Having Standards Isn’t the Same as Gatekeeping

by J. Ishiro Finney

When former DC Comics artist Ethan Van Sciver posted these words this week, it caused something of a stir. While many agree with the sentiment, there were more than a few who responded with cries of “gatekeeping”.


According to Google Dictionary gatekeeping is “the activity of controlling, and usually limiting, general access to something.” Specifically, it is in regards to the dissemination and availability of information and/or entertainment. What isn’t gatekeeping is suggesting companies re-think their hiring practices.


Later, after receiving pushback from some members of the so-called Comicsgate movement–a loose coalition of individuals fighting the current takeover of the comics industry by radical leftist politic–Van Sciver went on to elaborate that:


Right now, both the industry and community sides of comics are in a bad place. The worst it’s ever been, in fact. Stores across North America are going out of business due to publishers producing product tailored specially to insult and attack the fanbase. Conventions have been soured by rabid identity politics, all the while, the press continues to devolve into a propaganda mouthpiece for far left activists. Even beloved, classic characters aren’t safe. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America—one by one we’ve seen these cultural icons vilified, downgraded, even killed before they are ultimately replaced by new “diverse and inclusive” versions whose only defining characteristics are their ranking in the Progressive Stack..

–Editor Tom Brevoort, justifying the declining sales of Marvel comics.


In light of the current state of things, the most common solution offered is the “let the market sort itself out” argument. And sure, the market will sort itself eventually, in the same way a house on fire will eventually stop burning. Question is, how much loss are we willing to stomach? Remember, WE built this community. It was our loyalty and love of the art form that’s kept the industry alive for the past few decades. Now, this thing we’ve poured our hearts into has been hijacked by radical ideologues who are burning it to the ground.


I refuse to accept this fate.


This is a career and an art form I’ve dedicated my life to. I refuse to stand idly by as it is turned to ash.


As I said, we built this community. It’s on us to maintain it. Comics as we know them will not survive if we continue to welcome in and tolerate gangs of zealots who are only interested in forcing their ideology onto the rest of us. Remember, both Marvel and DC chose to employ a pack of proud political radicals who routinely flame-out on twitter in rants against white peoplestraight peopleinterracial relationshipsChristiansconservativestheir own children“racist” cereal, and anyone to the right of Lenin. Threats of violence aren’t unheard of either, such as this gem from everyone’s favorite socialist transsexual, Magdalene Visaggio,

Ideally, a “live & let live” attitude would be best for everyone, but it can’t be a one-way thing. Everyone involved must be acting on the best of intentions. Likewise, we all must be willing to say “no” every time one of these ideological true-believes walks in and starts making demands. Heck, I don’t recall cries of “gatekeeping” when fans chased the Westboro Baptist Church away from San Diego Comic Con. Pushing back against today’s angry mob of radicals is not different.



Refusing to accept this kind of behavior is not gatekeeping.


Boycotting companies who allow ideological nutcases to defame and destroy your favorite characters is not gatekeeping.


And, above all, pushing back against those who would destroy the industry, the community, and the art form is not gatekeeping.


It’s protecting a vibrant art form and a rich part of America mythology.


Republished with permission from jishirofinney.com

Follow him at @J_Ishiro


J. Ishiro Finney

J.Ishiro is a writer of prose and comics. He's written several books under the name “Josh Finney,” including Casefile: Arkham, Titanium Rain, Utopiates, and World War Kaiju. You can find more of his works at jishirofinney.com