Warning: This article may contain triggers of a sensitive nature.
Emerald City Comic Con, Seattle's annual comic book and pop culture convention, is under fire over artwork featured on the 2016 Sunday badge. The artwork in question comes from an adult comic book series called The Discipline by Image Comics. The synopsis of the story, written by Peter Milligan and artwork by Leandro Fernandez reads:
Between fighting her sister and hating her husband, Melissa still finds time to fall in lust with a stranger who's an awful lot more than he seems. What appears to be a simple seduction is revealed as something much darker and more dangerous. This controversial and erotically-charged tale of sex, death, and metamorphosis begins with an explosion of carnality and weirdness.
At first glance, the artwork merely depicts a frightened woman with a monstrous hand on her shoulder -- an image not unfamiliar for a thriller or horror-themed story. But look closer and you notice the woman is being undressed, putting her fear into context. Fans were deeply disturbed by the image, immediately calling into question the reasoning behind using the cover-art for a book depicting sexual assault.
Why the fuck does my ECCC badge have an image of a woman being sexually assaulted on it? pic.twitter.com/KhwrEMHGKt
— Calamity Jon (@calamityjon) March 3, 2016
— Dovil (@Dovil) March 3, 2016
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) March 4, 2016
Songs & stories ring through our heads and its up to us to relate to the characters. If we say the #ECCC Sunday badge is about rape it is
— GeekyTeas (@GeekyTeas) March 4, 2016
WOW @ ECCC's Sunday badge. Who the hell thought using that image was a good idea?!
— Caroline Ratajski (@geardrops) March 4, 2016
A sample page offered by the publisher is objectively menacing, depicting a young woman jogging through a park with her dog and being stalked by a shadowy figure. The stalker comments, "Clever, but sexually and emotionally unfulfilled. Just as the council likes them. Oh yes, she has potential." The sexually predatory nature of the scene is undeniable:
Emerald City Comic Con issued a statement about the badge on Friday via Twitter saying:
We are aware that some Fans are uncomfortable with the art depicted on the ECCC Sunday Badge. The art on the Badge is from the Image Comics' series The Discipline. Within the context of the comic, it is understood that these images do not depict non-consensual acts or sexual assault. Without that context, such as on the face of a Sunday Badge, that is not clear. We would like to extend the offer to all Fans who are concerned that they many exchange their Badge on Sunday at Will Call for a different Badge that does not feature that art.
Some fans felt the statement a bit hollow in what they perceived as "blatantly lying" about the content of the book. Head of Development at game studio Giant Spacekat, Brianna Wu, tweeted out more graphically explicit panels from the book to put the badge into clearer context and calling on fans to judge for themselves. And many fans sided with Wu:
— Devin L. Ganger (@devinganger) March 4, 2016
— Kevin VanOrd (@fiddlecub) March 4, 2016
Sexual assault is a serious epidemic. And where adult comic books absolutely have their place in comics and conventions, the use of cover art from a book with such themes could be inappropriate on badges worn by children and insensitive to attendees who may potentially be survivors of sexual assault.
How do you feel about the use of the artwork for the badge?
Leave a comment below and let's talk!