by Jamison Ashley
[Updated with a good summary of the legal ramifications via embedded video at the end of this post]
Last week we reported that the Indiegogo campaign for Jawbreakers: Lost Souls had been picked up by Antarctic Press as the funding campaign had netted nearly $200,000 in capital. Antarctic Press publicly and enthusiastically announced it via their social media sites on Wednesday night as the initial crowdfunding deadline was nearing an end.
Immediately following the announcement, several comic book shops who loathed Jawbreakers writer Richard Meyer’s style of criticisms and insults began colluding on a private Facebook group called “Final Order Cutoff” by planning to refuse to carry the Jawbreakers: Lost Souls book in their shops. Many even saying that they would refuse pre-paid preorders and would let Antarctic Press know what they thought of the decision to publish the book. When this devious subterfuge was revealed, Meyer took to his Twitter account and named a few of the stores involved, even including the manager’s name and store phone number of many of the establishments who had said they would not be carrying the book, ostensibly to show his fans which stores would not be carrying the book so they could avoid wasting their time looking for it there or even ordering it from them.
Once word got to Marvel Comics writer Mark Waid that Antarctic Press was planning to publish the apolitical series, Waid immediately took to his Facebook page to “virtue signal” to his fans by informing them that he had just contacted Antarctic Press to let them know personally what he thought of Richard Meyer in the hopes to ‘educate’ them as to who who they were getting into business with.
Seems a bit unhinged for a Marvel Comics writer to publicly write something so raw on a public platform, doesn’t it? And is it ethical for him to insert himself into another company’s business decisions? And what does this line mean?
“I would take active steps to shut that shit down in a cocaine heartbeat“.
Could this be interpreted as a threat? Exactly how familiar with the effects of cocaine on the human body is Mark Waid?
Almost immediately, other shops who were following this story began announcing they would not in any way be willing to carry the book. Although, this was merely publicly confirming what Richard Meyer had already revealed that they privately planned to do in their private Facebook group.
It’s very surprising that some retailers would try to stop selling what could potentially be one of the biggest sellers in 2018. Mark Waid, for his response, tried to imply that Meyer had shared “personal information” about store employees with his analogy/story, but most people knew that the only info that Meyer shared was publicly available in most Yellow Pages or Facebook “about” sections on each of the stores’ business webpages.
Within a few hours, Antarctic Press withdrew their support for Jawbreakers, and publicly announced that they had decided to not release the series. One telling line from this announcement was where they wrote “Many forces, many of them should be viewed with great trepidation about how our society acts, have led us to this decision“.
Exactly which forces should be viewed with “great trepidation”? Who set off the fear and agitation? Certainly not supporters of the book.
After months of Meyer criticizing these bullies in the comic book industry, via his popular Youtube channel (ironically named “Diversity & Comics,”) they responded by criticizing Meyer and calling him a “failed comic creator” and telling him that he should go do his own comic, or simply die. How fitting that Meyer did go on to create his own comic and it immediately outsold them all. In fact, as it stands at the time of this writing, Jawbreakers: Lost Souls has raised over $269,000.00+ (US) through the support of nearly 7,100+ backers. That’s far more people or units than the average OGN or TPB from Marvel or DC sells in a month. In fact, Jawbreakers: Lost Souls is arguably the highest-funded and most successful comic book project on IndieGogo or Kickstarter. See for yourself here.
One might be forgiven for presuming that any reasonable comics retailer would welcome the possibility of driving up their sales, but ideology is apparently more important than successful business practices. Meyer and his team are exploring their legal options to see if there is a case to be made here about whether this action on Waid’s part was legal and within what is considered a fair business practice.
Since this brouhaha took place, Mark Waid went silent on Facebook, even shutting down his Facebook account and all other social media accounts, leading rumors to surface that Marvel / Disney intervened. The following screencap from Reddit is unverified, but much of it seems plausible:
This is no less than a PR disaster for Marvel Comics. It was certainly an avoidable controversy, but Mr. Waid has to “virtue signal” whenever he inserts himself into a cause he feels is righteous. Imagine if he had simply stayed under the radar and called Antarctic Press privately instead of announcing it to the whole internet what he planned to do. Furthermore, exactly what is a “cocaine heartbeat”? I don’t know and I’m relatively sure that Disney doesn’t want to know either. Mark has possibly all but destroyed his reputation with this debacle.
For their part, adding to their long list of attacks on Richard Meyer, our very own inspiration fully blamed Meyer for this dust-up in a wildly one-sided post and protected Mark Waid, which isn’t the first time they’ve defended attacks by Mark Waid. In fact, he once even threatened to punch one of their staff writers in the face. This is the same writer who has said it was the job of the stronger to protect the weak, but what kind of analogy can be made of one of the biggest comic creators working in the industry today to shut down the publishing deal of an up & coming creator? What does it say that he threatens to punch lowly BleedingC00l writers in the face? Or that he is willing to interrupt a comic convention panel where he is a guest just so he can confront someone he disagrees with? And exactly what the hell is a “cocaine heartbeat” for that matter? Does Mr. Waid require a psychological evaluation/intervention at this point? Anyone have C.B. Cebulski’s number?
For Antarctic Press’s part, they immediately suffered backlash from the thousands of supporters of Jawbreakers, and attempted some much needed damage control by insisting that they were not bullied into making their decision. Even some other Antarctic Press freelancers chimed in to say they too were uncomfortable with Meyer and his divisive rhetoric.
So what now for Jawbreakers: Lost Souls? The detractors and haters of Richard’s arguably offensive style of criticisms of various creators and books have told him to go do his own comic book, and so he did, even scoring a publishing deal. In response, those haters did everything they could to destroy that deal and they succeeded, for now, but at what cost to their own reputations? Now Richard Meyer, along with artist Jon Malin, and colorist Brett R. Smith are launching their own imprint publisher and are calling it “Splatto del Gatto Comics”, or “Splatto Comics” for short. The name is inspired by a funny bit Meyer did from a panel in the recently cancelled America Chavez comic and is also the name of Meyer’s alternate Youtube Channel.
We spoke to one of the creators, and one-time Marvel comics artist, Jon Malin about their future plans for the series.
“The intent is to publish through Diamond although we know the SJWs will likely try to get Diamond to block us,” Malin says “it’ll be a hurdle we’ll deal with if it happens. However, I believe the crowdfunding approach is all we need. It’s very simple, with no hoops to jump through, very easy to ship.”
When asked about getting their books into comic shops, Malin responded,
“We’ll give traditional publishing a chance, I’m a strong supporter of retailers and it’d be great to have them back us. Digital comics are also a possibility, but I’d rather stay away from them for piracy reasons. We have the benefit of building an audience directly through YouTube and social media, and we’re all pretty good with the fans and they support us because of that.”
As for Malin’s take on this debacle, he told us
“The problems in this industry run deep and are multi-tiered, but we have allowed an element to enter our industry and rot it from the inside, turning once challenging stories into a swamp of mediocrity and one-sided, agenda driven propaganda. We should all agree on a fair balance of world views geared toward our youth that is being mainlined with colorful costumes and agree on a message from all sides to not judge people on the color of their skin, even if it’s white, or their sexual orientation, even if it’s hetero, but only on the content of their character and abilities. Balance is needed, what’s fair for one should be fair for all.”
Ethan Van Sciver, a popular DC Comics artist, who is also no stranger to controversy, has been commissioned to do a variant cover for those IndieGogo fans who supported Jawbreakers: Lost Souls at a higher tier. When asked about this controversy, Sciver told us:
“I thought it was tragic, but I understood and I expected it. The difference between publishing any other right-wing, political comics and this one is that this one is the project driven by the guy behind Diversity & Comics, and this weirdo cult of SJWs and their handlers must not let him succeed.”
Ethan continued “[Meyer] is the bee in their weirdo, culture war bonnet. That’s their red line. They really have become a destructive nuisance to this industry. Zack [Richard Meyer] does his videos and his targets seem to be Twitter-drama perpetrators who meet up together thru private conversations to spread rumors, create targeted harassment campaigns, and disrupt the lives of openly republican creators who work in comics. There was a time when I cared about this, but that time has long since passed. I’m here to create comics, merchandise, and content for fans of a hobby that’s currently in financial decline. I, and he, and anyone else, don’t require the permission of far left activists to kick their asses.”
Speaking to Breitbart News, writer Richard Meyer explained that Splatto Comics will be comic-centered.
“That’s what we love. That’s our thing that we do. It’s going to be a variety of things. Exclusive crowd-funding campaigns, for example my Iron Sights graphic novel might only be available in IndieGoGo. The 112-page one is exclusive. It will not be in stores in that 112 page thing. The only way you can ever get this is through this IndieGoGo. We are going to do exclusive IndieGoGo’s for something like Iron Sights probably. We are moving forward on a way to get the book into brick and mortar stores like Barnes & Noble and Amazon and things like that. And then we’re also going to go for things like maybe taking the Jawbreakers Digest through the traditional route into comic book stores through Diamond.”
Breitbart News also spoke to colorist Brett R. Smith about the situation, and the need for more content to cater to the large market of conservative Americans.
“We were able to turn Clinton Cash into a New York Times number one bestseller and I just don’t think that’s a fluke. And then you look at the reaction to Jawbreakers, there really is a huge underserved audience out there, you see that with [the TV series] Roseanne, 28 million people turning up to watch her, you see that now with Last Man Standing coming back.
Then you see it with things like American Sniper, or the Passion [of the Christ], when something is catered towards the mass majority of the country in a commercial way that doesn’t lecture, people eat it up. And it’s not that any of it is political, I get back to the fact that it’s pro-Western culture. That’s really kind of the bullseye that we need to focus on, does it advance Western culture and Western philosophies, and if it doesn’t we’re not interested in it, I don’t wanna do it.
[Jawbreakers] is not political at all, it’s just total, pure, escapist entertainment which I think people are craving because that’s why we go to entertainment, is to get away from all this stuff. And yet, we’re bombarded with it, even when we turn on the football game or a TV series.”
How should the fans and supporters of Jawbreakers and Diversity & Comics respond to Mark Waid channeling his inner ‘Joss Whedon’ and inserting himself into the Antarctic Press publishing deal? It isn’t the first time Mark Waid has courted controversy when it comes to Richard Meyer. At last year’s Baltimore Comic-Con, he instructed his fans that if they saw Meyer at the comic convention, they should immediately find and notify him, even if it meant interrupting his panel discussion, so that he could confront Meyer personally over what he considered harassment of his friends. In fact, this is essentially where the #ComicsGate hashtag got started when sci-fi writer Jon Del Arroz discovered that several comic pros where plotting to harass Meyer at a convention. Afterwards, nearly 1000 fans signed a petition for Waid to be dis-invited from the convention for that very reason, but clearly Waid has not learned any lesson from this. And it remains to be seen if Marvel or Disney will learn a lesson here.
Will legal action be forthcoming against Marvel Comics or against Mark Waid for interfering, restraining trade, or impeding the publishing deal of an independent comic creator? And perhaps more importantly, what exactly is a “cocaine heartbeat,” Mark?
Here is a very intriguing and informed summary by Minnesota lawyer Nick Rekieta of Rekieta Law on the possible legal ramifications of Mark Waid’s involvement, including Waid’s own published statements which appear to incriminate him: