Comic Creators On Jim Steranko's "Chinese Pandemic" Choice Of Words

Comic book creator Jim Steranko is best known for his work on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D,  and recently made the credits of WandaVision courtesy of his revival of Agent Jimmy Woo for Marvel Comics. But recently it is more likely for his politics to make headlines. Earlier today he tweeted out "The CHINESE PANDEMIC has stolen year from our lives —I've felt it as much as anyone! Those who know me and have hung out with me at shows know the importance I lay on personal appearances and connecting at gigs with fans from every corner of the USA! Will be ready WHEN YOU ARE!".

Jim Steranko © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons
Jim Steranko © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons | Luigi Novi, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

He had previously tweeted in reply "I'm boiling about the social, cultural, business, and personal hell the Chinese pandemic has inflicted on America—not to mention a HALF MILLION LIVES GONE, and more to come! That debt needs to be settled, rather than embraced, as it has been by Biden and company!!!"

UPDATE: And we missed this one where he took it further…  "Why wouldn't everyone call CoVid 19 a Chinese virus? It was developed in China by the Chinese expressly, I believe, for the purpose stated by a Chinese spokesman, who said, "China will be THE WORLD'S SUPERPOWER IN TWO YEARS!" And they did it without firing a gunshot!"

It is believed, but not certain, that COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China. But calling it the "china virus" or similar location-based names also can have negative effects on civil society and public health and the World Health Organisation has a policy of no longer naming diseases after the place they are believed to have originated. And former President Donald Trump's insistence on using the phrase been linked to an increase in xenophobic attacks. And there is definitely no suggestion that China developed COVID-19.

Steranko's politics are well known, but he seemed to be doubling down on the "Chinese virus" push, and the claim that he had "felt it as much as anyone" over comic convention absence also seemed to rankle more than usual. And for a number of fellow comic book creators, and others, enough was enough. Here are a few examples from what was a social media explosion.

Frank Cho: Both of my parents are in the hospital with COVID, and the last thing I need to hear is more xenophobic Republican lies from this narcissistic hateful egomaniac.

Greg Pak: Mr. Steranko, I'm trying to word this politely. Please listen to the many people responding to your tweet. Hate incidents against Asian Americans have skyrocketed. Avoiding the use of terms like "Chinese pandemic" can help make the country safer for us.

Jim McClain: I've said this before to you and I'll say it again. My daughter is an American born in China and has already experienced harassment due to wording like this. You've met her, in person. Would you use this term to her face? If not, then you need to review your behavior.

Mingjue Chen: Wow I hate this

YingjueChen: My mother was harassed because of rhetoric like this. It's not the Chinese virus. 60 percent of viruses are founded in North America and Europe, to play the blame game is a non starter, viruses happen, we can't control any of it.

Tony Lee: Jesus, Jim. I know we've lost a year of our lives, but naming it that is reckless and quite honestly sad to see, considering your platform. Happy to chat to you about how casual racism isn't needed anymore, and how you used to be better than this. Will be ready WHEN YOU ARE!

Hannibal Tabu: I guess it's true what some say about the danger of aging. Blocked and reported. I'm sorry you ended up this way.

Mike Norton: You may have a few less people in line, I'm thinking.

Dee Cunniffe: Xenophobe is not a good look. Do better.

Chris Sotomayor: Your work left an indelible imprint on my childhood, but it breaks my heart to see you using language that perpetuates hate and confirms people's biases against anyone who may be different. There's so much violence because of language like yours. Please stop and reconsider.

Sean Izaakse: Wtf is wrong with you! It's always saddening to see that the people behind the heroes they worked on turn into the villains those heroes would rally against. Hugely disappointed.

Pat Brosseau: I wonder if he realizes his toupee was probably made in China?

Joe Glass: This is so casually racist and disgusting, you've let down a lot of people. We're all hurting, but there is no need for this xenophobic trash. Do better.

Tom Raney: Jim, it's long past time for you to evolve. Unfortunately your moral center is stagnant and rotted. Racist dog whistles like this are actively harming people; and with violence against our Asian friends and family escalating you are fanning the flames.

Mahmud Asrar: One would expect you to be wiser than this. Why perpetuate baseless hate?
 
Jason Masters:  You're a disappointment

Dave Scheidt: This sort of rhetoric is getting innocent Asian people killed and brutally assaulted. You have a huge platform and are being incredibly irresponsible and vile and encouraging this type of reprehensible violence. Please fuck off.

Kwanza Osajyefo: Dick move, Stanko. Your creative contributions don't allow you to use EXACT racist language, leading to attacks on Asian people. Instead of spreading spoiled mayo across the internet, consider why a country as "great" as the USA didn't protect its citizens from a virus.

Chris Ryall: Jim, I hope you listen to the voices that point out the increase in violence against Asian-Americans. Which is attributable in part because of wrong-headed comments like these. Your words and art used to lift people up so why are you now insistent on using your platform for harm?

Chris Burnham: Dude shut up

Andrew Wheeler: This is vile language that endangers real people and you should be ashamed of yourself. Evil.

Frank Gogol: Maybe the first comments section of ANYTHING that's ever given me hope. Listen to your fans, James.

Odds are this conversation may be continued with Steranko in the green room at one of those comic conventions Jim is talking about.

 

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.