beliefs are.

    We need, crave and have to have escapism. If every form of entertainment is peppered with political lecturing, that is no longer entertainment. A political message repeated over and over again in every medium has a word: propaganda.

    I know you will have already dismissed this, but if, by some chance, you decide to actually listen to some advice, let it be a quote from Winston Churchill “a fanatic is someone who can’t their mind and won’t change the subject”

    This country, and our entertainment most of all, needs a lot fewer fanatics. Disney just got one less.

    • Here’s a quote from you on another comment feed — and boy are you on a lot of comment feeds, Carlee Veldezzi — regarding Louis CK. I’m just gonna quote it here and savor the irony, if you don’t mind:

      “Why would you not bring him back? Why are corporations still trying to walk on eggshells as not to get in trouble in this culture? Has no one figured this out yet? Nothing you do will ever be “right” in this climate. Weak, bored, self-righteous people get offended as a sport to impress their peers with how ‘woke’ they are.

      Why would you keep trying in vain to appease these people? You are allowing them to force self-censorship with every attempt, and making this country a more bleak place than it was before.”

  10. Here, let me use profanity and vulgarity: That is unfucking believable. (Well, that’s profane and vulgar for me, at least.) How can a professional expect to be a “real person” if they aren’t able to be themselves on their own public forms *and* maintain their professional affiliations? So very sorry about this, Chuck. Once again, I find myself thinking/saying/writing to large corporations, “You can do better.” Peace.

  11. You are a brave soul. I always wondered at you and Scalzi for putting yourselves in the middle of the fight and how you managed to suffer the blowback. I did the calculus for myself and decided that life is too short to put up with that element of our society. I have no real idea what you went/are going through, but it has obviously been a burden. I hope you come out on the back side of this in a good place. I have always had great respect for you, both as a writer and a person. I wish you nothing but the best.

  12. Sad to see that those so insistent on pushing forth “diversity” seem to have forgotten entirely about the diversity of opinion. Sorry, man.

  13. The first time I read a Star Wars novel was after being released from a three-month-long conversion camp—the result of coming out as trans to my parents—and I was stripped of most, of not all, freedoms I had before.

    However, I had always loved Star Wars, and my parents appreciated that… placid… interest. However, without a computer I was limited in what I could do with my time. So I began reading.

    My first book was Aftermath. As if I was getting a special gift from the world, that secret world you put together gave me a place to feel normal and welcome. I didn’t feel that it was shoehorned in, but more just a natural occurrence in a world where bigger problems dominated the scene.

    You were one of my favorite authors. Among other things, going to NYCC 2017 and seeing you, getting your autograph on a Life Debt poster, all of it was wonderful and I only wish I had got to know you more. This blog and your other books have been a remedy, but the memories associated with Star Wars are some of the most impactful.

    All this to say, that I am devastated that you are leaving the team(s), and it puts an ugly knot in my stomach. I haven’t been involved in the Star Wars community for a while due to the toxic environment it’s fandom breeds and represents, but it is still something I hold close.

    In any case, you are amazing and brave, and I hope you can appreciate the impact you have on some of us. Don’t give into the corporate pressure and speak your mind.

    As Harper Lee once wrote, “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

    • Aw, thanks, Maddie, and I am sorry as hell you had to go through a conversion camp. I cannot imagine what that’s like. I hope all is well and thanks for reading and for writing.

  14. Hello! I am late to the party because I admit I haven’t been keeping up on comics recently. But I was just made aware of this whole clusterfuck due to a post on tumblr, and I wanted to say I am extremely disheartened to hear it.

    I also wanted to come and say thank you for Aftermath. Thank you for putting up with all the shit you got and continue to get because of it. Thank you for creating a part of the Star Wars universe where I felt like I was actually included in the audience, not just an outsider looking in.

    It wasn’t just the fact you made Sinjir gay (though that part is extraordinarily important to me and I am grateful for it). It was that he had an amazing character arc that had nothing to do with the fact he was gay. That he had one of the best redemption arcs I’ve ever read, without fundamentally changing what made him himself. That he was allowed to have a fierce, platonic friendship with Jas. He’s one of my top favorite characters in Star Wars of all time.

    And it wasn’t just Sinjir.

    Thank you for Norra Wexely. For making the protagonist an older woman with greying hair, and making her the badass hero pilot of the story. For avoiding the trope that women just up and become useless for anything but talking after they turn forty. For making her flawed and realistic and utterly relatable.

    Thank you for Rae Sloane. For making her the least stereotypical female villain I think I have ever seen. God, I did not /like/ her, but damned if I didn’t respect and understand her by the end of those books. I couldn’t help but root for her a little, because she was just endlessly fascinating in her ambitions and beliefs. Like kick Kylo Ren and Snoke out of movies, I want to see Rey versus Rae, because Rae is entirely more terrifying than any villain we’ve seen so far in the new trilogy.

    Thank you for Mr. Bones. I laughed so damn hard at him so often and his demise was a punch in the gut. I loved that damn murderous bastard. I squeed when he showed up in the Poe Dameron comic for like two pages, because he is a fucking delight.

    I wish you the best in your future endeavors and am sorry your time in the Star Wars universe ended in such a shitty manner. But know you left a lasting and meaningful mark on it.

  15. I’ve been thinking a lot about this and how it affects my passion for Star Wars books and comics. I love the current Vader comics and I was really looking forward to Shadow of Vader. Now I feel like it’ll be hard to appreciate it with the knowledge that political calculations have affected the creative team. I even wonder if I should buy and read SoV at all. I know you ended the post by encouraging fans to support the other people working on it, but I still can’t help but think that it won’t feel right. I wish there was a way to convey to Marvel that this isn’t ok while still enjoying the comics, which I’m sure are gonna be awesome.

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