LNH: Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #51

Adrian J. McClure mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Sun Jun 17 17:57:47 PDT 2012

So I guess I'll have to say more about this story.

First of all, the attempt at offensive humor really, really doesn't
work. It's just an ugly stereotype put out there with no commentary or
critique. What exactly is being satirized here? Supposedly, it's
comics' jumping on board the gay bandwagon for the sake of publicity.
But the fact that there is effectively a trend now for more diverse
characters in any way is laudable, even if not all the manifestations
of that trend are. (There are good arguments to be made that Alan
Scott's outing smacks of tokenism, given that it was done to replace
his son who was erased from history. In other news, the DCU makes my
head hurt.) Doing this kind of deliberately provocative, offensive
humor can work, but like everything else you have to put careful
thought into the tone and purpose of it. In this case, the tone is
snide and dismissive, and the purpose seems to mainly be to get
revenge for criticism of a cheap joke that was never funny in the
first place.

And that's the other problem: the treatment of other peoples'
characters and ideas. This story deliberately uses Andrew's character
of Kid Enthusiastic to get in a cheap shot at him. I can't even begin
to say how petty, disrespectful and immature that is. There's also the
handling of the WikiBoy debate. Andrew raised a genuinely interesting
question that sparked a genuinely interesting debate about free will,
the nature of fiction, and so forth, which suggested all kinds of
compelling and funny stories. But this story seems to exist simply to
foreclose on these possibilities without taking into account
everything everyone has had to say.

This story also manifests some recurring problems I've noticed with
your writing, namely how overliteral and one-dimensional it is. You
don't really develop your ideas, they just kind of sit there on the
page. A lot of the time your stories parod some movie or other (it's
almost always a movie or a TV show, your sources of inspiration are
very narrow) and the dialogue points out, in as flat and awkward a way
as possible, that that's what they're doing, with little or no
deviations. You seem to be unable to tolerate or understand any kind
of metaphorical thinking, as seen in the way you approach Mr.
Morrison. But that kind of overliteralism and not just lack of but
active hostility to imagination basically kills writing and is the
opposite of what the LNH should be about.

The thing is, your ideas aren't necessarily bad. The idea that WikiBoy
is effectively a cosmic scapegoat who has to suffer for the sake of
comedy is an interesting one that fits very well into the LNH. It
raises all kinds of questions about humor, empathy, free will, the
possibilty of meaningful change to the status quo in superhero comics
or in life and what kind of pain we're willing to accept as important
and what we're willing to overlook. It sets up a lot of interesting
conflicts--what if some of the other LNHers don't accept this state of
affairs? After all, fighting cosmic forces is a staple of superhero
stories. But instead what happens is just that WIkiBoy suffers
horrible things and then a cosmic entity shows up and says that's the
way it has to be, and that's it. It exists to basically lay down the
law and lecture about how this is supposed to be, which is another
thing that gives the whole story a bullying tone. It serves to
foreclose on potential stories, not encourage them.

This kind of approach is a huge, huge problem when you're writing
about the kinds of subjects you are here. Even a character who's
deliberately an offensive stereotype could work. Look at what Jamie
Rosen did with Ebonics Lad back in LNH v2 #21. It's a little on the
nose, but he certainly gets something interesting out of an apparently
irredeemable character. The thing is, as I mentioned, in your version
the character being an offensive stereotype is the only "joke." Taken
together with the snideness of the story, you're expressing naked
contempt for gay people that would do Fred Phelps proud. I think--I
hope--that the problem is that you really don't think about what
you're writing at all, especially when you're nursing some kind of

Because you have a recurring pattern of holding onto childish grudges
to the detriment of the group and of your own writing. There was the
time you refused to honor Dave's wishes about Squidman. There was the
ongoing, completely pointless feud with the Omega writers that went on
for over ten years, I think, up until around the point I started when
you used the Omega characters without permission Flame Wars VI until
you were called out on it. And then there was the time when you almost
sabotaged the whole LNH20 project becuase you refused to accept any
changes that would make it meaningfully different from the classic

And that's another problem with your writing in general and this story
in particular: the hostility to doing anything differently. Right now
we're at a very interesting time in the world of both superhero comics
and the LNH. The market and the readership are changing, diversifying
and expanding and the companies are slow to join them. This year the
rest of us LNH writers are working overtime to do something new and
different and reach new audiences. Part of the reason I've been absent
lately is I'm helping Andrew build a presence for the LNH on Tumblr.
We've both been starting to engage seriously with that site. And the
thing is, Tumblr is the gayest thing in the world. A lot of young
creative people in fandom are somewhere on the LBGTQ spectrum; they're
coming here to get away from this exact kind of lazy stereotyping in
real life or even in series they otherwise love. Many others are
friends of people like that and sympathetic to their goals. Writing a
story like this is deeply exclusionary; it's telling them all they're
not welcome. And with our community as small and remote from the rest
of the internet as it is, that is deeply self-destructive.

I've been reading a lot of early LNH stories, and when I look at your
first stories and the things your'e writing now there's barely any
change and development at all. You are basically writing the exact
same kind of thing you were in 1993. The thing is, though, you
actually seemed to be getting better for a while. The Cat Lady stories
were actually something different and they really worked. Your plain
and direct style worked a lot better for that kind of children's story
inspired tale than it did for more dramatic or pseudo-dramatic
stories. They were inspired by your own experience, but they weren't
about you, let alone based on TV shows. Practically everything you've
written to date is one or the other of these things. It also helps
that they're coming from a place of affection rather than snide
contempt. And when I wrote a somewhat passive-aggressive article about
Deja Dude (which was a dick move and I'm sorry for that. I had some
problems with elements of your stories but I didn't want to engage you
directly for fear of, well, something like this. Also many of the
negative things about Deja Dude were taken from things you yourself
wrote in Arthur E.L. Presence #2), you responded to it pretty

But now this happens: Andrew criticizes something you write in the
most reasonable way possible and then you throw a gigantic temper
tantrum and write a profoundly offensive and worthless story in
response. I'm tired of this kind of thing. And you've shown a pattern
of doing it again and again.

So unless you retract this story, stop doing this kind of thing and
start listening to reasonable criticism of your work, I will deny you
use of any characters or elements I created or had a hand in creating,
which includes most of the framework for LNH20. I really don't want to
have to do this; it's basically a nuclear option. I generally believe
in letting people use my characters how they want even if it's
something I disagree with. After all, part of the strength of shared
universes is the possibility for divergent interpretations. The
creator should always have rights, but the creator isn't always right.
And you've created genuinely useful characters like Master Blaster and
Googlemesh, and I know that other people I like and respect like Scott
and Rob still enjoy your work, so I didn't want to start a fight that
might end with you walking out. But now things have reached the point
where if you don't clean up your act it's just not worth putting up
with you anymore. Again and again you've shown a refusal to listen to
other people or consider points of view other than your own. If you
don't show a basic modicum of respect for others I don't want you
anywhere near my creations.

It's not too late. You still have a chance to try and change, if you
can. I hope you take it.


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