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.

    • John W. says:

      The first sentence of your comment is absurd; Card, while a brilliant science fiction writer, is decidedly archaic in his position of actively denying equal rights to the a segment of our law-abiding population. Banks is not denying anyone any rights; he is simply protesting the support of anything this bigot does in relation to a hero who represents "truth, JUSTICE, and the American way." And I interpret the "American way" to mean "freedom and liberty for all."

      • OH_DC says:

        No one is denying any "freedom or liberty". If you read the National Organizations for Marriage's talking points instead of allowing yourself to get whipped into a frenzy by a 24 hour news cycle, you can make sense of what is being said. An exceprt from their site. "Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose, they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us." The point of NOM is to allow Gay and Lesbian union, but under a different name than marriage.

      • John W. says:

        Who are you to define marriage between two consenting adults? Why not simply mind your own business? How does the marriage between two men or two women affect you in any way. IT'S NONE OF YOU BUSINESS.

        Or is this all part of some sort of militant Christian agenda? If it is… never mind, you're locked forever in your brainwashing and will never understand.

      • OH_DC says:

        I would suppose the dictionary defines marriage, not me.. From Merriam-Webster: the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law … but since its NONE OF YOU BUSINESS… Is that even English… I suppose that is another book we can ignore….

      • GCL says:

        I guess you skip the second part to the definition of marriage from Merriam-Webster.

        a (1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage <same-sex marriage>

      • Merc says:

        Obviously, your view of Truth, Justice and the American Way doesn't include Freedom of Speech. Go get your armband and start marching in line.

      • John W. says:

        What a hateful, cowardly punk you are, Merc. You're calling me a nazi for defending the rights of a disenfranchised minority? I'm all for Free Speech, which is why I posted, you hateful, childish moron.

      • Merc says:

        Such vitriol; I'm wounded.

        You're the one demanding political purity for the right to work. I'm just pointing out that you're participating in a lockstep mindset that ruins lives.

        You cite the American Way yet you deny it at your whim.

        Regarding your response to OH_DC, we don't need to define marriage for anyone – it already has a definition. Words mean things and for a reason. It is the homosexuals who are forcing definitions on others (or redefinitions to be more accurate). When one doesn't accept their redefinition, and justly so, they are unfairly labeled – this makes it our business. In particular since drones such as yourself are comfy with denying your opposition the right to express themselves and apparently the right to work.

        This isn't a militant Christian agenda it is a reaction to a militant homosexual agenda.

        You are the bigot. Not the other way around.

      • John W. says:

        Militant agenda? Is that what you called the marchers in Selma? And "drones"? A Christian zealot calling anyone else a drone? You keep believing your own hateful nonsense, and I'll take comfort in the knowledge that backward thinkers like you will eventually die off as most of the stalwart members of the KKK have died off (or slinked back under their loathsome rocks of hatred and injustice). Man, I'm not even gay, yet your bigotry is so foul, people from all corners of civil society have to stand up against the likes of you.

      • Joshua Roy says:

        True, my first sentence may be a bit extreme (go ahead and comment on the irony there), but I still say that, whether or not Banks is right, the massive response to Card and DC's decision to hire him is what caused Sprouse to step down. I didn't mean to and don't want to start an argument about whether Card is right or not.

        Consider this: What would've happened if Card had not been revealed as the writer of the comic, written under a pseudonym? If the comic had been in circulation for a month before the public learned that Card was writing it, would it change whether or not people liked the comic? Does the knowledge that Card wrote it change the value of the comic itself? I'll venture a guess and say no.

        Superman is the character that, as far as I know, represents the best of us. He's the one that, like Voltaire and Gene H., below, have said, will defend your right to speak whether or not he believes in it. Why can't we just respect people's views, whether WE THINK they're idiotic, or immoral, or archaic, or even right? Why can't we all just be a little bit more like Superman? Do you think that he, or Captain America, or Peter Parker, would ever be caught claiming that freedom of speech is a viable defense for a poorly written slanderous statement about someone's beliefs? I'll venture another guess: No.

    • dopper0189 says:

      When you mix religion and politics into your public persona this is what happens. Speaking out on an issue exposes you to people who 100% have an opposite view of whay you want. Speaking up and then complaining that lots of people think you're either wrong, or completely an idiot, is silly. You can't be both a a national spokesperson (using your fame to support your cause) and then claim it's wrong for people to single you out for being a national spokesperson. Most artist lean to the left so Card is being just as provocative as a minister who supports marraige equality going on Christian radio and loudly supporting it, and then acting "surprised" at the push back. If Card really beleaves in his cause he should be willing to survive the firestorm, otherwise he shouldn't have opened his mouth in the first place.

  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

    • dopper0189 says:

      The whole reason we have freedom of speech is so that people can convince folks to change their minds. I use to oopose marraige equality, but after listening to people on "the other side" I changed my mind. Since we live in a Democracy as more people change their mind too laws on this will change also. You on the other hand shouldn't expect people to enforce what you think is right and wrong when a majority of people disagree with you.

      • John W. says:

        So, the majority is always right? Slavery existed for centuries in this country, and it was perfectly legal. Did that make it right? And no one is forcing anyone to do anything they don't want to do; marriage between two consenting adults has absolutely nothing to do with those not involved in that union.

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