Even if you don’t recognize the name Doug TenNapel, odds are you’ve experienced his work, or know someone who has. The comics and game creator was hailed as a creative powerhouse in the 90s and early aughts (that’s the first decade of the new millennium to you, uh…millennials), and is still going strong. There’s a reason the guy is considered a fountain of quirky juiciness: he’s been telling damn good stories for years, most with a retro flare. His graphic novel Iron West remains one of the more memorable comics I’ve ever read, and playing Earthworm Jim (his brainchild) during my Sega Genesis days was sheer joy.
I was waxing nostalgic about these things recently and decided to see what Mr. TenNaple’s been up to the last couple decades. Sure enough, there’s a ton of stuff he’s created that’s gone under my radar, so I started a list.
I’ve since abandoned said list.
Unfortunately, like Doug TenNapel’s work, his worldview has also been under my radar all these years–a worldview which includes staunch anti-gay and anti-feminist sentiments. He’s expressed these views freely and has spurred a mountain of discussion and debate over the years, yet I’ve completely missed the dozens of articles like this, this, and this that perforated my recent searches for his work. TenNaple’s proverbial wind has left my sails.
This has been a growing concern in art and media, especially in recent years. Orson Scott Card is probably the most well-known example of a well-regarded creator being been taken to task for his views. His proclamations that, among other things, homosexuals aren’t equal to others in society has spurred substantial backlash over the years that seems to be in lockstep with the rising tolerance toward minority groups. And rightfully so.
But here’s the thing. We all have the right to feel and believe what we want. We have the right to be vocal about it. So Doug TenNapel’s views are his to hold. But they happen to oppose my own. Enough so, in fact, that I wonder whether I can or should support his work. Can we separate the work from the artist? Of course. Should we? Well, I suppose that’s a matter of choice too. After all, it’s not like Doug TenNapel actually has any sway over the rights of anyone else. One might ask, If his work is quality, why not enjoy it? I’m just not sure that personally, I can divorce the two.
I started this post prepared with quotes in hand, interview excerpts at the ready and an entire ethics debate in mind. Instead, I’m leaving it short and sweet. I am choosing to let go of Doug TenNapel. I won’t say that’s for others to do. I won’t say that Doug is wrong. I’m just going to close the book on a creator I can no longer justify supporting, financially or morally. And it makes me sad, because I know I’m missing some good stories.
Image borrowed from Goodreads.