DC Comics isn't making any new fans this month: Last week, the editorial team responsible for Batwoman resigned after the comic book publisher refused to let them show the long-awaited same-sex marriage of their main character, Kate Kane, on panel. And on Friday, just a few days shy of National Suicide Prevention Week, DC initiated a talent search asking aspiring artists to submit drawings of villainess Harley Quinn, naked and taking her own life.
The obvious discrepancy is glaring to some fans: Same-sex marriage for a character who's long been an out lesbian isn't allowed, but objectifying a mentally ill female figure in a gratuitously naked death scene is a moment to be celebrated.
The open contest invites the public to "Break Into Comics!" by submitting four panels depicting Harley Quinn in various suicide attempts, the last taking place while she's naked in a bathtub surrounded by plugged-in appliances like toasters and blenders. The winner will have their work appear in an upcoming issue.
The comments underneath the announcement on DC's website are mixed. While some readers defend the publisher's choice, messages that have received the most "Likes" include ones like the following:
This is disgusting and you should feel disgusting. Suicide is not sexy and it's not funny and it should NEVER, EVER be played as either and it should not be used in this manner. Anyone from DC that is voluntarily involved in this should feel like horrible people for it.
No, DC, you've *already won* Alienate Your Audience Bingo. You don't have to keep playing! You can stop now!
I named my kid after Harley Quinn and you think that I'll come even close to drawing this crap?
Some Tumblr users are attempting to make the story go viral to not only launch a boycott of DC, but spam the company's inbox with protest art.
In order to participate in DC’s latest talent search, you have to draw a female character committing suicide naked.I’m gonna assume I don’t have to explain what’s fucked up about this.But guys, they left an open submission form on their page! They claim they will personally review every submission!I see this as an opportunity to spam their box with a Hawkeye-Initiative style inversion of genders. Or just give them an angry letter. Whatever you want.I say we make this viral and shame them out of this talent search.
What does DC have to say for itself? Not much. Harley Quinn's writer, Jimmy Palmiotti, however, responded briefly on Twitter. Ignoring criticisms that the contest objectifies women, and sexualizes mental illness and suicide, he posted:
@thejillthompson I know. When did everyone become the morals police...? lol— Jimmy Palmiotti (@jpalmiotti) September 6, 2013
Let the boycott begin...