Comics Journalism: Applying Pressure

November 2nd, 2012 by |

I got this email on Halloween about a comic. It was a comic produced by Percy Carey’s Arch Enemy Entertainment. I’ve been trying to get off basically every mailing list ever, since my inbox is a disaster zone, so I wrote back, in full, “Hi, please remove me from your mailing list.” as soon as I received the email.

At like 0500 this morning, I got this email from Carey, reproduced in full with the exception of his email signature: “What’s wrong with you? Tree said you were cool and I thought you were too over the phone but ok cool I will take you off David. But you made an enemy out of me. Tell Joe Hughes Percy Carey said hi.”

Ugh. I actually liked Sentences, his autobiography co-created with Ron Wimberly, a whole bunch. Book of the year status. But okay, whatever. I had another guy say that it’s “Weird when people do so much complaining about mainstream comics and WON’T read an indy book when you give it to them free.” when I asked to be removed from his mailing list, which was kind of funny, since I voted for his indy book in an awards show (which it won) and just didn’t want to be on a mailing list, free books or not. But it’s whatever whatever. Life goes on.

People are very close to their creative work, and I can’t blame them for feeling a pinch when someone displays disinterest (though it isn’t really that on my side, it is probably definitely that from the outside looking in) for their work. But the sun wasn’t even up yet so I made a mental note to drop him an email, despite the weak threat that he could get me fired, explaining that I’m not that type of journalist any more and I’ve removed myself from 99% of mailing lists. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve done that before, and it feels better than just not answering at all, which is probably wiser. And then I went back to sleep.

I get into a lot of wacky unintentional beef. I’ll say something that I don’t think is too bad and someone else gets mad at me. That has been 2012: Me Saying Things That Are Controversial Or Just Regular Old Opinions, People Getting Mad At Me For Saying Those Things. So I don’t know why I was surprised when I woke up to these:

Which… okay. Weird? Yes. But I guess he really wants to have that conversation. But, there are also these, which followed ten minutes later, I guess because I didn’t answer fast enough. I didn’t answer the tweets because they arrived at 0510, maybe 15 minutes after he sent me that email, and I was in bed, on my way back to sleep.

Joe, the guy Carey’s tweeting at, is my editor over at CA.

I feel like making big threats in an email is one thing. I know what “you made an enemy out of me. Tell Joe Hughes Percy Carey said hi.” implies. “We are not friends. Think about that fact and think about the fact that I know your boss and what that means.” I get it. I roll my eyes because it’s such an impotent display of power, but I get it.

But actually trying to get me fired by hitting up someone in a position of authority over me? Because I said “Hi, please remove me from your mailing list.” to an unsolicited email? Nah, son. I’m not the guy that gets bullied. You’ve got me confused.

This is one of the things you have to watch out for when writing about comics, or really any type of entertainment journo. People can and will try to pressure you into doing what they want you to do, and when you decline or object, you’re going to have a fight. You can ignore it and avoid the fight altogether, you can answer back and try to smooth it out, or you can answer back and escalate the situation, which is almost definitely what this post is going to end up being.

Don’t let anyone push you around. Put whatever spotlight you have on them if they try it.

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38 comments to “Comics Journalism: Applying Pressure”

  1. That is extremely embarrassing. I wish that I didn’t see that but thank you for opening the doors on this sort of behavior.

  2. Wow fuck that guy. I can’t wait to tweet that bitch telling him he’s lost sales directly because of his actions

  3. There’s nothing more ‘street’ than twitter tattling to someone’s boss.

  4. Thanks for writing that, David. I found myself on the oposite end of a MUCH milder dust-up with a journalist earlier this week (short version: we were both right but we still acted unprofessionally.) and it’s nice to hear the other side’s perspective. Yeah, creators work hard and nobody is every going to care about the work more than ourselves, but you guys are in the crosshairs much more often than we are. Creators need to learn some empathy and not be so thin-skinned with the press.

  5. :negativeman:

  6. Wow, that’s so immature and childish. The comic book world seems full of grown men who are incapable of acting like professionals. I am sure it’s just a vocal minority, after all, you don’t tend to notice when people carry on in a respectable matter, but it seems like a higher proportion than other creative circles.

  7. I’m convinced that this scenario must have been a lost sitcom plot from like fifteen years ago, back when society was still just tentatively figuring out how to make fun of the internet.

    (I’ve just imagined Kelsey Grammar as Frasier announcing “No one leaves my mailing list without a fight!”, and now I can’t mentally unhear it.)



  9. “You bruised my ego, so I’m gonna talk impotent garbage on the mean streets of Twitter to a guy who probably doesn’t give a shit about me either, in hopes that it will intimidate an apology out of you.”


  10. I also take every request to be removed from mailing lists as attacks upon my work and myself personally. Asking to be removed from lists is EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE, David! How DARE YOU

  11. Holy spaghetti, that’s just — I don’t even know whether to be angry at the guy for being an ass or just to feel sorry for him for being immature and useless. Never has the “Christ, what an asshole” thing been more appropriate. :/

  12. That seems very much like drunk-texting/emailing.

    I don’t know anyone involved but I’d be surprised if this weren’t followed by a sincere, sober apology.

  13. Christ.

    Placeholder so I can subscribe.

  14. Damn, Grimm, what the heck? I loved your book, and I’ve loved all the work you did with MF Doom. Why you gotta be that guy?

  15. An odd turn for the dude who quit Mayhem because of the marketing:

  16. What is the deal. Not only is he being a dumpus, but at 5 am??

  17. Wow, that dude’s hilariously childish.

  18. “MF GRIMM” needs to learn basic grammar and spelling if he wants to call himself a writer.

    That’s a totally unprofessional response to something I can imagine being somewhat stinging; had I gotten your “please remove me” note, I’d have felt a little hurt, too, but I’m a grown man who doesn’t think whining in public equals “going to war”. What immature nonsense.

    I’ve heard good things about Carey’s book, but life’s too short to further investigate the work of someone who behaves this way.

  19. Note to self: email lists are serious business

  20. You know, I get added to a lot of random comics press lists without being asked to be, presumably just because I work in comics. But I have no use for them, and have nothing to offer the people sending them. So I often asked to be removed for the same reasons as you. But what I don’t like is that I always feel slightly guilty doing so, afraid that I’m going to hurt someone’s feelings. I hate that. I shouldn’t feel guilty for asking someone not to send me mail that I never asked for in the first place. This man is a tool and should be embarrassed by his thin skin.

  21. Today, I got copied on some kind of PR for a Firefly fan costume something or other? Who knows. But the PR person forgot to BCC the recipients, and then the journos copied there started an open revolt — yelling at the person for sending them info they didn’t ask for and didn’t care about. That was kind of funny.

    This thing here is not.

  22. You know, if that request to be taken off the mailing list really was that curt instead of giving an explanation, then I could understand why someone would be a little upset. His reply wasn’t very mature, but I think it was understandable. The twitter shit, though. This is why twitter is the worst thing to happen to the internet. I NEVER hear anything about anything that goes on on twitter unless it has to do with someone making a fool of themselves.

  23. I used to run into this same thing when I was pretty active in certain independent music circles. It got so bad that I ended up developing a touchy-feely form letter I’d paste in when asking to be removed from independent label and band mailing lists. Even then, it wasn’t always effective.

  24. People always hate on someone when they speak their mind; screw those bums!!

  25. @Joe H: Yeah I agree twitter is pretty dang terrible.

  26. @Joe H: I think part of the problem is that David’s curt, honest request “please remove me from your mailing list” is refreshing in this culture. Think about it, why would anybody owe an explanation about why they don’t wish to see unsolicited solicitations?

    Anyway, Twitter is pretty cool. It’s like any other system, it can be used for good or for ill. In this case, it was used for ill. The platform does encourage terrible behavior at times, but more often than not, it encourages people to share silly jokes, or links to interesting items, or in the case of the past week, vital information in the case of emergencies. Any tool can be abused.

  27. That was an overreaction worthy of a Seinfeld episode.

  28. Just tweeted the twat. You have my full support David

  29. @Mike Fitz: I appreciate the sentiment, but I don’t need help, man. He already apologized. I don’t do the dogpile thing.

  30. I’m not really part of this discussion, but speaking as a self-published comic creator trying to get folks to notice his book, the guy that said “Weird when people do so much complaining about mainstream comics and WON’T read an indy book when you give it to them free” was right on the mark.

    Have a good day.
    G Morrow


  31. percey comes off strong on the internet but you have to try and remember his life experience is grounded elsewhere. think about his perspective. you asked to be removed from a list of a few, likely select contacts. why wouldn’t he take it personal? and why isn’t it confusing? you admit to appreciating his past work. why wouldn’t you want to be on the list? experienced writer/critic’s i have come across eventually develop a knack for differentiating between fanbots created by intermediary promotional agencies and more narrow, independently run campaigns. maybe those communications should be treated differently.

  32. […] This unpleasant exchange has been making the rounds, wherein a media subject threatens a media reporter. We like both of the parties so its sad to see […]

  33. I got a “take me off your mailing list” response from Warren Ellis once. At least he took the time to respond. :smugbert:

  34. […] Random Thought! As bad as I get it, I never get it as bad as David Brothers does. […]

  35. I wondered if he realized that when this got re-posted it would be the first time that plenty of potential customers (such as me) would read his name.

  36. @g@grandgood.com: “why wouldn’t you want to be on the list?”

    At the top of the page: “I’ve been trying to get off basically every mailing list ever, since my inbox is a disaster zone.” Makes sense to me. Why should he be on a mailing list? It’s not required for his job, and he doesn’t want to do it, so what business is it of anybody else’s?

  37. Soon, a new triple-album about how much it sucks to get shafted by David Brothers.

  38. M.F. Grimm writes comics now? Whoa!