Saturday, October 29, 2016

one more thing on marvel

A quick thought experiment:

Pretend for a moment that Tom Brevoort & Co. are totally right. 

Imagine Brevoort expressed this opinion in a more politic way instead of being real snide about it, like he was trying to explain Monopoly to an infant. Imagine that every new Marvel title was promoted with the same vigor to its target audience, and that every title lived long enough to factor in its performance in trade. Ignore Marvel's enormous roster of white male creators, who are encouraged to write all different kinds of characters with varying degrees of commercial and artistic success. Pretend that Axel Alonso's attempt to appease his core audience of trolls by talking about "SJWs" with contempt (even as he angles for SJW money with "All New, All Inclusive") wasn't a completely transparent attempt to have his cake and eat it too, and that it appealed to you (and/or trolls) on any level. Set aside your distaste for the way these men talk about comics sales using the language of social justice. Forget the little fantasy you created where they purse their lips and mouth "capitalism" at themselves in the mirror before giving themselves double guns. Imagine the direct market weren't really stupid and confusing. You don't ever have to think about the direct market again--it now exists in a place beyond thoughts, and it's a perfect 10, and you're fucking the direct market the way you like best on a pile of $100 bills strewn across sheets made of the purest satin. 

Almost there. Now take a deep breath: in, out. Now in again, and this time hold it till you're too lightheaded to think good. Relax your shoulders, soften the belly, and let your capacity for logic drift away. 

Okay. In your perfectly clear mind, a single thought is emerging: these men are of strong mind and noble purpose, and you agree with absolutely everything they say. 

Now here's the experiment: follow this threat thought, which I have seen everywhere, to its logical conclusion.

That representation will vanish. In other words: Marvel will stop hiring women, people of color, LGBT creators, etc. As a company, it will abandon even the pretense of caring about inclusion.

If you want more of what you like--inclusive hiring practices for creators--you'd better pony up quick, because the success of Ms. Marvel and Black Panther can only fund so many egregiously lackluster titles headed by Marvel's white male creators. That's just business, baby.

Uh...point is, if you hate harassment, go buy Mockingbird. There's only one thing to do about it, and that's support those books and those creators with your wallets. (That's a verbatim quote, by the way.)

How does it feel to finally be thinking in terms of stone-cold logic, you bleeding-heart social justice warrior pieces of shit? 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

marvel, please stop fanning the flames of your troll problem

Wherever there's a woman to complain about the toxic fandom surrounding superhero comics, there is a man associated with Marvel who tries to come to the rescue with a bunch of condescending, paternalistic tweets. As a human with some capacity for logic, I find this deeply annoying. But as a woman on Twitter, I can't just write it off as bullshit. Men of Marvel, listen up: it's not just that you're not helping. You are also actively making things worse.

Whether you're a member of the Marvel leadership team or one of their freelance artists, you need to carefully consider how you choose to frame the discussion of whatever corner of toxic fandom it is that you're talking about today. Yesterday I saw a lot of bad tweets about Chelsea Cain. Let's set aside for the moment how dumb they were and talk about how they feed the trolls.

1. Framing the Chelsea Cain conversation in terms of sales

Two unrelated things happened around the same time: Mockingbird got cancelled and Chelsea Cain quit Twitter because of harassment. Many people have conflated these two issues, or prefer to focus on one instead of the other, and one result was a lot of Marvel men tweeting about how people should buy Cain's comics (or promote diversity by buying comics in general). But here's the thing: I didn't see Chelsea Cain complain about people not buying her comic. I saw her complain about getting harassed on Twitter.

Let's set aside the fact that the dudes who like to fling around the word "capitalism" in these discussions tend to leave a lot of factors out of their analysis (problems with the direct market, particularly with regard to attracting new comics readers; relative lack of institutional promotion for new titles or titles with lesser-known characters, etc.). When you respond to a concern about harassment with an observation about low sales, you're adding fuel to fire by (a) flattering trolls who consider themselves your True Readership and (b) giving their abuse a veneer of respectability by pretending they're talking about big important man business (i.e., money).  Just for example, here's an image I noticed in the feed of a literal nazi who dragged me for saying the word "Marvel" on Twitter yesterday.

What a cute little pun, right? Let me break this down for you: my nazi troll wasn't really talking about sales, and neither was Chelsea Cain.

Here is the only germane point with regard to the intersection of sales and harassment: When female creators can't use Twitter, they can't promote their comics. And they really need to be using Twitter to promote their comics because Marvel doesn't seem to have a whole lot of patience for letting new books find their audience.

2.  Framing critics of Marvel as unreasonable adversaries in a civil war

Listen, I get it. You've built your whole world around melodramatic men in tights who are always picking fights with melodramatic men in other tights, and that maybe colors the way you see things. But you need to lay off the histrionics. Please give all your "if you're not with us, you're against the very idea of diversity" histrionic bullshit a fucking rest and especially stop using metaphors of violence when you describe how polite critics are interacting with you on twitter. I understand this seems like semantics to you, but I promise you that it matters.

Trolls routinely threaten women and people of color with actual violence. When you use language like this, it encourages them on multiple levels. For one thing, you're drawing a false equivalence between words of polite disagreement and threats of physical harm. Remember that trolls are often very sick, very stupid, and/or very confused. Perhaps you understand that criticizing Brian Michael Bendis is not literally starting a war, but trolls don't necessarily grasp that. And when they perceive people they already conceptualize as their enemy to be "attacking" their heroes, they are provoked.

The last thing to consider is the possibility that when people are constantly telling you that your actions cause them unhappiness or harm, you are not in fact on their side, no matter how much you wish to be. You know how in your make-believe stories the guy in the other tights doesn't always realize that he's bad? You know how sometimes those bad guys aren't really evil, just misguided? Maybe that's you.

Monday, October 24, 2016

pointless thoughts + feelings: walking dead edition

I only started watching The Walking Dead a year or so ago, having dropped it at some point during the first season in real time because I hated every single character with my life. The summer before last I was on a very long flight that was showing the whole of Season 5 and I thought, okay, well, why not. As it happened the episode I picked up on involved most of the main characters kneeling over what I can only describe as a grisly murder trough, getting bopped on the head with a hammer and having their throats slit. I just sat there and openly wept like a lunatic while the lady sitting next to me looked on in embarrassment. Then I got wine drunk off two minis and watched Game of Thrones. Anyway that experience was upsetting enough that I came home and binge watched the whole show from the beginning. Apparently feeling super upset is what I look for in my entertainment choices.

The Walking Dead gets a lot of shit for being a terrible show, and it is--but only sometimes. About two-thirds of the time, it's truly the worst. But occasionally it's a very, very good show. Like shockingly good. As uneven as last season was, there were some brilliant moments: Carol becoming a double agent when the Wolves attacked their dumb gated community, Daryl and the nice gay guy coming upon that disco truck of zombies, and that time when Carl told that kid his dead dad was a total asshole--those were all A+. I think tonight's episode would've actually been okay if they'd had the courage to put it at the end of the last season instead of the dumb cliffhanger they ended up doing. It's not even about respecting your audience (though you really should do that), it's just an audience can smell a lack of narrative confidence like a horse smells fear. And Walking Dead has become a show with a total lack of narrative confidence. Killing Glenn after two fake outs would've sort of been genius as the cap on S6. Walking Dead isn't really capable of a genuinely risky move, so we have to settle for these little flashes of brilliance. I'm not really into TV on a technical level but I'm reasonably certain those flashes are connected to set design and...zombie choreography?...more than character or story. People say it's a good show for character but that's not really true. The only character who's well written is Carol. Just about everything else is to the credit/shame of the actors, who seem to be either really good or beyond terrible, which is confusing.

Tonight I watched the opener for Season 7 in real time, which I never do for anything, and I did so with the same fervent hope I take into every single episode: that they'd kill off Rick. They never will, and of course I know that, but a girl can dream. I want Rick to die because he's the absolute worst, but even more than that it's one of the few narrative moves the show has left that seems geninuely interesting. It's not brave or even unusual to kill off your core characters in this day and age, but to kill your protagonist...that'd be pretty ballsy.

I actually thought the person getting offed was going to be Daryl? Around the end of last season I read a bunch of news items that said the actor who plays him booked himself as the celebrity guest on a bunch of different sad-people cruises, but I guess Norman Reedus just has a gambling problem or something? Whatever. I was pretty sad about the prospect of Daryl dying. I'm from the South, so "problematic redneck prone to violence" rings all my bells. I just googled that actor to figure out if he's Southern because it both seems like he is and he isn't, which is confusing because my one superpower is knowing whether or not an actor is actually Southern. Turns out he's from Florida, which makes perfect sense.

A lot of people I know have stopped watching this show altogether but I'll definitely watch it at least through the end of this season because evidently there is a new character who has a tiger(?!). Now we're talking. A tiger, Denny Duquette, and an emotionally unavailable redneck? Yeah, I guess that'll do. One question, though: I've still got this channel on a few hours later and apparently there's a show with Kevin Smith sitting around with a bunch of ugly dudes doing a podcast where they talk about Superman? Occasionally they cut away to some comic shop where some of the ugly guys offer money to people who bring in their old comic books? I know that's the opposite of my thing but man, it's hard to imagine that literally anyone would find this compelling. I'd rather watch Mad Men and that's really saying something.

Friday, October 21, 2016

the best thing I've ever read

Every once in a while I’ll read something that feels like it was written just for me. Not even for me, but to me, like when people think that god talks to them through the computer. My first memory of this is from 2008, when I read the following in Garden & Gun magazine:
When the jewelry designer Gogo Ferguson was introduced to Bill Clinton at a cocktail party on Martha’s Vineyard, she could only wonder why he kept staring at her earrings. Did he know she made them from raccoon penis bones? She didn’t ask. 
Probably most people wish they had written Moby-Dick or something, but I’ll go to my grave wishing I wrote the raccoon penis-bone earrings story. I want to get famous purely so someone can ask about the best thing I’ve ever read and I can be like “oh that’s easy. the first paragraph of a random article in Garden & Gun, hands down.”

I guess the most recent instance of this was when I learned that Michael Chabon’s upcoming book is about cake, outsider art, and a dog-eating snake. That’s basically my Tinder profile. But anyway it just happened again when I read this great thing where Stephin Merritt talks about his upcoming album, 50 Song Memoir, which has a song for each year of his life:
When someone asks me where I'm from, I have no short answer handy. The musical treatment shifts to reflect each locale, as exemplified by Alvin and the Chipmunks' album Around the World with the Chipmunks.
I honestly think that everything I've ever heard that guy say has entertained me. Magnetic Fields are one of my favorites live in part because when the audience claps he just scowls out at you. I'd like to think he'd do this even if he didn't have a hearing disorder.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

too much comics stuff is about performative shittiness

A thing I’m not crazy about on twitter is people who quote a tweet with the sole purpose of trying to make the tweeter look like an idiot. It has its purposes here and there (deplorables, celebrities, calling attention to something someone said to you, etc.), but mostly I’m not a fan of performative shittiness. It’s something I think about a lot--how to be mean in the right way, about the right things--and I’m not sure that I always get it right, or that it even matters, but I really, really try. Most of the time I try to stick your idea is stupid, and here’s why. That second part of that construction seems important. Not always, but very often.

I was thinking about this last night when someone quoted something I said about Fantagraphics last week with a comment along the lines of ‘JFC now I’ve seen it all, this liberal wants a white power Pepe’ and it just had a lot of levels…this performative shitty tweet implying that I’m a performative shitty person. It also touched on something I wonder about sometimes, which is if I’m perceived as contrarian when I blather on about something like Pepe the fucking frog, which I honest to god don’t even care about that much. I mean, on one level, I don’t want to be perceived as a contrarian because that makes me want to horror barf, but on another level I get that it doesn’t take much to be considered “contrarian” when it comes to comics. Comics seems to have a lot of groupthink, which seems like the natural byproduct of an incestuous industry. I’m not sure me having an out-there opinion is so much about me needing to differentiate myself as it is about other people’s need to assimilate. That’s probably just something that’s broken in me, spiritually and socially, but on the bright side I don’t have to go around defending a bunch of assholes all the time.

It's curious to me that anyone would find it controversial to say that Fantagraphics is a publisher that, historically, hasn't shown much interest in engaging in any dialogue with its audience about race. Apart from Fukitor there have been other big race-related dustups that they weren't too interested in talking about, I’m pretty sure. My problem with Gary Groth is that his answer to every question is “ART,” which strikes me as really condescending. That’s not an answer to the questions that are being asked. I think artists are sometimes wise to stay silent when people question the “merit” of their work or whatever, but a publisher…I don’t think it’s out of bounds to ask a publisher to articulate the thought process behind a given choice, or to challenge that choice, even.
I remain skeptical that the high-profile conversation Fantagraphics suddenly wants to have with the nation about interracial unity is centered on a stoner frog. I remain skeptical that the conversation is in fact about love and unity at all. I can think of no better time for Fanta to have gone hard on “art for art’s sake” than Pepe the frog, who's from a comic that sort of looks to be about nothingness, but of course that wouldn’t have played. I think Fanta should champion its artists, by all means; championing artists is a thing that Fantagraphics does really well. But making a pot-smoking frog who likes to pee on things a symbol of diversity? How is that anything other than opportunistic? Lord.

I mean, it’s complicated too because being opportunistic isn’t inherently bad. I can get behind a brand being opportunistic a lot more than I can get behind it saying that gang rape and race wars are avant garde, anyway. But building your brand on a conversation that you’ve refused to have with your core audience more than once? Pretending like you’re some sort of thought leader on this thing that you’re known for being kinda bad at? It’s hypocritical. I’m not outraged by that hypocrisy, but I am interested in it. I’m also interested in the way the people who celebrate people like Groth for his courage in being a dick are the same ones who get all shrill about his detractors not being respectful enough. I guess I think if you want to know more about Gary Groth's legacy you can read his Wikipedia. Like…that’s not really what I feel I have to offer in the 30 mins I have to think about comics today, or even care about paying my respects to other than to acknowledge it obviously exists. 

Matt Furie...obviously he’s an individual who isn’t accountable for Fukitor or whatever else. I guess he’s being opportunistic, but also it sounds like he lost money on this, and that sucks. Maybe when Nazis steal your creation and your money, whatever you want to do about it is fair game, no joke. Are you obligated to make sense when something bad happens to you? Is it semantic fuckery to wonder how this peeing frog symbolizes peace and love? Does anyone think that taking back pepe is fighting back against white supremacists? I don’t buy that. I think people feel bad for Matt Furie. I feel bad for Matt Furie! Jesus Christ, someone throw this dude a Kickstarter. It just seems more honest. I get that doesn’t reclaim his creation or whatever…but the creation is gone. Unless I’m very much mistaken, that ship has sailed. The #actually behind a meme is literally the opposite of a meme. I think Keanu said that once. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

let's talk about the cool kids

Some quick & dirty thoughts on Fantagraphics to start the week:

0. Me, previously
On Pepe (scroll down to #2). On Fukitor. Also one time I wrote whatever the opposite of fan fiction is, a little story in which the joke was that Gary Groth wears double sunglasses. Gary Groth wearing two pairs of sunglasses is the image you must sustain in your mind's eye as you read the rest of this post. Disclaimer: Yes, I know Fantagraphics turns water into wine and comics into art. I like plenty of Fantagraphics comics, believe it or not. This is not The Case Against Fantagraphics. This is just a critical glance at a brand that a lot of people don't like to criticize.

1. Here's why I'm still talking about Fukitor, which all my devices correct to "Nukitor" for some reason
Once upon a time, Gary Groth founded his punk rock boutique imprint on a comic from the bottom of the Verotik Comics reject pile, and I've been complaining about it ever since. Why bother talking about this limited-run comic that time should just forget? Why harp on a neo-nazi misogynist nightmare title when good ole Gary G has lifted so many artistes out of the gutter and into the light? Well, call me crazy, but when a publisher announces that he's founding an imprint to champion his company's core values, and the first title on that imprint "celebrate[s] the over-the-top slaughter of sublingual ethnic grotesques" punctuated with the "constant shoehorning of sexual violence," to quote Greg Hunter's heroic review, I think it's well worth making a note.

I don't intend to relitigate the whole argument about why publishing Fukitor wasn't really about freedom of speech because you either get that or you don't. Even if you buy that it has something to do with censorship, do you not find it curious that Fantagraphics didn't market this title based on the courage of its convictions? The press release that announced the launch of FU is such an exercise in folksy euphemistic language ("quirky, idiosyncratic, oddball, experimental, downright crazy") that it made Fukitor sound like something you might find at your neighborhood craft fair. And Groth himself seemed ill at ease talking about his controversial choice in this interview with Dan Nadel, choosing to focus on his own heroism instead of the value of the work: 
I think it’s a publisher’s obligation to take risks; I could probably publish safe, respectable “literary” comics or solid, “good,” uncontroversial comics for the rest of my life. I think it’s important, personally and professionally, to occasionally get outside your comfort zone. 
Was Fukitor really outside of Groth's comfort zone, though? Judging from his 2015 blog "In Solidarity," a collection of cartoons honoring the memory of the murdered cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, I would have to say no. I think the following images make it pretty clear that misogyny and anti-Muslim sentiments are in fact well within Groth's comfort zone.

Publishing racist and misogynist caricatures under the guise of "American values," free speech, etc...that is some shameful shit. Look around the impossible nightmare that is Decision 2016, and you will recognize it as a familiar strategy used by racists to disseminate racism. In the proud tradition of Jason Karns, an "artist" who likes to draw brown people exploding whenever he's not humping his cardboard cutout of Lady Death, let me try my hand at this whole satire thing: Everything about the way Gary Groth handled that whole situation smacked of racism--maybe not the kind that believes in white power, but the kind that gets its kicks by promoting the outdated idea that a comic about killing Muslims and ritualized gang rape is the very essence of cool. My new sub-blog "quintessential shallow brigade" is going to run a webcomic in which Glenn Danzig gives Groth's edgelord ass a noogie and steals both pairs of his sunglasses before flying off on a dragon with his girl. haha, just kidding. That was satire and I definitely do not experience a strange stirring in my soul, an almost sexual satisfaction, when visualizing a Misfits-era Danzig ripping up Gary Groth's favorite Hunter S. Thompson poster into little tiny pieces and making him cry. It would be ludicrous for anyone to imagine that I harbor elaborate fantasies along those lines. Am I doing this right?

2. There have been several other occasions on which Fantagraphics' marketing strategies have bugged me
I'm going to do something annoying and describe a situation in really vague terms in the hopes that I don't Candyman one of my least favorite comics bullies into my life. Here's something I saw on twitter one time: a random said something wrong, but also not wrong, about Fantagraphics' publishing history (with no tag, just the word 'fantagraphics'). Fantagraphics comes trucking into the random's mentions with a long list of cartoonists that they @, one being the aforementioned bully. The bully was then shitty and mean to the random. I guess you'll have to take my word for it, but it was extremely predictable that this bully would be shitty and mean to the random. So predictable that it's almost as though Fantagraphics wanted this random to get bullied. And when I say "almost" I mean I think that is definitely what they wanted, because from what I can tell, the marketing team at Fantagraphics wasn't born yesterday. To wit:

3. Pepe: Peace, love, and...peeing on stuff?
I already talked about this at length the other day, so I'm going to keep this brief. Whoever at Fantagrapics sold Time magazine on the outrageous pitch of "urinating stoner frog is #actually about interracial harmony for some reason" deserves a goddamn raise. I'm not even joking; that is an incredible piece of public relations work. Can you even imagine? Oh hey, Time magazine! Do we have an idea for you! You know that cartoon Trump frog you've been seeing around? Well, actually, he likes to smoke marijuana and pee with his pants down. Your readers are going to love him. We're going to put you in touch with cartoonist Matt Furie, who's going to reclaim his creation in the name of peace and love. Also as a special bonus, he will make a joke that actually includes the words "boo done nutted I high as fuck." Millennials are going to just eat it up, Time magazine. Trust me." 

I mean, I suppose if murdering brown people and raping women is about free speech, then it makes sense that a frog whose main attribute, by every account, is urinating with its pants down is about loving your neighbor. That's called logic, and I can't argue with it.

The three points above aren't meant to present a coherent argument so much as to provide a constellation of things to think about. We're talking about a lot of different things: a founding publisher who's still shadowboxing foes that were defeated long ago; his publicists, who are professionals paid to make him look like less of an asshole; and Fantagraphics' roster of artists, whose beliefs and agendas or missions can't be described in any uniform way. From Peanuts to Love & Rockets to Fukitor, there are many faces of Fantagraphics. What's curious to me is the cult of personality surrounding Groth. In part that's because the big-platform writers who hype comics to non-comics readers (you know, the Big Three--each of whom is the worst in his own special way) are ambassadors for Fanta (and for Comics) as much or more than they're critics of it. Whether it's ideology or a literal comic book, it's worth thinking about what all these different parties are selling, and why--and whether or not you're buying it. Even when you do buy it, watch the way these parties interact with the people who don't. I promise you it's illuminating.

Friday, October 14, 2016

here's some comics links

Here are some rambling thoughts on the comics things I've been reading and thinking about this week.

1. 164 Days, by Tim O'Neil
  • I read this twice, and the second time I didn't skip the Star Wars parts. That's unprecedented in my life, I think. "Don't read the Star Wars parts" is the closest thing I have to a code.
  • On a sheer technical level I'm very impressed by this writing...not just in terms of the "surprise ending," as Tim called it (though I think that was extremely well done), but the fragmentation, the disorientation, the relentless dreariness, the jumps in time, the circling back, the judicious use of poetic turns of phrase in the central the writing itself evokes the experience of the writer--that is just very impressive to me and relevant to the things I'm interested in talking about. I actually wrote a thing recently where I use fragmentation to much less effect. There's a sort of thread in this piece too, the paradox of "I understand on some level that I'm good at writing, but I feel like all these other people are better" that speaks to my own insecurities, but the difference between this and anything I've ever written is that you could teach this essay in a class. I expect there's something in there that speaks to everyone. A few different things spoke to me.

  • Re: the quote above, the kind of comics writing I like to read is the kind I like to write: personal. Idiosyncratic. And probably my very favorite subgenre within that is one that's totally fascinating to me because it's so far outside my own experience: the "my messed up relationship to comics" confessional. (Remember that little blip that Joe McCullough wrote for Zainab last year, for example? I just thought that was so great.) Anyway this essay was not just that--that's just sort of one theme, one identity among many--but I found those flashes to be some of the most interesting parts of an essay with a lot of interesting parts. (I also liked the part about Swamp Thing very much.) I find a lot of comics writing very clinical, or very boring, or very didactic...just that someone was willing to lay out their life in a piece like this...I don't know, that moves me. Just an incredible piece. People talk about comics criticism as this barren landscape, but it's such a crazy gift that there are people out there writing like this. 

2. Yet another thing on Pepe the Frog
  • NB: This is not that thing where Jeet Heer somehow made it all about Krazy Kat because of course he fucking did. (Pretty sure Comics is basically a Dan Brown book about R. Crumb and Krazy Kat having a child.) It's an interview with a Fantagraphics editor who approaches Ted Rall levels of shrill about the "half-truths" about the Pepe explainer on Hillary Clinton's website.
  • The "take back Pepe" agenda, as articulated by this editor, is super confusing to me. Like, he doesn't want Matt Furie's name erased from history, yet he says his main goal is for people to not associate Matt Furie with white supremacists. Just from a logistical standpoint I feel like these two things are mutually exclusive at this point, even if they shouldn't be? :(
  • Extremely unpopular opinion: I've seen a lot of comics people bang on about the tragic saga of Pepe, and I just...where to start. On an intellectual level I get it. I'm not a monster; I understand why it would be painful for an artist to see his creation become a meme (even a benign one, much less a vile racist one). Also I should probably preface what I'm about to say by acknowledging the possibility that I'm just grossly underestimating this work. I've seen a few panels, read a few interviews. I'm not well informed on the oeuvre of Matt Furie...nor will I ever be, which is sort of the point. How many people who never knew Boys Club are looking at Pepe the frog and thinking, "I've got to know the name of the genius who drew this incredible thing." No normal person is going, hold the fucking phone, can someone please tell me the fascinating history of how some frog peed in a comic book.  Is it me or are there 20 articles out there explaining how that frog pees? "This hate meme is derived from Real Art about a frog pees with his pants down"...I don't know, maybe that's a selling point to someone else, but I guess I'll pass. I guess the entire world assumes that a random on reddit drew it, which is unfortunate, but IMO a completely understandable mistake. Which leads me to my next point...
  • Extremely unpopular opinion II: People keep asking why this happened. It seems like I've read about a dozen articles by comics folks with increasingly histrionic questions about how a stoner frog has been appropriated by neo-nazis. Who will crack this case? Let me float a theory: because it's easy for dumb vacant people to project stuff onto something that itself looks dumb and vacant, even if looking dumb and vacant is purposeful and that's sort of the joke. I saw Michael DeForge tweet something like, 'this whole situation is my worst nightmare,' but the thing is I'm pretty confident that 4chan isn't going to be co-opting the characters of Michael DeForge any time soon. Nor will they be co-opting the characters of Simon Hanselmann, just to pick a more pertinent example. Why? I don't know, just think about it, I'm starting to feel too mean about this.
    • Exhibit A: presented without comment
    • Exhibit B: Here's Furie interviewed in a different piece: "I woke up one morning to a flood of emails and calls from media trying to interview me. I had never heard of the alt-right or any of that stuff—even white nationalism—I don't know about that shit. I'm learning about that stuff with you, about what the hell is going on. And unfortunately I think it's giving this fringe group more attention." He goes on to say that the Pepe appropriation is about "intellectualizing white power." I don't know, is turning someone's piss frog into a nazi intellectualizing it, really? Is it better if the answer is yes or no??
  • I'm not anti-artist, I'm sorry this happened to Matt Furie (truly), I'm horrified by the idea that it's made him lose actual income, I hate myself, I'm trying to erase it, etc. etc. but I submit to you that the fact that Comics cannot  seem to grasp why normals don't care about "taking back Pepe" is maybe the entire problem with Comics. (Well, that and raping.) It's nice to promote Furie's work if you like it, for sure, but i just feel like I've seen a lot of disingenuous chatter. Fantagraphics and their whole 'pepe is love'...okay. Well, what was that fucked-up blog with weird drawings of Muslims that Gary Groth curated last year? Was that about love too? What about that zany classic  Fukitor? From where I'm sitting some of those things don't look so different than whatever Pepe subredditors are up to. 'Pepe is copyrighted.' That's what we're talking about, is it not?
  • I don't know, I hate stoner culture. Stoner culture is not my thing at all. Maybe it's just a matter of taste.
3. Abhay Khosla goes in on Devin Faraci
  • Someone raised the issue of what's to be done with Devin Faraci, and I think that's an important and difficult question. All the points made here about why Faraci hasn't been fired/dropped from existing projects make sense to me. And that's unfortunate, because it then becomes this more diffuse question of what should we as a 'community' be doing...which is a useless question, in my opinion. But maybe we can think about it in terms of what we, as individuals, should be doing. A few thoughts to that effect:
    • The first thing that comes to mind is accountability. Devin Faraci needs to admit what he did and APOLOGIZE for it, and stop framing it in terms of his (inevitable) redemption. Whether it's on Twitter or behind closed doors, his colleagues, friends, etc. need to be raising the question of what the fuck is up with what Faraci said to the victim on Twitter and the statement he made subsequently. Pay attention to the language Faraci uses here: 
    • “This weekend allegations were made about my past behavior. Because I take these types of claims seriously I feel my only honorable course of action is to step down from my position as Editor-in-Chief of Birth.Movies.Death. I will use the coming weeks and months to work on becoming a better person who is, I hope, worthy of the trust and loyalty of my friends and readers.” 
    • Oh sure! Sure. that's Devin Faraci, all right: just honorable as anything, a feminist who believes women even when their experience has no correlation whatsoever with his own lived reality. Someone--everyone?--needs to call this out as the completely unacceptable bullshit that it is. (You know, like no one did with Chris Sims.)  
    • The idea that Faraci doesn't remember this incident...I don't know. I suppose it's possible he had some sort of substance abuse problem, and he knows he did stuff like that, and so just assumes he did any terrible thing someone tells him about? That's the only plausible explanation I can come up with. (Though, if that's the case, say that. Don't say "I have no idea what you're talking about, but I believe women, because I'm a hero.") At the same time...and this is just a hard thing to accept and stomach...I know that there are a lot of men in the world who do things like that and never give it a second thought. The first year I moved to Chicago, I was walking to a show in Wrigleyville right after a Cubs game had just gotten out. A man passing by ran his hand from my crotch up the length of my body, then groped my's not like it's the worst thing that's happened to me, but that's something I think about a lot even now, more than 10 years later. There's the things that people will do to you behind closed doors, and the things they'll do in public, and each is its own kind of horror. I carry it with me, that getting felt up by a stranger is among the things that might happen while I'm walking down the sidewalk. I don't think for a second that guy has even thought about it once, including in the moment he was actually doing it. The inequity of that... I just think about how the incident with Faraci has haunted this poor girl for so many years, and how it clearly hasn't haunted him even a little. I seriously doubt it haunts him now, apart from whatever personal inconvenience it's causing him. What a fucking piece of shit. I guess that's another thing: we, as individuals, should take every opportunity to say what a fucking piece of shit that guy is. 
  • The parallels between the career trajectories of Faraci and Chris Sims are disturbing front to back, but particularly in that they built their reputations in part by vehemently denouncing the very things they were doing behind the scenes. Someone more informed than me needs to have a good long think about the mechanics of how that happens. It's clearly a thing, right?
  • It's been interesting to see some people talk about Faraci as a known entity. I'd never even heard of him. But anyway it's such a fragmented broadcast system, the way we talk about sexual predators in comics. I don't know, that one probably  actually is a question for the "community." 
  • The parts of that rant where Khosla sort of kind of identified with Faraci...that somehow put me in mind of that song where Sufjan Stevens compares himself to John Wayne Gacy. I think the idea that it's bad to like porn and strippers is surely more retrograde than the act of liking porn and strippers? Don't feminists love porn and strippers these days? I don't know, I ask this as someone who recently saw a woman breastfeeding in the candy aisle at Walgreens and almost killed myself. Sometimes it's difficult to parse your own feminist failings. 
4. Speaking of Faraci, I saw a tweet from a locked account that made me laugh very hard. It said: 
Devin Faraci is only one datum in a massive body of evidence that Dr. Fredric Wertham was right about comic books in the 50s.
That just struck me as very funny. I salute you, anon person on twitter.

5. Hey, did you know that Alan Moore “performed a rap about demagoguery…with his face painted to resemble a mandrill” during Brexit? That's just one little fun fact I learned reading this incredible thing a few weeks ago. Finally FINALLY someone has tweeted a photograph of Alan Moore in full mandrill makeup and it (a) far exceeded my extremely high expectations and (b) is definitely what you see before you die.

Jesus Christ.

6. Vulture talks to Walter Mosley about comics stuff
My imaginary nemesis has been working overtime at the Luke Cage #content factory to bring us this interview with Walter Mosley, which I enjoyed. Take it away, Walter: 

7. Finally, while this is not comics, it is literally one of the best things I've ever read. The article's fine but the part I really love is the end, with the quotes from musicians talking about what it's like to work with David Lynch. There are countless gems, but Julee Cruise was definitely my favorite. 

This is sexual. You are coming. What does David Lynch whispering even sound like, given the "real loud, hard-of-hearing way he talks"? (-Trent Reznor) Hold my calls--I'm going to be very busy thinking about this for the rest of my life.