Other Marvel creators, meanwhile, have been more quiet on social media, in part because of a sense of malaise over what impact any protest or public statement could have.
“I’m tired of Twitter expecting marginalized creators to fall on their swords for futile moral stances,” one creator told me on the condition of anonymity. “I could quit as loudly and proudly as possible and the end result would be one less working queer creator. (In fact, I could name a few who’ve done just that and paid for it.) The percentage of comic creators who have the genuine security to stand up to their employees is in the small single digits, and most of them only have that thanks to Hollywood and other non-comics sources of income. It’s great when a busy TV showrunner can make a sweeping gesture, but it sucks when some fan account expects all of us to follow when most of us don’t have those safety nets. Every current Marvel creator could put their pencils down tomorrow and it would barely register on Disney’s bottom line.”
Such frustration was shared by multiple creators, who expressed upset at Disney’s stance but also acknowledged that there was little they could do about it on a personal level. A common thread in talking to creators was the idea that any public statement or grand gesture was unlikely to make any positive difference to the situation, but almost guaranteed to make matters worse for them professionally and, given the financial stress involved, likely personally as well.
There is almost certainly a line of thinking from some reading this, along the lines of, “Just go and work at other publishers, then!” There are two substantial reasons why that doesn’t really work: Firstly, it’s not that easy to jump between publishers; it’s not as if there are a ton of open spots elsewhere for creators to jump into upon leaving Marvel.
Secondly, Marvel is the leading publisher in the Direct Market, and as such pays a page rate that few other publishers could match, meaning that someone leaving a mid-range Marvel book for an indie publisher – even something like IDW or Boom! – would be making significantly less money as a result.
(There is always the possibility of crowdfunding or creator-owned material as an alternative, with the hopes that said projects would catch fire and end up earning out on the back-end, of course; that’s not necessarily anything that would pay the rent in the short-term, even if it did work out down the line. Not everyone can be a Spike Trotman or a Brian K. Vaughan.)