Editorials

Neal Adams, Bleeding Cool, and the State of Comics Journalism

Bleeding Cool Misrepresents Neal Adams’ Words

On Friday, British paper The Guardian posted an interview with Frank Miller. The interview also included thoughts from Miller’s mentor, the legendary Neal Adams. Adams had some tough words for his friend and former protege, mainly due to Miller’s implied alcoholism. Adams felt Miller was drinking himself to death. While Miller didn’t respond to those comments, it did set the internet ablaze. This is due to Bleeding Cool, possibly the biggest comics news site. However, they portrayed Adams’ comments in a more negative light in their article on the article. They focused solely on a comment where Adams called Miller “white trash.” This prompted Adams, a contributor on occasion to Bleeding Cool, to respond in an article of his own.

Neil Adams
Photo Credit: David M. Russell/AMC

Bleeding Cool is known for getting the news about comics before anyone else. However, they’re not above writing articles solely for clicks. Nor do they avoid reporting salacious rumors as fact. This is a problem Bleeding Cool has had for a very long time. I have once before written about their unprofessional behavior. Problem is, it’s not just their problem. It is a problem in comic book media in general.

“If It Bleeds, It Leads”

For modern-day journalism, many reporters want the most exposure for their articles. So, instead of checking the facts and following up, they spread the most malicious rumors as fact. While this is not the majority of reporters in major news outlets, it is enough to be a problem. Now, we live in an era where even regular, fact-checked reporting is dismissed as “fake news” by some. In entertainment media, this trend is especially horrid. As that branch of media thrives on gossip, many sites want to be the first with the most salacious rumors and information. Such is true with comic book media as well.

Part of this is due to changes in ownership. Sites such as CBR and Comics Alliance were sold to investors, who turned them basically into listicles and barely-researched gossip pieces. They also want to wield power over the industry. One former editor of a site, as noted in my older article, gloated once that he would limit DC information on his site due to a perceived slight. 

Another issue is the rush to be first to break the news. This could be seen in the Shazam and Titans picture leaks. In their rush to be first, they didn’t even bother to find out context or anything. They just posted it to be first, and in the latter’s case to mock. 

Yet another issue is that instead of stating just the facts, they pander to the opinions of the crowd. As in the case of the Titans leaks, it was mainly to mock the design and bash DC/WB in general. These become less articles and more ginning up a mob.

A Frankenstein’s Monster of Newsprint

Neal Adams, Bleeding Cool, and the State of Comics Journalism
Frank Miller

The sad thing is we know we can do better. Word of the Nerd strives to abide by journalistic ethics, but we are among the few that do. Ever since the era of the internet, and cable before that, it’s all about ratings and clicks. As early as the 1970s, the movie Network even predicted corporations buying out news companies and setting the agenda.

We, as journalists, need to return to reporting facts. This will also include a de-escalation of the urge to spread rumors and to be the first to the kill. It means agreeing to a code of integrity as an industry. It means fighting back against corporate agents trying to force their bottom line into the news. 

It also means fighting against those who, because of bad actors, want to dismiss us as fake news (or dismiss us just because we don’t agree with them). I think I will let Neal Adams have the final say, from his response to Bleeding Cool:

“Snatching headlines from interviews in which reporters or interviewers should exhibit a cautionary approach to quotes is standard and when it’s done the interviewee must live by the reporter’s stupid decisions.”

 


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About the author

Daniel Kalban

Daniel is the writer of The Eagle webcomic and aspires to one day join his favorite writers at the Big 2. Until then, he keeps plugging away at various projects, as well as serving as a reporter for Word of the Nerd on various subjects, especially the DC Comics "beat".

Contact him at danielk@wordofthenerdonline.com