Late last week, Image Comics released their solicitations for September 2017. Among the solicits was a cover image for The Divided States of Hysteria #4 which featured an image of a public lynching along with a racial slur (directed toward someone of Pakistani origin) as well as genital mutilation. The depicted image of racially motivated violence quickly caused a stir within the comic book industry and across social media with calls for boycotting not only Chaykin’s work on The Divided States of Hysteria but Image Comics as a whole.

Over the weekend, FreakSugar Editor, Steve Ekstrom, reached out to comic industry legend and creator of The Divided States of Hysteria, Howard Chaykin, to discuss the ramifications of his cover image as well as to discuss his artistic intent and rationale for the creation of such a horrifying portrayal of race motivated violence for the purpose of storytelling.

Note: For the sake of impartiality and to respect the sentiments of our readers who may be upset by the cover image of The Divided States of Hysteria #4, we will provide a link to the cover instead of openly displaying the image.

FreakSugar:  The cover to The Divided States of Hysteria #4 has caused a bit of an uproar on social media. Can you take a few moments to talk about your artistic intent with the image and how your intent coincides with some of the political and ideological issues we’re currently dealing with in this country?

Howard Chaykin:  To reiterate, and repeat something I’ve been saying since the first issue came out–any knowledge of what’s been said here is second and third hand, since I have a solemn commitment to read nothing about myself on the internet, neither positive nor negative.

That said, I’ve got a general idea that people–a number of enthusiasts and several of my fellow professionals–seem incapable of separating the depiction from the act.

This sort of sophistry has plagued me for years, so I suppose I should be used to it.  But clearly, some shit never gets old.  I have to assume a percentage of these earnest, yet apparently willfully ignorant critics haven’t read the book–certainly not issue four, which cover seems to be setting their lives on fire today.

If they were actually to read the book, perhaps other conclusions might be drawn–but I’m not optimistic.  Despite the fact that I am and have always been a proud member of the American left, I’m being impugned from my side of the aisle–by the sort of people who say such things as “I’m all for artistic expression, but…”

It’s that “but” that undercuts all that “…all for…”  No, you’re not really.  If that were the case, there’d be no buts.  The only artistic expression deemed acceptable by that “but” is an anodyne pandering to an apparently easily patronized audience.

For the record, the cover depicts the horrific wish dream of some 45% of their fellow Americans.  Perhaps if they spent a bit more time paying attention to the fact that the world they were born into is on the brink of serious disaster, they might have less time to get worked up about an image of genuine horror that depicts an aspect of that impeding disaster.

Sorry–I do go on now and then.

FreakSugar:  Again, with your intent as an artist in mind, are you consciously wringing your hands and being provocative for the sake of being provocative or are you trying to make a meaningful statement about diversity and fear-mongering?

Chaykin:  I have long been on record for my antipathy for horror.  I’ve never been able to abide the giant monsterzilla, nor the creeping dead, Frankenstein, Dracula zombie stuff, or any of that sort of thing.  The only Stephen King I read, for example, are his critical essays–this guy knows his way around music, and he’s got eyes for good modern genre fiction.

For my money, for my tastes and my experience, the real world in which we find ourselves now is horrific enough.

To be clear, to those members of the community who can’t separate the narrative visual presentation of what I and anyone in their right mind regard as a genuinely horrific act from the act itself, I’d suggest you might want to invest some or all of that affronted energetic rage in the midterm elections in 2018.

Or you can still continue to believe that not having your feelings hurt is in the bill of rights somewhere–despite the fact that I’m still not quite sure what all the fuss is about.  For the record, apologies are for the guilty.

I take very seriously an idea posited by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith more than seventy five years ago.  That idea is that contempt prior to investigation is the perfect means to remain intellectually shackled to specious ideas.

Me, I’m deeply fond of contempt with all the investigation I can muster.  it might hurt my feelings now and then, but I’m better for it.

FreakSugar:  How would you respond to the criticism of violence toward LGBTQ characters in the book? With your history of using transgender characters, could readers misconstrue the act as being provocative in order to be inflammatory? Could you elaborate on your rationale for including transgender characters in your story?

Chaykin:  I hope a discursive response is acceptable, because that’s what you’re going to get.

Anecdotally, my first job with the title “artist” was doing paste-ups and mechanicals–the sort of thing now covered by Photoshop, but in those days, used an X-ACTO knife and rubber cement.

It was me, my boss, an eccentric, and four other employees–Jose, Dani, Ramon and I think Felipe–four Puerto Ricans aged from mid 20’s to late 30’s.  They adopted me, made fun of me, and treated me like a beloved nephew, for which I was eternally grateful.

Every Wednesday and Friday, they would come to work, each carrying a small suitcase–and at six PM, after an hour spent in the bathroom, would emerge as women.  We all had cocktails, smoked a bit of weed, and they hit the streets, to supplement their income as hookers–this in a time before the euphemism “Sex Worker” existed.

Mondays were often filled with horror stories of their night lives–lives they had to live to simply get by.  I wasn’t paid enough to do more than live with my mother, and I doubt their day jobs did more than cover rent–so those rambles on 42nd street were a basic necessity.

I’ve often thought about that quartet, every time–and it’s all too fucking frequent a time–I read about a transgender woman murdered by a man who claimed, after the fact, that he had no idea what he was walking into–you know, the “trap” defense.

I have intimate friends in the transgender community-and I know all too well the strata, the schisms, the disagreements and the judgments that exist within and between the various factions of that world.

Chrissie Silver, the transgender character in The Divided States of Hysteria, has a back story based on several real people I have known and continue to know.  Unlike the others in the narrative, she’s guilty of no more than self defense, and is railroaded by a court system that, more often than not, buys into that aforementioned trap defense.

For the record, Chrissie Silver is the moral center of the book–a fact that becomes clearer as the narrative progresses, if those whose heads seem to be exploding with self righteous vindictive rage might actually read the book–but that’s not the case.

Frank Villa, the nominal hero of The Divided States of Hysteria, is seriously damaged goods–and his decision to include Chrissie in his plan is subtextual, but it’s there for a careful reader, as the narrative progresses.

Again, if the hysterics had read the book, rather than leaping to shamelessly banal conclusions about me and my intentions, this might calm that cohort down–but that train’s left the station.  Hysteria prevails. That’s what it does.

FreakSugar:  What are you personal feelings on the current polarized state of American politics? Earlier, you mentioned that the world we live in is “on the brink of serious disaster”; can you elaborate on this?

Chaykin:  I was born in 1950–illegitimately, so I guess I can be called a bastard, literally and figuratively.  I spent the first four decades of my life assuming I’d wake up one morning a pile of glowing ash, caught in a nuclear exchange between god-fearing capitalism and godless communism.

And just when, according to Francis Fukuyama, history ended, I had to deal with the potential apocalypse of conflict between two sets of religious fanatics–a concern that follows me into my seventh decade.

But all those fears seem puerile and kind of silly.  Whereas the drama queen in me–and fuck those who feel that that self reference is cultural appropriation–saw that imminent holocaust in operatic terms, the truth is the third World War which I so dreaded was fought and lost by us in 2016.

My country has become a cesspool of arrogant, over-opinionated and willfully ignorant narcissists on both sides of the political aisle.  But while the right seems to operate in a maddeningly cohesive manner, behaving like the cowards who encouraged bullies to beat the shit out of me in grammar school, committing treason in the name of holding to white privilege, the left has become a cadre of entitlement, supplanting that misbegotten white privilege with a series of assumptions about behavior–specifically others’ behavior–that creates a deeply hostile victim culture.

And of course, that left has evolved into a culture and community that feels that a white, cisgendered male has no right to tell stories of characters who are not white cisgendered males.  Beyond its obvious and ridiculous limitations, this is just one more variety of fascism with a sympathetic and friendly face–from a left that still hasn’t figured out a cohesive way to save itself, the country and the world from the crushing monster that my country has become.

Eloi and Morlock.

And that’s a contributing factor to why my side of the aisle can’t win elections–and why I feel royally fucked, even without this nonsense.  Thus, THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA.

(This final question was asked on Sunday AFTER Image Comics issued their statement.)

FreakSugar:  A statement has been officially released from Image Comics and the cover image will not be published; do you have anything you’d like to offer to people who might feel like the removal of the cover image is an act of censorship or an act of “regressive liberalism” via boycotting the work of the entire company?

Chaykin:  I agreed without grudge to Image Comics’ decision to pull the cover out of concern for the company, as well as for those colleagues of mine producing work for the company.  Image Comics, as well as those talents who didn’t opt to join the criticism in decrying the cover, the book and implicitly me, of course–were threatened with boycott by these people.

It should also be noted that a number of those colleagues and fellow professionals wholeheartedly supported this internet criticism.  It will be interesting to see if any of this crowd steps out of their anodyne comfort zone and produces something that pisses off enough people to send a little discomfort their way.

I find this doubtful, since this bunch knows all too well how to pander to the comic book audience.  Bread, buttered–you get the picture.

I have no regrets in this action, as I abhor the idea of the impact of collateral damage inflicted on anyone not responsible for drawing the attention of these people, who represent themselves as members of the liberal left.

It should also be noted that, in the first issue, an e-mail address was provided for a letter column, which commences in issue two.  As of this writing, not a single e-mail in regard to this controversy has been sent to this email address, indicating in all likelihood that the people attacking the material still haven’t read the book.  Go figure.

I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions about censorship via regressive liberalism.

The second issue of The Divided States of Hysteria hits shelves on July 12th.

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  • Daniel Preece

    People have trained themselves well in the art of complaint. If Chaykin had created a book about violence to minority groups and NOT included trans-persons, we’d be hearing how he made them “invisible,” that their suffering “isn’t worthy of inclusion,” and how their victimization is as important as any other and SHOULD be included. But such is our “complaint culture.” There will be complaints regardless. Except, apparently, by INFORMED people who actually BUY and READ the book….since none of the complaints used the title’s offered email.

  • Michael Aronson

    He seems to be willfully ignorant about both the potential reaction and present reaction (reinforced by the fact he claims to not be reading any feedback anywhere on the internet).

    “I’m going to create a cover that’s going to bother a lot of people.”

    *later*

    “How dare people feel bothered!”

    • Rick Schwifty

      If you are going to quote him to make your point, the least you could do is use actual quotes.

      • Michael Aronson

        You perfectly understood my point. You just don’t like it.

        • HORSEFLESH

          Your point is not Chaykin’s point, though. You shouldn’t speak for him.

          • Michael Aronson

            Of course my point isn’t Chaykin’s point. I’m not agreeing with him.

          • HORSEFLESH

            That’s what I wrote.

          • Michael Aronson

            But I never claimed my point was Chaykin’s point, so what you wrote was not a coherent reply to anything I wrote.

          • HORSEFLESH

            Your paraphrasing of his reply was putting words in his mouth which is why I pointed out ‘your point is not Chaykin’s point’, so you shouldn’t twist his words.

          • Michael Aronson

            My paraphrasing was paraphrasing.

            If it’s paraphrasing, then it’s clearly not putting words in anyone’s mouth.

          • HORSEFLESH

            It is when it’s not the same intended meaning; paraphrasing is a pretext to not actually say what he meant.

          • Michael Aronson

            “I am very upset by your wording than the argument you’re presenting, and I will continue to whine about it until I get tired.” – Horseflesh

          • HORSEFLESH

            Yeah, that isn’t what I meant either. Nice try.

          • Michael Aronson

            “I am very upset you are replying to my words rather than understanding what I’m poorly attempting to say.” – Horseflesh

          • HORSEFLESH

            Learn a new tactic of deflection. Your rhetoric is showing.

          • Michael Aronson

            “I am actually the one deflecting by neither making a point nor addressing your original point. Please don’t point that out, or I will have to cry about that too.” – Horseflesh

          • HORSEFLESH

            You’ve built your argument on a false premise.

          • Michael Aronson

            You yourself admitted I was paraphrasing, retard.

          • HORSEFLESH

            And I stated you were paraphrasing as a way to twist his words. Learn to read.

          • Michael Aronson

            Paraphrasing and twisting words are different concepts, retard.

          • HORSEFLESH

            I pointed out the abuse of the technique you claimed you were using, hence why I responded with “Your paraphrasing…”

          • Michael Aronson

            What the fck does “abuse of paraphrasing” mean? Did you drop out of high school?

          • HORSEFLESH

            You’ve been doing it, you tell me.

          • Jared M. Bobak

            LOL

            this argument perfectly demonstrates Chaykins frustration with both sides of the aisle.

          • Michael Aronson

            How? What sides are represented here? There’s been zero talk of politics, only whining about semantics.

          • Jared M. Bobak

            that one side is generally distasteful and stubborn and the other is well natured but vehemently retarded to the point where discussion is moot. Can you guess which role you occupy?

          • Michael Aronson

            “generally distasteful and stubborn”

            This describes Chaykin, though.

            (I am not necessarily disagreeing with that characterization of myself.)

          • Jared M. Bobak

            comically enough, your well-meaning and vehemently retarded.

            chaykin however, is both, hence his frustration. he is both stubborn and distasteful, as well as well-meaning. he has stated that he fundamentally disagrees with the imagery that he is being criticized about but wishes those criticizing would know the rest of the story, but for him to think someone wants to know more from the story of a book which the cover disturbs them is illogical.

          • Michael Aronson

            My well-meaning and retarded what?

          • Michael Aronson

            You clearly understood my point. It just upsets you, retard.

          • Michael Aronson

            Chaykin knew his cover would produce a reaction.

            Then after it produced a reaction, he whined about it.

            He’s a dishonest pussy, like yourself.

          • HORSEFLESH

            You seem more upset by all this than anyone here. Resorting to ad hominems is proof of this.

          • Michael Aronson

            I’m upset by your learning disability. I’m saddened for the people who have to take care of your useless self.

          • HORSEFLESH

            Don’t be upset Michael, it’ll pass.

          • Michael Aronson

            Since you’ve admitted to your learning disability, I will be blocking your comments. I prefer intelligent conversation, not retards.

          • HORSEFLESH

            Facts escape you – you are free to put your blinkers back on now.

          • Rick Schwifty

            Michael is losing the debate and trying to force you away by calling you a whiner. Good for you, Horseflesh, for not letting this common SJW bullying tactic work.

          • Michael Aronson

            I didn’t know the word “whiner” had the magical power to force someone away. Let’s see if it works on you, whiner.

          • Rick Schwifty

            It doesn’t. Sorry.

          • Michael Aronson

            So you admit no one is being “forced away.” What a pussy.

          • Rick Schwifty

            Who are you quoting this time, genius?

          • Michael Aronson

            Take a guess, retard.

        • Rick Schwifty

          Michael, you first replied to me with, “Those are actual quotes. They’re all in the above interview.”

          Then you edited that. I think that says it all.

          • Michael Aronson

            I confused this with another thread in which I quoted the interview point by point.

            In this thread, I merely paraphrased, which you clearly understood to be the case. Stop whining.

          • Rick Schwifty

            Not buying it. One doesn’t indicate that something is paraphrased by using quotations. You obviously don’t understand what a direct quote is. Perhaps you were one of those students who spent more time lecturing than learning.

          • Michael Aronson

            Again, you seem so upset by my wording that you’re unable to discuss my actual point. Stop whining.

        • ABC

          He knew that it was going to bother a lot of people. That doesn’t mean that he wanted to bother a lot of people, just that it he knew it was going to happen but it was a side-effect of the main intent which is to portray what he wanted to portray. Furthermore, this side effect, the fact that people get bothered, is not something that he decides, because it is up to the decision of the people who see it whether to get bothered or not. In any case, you yourself should know that side-effects are not the same things as intended effects.

          • Michael Aronson

            If he knew that doing something would produce a specific reaction, and then went ahead and did it, he either very much intended it, or he is being willfully ignorant.

          • ABC

            Even if you were to suppose such a reaction was intentionally provoked, it does not mean that one necessarily approves of such a reaction. Instead, it should be thought of as giving spite to people who one does not like. If person A doesn’t like person B, then person A might, for example, want to provoke person B to get angry. This is to show, of course, person B in a negative light, not a positive one. If you’re still confused and want a concrete example of what I’m talking about, then perhaps one example is if a same-sex couple kissed outside a Baptist Church to provoke homophobic reactions out of the Church leaders. The reason why anyone would do this is because the order of preference is, from least preferable to most preferable, people hiding their homophobia<people expressing their homophobia<people not having homophobia in the first place. While the third and last one is the most preferable, at least the second one is preferable to the first, which is the reason for making such provocations, to draw such negative reactions out into the public. The same, of course, is true of any provocations.

          • Michael Aronson

            Spite is intentional. You just contradicted your earlier assertion.

          • ABC

            Yes, I am saying something different from my earlier assertion, thank you for pointing it out. I still think it is possible that he did not intend this, but it is also possible that he did, we have no idea without going into the author’s mind. But, supposing that he did, which is what you seem to believe, then it was an act of spite, and acts of spite are reasonable towards people who one does not like.

          • Michael Aronson

            Except in the interview he is acting like he is claiming the very reactions he expected are unreasonable. He’s trying to have it both ways. He seems very disingenuous.

          • ABC

            You’re confusing two different definitions of “reasonable.” One is “it is reasonably possible,” i. e. it is reasonable that this kind of thing can happen. The other is “it is reasonable that people do this,” i. e. it is a good thing that this thing is happening. The first is “reasonable” to talking about human nature and possibility, what people can and will do, not what people should do. The second “reasonable” is a value judgment, saying that what people do is good or bad. Do you believe that it’s reasonable to say that unreasonable people are out there? Exactly. Don’t confuse “can” and “should.” It is reasonable (i. e. possible or plausible) to expect people to react in unreasonable (i. e. illogical, not-good) ways.

          • Michael Aronson

            “acts of spite are reasonable towards people who one does not like”

            So you are not using the definition of acceptability? You admit that such petulant spitefulness is unreasonable?

          • ABC

            In that one, I was using both. People both do acts of spite towards foes (i. e. “it often happens”), and if one’s foes are truly bad people, then it is reasonable (i. e. “good”). And in this case, the people who were reacting are truly bad people that he was spiting.

          • Michael Aronson

            “In that one, I was using both.”

            So you were being intentionally ambiguous, and then chided me on misunderstanding which meaning you meant.

            Very Chaykinian of you.

          • ABC

            No, it was not intentional, as I simply did not realize it. But of course, it does not matter since you were confused in the end whether i intended it or not, so apologies for this ambiguity, but hopefully it is now all cleared up what I meant there.

          • Michael Aronson

            “I was using both”

            “I simply did not realize it”

            Then you weren’t using both. You meant one thing. Jesus christ, you’re more dishonest than Chaykin.

          • Michael Aronson

            “the people who were reacting are truly bad people ”

            So “bad people” hate illustrations of lynching? What are you, five years old?

          • ABC

            “So “bad people” hate illustrations of lynching?”
            Yes. Exactly. Only bad people hate illustrations of lynching. As for why, it is because illustrations of lynching are important for documenting and relating to us what lynching is in the real world. Without illustrations of lynching, we would have no ideas of the horrors of lynching. People who hate them wish to take away such information, they wish to make invisible the sufferings of people who have suffered due to lynching, because they wish that people not see that such things can and have happened.

          • Michael Aronson

            “illustrations of lynching are important”

            And yet the comics industry has gone roughly 60 years without any, if not more.

            You seem to be retarded.

          • ABC

            “And yet the comics industry has gone roughly 60 years without any, if not more.”
            And are you saying that things that have not happened before have no value? I don’t get what you’re saying here, because I don’t think even you believe that black presidents are not important even though the country has gone on for more than 200 years without one. If something is important but is also new and has never happened before, then this means that the addition of this new thing is a good and valuable addition that serves to improve things as there is now one less important thing missing.

          • avclubhomos

            It’s so cute how badly you lie 🙂

          • Michael Aronson

            What did I lie about?

          • avclubhomos

            That there have been no depictions of lynchings in comic books in sixty years. I appreciate your need to lie since you’ve been humiliating yourself so completely in these comments, but come up with something less easily disproven next time.

          • Michael Aronson

            Covers, spanky. Name me a cover with a lynching after the 1950s. I’ll wait.

            (Also odd that you assume I’m lying as opposed to lacking information which you seem to possess.)

          • Fall Steve

            Retard is a slur against the developmentally disabled, you know. Don’t you have any compassion?

          • Michael Aronson

            You seem developmentally disabled. I am merely pointing it out.

          • Fall Steve

            “I am merely pointing it out.”
            The way you use “retard” shows that perhaps you have hatred against the disabled, because you’ve used it in a derogatory way and you also treat the people you think are disabled in a derogatory way.

          • Michael Aronson

            “Without illustrations of lynching, we would have no ideas of the horrors ”

            You don’t seem to understand how text works.

            You appear to be far too retarded to be worth further conversation. Blocked.

          • ABC

            I thought “retard” was considered a slur against the developmentally disabled? Well, if you want to use it, I guess that’s your right.

            Yes, lynchings can be effectively described in text. That does not mean that images do not have their value as well. Just because something’s role is fulfilled by another, it does not mean that this something is redundant or unnecessary. For example, just because we can describe the Holocaust in text, it does not mean that pictures or movies of the Holocaust are of no value. If there’s any plain reason, it is because images can elicit greater emotions than mere textual descriptions. Simply saying what the Holocaust is in words does not nearly have the impact of seeing how it looked like.

          • ABC

            Also, additional note. I would like to emphasize the fact that I am not your enemy, even if you seem to want to treat me as your enemy. Not everything is a battlefield, and seeing everything as a battle between yourself and people you hate can only lead to a hateful world for yourself. I don’t know why you want to see everything as a battle. Maybe you feel fulfilled from seeing yourself above others, or something like that. I truly don’t know, but if you do enjoy making enemies out of others, calling then names like “retard,” and other stuff, I would only like to say that perhaps this is not the best way to get your own happiness. You only make yourself unhappy and filled with hate.

          • Steven Fallinge

            I don’t know what you’re trying to do, but it seems like you see this as a battle between yourself and everyone you hate. As I say this, I would like to emphasize the fact that I am not your enemy, and I do not want to be your enemy, even if you would like to treat me and everyone else as one. Not everything is a battlefield, and seeing everything as a battle between yourself and people you hate can only lead to a hateful world for yourself. I don’t know why you want to see everything as a battle. Maybe you feel fulfilled from seeing yourself above others, or something like that. I truly don’t know, but if you do enjoy making enemies out of others, calling then names like “retard,” and other stuff, I would only like to say that perhaps this is not the best way to get your own happiness. It is, however, the best way to become bitter and filled with hate.

          • Michael Aronson

            You’ve successfully managed to avoid saying anything relevant to the topic in all those words. Congratulations.

          • Steven Fallinge

            Sometimes, the main problem is indeed not relevant to the topic at all. I see less of a problem with your beliefs and more of a problem with the way you seem to find happiness in attempting to shore up your pride by attacking others the first thing you see. It’d be great if attempting to insult others, attempting to say bad things about others, and so on aren’t the first things that you write. For example, your last message was exactly that. It appears that the only thing you tried to do is read what bad you can in it and attempt to insult it in any way you can. Again, I don’t know why you do this, but if you think you’re finding happiness in simply attacking others and seeing everyone as the enemy, I would just like to say, please, we all humans. Friendship and common ground is more important than enmity or doing battle with others.

          • Michael Aronson

            If you would like to be my friend, then stick to the topic in your replies.

          • Steven Fallinge

            I never said I’d “like to be your friend,” just that we don’t have to be enemies, and that friendship is more important than enmity. This is the topic. We are talking about your hostility and attitude, which has not changed. I just want to ask why attacking and insulting others is the first thing you do no matter what. Why you want to see everyone you talk to as enemies instead of humans working in this together. There is no way, after all, anything can be talked about if you have an attitude like that. If you simply want to do battle instead of discussing and working together to figure out the truth.

          • Michael Aronson

            “We are talking about your hostility and attitude”

            No, we are not. You are lecturing me. Fuck off.

          • Steven Fallinge

            “You are lecturing me. Fuck off.”
            Yes I am lecturing you. Do you disagree with that lecture? It feels like you do, with your “fuck off” at the end. Sometimes, a lecture can be a good thing. It is how we learn. A lecture is an act of teaching. A way of giving wisdom and information. But if you disagree with this lecture, if you think saying “fuck off” to everyone is the way to live your life, well I guess that’s that.

          • Michael Aronson

            “We are talking about”

            “Yes I am lecturing”

            So you knowingly lied and cannot reply in good faith. Another retard who’s getting blocked.

  • J.Bone

    In Howard’s first reply a sentence reads “…genuine horror that depicts an aspect of that impeding disaster.”
    I believe it should read “impending” as he is referring to an approaching disaster not one that has stopped.

  • Alistair Carlyle

    It’s not as well drawn or as graphic, but basically the same thing as Goya’s renowned disasters of war prints. Leftists live in a totalitarian bubble, with little understanding of history or appreciation for free expression.

    • Caractacus Jack

      Some do.

  • Roy Batty

    Dear Mr. Chaykin, all I have to say is…

    THANK YOU for existing.

  • Lawrence Van Abbema

    Glad to hear from Howard Chaykin about this controversy. The argument that the depiction is relevant to the story is legit. I don’t think it is censorship when the pages of the story are intact. His covers are beautifully illustrated. In my own opinion the unpublished cover to #4 is the least appealing but not because of the content. Interesting that the Pride variant cover caused such a stir because of the story that someone decided to read depicting violence. Anything Chaykin does is OK with me but I guess people need to find a reason to be upset.

  • Jared M. Bobak

    I dont disagree with him and agree that bans and boycotts are ridiculous. personally i agree with his sentiment on politics; being stuck in the middle between a party that is cohesive but abominable and one that is so well meaning that they cant view the world objectively enough to understand his work. At the wind down of last years election i remember thinking how entertainment and art were going to take a nosedive as its increasingly obvious that the number of people feeling offended by just about everything is growing at a commensurate rate.

    My only real criticism is that I would have tried to be more mindful of what i was putting on the racks next to content like Squirrel Girl and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, because contrary to popular belief, this is more about the people who are exposed to seeing something they have no desire to see who dont need to “give it a chance” more so than disagreeing with his right to make a book, though it has turned into that.

    Why cant they treat the series like Larsen’s upcoming “uncensored” Savage Dragon cover where there’s a handful of women on the cover…they’re going to put a board in front of it saying what it is and that its there because of adult content. At that rate you dont have to pull a cover, no one has to see it that doesnt want to and artistic license is mostly preserved (these are comic stores not art galleries)

    • Michael Aronson

      A ban isn’t fascist. Fascism is a form of government in which violence is encouraged to enact political change.

      Learn words.

      • Jared M. Bobak

        I dont care about your opinion, you have already provided me the necessary information above to completely discount your “knowledge” Dont you have someone else to go and bother.

        • Michael Aronson

          I didn’t state an opinion. You objectively misunderstand what fascism is.

          • Christopher Miller

            Why are you harassing him after he told you to leave him alone?

          • Michael Aronson

            You don’t seem to understand how public comment sections work.

          • Jared M. Bobak

            Definition of harass: to annoy persistently was harassing his younger brother (2) : to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct was being harassed by her classmates claims that the police were unfairly harassing him

            Clearly you’re as vehemently retarded as I suspected.

          • Michael Aronson

            I’m not the retard who thinks a citizen ban somehow constitutes fascism.

        • Michael Aronson

          Literally nothing citizens do, organized or by themselves, can be fascist if the directive does not come from a political power.

          • Sleeper99999

            So Brownshirts beating up Jews in the streets weren’t fascists before 1933?

          • Michael Aronson

            Brownshirts were a political organization that followed the directive of a leader. That fits the definition of fascism that I provided.

    • cryofpaine

      Bans and boycotts aren’t ridiculous. They are the way that the public have of influencing social change.

      Nor is the left a bunch of sensitive snowflakes that “cant [sic] view nearly anything objectively without getting triggered”. True, there are a lot of people on edge these days. But there are also a lot of reasons to be – racist cops abusing their power and killing innocent people; selfish politicians tearing down social safety nets and leaving millions to suffer for their own greed; a prevalence of bigotry that has been emboldened by the win of someone who speaks to their views; etc. And there are plenty of people who are able to separate the merely disturbing from the truly harmful.

      My only problem with the cover is that, as you said, it’s going to go on shelves alongside comics that are aimed at younger audiences. I think they should either sell this as a variant cover, or put it inside the book and have something else on the outside (maybe just a stark black cover).

      As for fascist, you’re both right.
      1: often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
      2: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

      So definition one is specifically about an authoritarian government, but definition two is any kind of dictatorial control, not just political.

  • Thank you so much, Steve, for doing what any news professional should have done: Check the original source: The creator. I write you from Spain and you have won a new loyal reader.

    When BC and the rest started the mob-lynching, insulting and calling for boycotts, they never responded one simple question: Do they defend freedom of speech? Either you do or you don’t, there’s no middle ground here. And that freedom is only enacted when you defend the right of someone you don’ t agree with to speak his/her mind.

    The truth is for me Chaykin is not in his best creative moment, and it’s been several years since I last buy something from him. But as a matter of principle, I’ m going to buy this series. I like to put my money where my mouth is.

    • Michael Aronson

      Free speech means that the government cannot punish you for what you say.

      That is irrelevant to anything being discussed here.

      • That´s just a part of it, freedom of speech and freedom for creating an artistic artwork can be threaten by a Government, of course, but also by members of a society that advocates for censorship and boycotts. For example, KKK was/is not by any means a government, but certainly attacked freedom of speech for afroamerican people in the south for decades…

        Do you defend Chaykin´s right to create whatever artwork he wants, as long as he doesn´t break any laws (which I think it´s the case now)? Either you do or you don´t…

        • Michael Aronson

          “That´s just a part of it”

          No, that’s the entire meaning.

          “also by members of a society”

          That has nothing to do with free speech. There is no freedom of criticism or freedom of public reaction.

          “KKK was/is not by any means a government, but certainly attacked freedom of speech for afroamerican people in the south”

          The KKK didn’t attack their speech, they murdered them.

        • cryofpaine

          Freedom of speech doesn’t equal freedom from consequence. I support your right to say whatever you want (“you” being the generic 2nd person plural, not any specific person). I don’t have to actually support what you say. Nor do I have to make it easy for you to say it. If you want to advocate bigotry and violence, you have that right. Just like I have the right to speak out against you. I have the right to go to whatever company you are using as a platform and telling them that their support of you and your message is going to cost them. It’s then up to them whether or not my business is worth more to them than their support of you. I haven’t taken away your right to say it, just your ability to be heard.

          And yes, that is a dangerous power. Yes, that means that the other side can also try to silence voices with important messages. It’s always a battle, a struggle for balance between supporting the rights of even those we don’t agree with, vs. opposing those who are causing serious harm.

          Going back to the article, I understand that the whole point of this series is to force us to face facts about the state of the world that should make us feel uncomfortable. But I can understand not wanting to have such a graphic image on the cover of something that will be displayed on shelves for anyone of any age to see. I don’t know if it is more than that, but that would be my only concern with this as a cover. Hopefully, if it isn’t the cover, it will at least be either a variant, or published inside the book.

  • Mr.Sixes

    I’m of Mr. Chaykin’s mind for the most part just a part here or there I disagree with but hey I’m glad to hear he’s going to keep trucking.

  • Josh Olson

    The cover of a book is a marketing tool. If the image was inside the book, it would be another story. But placing incendiary images of graphic violence on something where no one has a choice in whether or not they see it is not the bold expression of an artist. It’s a marketing gimmick.

    Walking into a comic store doesn’t mean you’ve agreed to be exposed to horrific or obscene imagery.

    If he’d put a giant erect cock on the cover, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I suspect Chaykin knows that. (Black Kiss, if I recall, used to go out with a black cover over the actual cover, and Chaykin had zero problem with that. Shall we talk about the mentality of someone who agrees that innocent bystanders should be protected from images of sexuality, but not graphic violence?)

    • Jared M. Bobak

      i think the black board over the cover is the obvious answer. theyre doing that for an upcoming uncensored cover of Savage Dragon. IMO its distasteful but the main controversy to me is that people who dont want to see that type of imagery, especially kids buying kid comics as well as sensitive LGBTQ folks, dont have to see it. Its not like a video store where there is a back room with all of the X-rated content, and its unfair to expect a comic shop to operate that way. Im sure the book is a bad book, and i think the images like you said are a marketing tool, just like him saying to send him an email to the address in the book about your criticisms, but i dont think it needs to be recalled or banned, just like pornography shouldnt really be banned even if you disagree with it. if stores want to display it and a fanbase wants to buy it than it has its place, even if you wish it didnt.

      All of this on top of the fact that he is basically on the same side as those stoking this controversy, I wouldnt be surprised if he throws in another issue to directly address the SJW culture itself, rather than try to appeal to their sometimes extreme nature.

      • Michael Aronson

        “the main controversy to me is that people who dont want to see that type of imagery, especially kids buying kid comics as well as sensitive LGBTQ folks”

        What do LGBTQ folks have to do with a “Paki” being lynched? Did you not even see the cover?

        • Jared M. Bobak

          Do you like being the wrongest asshole in a room because the more you post the more obvious it becomes. the fact that you WILL respond to this is proof of your insatiable need to be a ignoramus.

          Not to mention that issue has not come out yet. No one was exposed to it on the shelves of a comic store you fucking dumbass.

          • Michael Aronson

            You didn’t actually answer my question. You really don’t know what the cover looks like, do you?

          • Jared M. Bobak

            your questions are arguing semantics. i claimed that children and people offended by any anti-LGBTQ imagery should be shielded from view, and you insinuated that i forgot to include middle eastern people as well. I understood your question and saw the cover, pretty please with sugar on top, grow a fucking brainstem or stop replying to me with your meta-arguments and “questions” oh great inquisitor.

          • Michael Aronson

            What anti-LGBTQ imagery? Retard, did you even see the cover?

          • Jared M. Bobak

            lol SEMANTICS, LGBTQ groups were offended by the interior imagery of issue 1 and the fact that it was released during pride month. my point still stands, feces slinging ape boy

          • Michael Aronson

            Nobody is talking about the first issue, retard! Holy shit, you still haven’t looked at the cover everyone’s discussing!

          • Jared M. Bobak

            lol Stop being a jerk. I absolutely have seen it, it is yet to be released and wont be for at least month and is being replaced with cover #6. So my point in excluding it was that no one at the time had been faced with that cover in a comic book store…it has not happened yet, period. Only via solicits of future issues. That doesnt make it not worthy of peoples criticisms, its just a fact.

            In case you havent been aware, this SERIES has been a hot button issue in comics for a month now, stemming from the first issue depicting LGBTQ violence that was released during Pride Month, hence my inclusion of the offenses the first issue raised.

            But whatever, kid, you’ve convinced me with your non objectory, pestering ignorance to go and buy up every copy my 3 local comic book stores have left and I am going to give them away (of course I will keep 1). Thanks for the recommendation. Adding it to my pull list.

          • Michael Aronson

            “a cover image for The Divided States of Hysteria #4 which featured an image of a public lynching along with a racial slur (directed toward someone of Pakistani origin) as well as genital mutilation.”

            Holy shit, you can’t even read either! It’s like you showed up to a math test with your history notes! Go back to your special education!

  • nikademus

    lol, has nobody heard of the Streisand effect???

    • How does it apply here? Just curious.

  • hamilton geyser

    Lol at leftists eating themselves. There’s nothing liberal about them.

    • Michael Aronson

      If they are “leftists,” they are necessarily liberal. The left of the political spectrum is liberal. Words actually mean things.

      • hamilton geyser

        Leftist and liberal are not the same thing, regardless of how warped the modern misinterpretation of the words are.

        • Michael Aronson

          They both mean “to the left of the political spectrum,” stupid.

          • hamilton geyser

            Liberal does not mean left of the spectrum. Liberals can be left or right, particularly when it comes to economic policy.

          • Michael Aronson

            “Liberal does not mean left of the spectrum”

            It does.

            “Liberals can be left or right”

            Just left.

          • hamilton geyser

            Incorrect

          • Michael Aronson

            Oh wow, that was your most eloquent and persuasive argument yet.

            “More recently in the United States, left-wing and right-wing have often been used as synonyms for liberalism and conservatism respectively.”

          • hamilton geyser

            Recently and incorrectly. Historically liberalism has meant pro-liberty, pro-free speech, pro-capitalism, etc. Like you said, words and their definitions matter, and a few idiots randomly deciding to change the meaning of those words to suit their agenda doesn’t actually mean anything to people who know the proper definitions of those words. Your red/blue, left/right paradigm is bullshit. Liberalism is essentially a libertarian philosophy, and there are left and right libertarians, just as there are left and right authoritarians (fascists and communists, horseshoe theory, etc.)

          • Michael Aronson

            “Recently and incorrectly”

            Recently, meaning the last century. Try to keep up.

            “liberalism has meant pro-liberty, pro-free speech, pro-capitalism”

            It still means two out of those three. Capitalism has shifted to the right.

            “a few idiots randomly deciding to change the meaning”

            Everyone recognizes left = liberal except you.

            “Your red/blue, left/right paradigm is bullshit”

            I’m not talking about only the American system, but it still applies to that too.

            “Liberalism is essentially a libertarian philosophy”

            Libertarianism is a joke and not relevant to this discussion.

            “there are left and right authoritarians”

            Authoritarianism is far right on the political spectrum. Try again.

          • hamilton geyser

            Nope. That is wrong. Libertarian/authoritarian is independent of you precious left/right nonsense. Communists are authoritarian left. It’s as if you’ve never even seen a political spectrum chart. You’re like a little baby.

          • Michael Aronson

            “Nope. That is wrong”

            Whoa, compelling rebuttal, bro.

            “Libertarian/authoritarian is independent of you precious left/right nonsense.”

            I said Libertarianism is a joke. I didn’t qualify its place on the spectrum because it’s a joke.

            Authoritarianism is always far right.

            “It’s as if you’ve never even seen a political spectrum chart”

            Oh irony.

          • hamilton geyser

            “”Nope. That is wrong”
            Whoa, compelling rebuttal, bro.”

            You should develop the capacity to read and understand more than one sentence at a time, but in any case: I’m not trying to compel you. I’m pointing out that you are definitionally, objectively wrong. There is no debate here. And as i said, communism is an example of authoritarian leftism, and had been recognized as such by everyone with a brain for decades.

          • Michael Aronson

            “You should develop the capacity to read”

            Oh irony.

            “I’m pointing out that you are definitionally, objectively wrong.”

            Except you’ve failed every single time.

            “There is no debate here.”

            This is the first accurate thing you’ve said.

            “And as u said, communism is an example of authoritarian leftism”

            Where did I say that? I’ve said twice (now three times) that authoritarianism is far right on the political spectrum. Because it is.

          • hamilton geyser

            U=i

          • Michael Aronson

            That’s not how letters work, bro.

          • hamilton geyser

            Phone autocorrect.

          • Michael Aronson

            If only there were a way to read your own words that you typed before posting them so as not to look like a retard.

          • hamilton geyser

            lol did you just try to call me an idiot because of an autocorrect mistake? Why not just call my argument invalid because of a typo lol. You just lost the argument.

          • hamilton geyser

            Communists are left. Nazis are largely centrist from an economic perspective, and take on some aspects of both left and right authoritarianism. ANy government form that restricts economic freedom is necessarily left wing. It simply isn’t possibly to a “rightwing” socialist, or a “libertarian” socialist, and no one on planet Earth would describe socialism as a rightwing ideology. Except you, apparently, the world’s sole keeper of truth. Its an objective fact that socialism is authoritarian left.

          • hamilton geyser
          • Michael Aronson

            You see how Nazis are all the way at the top there? You really are quite retarded. I wasn’t just implying it this time.

          • Michael Aronson

            “Communists are left”

            Communism, in its pure form, falls on the left of the political spectrum. Communism as it applies to actual regimes is never quite that intact and is usually a mix of other political qualities, such as rightwing totalitarianism in North Korea.

            “Naxis are largely centrist”

            No, they are far right, as they embrace both authoritarianism and fascism, both far right qualities.

            “Any government form that restricts”

            Restrictions can be on all different things. They can be restrictions on free speech or on corruption. You have an extremely simplistic understanding of politics.

            “A libertarian socialist”

            I don’t know why you keep bringing up libertarianism, which is a joke. I presume you are a libertarian.

          • Michael Aronson

            No, I implied you were retarded for not reading what you had written before posting it and then blaming it on autocorrect. This is all tangetial to the argument at hand, which anyone with basic reading comprehension would be fully aware if.

          • hamilton geyser

            I’m now convinced you are legitimately retarded. laterz

          • Michael Aronson

            You literally just copied what I said, but far less eloquently.

          • hamilton geyser

            For authoritarian left. I’ll wait.

          • Michael Aronson

            “For authoritarian left.”

            This isn’t a complete sentence, or even a complete idea.

            “I’ll wait.”

            Have fun.

          • hamilton geyser
    • Caractacus Jack

      “Lol at leftists eating themselves. There’s nothing liberal about them.”

      There is though. That’s what he’s talking about in the interview above and the essay in the back of issue #1:

      CHAYKIN: My country has become a cesspool of arrogant, over-opinionated and
      willfully ignorant narcissists on both sides of the political aisle.
      But while the right seems to operate in a maddeningly cohesive manner,
      behaving like the cowards who encouraged bullies to beat the shit out of
      me in grammar school, committing treason in the name of holding to
      white privilege, the left has become a cadre of entitlement, supplanting
      that misbegotten white privilege with a series of assumptions about
      behavior–specifically others’ behavior–that creates a deeply hostile
      victim culture.
      _____________________________________

      Me again: People on the right were only too eager to vote for Trump, even though he isn’t conservative, isn’t religious, etc.

      Meanwhile on the left, they couldn’t see to uniting against him. Too much fighting amongst themselves because Hillary wasn’t perfect. Imagine being in your 60s and seeing something like this happen for the third time, after 1968 and 2000. It’s unbelievably frustrating to me and I’m twenty years younger than him.

  • It is very much like our society to not investigate something further than what’s on the surface. We are driven by superficial media, sound bites, still images and quick quotes and memes. It seems we don’t put any time into analyzing anything and are quick to just respond to anything the same way. I think that is the problem and what Chaykin is speaking about. I think you can’t have an actual discussion about a subject or a cover when the complainers are probably not reading his book. The other thing of course is should the average comic book store browser should be exposed to the cover. Well yes. The old phrase “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover” goes nicely here. I think covers are created to entice someone to want to purchase the book. These days they get more and more provocative. I think if the issue where Spawn is lynched would have been done today it may have gotten some more slack, but we lived in a more stable time then. This reminds me of the Christian groups trying to ban books, movies or other things. They are guided by leaders that usually haven’t read or seen the products themselves, but use them as a tool to unite together for a common foe. This is the case today with the way things are divided in this country by groups or teams called “right” or left.” The political spectrum has been reduce to those two teams and it’s silly. We are better than that and even if this cover is provocative I think in a more stable environment it may not have be censored, but that is the case. I’m glad Chaykin responded the way he did and I’m looking forward to reading his series and making my own opinions about it when I get there.