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
Twitter.com/@NoeleneClark

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