The last couple weeks have been a notorious nightmare for DC Comics, who executed a series of gigantic PR blunders and then watched as the Internet feasted on the juicy byproducts of the scandals. The famed comics company has since spoken out about the more recent of the scandals; specifically, how severely messed up it was to ask the public to draw a panel of a naked woman preparing to commit suicide ... without any context ... immediately before National Suicide Prevention Week.
A quick backstory: DC announced a contest (billed as “DC Entertainment’s Open Talent Search") to draw in new artistic talent. The contest included drawing several panels of longtime character Harley Quinn in ridiculous circumstances; the last of these circumstances had Quinn naked, in a bathtub, surrounded by blow dryers, toasters, and other electronic appliances, apparently preparing to kill herself.
Needless to say, this last panel did not sit well with the general public, especially in the wake of the controversy surrounding DC's refusal to let Batwoman marry her female partner. The panels were meant to highlight the character's longstanding habits of finding herself in over-the-top, morbid, generally physical and violent situations, but unfortunately for DC, the unveiling of the contest came at a time when those unfamiliar with the context of the character were already looking toward them with a critical eye. A storm of anger followed.
Jimmy Palmiotti, who is writing the ongoing Harley Quinn series, attempted to explain (and apologize for) their blunder earlier this week:
In a continued saga of misfortune for DC's PR team, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention had already stepped in to express their disapproval. They called DC's contest "insensitive and potentially dangerous," and decried their choice to not go with a more hopeful message.
And so DC apologized again:
It's hard to get much clearer than that. It's true that, despite their intentions, the initial lack of context was still a pretty massive mess up. But it's also notable that DC is not usually a company that publicly apologizes when their fans and detractors think they've done something wrong. That they felt the need to publicly express their regret over their mistake is a good thing; they screwed up, but for once, they seem to actually understand why it pissed everyone off so much.
DC Comics still has a lot of issues it needs to deal with, but hey, at least they're not quite as gross in this case as they initially seemed.
[Image: Cool Toy Review]