Orson Scott Card’s ‘Superman’ comic delayed after artist exits

March 05, 2013 | 6:21 p.m.
Orson Scott Card will write "Adventures of Superman" No. 1. (DC Comics; Starscape)

Orson Scott Card will write “Adventures of Superman” No. 1. (DC Comics; Starscape)

Orson Scott Card’s contribution to “Adventures of Superman” will be delayed after the story’s illustrator, Chris Sprouse, bowed out of the project.

DC Comics has been under fire since announcing Card would contribute a story to the first collected issue of the comic, due out May 29. Card’s involvement drew the ire of gay advocates, who called for boycotts of the comic and petitioned DC to drop the “Ender’s Game” author due to his anti-gay rhetoric.

Card is an outspoken opponent of homosexuality and a board member of the National Organization for Marriage, which seeks to ban same-sex marriage.

Sprouse — the Eisner-winning comic artist whose work includes such titles as “Tom Strong,” “X-Men” and “Justice League America” — cited the controversy in his decision to step down as the illustrator of the story by Card and Aaron Johnston.

MORE: Orson Scott Card and Superman: Stoking fan rage

“It took a lot of thought to come to this conclusion, but I’ve decided to step back as the artist on this story,” Sprouse said in a statement Tuesday, first released to USA Today. “The media surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from the actual work, and that’s something I wasn’t comfortable with. My relationship with DC Comics remains as strong as ever and I look forward to my next project with them.”

DC Comics supported Sprouse’s decision, and delayed the release of Card’s story while they “actively” look for a replacement artist.

“We fully support, understand and respect Chris’ decision to step back from his ‘Adventures of Superman’ assignment,” DC said in a statement. “Chris is a hugely talented artist, and we’re excited to work with him on his next DC Comics project. In the meantime, we will re-solicit the story at a later date when a new artist is hired.”

Sprouse’s decision was lauded by the activist group AllOut.org, which collected more than 16,000 signatures on an online petition calling for DC to drop Card.

“Fair-minded people agree Card’s views are reprehensible and question why a company that claims to stand for equality thinks he is a reasonable ambassador of those values,” said AllOut.org’s co-founder Andre Banks in a statement. “Chris Sprouse’s decision to not illustrate Card’s writing, should be a sign to other companies, including the producers of Card’s upcoming film ‘Ender’s Game,’ that there’s no upside in hiring people whose rhetoric goes beyond opinion and into the dangerous territory of extremism. Thankfully, our tolerance for intolerance is shrinking.”

“Adventures of Superman,” a digital anthology featuring several short, standalone stories by different creators, will launch April 29, with a story by Jeff Parker and art by Chris Samnee. The collected print edition due out May 29 will now include the Parker/Samnee story, as well as a story by Jeff Lemire and another by writer Justin Jordan and artist Riley Rossmo.

A big-screen adaptation of Card’s novel “Ender’s Game,” starring Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin and Ben Kingsley, is slated to hit theaters Nov. 1.

– Noelene Clark


A variant cover for "Astonishing X-Men" #51. (Marko Djurdjevic / Marvel Comics)

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18 Responses to Orson Scott Card’s ‘Superman’ comic delayed after artist exits

  1. Joshua Roy says:

    I'd say that Banks and other opponents of Card are being just as extreme as they claim Card is. I can understand the reasoning, but I do not agree with their assumption that Orson Scott Card, one of the greatest Sci-fi writers of the modern day, would taint such a renowned hero with personal views. More so, I think it is a leap to say that Sprouse decided to not draw the comic because of Card. He specifically cites media attention as his reason for stepping down, that the media coverage "reached the point where it took away from the actual work." Sites like AllOut.org are what caused Sprouse to step down, not Card's views directly.

  2. Gene H. says:

    Firstly, one must understand that freedom of speech is a two-edged sword. Card is free to say what he likes within noted legal exceptions of incitement, defamation, etc. He’s also free to suffer any consequences or reap any benefits thereon.

    Secondly, an artist – regardless of medium – is in part in the PR business when it comes to their fans. The “media” didn’t bring this down on OSC. He did. As a public figure, the responsibility for making unpopular statements falls upon him. As the adage goes, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” The discretion implied applies to anyone with a level of celebrity.

    Thirdly, I loved Ender’s Game when I first read it 20 years ago. In the intervening time, I’ve read maybe 12-15 other titles of his to mixed review. However, I’ve also read a lot more about OSC in that time and I quit buying his books some time ago because of it. Believe it or not, his retrograde views on government’s proper role in marriage and the consequences of a secular society are not his most offensive views. I’ve read several interviews where he comes off as a militaristic fascist and generally unpleasant person. Again, he’s is perfectly free to say what he likes and I’ll defend that right, but he’s also free to alienate his fanbase as much as he likes by not being able to discern when he should or should not shut up given the nature of the business he is in and the dictates of common sense. The role of artist is defined by making good art which is at best a nebulous concept. It does not require you be ethical, intelligent or politically savvy. Card has let his political mouth overload his art and he won’t learn that lesson as a negative unless and until it impacts his pocketbook.

    I have no problem with either what he said (as a matter of his rights – to be clear I personally think his understanding of the law and human pair bonding is substandard and ethically unacceptable) or the boycotts that resulted.

    He made his own bed the instant he decided to exercise his rights in a way that alienates others with purpose based on a view that is rooted in his religiousity. The 1st Amendment isn’t just about freedom of speech. It isn’t just about freedom of religion. It’s also about freedom from religion . . . including his.

  3. Mike says:

    Meanwhile, we readers have not seen the story in question so in all this ridiculous hoopla the most important thing is being missed.

  4. tbplayer59 says:

    Boycott DC.

  5. jermaine giles says:

    Plane and simple if you choose 2 be a man who loves man all power 2 you but you should not expect our country too grant the same rights as a man and woman union its unethical and goes against the heart of religion

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