Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pirhanas, Pariahs, and Me, Oh My! pt. 1

When I first got started writing comics, I held no starry-eyed illusions of fame, riches, or even a chance to make myself somehow worthy of a smidgen of the admiration I have for the likes of Larry Hama or the late, great Dave Cockrum. For one thing, I know I'm no superstar. I don't want to be a superstar. I just want to write, do some good with that, have some fun with it, and, yes, land some good paying contracts. For another, I've gone in already knowing a little too much about the industry.

I don't mind a little bit of fanfare as long as it's along the line of positive buzz. Even at that, I prefer it be about my projects and not about me at all. If there's any drama, any controversy, I prefer to just do my job and stay far away from it.

So when I signed a contract to appear at a Veterans' Day convention in upstate New York to promote Untold Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan, that was all I wanted to do. And if anything went wrong that would preclude me from attending- as they did, I wanted to deal with that without any fuss. There are numerous reasons for that.

First of all, to paraphrase Joan Jett, I don't give a damn about anyone's bad reputation. Big names are good for marketing purposes only. While I am new to the comic book industry, I've been in long enough to know some of the human beings behind those names. Even the very best aren't perfect. And I've observed in the general population as well as within the comic book industry that the nicest people come from all over, even from among the unknowns and the pariahs. I was once myself a pariah, shunned, slandered, and mistreated by nearly all my peers. I know how easy it can be to acquire a bad reputation that is completely undeserved. So I don't mean it as a personal affront to anyone when I take any negative comment about anyone else with a grain or several of salt. I simply relate a little too well to those on the receiving end of such treatment.

I am also a freelancer,quite aware that I work in an industry rife with predators. This is why I am generally picky about the contracts I sign- and another reason why I wish to steer clear of internet feeding frenzies, as I don't see predatory behavior coming from just publishers or convention organizers, but tragically sometimes from fellow comic book creators.

And it's because of how I feel for everyone involved that I also won't take it personally if readers do not believe what I have to say about anyone. None of the grievances I'll air here are about individuals or reputations, but about behaviors.

Now I must admit to being a little naive in thinking that the comic book industry might be a haven for people who'd remember too well what it's like to be the grade school outcaste and would know better than to treat anyone like that. I was very disappointed to find out how that's not the case, and various lies circulated about me on the internet. Normally, I wouldn't dignify any of that with a response, but these run the gamut from too egregious to too silly to not address.

The silly lies are easiest to address. I was not banned from IMWAN or Byrnerobotics. I may or may not be welcome back, but leaving those sites was my idea. I requested my account be deleted at IMWAN. I think I just stopped posting at Byrnerobotics. Yet people seem to state as fact that I was banned.

I don't go crazy when people say bad things about my favorite characters. I will, however, admit to having a certain intolerance for trolling fan sites. If you don't like the X-Men, The Walking Dead, Dr. Who, Star Wars, or anything I happen to like, that's fine. Viva la difference! But if you go to a fan site clearly intending to cause trouble, don't blame anyone other than yourself when that's exactly what you get.

There's the matter of my alleged lack of empathy for freelancers. The fact that I am a freelancer was completely lost on the person making such a claim, though the truth that I'm not a superstar wasn't, as this person saw fit to repeatedly point out. The absurdity of it all would amuse me to no end if I hadn't at one point wanted to work with that person.

I was never anyone's evil sidekick. At worst, I'm a rogue-ish chaotic good. I'm ethically opposed to fraud. I'm also ethically opposed to creepy, stalkerish, bullying behavior. So when one group uses creepy, stalkerish bullying tactics in opposition to fraud, the ethical thing for me to do is to want nothing to do with either side.

Will there be a part 2 to this long and rambling rant? Only if I'm provided more material, so I hope not!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Smart Alex Says: Smart Alex On the Road: Con-flicting Schedules

Smart Alex Says: Smart Alex On the Road: Con-flicting Schedules: Since I'm running out of bad puns, perhaps it would be best to take a break from the convention circuit for a little while and rest. Nonethe...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Smart Alex Says: Smart Alex on the Road: For Your Con-sideration

Smart Alex Says: Smart Alex on the Road: For Your Con-sideration: "One does not need to be a comic book enthusiast or sci-fi fan to be familiar with the phenomenon that is the convention. Everyone who knows ..."