Derf’s cover for the Éditions çà et là 10th anniversary catalog

The other day, Tom Spurgeon linked to a Facebook post by cartoonist T Edward Bak in which he frets about the “money vs art vs oh god what the hell am I doing” feeling that many in the indie world are having, and which we’ve written about many times. In response I was about to go link to a fantastic FB post by Derf Backderf in which he talks about being a cancer survivor and what he’s done since—delivered the great book My Friend Dahmer, continued to cartoon, enjoyed life with his family, travelled the world. It was a wonderful life affirming post that puts a lot of things into perspective.

But….it was gone.

Along with the rest of Derf’s lively, informative FB page. Becuase Facebook decided that “Derf Backderf” isn’t a real name and turfed his entire account. Never mind that Backderf is his real name and Derf is a long-running nickname that’s good enough for the LIbrary of Congress. Not good enough that he’s won awards, appeared on TV and is a real life person that I and many others have had lunch with. Not good enough for Facebook.

Ever pragmatic, Backderf has already started a new page under his Christian name, John Backderf, but yeah, every other post and conversation lost.

If the Sony hack has taught us anything, it’s that maybe saving every thing on the web for all times isn’t a good idea, but we put our whole lives out in the hands of a few digital players….and they can take it all away in a heartbeat. I wrote a few months ago about how my Tumblr account was removed overnight for some infraction that was never explained to me. I managed to get it back but…oh the humanity. And of course, Google decided that I’m a porn site and took away my AdSense revenue.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: DON’T TRUST PROFIT SEEKING COMPANIES TO LOOK OUT FOR YOUR BEST INTERESTS. And Don’t put all your digital eggs in one basket! A few years ago a lot of cartooners switched over to FB as their main outlet, and I can see why — instant feedback from your peers, instant community. But it can all be taken away in an instant for reasons that don’t have anything to do with real life, just silly rules made by people who don’t seem to have any interaction with real life. (Just try to contact a Real Human at Google OR Fb.)

WordPress is also a profit seeking enterprise, but at least they give you the tools to do with as you please. Setting up your own site under your own URL takes a few minutes and a few bucks a year and gives you your OWN turf to do with as you please. It’s amazing that we’ve been given all these great tools for free, and we should take advantage of them, but don’t get seduced into think it’s all for OUR benefit.

As for the malaise thing, I quite enjoyed this quote from Mark Hamill on returning to the role of Luke Skywalker:

Given a second chance at playing Skywalker, three decades after that hero’s journey, the now 63-year-old actor says he tried to appreciate the experience more than he did before. Back when he made the original trilogy, he was just launching his career and the pressure was on. This time he said it was different than when he wrapped shooting on Jedi in 1982. “It’s kind of like Scrooge on Christmas morning. ‘Oh my God, this time I’m going to appreciate it in a way I wasn’t able to as a young man,’” Hamill says. “The fact that it is so special to so many people … it’s hard to believe you could take something for granted like that.”



  1. My takeaway from this is that it’s always a good idea to use your real name (both first and last) on things like Facebook pages unless you have a safety issue that prompts you to be pseudonymous.

  2. (I liked Hamill’s line that “We knew it was special, but [returning for the new trilogy] reminded me of taking out a pair of trousers from the back of the closet and discovering a $20 bill in the pocket.”)

    Agreed on all fronts, though. FB is fun, but we’re all just renting the place month to month.

  3. Elayne, its never a good idea to use your real name on the internet, unless you are independent of Employers, insurance companies and banks and never itend to cross aborder again..I miss hanging out in bars anyway.

  4. He should sue Facebook. The publicity alone would be great PR. Creatives should be able to use professional Pen and stage names.

    My brother got his account blocked for the same reason btw. Even though he’s been going by his obscure middle name (old family name) for his entire life, Facebook decided it sounded fake, so he had to scan his ID and go by the first name that none of his friends or family know him by. (because legal middle names that appear on your drivers license don’t count either)

  5. As I told him, it sounds like some Facebook employee on a power trip, otherwise Tom Tomorrow, Tony Millionaire and others would others have the same problem. If we stretch the logic further I should only be allowed to use Samuel and not Sam. There’s no reason he be kicked off after several days he’s argued his case and provided evidence that for all intents and purposes it is his real name. There’s a huge difference between a pen name and a sock puppet.

  6. This is why I’ll use sites like Facebook and Tumblr for what they offer, but I will always own my own domains and contract the hosting of my own web sites. The worst any company can do to me unilaterally is to force me to take my business elsewhere.

  7. Late to this but Amen to this article. I’m surprised at how many folks are just chucking their websites and going exclusively with FB & Tumblr. They may seem free but nothing is anymore. One thing I was warned about long ago and never forgot was not to post original comics and other content to FB – only the *links* to the work. Yeah, you’ll get less “likes” and less looks, but better you should keep FB’s grubby paws off of owning your work.

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