Yesterday, things came to a head on the #comicmarket discussion on Twitter. #comicmarket was started by Larry’s Comics and a few others to foster discussion among retailers, fans, publishers, artists and writers in how to improve the comic book industry. In doing so, it has become a public resource, growing each week. It has become a public relations tool, showing off what the comic book industry has to offer. Unfortunately, that came to a screeching halt, as the same Larry’s Comics who helped start the forum for discussion also belittled it and those who participate by posting what can only be described as racist comments.
The discussion began over the rumor of the next “ultimate” Spider-Man being black. Larry thought it was a publicity attempt and then proceeded to post the following:
There’s no excuse for those comments. They are unwelcoming to new participants, combative and racist. Unfortunately the comments didn’t end there. Some other “open minded” individuals piped in when a few of us called out the comments.
Just like race jokes, comments about AIDS also crosses a line.
There’s so many issues with this incident. The first is the clear tone deaf reaction by Larry’s Comics. He deleted the offending tweets not because they were wrong, but because he didn’t want to deal with responding to them. But, that’s what he’s been doing all day today.
No it wasn’t a “good natured joke.” It’s something you might say to your friends in the privacy of your home or store (if you choose), but in a public forum that represents us all it’s uncalled for. Today Larry agreed it was “unprofessional and tacky.”
If that’s the case, why post it to begin with? But Larry has decided to dig himself further into the ditch he created by posting this to numerous spots:
I think the old saying goes, “if your friends jump off a bridge, would you?” Larry has in the past made inflammatory comments, it’s “who he is.” But that doesn’t excuse them or his behavior. When this same retailer wonders why he doesn’t have a lot of female customers he refers to the women as “chicks” in his attempt to discuss the issue. In the past he’s posted a photo of a topless woman, covering her breasts wearing Lantern rings to promote things. That might have something to do with your “woman issue.” Both are uninviting. But, there’s also the use of “gay” to refer to “lame” things among other offenses. Another retailer has referred to his staff member as a “pussy” on Twitter for various reasons I can’t remember. That behavior is unprofessional.
The greater issue is, it’s a black eye for the #comicmarket. As a whole the discussion has been positive, and a lot of great things have come out of it, but a few people can ruin something easily. The discussion at times, beyond this incident, has been combative, negative and participants are dismissed due to their status of not being retailers. Threats towards artists, writers and publishers that mimic George Bush’s “you’re with us or against us” pepper the discussion as if those tweeting are a La Costra Nerdstra.
We need open forums to foster discussion of a form of entertainment that’s barely surviving. For as many steps forward we make there’s days like yesterday and today that take us back quite a few pegs. As a whole we need to grow up and put the face forward we want the public to see, one of an industry an entertainment form that deserves to be around.
Bleeding Cool has further discussion on the topic as well as some more of the history surrounding past antics.