Blood in the Water: Fowler Double-Scalps Murphy, TenNapel

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Blood in the Water Fowler Murphy TenNapel

It's been a while since indie comics pro Tess Fowler has claimed another career in the comics industry. That dry spell may be over now, depending on how events shape up after today's astonishing announcement from DC Comics writer/artist Sean Gordon Murphy, the driving force behind the best-selling BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT franchise.

In fact, reception to the WHITE KNIGHT line has been so encouraging to DC that they gave him the reigns to his own little universe -- the Murphyverse -- with power to hire talent for issues that would appear between extended runs.

"So BIG NEWS actually," Murphy announced. "DC wants a mini imprint of WHITE KNIGHT. I'll write the bones for new minis, and they'll set up the writer/artist team. It'll be done between new volumes of BATMAN WHITE KNIGHT. It'll be the Murphyverse. Stay tuned for books on Harley, Nightwing and Batgirl."

Overall, this should have been good news for DC Comics, good news for Sean Gordon Murphy, and good news for fans in general. People who loved the comics loved this news -- and they loved it a lot.

"But the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did not!"

Enter Tess Fowler, who reputedly still does something or other in comics since her exit on RAT QUEENS.The digital ink was barely dry on Murphy's thread before she had this response.

"Today in comics apparently:" she begins. "Known Batman writer, who supports bigots in a hate movement as well as supports that hate movement's apologists, has a new imprint at DC and is hiring...bigots? Lol. I told y'all in fucking 2017 dude was a problem. But ooo he makes Batman comics."

Unearthing bigots within the comic industry is a bit of a hobby for Fowler. In addition to the admission herein that she had pegged Murphy as one three years ago, she's been obliquely pointing out the bogeyman in the industry ever since then. She became morose to discover a comics artist she had idolized was "a far right zealot."

"Just found undeniable evidence one of my favorite artists is a far right zealot," Fowler tweeted in March of 2018. "I am just so goddamn heart broken right now."

The revelation must have been a real eye opener, because in less than ten days time she was seeing the bogeyman everywhere. It was a veritable infestation!

By April 3, she breathlessly set her followers down for a lecture. "Time for a thread, kids: There are people who work in comics who agree with Comicsgate trolls. They agree with the racism. The transphobia. The homophobia. The vile bigotry that's being pumped out on YouTube. That's why they don't fight it."

So there's history here, an evidentiary chain that clearly shows she has been actively seeking targets, like Don Quixote, tilting at windmills. But here's the thing -- you can still damage the windmills doing that. And with Sean Gordon Murphy, she gained a toothhold.

You see, Murphy had made an arrangement a few weeks earlier with independent creator Doug TenNapel to do an alternate cover for his upcoming graphic novel, BIGFOOT BILL 2: FINGER OF POSEIDON. And TenNapel is well-known for his outspoken conservative opinions, particularly his Christian stance on gay marriage. That, apparently, was all the leverage needed to damage both men at the same time -- TenNapel financially, as the Murphy cover was going to be an extra draw for his funding campaign, and Murphy at a reputation level, once he dropped his blockbuster announcement today:

"I recently did a cover for a creator," Murphy writes. "But it's been brought to my attention that the creator has posted opinions that are anti LGBTQ. I've spoken with that creator, and the cover will now be pulled from the project."

The furor was nigh instantaneous, as TenNapel fired off a flurry of tweets on the matter, and fans became divided over whether or not Murphy had done the right thing for his career or whether he had 'bent the knee' to social pressure within the industry. Right or wrong, there appeared to be a clear chain of causation between Fowler's tweets and Murphy's retraction of support for TenNapel's project.

And that was when the sharks smelled blood in the water.

Enter Stephanie Cooke, another independent comics creator. Seeing the damage that had been done to TenNapel, Cooke attempted to leverage the events to extend injury to more people -- specifically, in this instance, EVERGLADE ANGELS creator, Blake Northcott.

"And what about your work with CGer Bl*ke N*rthcott," Cooke tweeted (with the name disemvoweled, presumably to thwart search engines that might have brought the tweet to Northcott's attention). Are you pulling your work from any of her projects as well?"

Northcott and Murphy both announced recently that they would be working together on a CATWOMAN title for DC Comics.

The situation bears watching, as there will likely be intense scrutiny on anyone who has done work with Murphy, from co-creators to pizza delivery guys.