Marvel Fires 'Star Wars' Comic Writer Chuck Wendig Because of His Social Media "Negativity"
Chuck Wendig, the best-selling author of the Aftermath trilogy of Star Wars novels and multiple Star Wars-related comics, has been fired by Marvel Entertainment. Wendig took to Twitter to share the reasons for his termination, and it basically boils down to the fact that the company didn’t like his tweets about politics. Read on for much more about this situation.
Chuck Wendig Fired By Marvel
Wendig – who was in the middle of working on a five-issue miniseries called Shadow of Vader and a still-unannounced Star Wars novel – went on Twitter today to explain that Marvel fired him “because of the negativity and vulgarity that my tweets bring. Seriously, that’s what Mark [Paniccia], the editor said. It was too much vulgarity, too much negativity on my part.”
Presumably, he’s talking about tweets like this (click on the tweet and read the full thread):
oh my god these people
— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) May 31, 2018
The Hollywood Reporter also dug up a deleted tweet in which he wrote, “Winter is coming, you callous fucknecks, you prolapsed assholes, you grotesque monsters, you racists and rapists and wretched abusers, you vengeful petty horrors.”
You can read Wendig’s lengthy statement in its entirety at the bottom of this article.
In his first Aftermath novel in 2015, Wendig introduced a canonically gay Star Wars character and became a subsequent target for loud conservative “fans” online. But even more crucially, Wendig is an outspoken liberal who often tweets about current events, making his firing my Marvel a familiar echo of the firing of Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn, who was equally unflinching with his political views on social media. Conservative extremists orchestrated an effort to get Gunn fired by dredging up old tweets for which he had already apologized, and they managed to convince Disney and Marvel to part ways with Gunn a few months ago – a decision the companies stuck to even in the face of vocal backlash from many in Hollywood, including the Guardians of the Galaxy cast.
A report this summer uncovered that Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter – a wealthy Republican who is a close friend of Donald Trump’s and a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida – is the leader of a shadow group who have secretly been running the Department of Veterans Affairs, despite not being a veteran or even holding an official government position. Perlmutter is a longtime conservative, and this series of events is starting to feel less like a coincidence.
Here’s the full transcription of Wendig’s tweets, which reference “creepy” YouTube videos (like this one, for example) and Comicsgate, an online campaign from the alt-right that criticizes “social justice warriors” in the comic industry and, among other things, diversity in comics storytelling.
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.
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