Thursday, September 8, 2016

They Forgot About Rachel Pollack

By Reboot


Earlier this week, Comixology launched a sale with DC Comics to introduce readers to DC’s new Young Animal imprint. The sale runs through September 12th. Comixology tweeted about it here. They have all 70 issues of Shade The Changing Man from the Vertigo run, as well as relevant issues of War That Time Forgot, War of the Gods, and Resurrection Man. The flagship title of Young Animal, however, is Doom Patrol. Comixology is offering 45 issues of the run on sale encompassing Grant Morrison’s run on the title. There was one glaring omission to this sale, and that was leaving out Rachel Pollack's run on Doom Patrol yet again, despite it being currently available on Comixology.

I know, other runs of the book are available on Comixology and were not included in the sale. I get that. However, Paul Kupperberg’s run, which was right before Grant Morrison’s, has its first issue available for free and the second issue half off. Rachel Pollack’s run takes place immediately after Grant Morrison’s run with many of the same characters and carries on the tone that Morrison brought to the book. And with her run combined with Morrison’s, they would still have less Doom Patrol comics on sale than Shade The Changing Man. So why are they doing this?

DC Comics has been participating, consciously or unconsciously, in trans erasure. Rachel Pollack is one of the only trans writers to ever freelance for the company. The only other trans woman who I'm aware of that has freelancer at DC Comics was Maddie Blaustein who passed away in 2008 at 48 years old.  
Not a single one of either Maddie Blaustein or Rachel Pollack’s works have been reprinted by DC Comics. These works are now about twenty years old, and both writers created trans characters who have not been used since, with the exception of Coagula being brought back in a flashback to kill her off. I wrote about Coagula last year in more detail at ComicMix if you'd like to know more here.  




Though Rachel Pollack has worked on other comics at DC, the fact they were reviving Doom Patrol again and going for a tone that more closely resembles her own seemed to be a great opportunity for DC to bring her Doom Patrol work back in graphic novel form. They have made no indications they would do so. The absolute least they could have possibly done would be to put her work on sale along with Grant Morrison’s run to raise awareness and showcase her work. DC Comics and Comixology couldn't even do that. Rachel Pollack has been so forgotten by an industry that only fairly recently has been making bigger pushes for diversity. How can DC say they care about diversity while participating in trans erasure of their own comics and creators? It's insulting.  

On top of all of this, Rachel Pollack was diagnosed with Lymphoma back in 2015.  A GoFundMe campaign was launched at the time to help her cover the crippling medical costs that cancer brings. Having her work back in print could have potentially brought in a little extra money in royalties to cover some of those costs.

I'm so frustrated by this latest slight. I'm frustrated as a queer person witnessing this sort of treatment of someone else who's a part of the queer community. I’m frustrated as someone who had to go through back issue bins in multiple comic shops and use eBay just to read Rachel Pollack’s comic work. I'm frustrated because Rachel Pollack is an incredibly sweet, humble, and supportive member of the creative community and is not getting that support back from the comics community. I'm frustrated as a fan of Doom Patrol that some of the best issues of that series are not in print. I’m frustrated that an entire generation of queer comic readers have been denied a character like Coagula. I'm frustrated as a DC Comics fan who loves their work and many of the people that have or currently work for them and yet they forget about someone as important to queer comics history as Rachel Pollack.  
There is no good reason for this to be happening. 

DC Comics let Rachel Pollack’s comics and her comics career fade into obscurity. And yes, I do understand that's happened to many creators. Recently, DC Comics has made some great efforts to raise the profiles of freelancers like Norm Breyfogle by reprinting many of his Batman stories after he suffered from a stroke. DC reached out to Tony Isabella and started to make things right by reprinting Black Lightning.  Those are both great things, and I'm glad they happened. 

DC Comics now needs to do better for Rachel Pollack. Not just for Rachel Pollack, but for every queer reader, and especially every trans reader being denied a part of their history in comics. Trans writers worked on comics decades ago and they created trans characters. More people need to know this, and it is DC Comics responsibility to help. They were once instrumental in giving trans creators a chance to tell their stories in comics. Please, DC Comics, take a stand and do what's right.


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