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Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends,
it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,
and to institute new Government

Monday, May 01, 2017

Simone tells what it was like working with Syaf

After Ardian Syaf was fired by Marvel for injecting stealth messages into X-Men: Gold (and it doesn't look like he'll be working for DC and other companies any longer), Gail Simone was asked what it was like to work with him as artist on her reversion of Barbara Gordon back to the Batgirl role in the New52 reboot. She talked about it on Facebook, but after reading, I came away feeling she was acting as apologist and downplaying the seriousness of any subtle acts he could've pulled on that series several years before what happened this year. If there's anything telling about her commentary, it's surely the least surprising part, for anybody who read Jon delArroz's notes on the anti-religious standings of many modern writers:
Okay, about Ardian Syaf.

About a million people have been asking me about this situation, because I worked with Ardian for a couple years. I don't have much insight to add here, unfortunately. I am not religious at all, and I won't pretend to be an expert in Indonesian politics or the specific issues around this particular sad tale.
Maybe her lack of faith, as some could call it, is exactly her problem. As is her double-standards, more on which anon:
All I can do is tell what I experienced and what I am feeling right now. First, when I heard the news of the messages in the comic, I was shocked and disappointed. I don't have any tolerance for discrimination or hate speech. Ardian seems to be claiming that was not his intent, and I'll be brutally honest, I am having a bit of trouble understanding some of the nuances of the message. Some of it seems to be open to some interpretation. But enough people who know that context better are saying it's clearly hate speech.
My, how fascinating, coming from somebody who approved of anti-women discrimination in the whole transgender bathroom topic, and who seems curiously - and deliberately - oblivious to the quran's content. And who attacked a critic of Islam once because of his awkward citation of no-go zones run by Islamofascists in Britain. This is not the matter of interpretation she's trying to make it out to be.
Here's a couple observations I have. They are just my honest opinions and experiences working with Ardian. First, he was very pleasant to work with...a very talented guy. English is clearly not his first language, and most of our early discussions were done through an interpreter. I was aware that he was Muslim and somewhat isolated from most of comic book culture, so I did make it very plain in advance what some of the content would be in our book out of basic respect, and was told through his interpreter that that would be no problem. I do this with most artists, particularly on books that might have some envelope-pushing in them.

We worked well together, but rarely spoke directly by email. He didn't ever ask for revisions, something that has happened a few times with various artists I have worked with, for religious reasons. A Christian artist asked that a Wonder Woman panel not evoke a crucifixion, for example, something I felt was perfectly reasonable tor them to request.
Reading this, I can't help but wonder if she's making it up, to make Syaf sound like he had a better, more respectable and open approach than a Judeo-Christian does. Let's remember that this is a medium whose respect for such religions went downhill, and her support for the bathroom discrimination crisis puts her actual respect for Judeo-Christianity under a question mark. After all, there's Christian and feminist movements opposed to allowing men into women's facilities, and if she's so tilted in favor of erasing privacy for both women and even men, chances are she's against those sources too.
Eventually, I got to meet Ardian in person at a convention in Singapore, and he was extremely humble and nice, and seemed to be constantly surprised at the level of popularity his work had in the comics community. I gathered that this was all very new to him...he had asked for a table at the con, but was too late and they couldn't accommodate him. My memory is that this would have been his first real convention appearance. If my memory serves, we had lunch in a penthouse restaurant, and it was the first glass elevator he'd ever been in, the tallest building he'd ever been in, a lot of things were very new to him at that time. I BELIEVE it was the first time he'd left Indonesia.

I always thought it was pretty surprising that he was able to convincingly draw two cosmopolitan Gotham City girls coming from such a different background.

He was super shy and polite, and expressed no problems with the content in Batgirl, which could sometimes be a little violent and sexual. My understanding was that this was work, and work was different.

I do want to clarify one thing I've seen a couple times. A couple people seemed to imply that a story we had set in an Indonesian area of Gotham was Ardian's idea, which I think they feel fits in with his sneaking secret messages in. That was actually 100% my idea, I like to take advantage of the extra experience of the creative and editorial team wherever possible. So that whole sequence is my idea, not his. Knowing that there are a lot of readers of Indonesian background, I think that kind of thing is important.
It sounds like she's trying to take some of the heat away from Syaf when she doesn't have to, reminiscent of the time John Romita Jr. covered for J. Michael Strazcynski on the notorious 9-11 Spider-Man issue from late 2001. The idea of putting in a Gotham neighborhood with Indonesian residents may have been her idea, but what about his stealth messages attacking the Christian politician? Or, could it be he asked and she agreed? If that's the case, it goes without saying that's disturbing. Especially after all the past politics she's been espousing.
As I've said, I condemn any bigotry and hate speech in the strongest possible terms. Ardian has said he believes his career is over, I find the whole thing terribly sad. But it also appears that he knew what he was doing, and was aware that this would hurt people, and that is hard to excuse or forgive. It's hard to understand why the humble, kind, talented guy I knew would feel this was a good idea.
In that case, does she condemn his learning source? Does she condemn Muhammed for marrying an underaged girl, Ayesha, when she was just 9 years old? Does she even understand that his whole "shy" act could've been taqqiya (deception)? It's not so hard to understand if one looks under a microscope at the curriculum he was raised under.
I've been following a lot of this as best I can, given the language barrier. I've seen a lot of extremely awful comments. I would hope some people take away a better lesson than that, the lesson that condemning whole groups of people for their religious beliefs is a crappy thing to do.

That's it, I don't know any more than you guys do, except for what I've posted here. And I again say that my understanding is limited and a lot of it still completely baffles me. All I can say for certain is that it's a sad situation from start to finish.
The problem is that she's never tried to get deeper insight on the components and verses of Islam's prayer books, the quran and hadith, and has almost deliberately ignored all pertinent issues. By her logic, nazis and communists' ideological beliefs, which could easily be a religion in themselves, cannot be condemned either. Ideology, religious or otherwise, is not the same as race.
And finally, I can't understand anyone blaming Marvel for this. I don't see how they could possibly be expected to catch what is certainly an extremely obscure reference to current political events in a country very far away like that. There is NO WAY they would have let it go through if they had known, no way.

We live in divisive times. I hope we get over it.

My love to all of you.
I've got a feeling none of that "love" is on offer for conservatives. She doesn't get that Marvel's leftism has pretty much governed their ignoramus positions for many years now, and brought them to a situation where they wound up publishing and condoning Islamic propaganda, once in X-Men when Grant Morrison was writing, later in Daredevil and a Captain Britain title from a few years ago, and more recently with the Muslim Ms. Marvel. If they could accept that kind of propaganda, it's no surprise they could fail to recognize and ponder the harm somebody with a mind as twisted as Syaf's could inflict. If nobody noticed, chances are they wouldn't have taken any disciplinary actions against him. The only thing bothering them is that the embedded messages got noticed at all and caused a stir. Thus, her apologia is ludicrous...and divisive. We won't get over it if leftists like her keep it up.
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posted by Avi Green at permanent link#


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