I didn’t know using the word Pagan could spark such a controversy, but apparently the use of the word and a potential misunderstanding of the religion caused some to contact Boom! Studios over their new five-issue mini-series Salem.
Read the initial letter of concern and Boom!’s response after the jump.
Ambrosia, a concerned Pagan, was kind enough to let us reprint her letter to us. Here it is in full:
Date: Sep 3, 2007 9:40 PM
Subject: Religious intolerance
I am an avid comic reader and I am also a pagan. I have been on this path for many years and my family and I have fought off hate, bigotry and verbal abuse due to the large quantity of misinformation about the craft. To think I would be safe from this sort of thing in my own genre of pop culture. I guess I was wrong because apparently you are publishing a comic named Salem Queens of Thorns which demonizes witchs and adds further justification for their torturing and death. Did you know that in the dark ages 9 million people (mostly women and some children) were accused, tortured and killed because of lies and misinformation spread by the church? These women were midwives, healers and herbalogists. All of these people were tortured into saying things that were not true. They were told what to say by witch hunters. Ever heard of the witch’s hammer? It was a book comprised of methods to identify, interigate, torture, prosecute and finally kill a witch for in the bible it says “Though not suffer a witch to live” I mean you all have a least a little sensitivity right? Would you write a comic putting the jews of the holocaust in a negative light? What about the slaves of the south? They practiced voudoun rituals to scare away slave traders from abducting them. But no of course everyone has enough compassion to not cause further distress to those who have suffered. I and other Pagans alike are trying to dispell ignorance and create a more tolerant world to accept our beliefs and right now you are creating an obstacle to that. I would look out for more pagan activists and lobbyists to get involved and speak out against this assault to our faith. This project was written in poor taste and is offensive to my brothers and sisters of the craft. Please take this into consideration when making such a decision…
Hopefully, in printing this, we have put a preemptive end to this controversy. Thank you for reading.
Since announcing SALEM, a five-issue series written by Chris Morgan and Kevin Walsh shipping this November, we here at BOOM! Studios have been inundated with a tremendous positive responseŠfor the most part. Unfortunately, we have also received a number of alarmed reactions from the Pagan community. To address their concerns, Chris and Kevin have written the following letter:
To All Concerned Parties,
We agree that a comic book that asserts Pagans are evil and destructive might well be considered insensitive, offensive and even slanderous. However, SALEM: QUEEN OF THORNS is not that book. We appreciate your criticisms, but feel they are based on a mistaken understanding of the true content of our story.
In SALEM, the religious authorities are an evil force that persecutes innocents in the witch trials. They aren’t celebrated in any way and are, in fact, major villains.
Our protagonist, Elias Hooke, is a reformed member of the Church who carries a heavy burden of guilt for the evil he performed for them in ignorance. And his quest to redeem himself is one of his main motivations.
More importantly, one of our chief characters, Hannah Foster, is a healer accused of witchcraft. She is in no way the “demonized” villain of the piece. Rather, she is one of the key heroes on a noble journey to combat evil and save the world.
We welcome your opinions and realize that when all is said and done, you may still disagree with what we feel to be a positive depiction of Pagans and a strong pro-tolerance theme in SALEM. But we respectfully request that you base such judgment on the content of the work itself, rather than incorrect assumptions and incomplete information.
Because you are correct about one thing — prejudice in all forms is an ugly thing.
Kevin Walsh and Chris Morgan
Creators, SALEM: QUEEN OF THORNS