Dear Dan Didio,
I’ve only met you in person once, at a distance at New York Comic Con a few scant weeks ago. Do you remember me? I was the girl in the Cassandra Cain hoodie, out of costume, sick to my stomach and miserable and wishing for nothing but to curl up somewhere and try to gently nurse down the handful of calories I could after a full four days of incurable nausea.
I was sitting in the audience, paying attention as best as I could while you sat there, listening to the narration of Cunningham as he went over the trajectory of your career. He talked about your pre-DC work, your start on Reboot, all sorts of innocent projects, and War Games and Identity Crisis. He talked about your triumphs, while you talked about the “sensitive” handling of Sue Dibny’s rape, about the colossal success of the murder of Stephanie Brown in War Games.
Do you remember me? I stood at the mic, voice cracking slightly as I abandoned my carefully scripted question about last-minute editing changes and why they happened so often, the question I’d softballed just for you, rephrased so as to be as nice as possible on your birthday, while you sat there celebrating the rape of one woman and the murder of another.
“We wanted to make a character sympathetic before killing them and we did that with Blue Beetle and we succeeded, we did that with Stephanie Brown and succeeded.”
“We have that dramatic scene with Sue Dibny…I can say here, there was no one here who took that lightly at DC Comics. I think that’s so important to say…the fact that everybody had such a visceral response showed it was done well.”
I asked you about the big events under your tenure, and why they so disproportionately seemed to affect female characters, characters of color and/or disabled characters.
"I believe we have the most female-led titles," you responded.
"Can I share a personal story?" you responded. I’m glad your sister got you into comics, Mr. Didio. But I don’t believe that was an answer to my question.
I suppose I shouldn’t have expected any differently. I’ve known for years that a simple audience at a convention does nothing to force your honesty, your decency.
What was it you said again, while you were staring at her ass as she stood on-stage, back turned to you, oblivious to your attentions, excited to be talking to you all? “Well, that costume’s making a great argument for bringing her back”? I’ve lost the logs, I’m afraid, but it was something like that.
The subject in question was Lian Harper. The woman in question was my friend, New York Comic Con, 2010, I believe. She was dressed as Red Hood Lian Harper, from Kingdom Come, all nice and grown up. She was doing so in protest for Lian Harper in the comics, 10 at most, 5 by some counts. Lian Harper, a young girl of color whose brutal death was lavishly shown across the pages of your books, all for the pain of her father and grandfather. A child.
"A great argument for bringing her back."
I suppose the elementary schooler should have been sexier if she’d wanted to live.
How many others have there been, I wonder? Harassed at conventions. Ignored. Spoken over, talked down to. I know you’ve lied to another friend of mine.
"Send in your stuff," you said. Not that DC accepts writing submissions.
"We replaced her with Barbara because she was more iconic." Strange, how the writer begs to differ.
You’re petty. You’re spiteful. You’re misogynistic and ableist. And the stories that have meant so much to me over the years are in your hands now.
You know something, Dan?
sometimes comic books and all comic book related stuff break my heart.