Robert Jacobs of Towson, who has been a comic book collector since childhood and is gay, is feeling disillusioned about one of his favorite companies.

"I'm disappointed that [DC Comics, which] I actually look up to and enjoy, would pick someone that sits on a board that's trying to take away rights or keep people from getting the rights the deserve," said Jacobs, who's 40 and works for Diamond. "I'm disappointed in DC Comics because ... why would they choose him if they knew that?"

The fact that Card is writing for Superman makes it even harder to swallow.

"He is Superman," Jacobs said. "He's one of the biggest iconic heroes. He would stand up for people's rights. ... It's what Superman stands for."

Owen Smith, who is gay and a longtime fan of comics including DC Comics' "Superman" and "Batman," said he would no longer buy products from the company.

The Baltimore 30-year-old, who is Equality Maryland's field organizer for gender equality issues, said his mother bought him comic books to help him learn to read — but they also helped him learn that being different was OK.

When disenfranchised young people turn to comics, Smith says, the endorsement of Card sends an "awful" message.

"The beauty of comics is how they show people it's OK to be a mild-mannered person on the outside, a nerdy, glasses-wearing skinny person, but you can be go into a phone booth and change into a person that can change the world," he said. "Hiring [Orson Scott Card] is a statement to say, 'It's not OK to be who you are.'

"What is that showing the young LGBT readers? That because they're LGBT that they're not accepted? That's awful and should never happen."

jill.rosen@baltsun.com

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