This is all playing out on the tweeter, but since I’ve been chronicling the comings and goings at comics media for a while now, this seems germane to archive. I’ve given screenshots rather than links most of the time, so you won’t have to give clicks to troubling sites.
On Wednesday, Bleeding Cool published an interview with noted white supremacist Vox Day, the man behind the “Sad Puppies” movement in SF circles. That Day’s beliefs are neo-Nazi is not in dispute, so much so that when it was shown that the current C•micsate crew was collaborating with him, some Cgate followers made a show of being perplexed and disturbed.
Day is getting into comics publishing, so perhaps there was a thin thread of news here. The BC piece, bylined by Mark Seifert, included a lengthy, rambling intro and various annotations to Day’s answers that seemed to be fact checking him. It was a long, confusing shambling mess that rather than fact checking Day’s Holocaust denial beliefs, legitimized them by engaging.
Now let me throw in right here that Day can be the subject of legitimate journalistic inquiry as in this interview on Reveal. But this was not that.
Needless to say the outcry on comics twitter was immediate and harsh. So harsh that by the EOD yesterday, the interview had been removed and Bleeding Cool had been reorganized, with Kaitlyn Booth taking over as editor in chief and issuing an apology:
— Bleeding Cool (@bleedingcool) October 12, 2018
So what just happened here?
Some people seeing that Booth has assumed the EIC role meant that Rich Johnston had been fired, but Johnston has never held the EIC title at BC. Just who does what on Bleeding Cool is a shadowy affair. They have literally the worst “About” page I’ve ever seen.
Doing a search reveals the text that was blacked out, and I can see why you’d want to hide it since upskirts are sexual misconduct.
Welcome to BleedingCool.com – the site written by Rich Johnston and friends, managed by Mark Seifert, and many columnists and friends for Avatar Press.
This site doesn’t just pull back the curtains of the comic book industry, but gives you a series of upskirt shots. But as well as news, rumours and gossip, there are reviews, previews, features, interviews, videos, columns and a place for comic book readers to call their own. Whatever your tastes from mini comics by Sean Appozardi to blockbuster events by Geoff Johns, from the Guardianista middle class commentary of Posy Simmonds to the righteous right hook of Chuck Dixon, from Rob Liefeld’s cankles to Robert Crumb’s thighs, from Frank Quitely’s OctoMumLips to Frank Cho’s shapely hips, you’re welcome here.
Seifert was listed as the site’s managing editor in his bio:
Johnston is listed as head writer in his.
Seifert had recently been writing a series called “Marvel Declassified” that showed the same kind of rambling, conspiracy theory “secret knowledge” attitude as the Day intro. It reads like the work of someone from a 90s episode of X-Files who just got a 48 baud modem.
As the controversy raged, Johnston claimed that he had nothing to do with the interview and was helpless to do anything about it:
This claim was contradicted by Day himself:
I’ll leave you to sort out who is telling the truth here.
The reaction has been predictable: claims from Day’s dark internet followers that ideas are being suppressed, etc etc. More internet turmoil to distract and depress.
As a sidelight to all of this, Indiegogo has shut down Day’s current campaign to fund Alt-Hero: Q, a book about QAnon, yet another bizarre internet conspiracy theory. The book was to have been written by Chuck Dixon, and Day is saying they’ll set up their own crowdfunding portal to get it published.
I have neither the time nor fortitude to sort out these levels of internet paranoia and speculation, but I’ll add one thing: one of the reasons that decent comics folk continue to support BC with interviews and exclusives is because it is a direct conduit to comics retailers. For whatever reason, retailers take BC as gospel and it’s the only comics news site they give any credence. I was reminded of that the other day when the Beat broke a story about Batman #56 gold foil damages. The Beat has decent retailer contacts – including several contributors from the retail community – and this was solidly sourced, but at least one commenter was having none of this:
Well if it’s not on BC it can’t be true!
Of course, later on BC did cover the gold foil issue:
While Johnston has yet to confront Day’s claims that he was involved in the interview, he still has tried to wiggle out of culpability:
At the very least, Johnston seems to have very little idea how the internet works these days. Hopefully Booth will have a better grasp on that.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.