Tag Archives: larry doherty

Retailers Behaving Badly

trollIt’s been interesting within days of each other I received two tips about retailers “behaving badly.” Maybe there was something in the air, or the retailers defrosted from the winter freeze, but it got me to reflect about my time working in or running geek shops, about 6 years total. I loved that time, but I hear more and more horror stories and try to remember if at any point I displayed this abhorrent behavior, and the answer is no. I’m fairly repulsed by what I’ve been told and hear.

The first questions is, how responsible is a site for the trolls that lie within it’s forums? Heavy Ink is no stranger to controversy. The retailer made headlines when the founder advocated for more violence against elected officials after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. The police didn’t take too kindly to that one. So we know that the site is run by and probably populated by some asshats. If that’s the behavior that’s seen and expected, people will act.

About a week ago, a thread meant to discuss new releases devolved into jokes about Jews and the Holocaust.

retailer_1Though it might have been 70 years ago, Holocaust denial is absolutely a touchy subject today and to use it as a dig is beyond low, even if it’s meant in jest. Some regulars to the forum didn’t take too kindly to it, reaching out to the forum moderators and then eventually to us to raise awareness of this stupidity.

retailer_2I highlighted a bit of the administrator’s response in the image above, but it’s clear from lack of action as well as the fact the comment was called “dark humour” the Holocaust is fair game when it comes to dark humor. Clearly this is a retailer and site that wants to be inclusive of all and make sure individuals feel welcome… I as the head of this blog am responsible for what is posted. I make sure to handle any hateful responses, and there’s been some. That includes shamming or banning. Don’t feed the trolls and let them know their behavior is ok, it only encourages more.

But what was strange, a few days after being tipped off to this, I received another email about a certain retailer who is no stranger to this site where the individual was threatened with violence. Here’s the initial email in full and unedited other than redacting the retailer’s name (I’ll explain why in a bit).

I deliver for a living, so I have the oppertunity to stop into all the comic shops in Ma , Nh and Ri. Today I was in lowell and saw (retailer name redacted).

Before stoping in I tryed to look up his hours of operation online and found only a facebook page with them listed.

it states opening on friday at 10 am. It was 10:20 and thought it would be ok so I drove to the shop and parked my truck. The door was locked so i figured he was closed. as i turned around to walk back to my truck the guy across the street said that he saw him in there and i should knock. So knock I did. When (retailer name redacted) answered the door I asked what time he opened and he responded at noon. I proceded to tell him that his facebook page Stated 10 am and that he should change it and instantly i was given an attitude. I told him ok , i will come back later and as i turned around i made the offhand comment that he didnt have to be an asshole about it. He came out the door and asked me what i had just said and i tryed to then explain to him the facebook page and to my suprised i found myself in the middle of a fight that was escalating into a pyhsical brawl.

As our words heated up (retailer name redacted) turned sideways into a brawling stance. He cocked back his arm and closed his fist and then started to shout at me that he was going to break my jaw, knock all my teeth out then “curb stomp” me for good measure. I instantly took to the defensive and tryed defusing the situation by saying that we were haveing a miscommunication. I called him sir and even went as far as appoligizing for my words. He took that as a sign of weakness and began belittleing me using derogatory words meant to question my sexuality. At this point i was visibly shaking from the shear panic that was setting in on me, (retailer name redacted) could see this but he still wouldnt let up. I turned to walk away but it still didnt end. He followed me to my truck and took my company info and as i got into my truck he was yelling that he was going to call my company and get me fired.

Im not a strong man. I am not a brave man. I know bullying when i see it as i have lived my life with it. I paniced. even at my age I dont know what to do. who to tell. Going to the police turns into a he said she said dispute which solves nothing. So now im turning to the only thing i trust these days. The internet. I want to tell as many people in as many places as I can. This man should not be in this buisness. This man does not deserve our respect.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

First, I removed the retailer’s name because I have no way to verify this. I reached out and heard nothing back, and was not there. Other than a Yelp review recounting the same story from the person, I don’t have a way to back this up. But this isn’t the first time a retailer have acted as a bully or racist, or used hateful words towards an individual.

I followed up and asked what was said to the tipster Mike:

I didnt know how to describe it without using the actual words. But it was things little “go suck a dick you fag” and things of that nature

So, we have numerous anti-lgbt slurs and in both cases anti-Jewish remarks (curb stomp has its roots in the Holocaust where Nazis saved ammo by doing it to Jewish victims).

Normally I’d chalk it up to people being trolls and assholes, but the fact is, we’re a community. We’re a fandom that has no right to be exclusive or judgmental, both are something many of us have experienced. Both incidents emphasize the negative stereotype that comments are full of juvenile individuals refusing to enter adulthood.

What disappoints me most is not just the words used or reactions, but the fact is retailers are one of the main ambassadors of comic fandom. This is where individuals, old and new fans, have to go to get their comic fix. These folks need to be welcoming of individuals no matter what, showing tolerance and a willingness to embrace fans, regular and casual alike. I, in my entire time as a retailer can not recount one incident where I didn’t make people feel welcome to the store or purposely drove them off.

I wrote this after the ugly #comicmarket incident:

Too many have images of “The Comic Book Guy” from The Simpsons when they think of the register jockeys who sell funny books.  #comicmarket and #comicretail is an opportunity to break that mold.  It’s a public face of the industry, which is what was so disturbing about Sunday.  The incident painted retailers and fans in a bad light, but it also turned off so many past, present and potentially future participants.

The question is when will we all as a fandom rally to say this is unacceptable? When will creators or retailers stop dealing with these shitty retailers? Feeding trolls, using slurs or hate words, belittling customers, promoting misogyny, it all needs to end. For the good of our hobby and entertainment, it needs to end.

Larry’s Comics Launches Phantom Variants

Larry Doherty (yes that Larry) of Larry’s Comics has teamed up with a few shops to launch Phantom Variants, yet more variant copies of comics for you to chase down. Here’s his post about the project, unedited other than some spacing issues.

I am starting a micro distribution network of shops carrying original art directed , limited versions of comic books. Original Images.The program is called The Phantom Variant.

Our first book will be a spectacular edition of Nick Spencer’s Bedlam #1 with an original cover from Riley Rossomo  ( there will be #2-6 as well ) The back cover is blank to recieve autographs or sketches. Most releases will feature Blank backs.

I have a couple dozen other projects  in the pipeline. We are going to announce them the week of their release.

It has a benefit to you the fan* These editions are availabe at a bunch of shops & online. You can shop around to get the best deal. Maybe there is a local venue. You do NOT have to deal with the infamous “Larry”

It has a benefit to the creators involved.*It’s NOT just about the variant. It’s about a historic effort to support  properties at a monetary level that matters, with exclusive in store displays & promotions for the creators by retailers. We are NOT interested in a “cash grab”, only supporting one issue. If we are in. We are “IN”.

It has a benefit to me the retailer. *It is a program designed to drive consumers to our brick-and-mortar establishments by offering them a unique shopping experience.

It has a benefit to the publisher.  Twenty agressive retailers will stabilize print runs & provide unprecedented social media support.

How did the Phantom start?

Last year  Ralph DiBernardo ( Jetpack Comics ) and myself approached Comics Pro and offered to revamp their exclusive program (actually proposed to them twice in two different formats). The idea(s) was rejected by the board based on a fear that it could open the org to anti-trust suits, so we moved on, producing exclusives on our own and our New England comic retailer micro distribution network.

Several months ago a group of retailers got together and formed The Ghost Variant. A secretive organization, privately inviting hand picked retailers to be members of The Ghost.

Suspiciously, every Comics Pro Board member was a part of the group. In fact, only one Ghost member was not a Comic Pro member, and he happened to have been a board member that stepped down.

As a Comic Pro member I was offended by what I viewed as an impropriety by their Board of Directors. Using their position of power they either launched or were knowing participants in a program that left out over 90% of their members, but included every board member. I absolutely feel as if they took our idea, modified it & excluded us from it. I quit the ComicsPro as did many others. I had been a member for 4 years.

While Comics Pro maintains that they ARE NOT the Ghost, the Ghost has not revealed himself and you can’t argue the facts of whom the Ghost Members are.

I then formed the Phantom group,  Publicly, with no secrecy. In a offering via my Twitter feed, I invited 20 retailers to join me in producing exclusives.

Twenty retailers jumped on board. Retailers that love me, retailers that hate me and retailers that barely knew of my existence are all in this together. A very diverse group.

There is now a waiting list of retailers (28) to get on board for it. I wanted to show that organizing something like this could be fair and honest.

So this is a pissing contest between retailers who got the ghost and those who didn’t. Is that it? Fair Question.  Difference. They scored a TOP property by abusing their position of power & supported it for one issue.

We are testing unknown properties for a period of time  www.phantomvariant.com will go live on Friday.

Let me know what you think.


Phantom variant retailers:

Updated: Larry Doherty and Larry’s Comics at it Again. This Time Hate Speech Towards Transgender People.

What started as a friendly discussion on Twitter about digital versus print comics quickly devolved into a string of hate speech and Trans Bashing between the owner of Larry’s Comics, Larry Doherty, and Christian Beranek, a self described “Comic book writer, geek girl and rocker.” The discussion started in a friendly nature.

But quickly devolved from there.

The issue with Larry’s response is the word “sir.” Christian is transgender. Meaning she identifies herself and lives day to day as female. So, you can see how the word “sir” might make one uncomfortable and is insulting and degrading. In fact Christian politely asks Larry to stop using the term.

But, Larry being the agitator he is, continues.

And…And…

And the insensitivity continued…

This is Trans Bashing and Cyber Bullying, no other way to put it. Larry was aware of Christian being transgender and continued to use the words “sir,” “dude,” “man” and “fellow” when referring to her. All terms belittling Christian. But, this isn’t the first time this behavior has come from Larry. In 2011, he also made insensitive racist jokes about the new Ultimate Spider-Man before the character was introduced and just rumored to be black.

This is the latest example of a comic book industry struggling with inclusion, whether that’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or gender roles. Mandy Curuso took to the internet to describe the harassment she experienced this past weekend at New York Comic Con. She described it as her “first truly skeezy experience at Comic Con.” And that’s the thing, this is a minority that’s causing these issues. The majority of fans are inclusive and welcoming and like sharing the hobby and entertainment they enjoy with others.

Unfortunately, incidents like this or what Mandy experienced don’t result in repercussions. The film crew Mandy dealt with will still get press passes and Larry will still have his ass kissed by publishers and creators who overlook his behavior that gives a black eye to the industry. When will we all say enough is enough?

Christian was kind enough to respond to my inquiries and provided the following quote about the incident:

Brett, I’ve been following Larry on twitter for awhile now. I appreciate his viewpoint as a retailer dealing with an ever-changing industry in which digital is becoming more and more important. Last night I made an admittedly cheeky comment about webcomics in response to a post about Marvel. It was meant to get a discussion going and it did. Larry is very passionate about print comics and often makes condescending remarks towards those of us who work in digital. Usually it rolls off but last night he called me ‘Sir’. I let pronoun misuse slide because I understand people are still getting used to me living as a female. I always ask the person to please make an effort to correct themselves and most times people are pretty cool about it. Last night Larry was not so cool.

Larry points out that print comic sales are rising. I think that’s great for the Big 2 and others benefiting from it. But there are loads of us who are working hard to tell different types of stories in different ways. Many of the people who make comics online have never even been to a comic book convention let alone a comic book shop. Many feel they are hostile environments. I think the “Boy’s Club” mentality of comics holds us back in a lot of ways. To be fair those who act this way are in the minority but they are extremely vocal and many of them hold positions of power.

I think manners and common courtesy go a long way. I’m not trying to censor anyone’s thoughts, I just think we’d have a much more pleasant and thriving community if we considered the lifestyles, backgrounds and viewpoints of other people.

Just take a moment and listen from time to time. People will surprise you and many times you’ll learn something new. Heck, Larry and others like him might even increase their business further because of it.

Thank you for the opportunity to have a say on this matter.

I would have reached out to Larry for a comment on the matter, but he’s had me blocked on Twitter for my opinions for well over a year.

Update: After numerous hours Larry has issued an “apology.” I have my opinion, but I leave it to you, the readers, to decide how truly heartfelt it is. And thanks for the shout out as the “vindictive blog” Larry and thanks for the traffic! *hugs*

Update 2: It seems Larry clearly doesn’t understand why this was an issue, deciding to make a joke about it all.

No Larry, it’s not the same thing, but thanks for showing us you can not learn a lesson and move on.

The #comicmarket problem

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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.