On Ethan Van Sciver and #ComicsGate

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Ethan Van Sciver is a comics illustrator who is a 25 year veteran of comic book illustration.  When working at Marvel Comics he did stuff with X-MEN and creating characters for the television show THE GIFTED, as well as the first female Muslim X-Men character, DUST. At DC COMICS, he brought life back into the FLASH and GREEN LANTERN franchises with Geoff Johns, where they created the Emotional Spectrum, and began the REBIRTH initiative.

But none of Ethan’s work matters to some people. When Ethan’s critics describe him, they simply use political rhetoric.

On the evening of January 28th, this guy @-ed me in their Twitter thread. From what I could tell based on this one thread, a journalist claiming to work on behalf of The Atlantic had approached a comics illustrator about a piece they were writing on them. Things went south when the journalist blocked the illustrator and it became clear that the piece this person was writing would center around a harassment narrative.

This is essentially what I walked into.

WhoWasHarassingWho

Oh boy.

The mystery of who was harassing whom would have to wait. My first immediate concern was figuring out what exactly transpired between comics artist Ethan Van Sciver, and this journalist claiming to be with the Atlantic, Asher Elbein. His claim to fame was a piece on Marvel Comics’ Editor C.B. Cebulski, revealing his usage of a Japanese pseudonym and fake backstory.

Let’s start with the DM exchange between the two. Actually, it didn’t start off that way.

“I’ve been watching the Ethan Van Sciver harassment of @darrylayo over the weekend, and hearing stuff about him for a lot longer. I’d like to write about it for The Atlantic, so I’m putting out a call: if you’ve been harassed by him or his trolls, DMs and email are open,” Asher tweeted.

Ethan Van Sciver had to remind Asher to speak to him and ask him questions. “I’ll happily answer them all,” Ethan said.

Now let’s go to the DM exchange between the two. Posted on 3:56 PM – 28 Jan 2018:

Asher: Hey, Ethan. There’s quite a few allegations going around about bullying and abuse coming from your quarer, and there have been for a while. I wanted to reach out and let you know that I was working on a piece on the subject, and to give you a chance to respond. I’ll be honest I don’t like a lot of what I’ve seen. But I’m genuinely interested in what you have to say, and I’m open to being convinced. If you’re interested, you can reach me here. I’m generally available via DMs.

Ethan: What have you seen that’s concerned you, Asher?

Asher: Sorry! Want to give you my full attention, but I’m on deadline for another piece. Can we set up a time for a formal interview some time in the next few weeks?

Ethan: Probably not. Ask questions here, I’ll answer them. I’d like you to begin by finding this “harassment” of Mr. Ayo. He’s been calling me a Nazi for six months, I asked him to discuss it and work it out with me. he got very angry. I backed off and blocked him. This is being used to attack me, and I am surprised you can’t see that.”

Then boom Ethan Van Sciver was blocked for a brief period of time. Ethan presents the situation as a harassment campaign against him, with The Atlantic seemingly looking to profit from it. One tweet Ethan made earlier in the day is him assuring his fanbase he’s done nothing wrong. His employers over at DC Comics knew who was causing a stir, and Ethan had nothing to fear from that. Two tweets back, Ethan shares that people are accusing of “real time harassment” while he’s busy tweeting his fans and drawing all day.

With that in mind, it wasn’t too surprising to see that Asher’s blocking was a mistake. Asher alleged a user was harassing him, so he set up what’s called a “blockchain” so Asher could block all 16,600 people en masse that were following Ethan.

The complications weren’t over yet though. Regardless, Ethan still refused to answer Asher’s questions. Reason being was that a reporter affiliated with @CBR named Kieran Shiach let it slip that Asher Elbein was his friend. Why was that an issue? A week earlier, Ethan tweeted that Kieran was someone who was harassing people who work in comics who hold Republican viewpoints.

Ethan had reason to believe that this Asher guy was a set-up. 

This in itself proved to be such a botched disaster that the Atlantic’s editor-in-chief felt obligated to publicly clarify. He said Asher wasn’t an employee at The Atlantic, nor was he on an assignment for them here.

TheAtlanticEiCClarifiesEthanVanSciverSituation

Asher did so as well, making it clear he’s a freelancer who simply pitched a story about Ethan to them. He also explained the blocking mistake that caused Asher to cut himself off from Ethan. Despite the public display of professional ineptitude, Asher stated he’s still committed to reporting on the Ethan Van Sciver situation fairly.

But by now I had seen enough. Asher’s actions gave me little confidence in his capacity to be fair, so I felt obliged to look into the Ethan Van Sciver matter for myself.

So here we are. Back around the 2016 Presidential Elections, Ethan Van Sciver made it clear on Twitter he is a Trump supporter. “Every Republican who misjudged and underestimated @realDonaldTrump this whole time? THAT’S WHY YOU LOSE. Pathetic,” he tweeted. Comics industry big-wig Gail Simone quoted Ethan’s tweet and added: “Didn’t you mock him routinely as a terrible choice just a few months ago?” To which Ethan replied “He won me over a long time ago. My FB page is evidence. So great!!”

All hell broke loose. On that basis alone, people tweeted at DC Comics to get rid of Ethan Van Sciver. He had to protect his tweets until the public’s outrage calmed down. Ethan now had that label.

Kieran first came on board the “rail on EVS” train in late January 2017, saying he and Bill Willingham were going to make “Captain America great again” sarcastically. This was in reference to last year’s kerfuffle over Ethan being a Trump supporter.

On May 11th, 2017, Tim Doyle presented four screenshots from Facebook as evidence that “Ethan Van Sciver is either a legit homophobic Nazi or is pretending to be one.” Jerry Livengood would misattribute the “Uber Alles” image as from one of Ethan’s sketchbooks. Except it wasn’t. More on that later.

Pointing to a blog by one Alfie Norris, Tim Doyle charged Ethan as a “cyber stalker” and “a bully.” He asked DC Comics why they continue to employ him.

Mr. Doyle had this to say when I reached out to him for comment.

“So- yeah- I’m sure he won’t say he’s white supremacist- almost nobody does. I know people who wave confederate flags and support stopping brown people from coming to the USA who wouldn’t say that they’re white supremacist- that doesn’t make it true. The issue is- he is vocal about how ‘diversity’ is hurting comics, he partners with a youtube channel that puts forth an anti-diversity and anti-trans message, he makes gay jokes, he throws down a bunch of alt-right memes, and then he plays with Nazi imagery, right down to his signature, calls his art book ‘my struggle’…eventually you have to wonder- what the actual fuck is going on? if it honks like a goose, and it steps like a goose…eventually you have to admit, it’s a goose-stepping Nazi goose. it’s one thing for someone like Mel Brooks- a very liberal Jew, to make jokes about Hitler- it’s another when it’s someone who has very vocal racist supporters going out and doing his trolling for him.”

In response, Ethan Van Sciver had this to say.

“Tim Doyle is the most ideologically poisoned individual I think I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve only dealt with him third hand, online. For he has blocked me on social media, to harass me from behind a wall. He’s been described by other conservatives in comics as “gleefully sadistic,” and indeed, while he feigns sincerity on twitter, he laughs about his abuse or Republicans on Facebook, and in private messages. He recently joked that it would be “super sweet” if my career began on a comic called “Cyberfrog” and ended because I was a “cyber frog”, as in Pepe, the mascot meme that has suffered in reputation and become a symbol of the Alt Right. That would be funny to Tim. He’s into irony, except when it’s the ironic usage of Nazi imagery. Which he cannot fathom, because nobody has ever done that in the history of entertainment, in Tim’s brain.

Does he believe this, or is he just hoping to gaslight others into believing it? I can’t know. Does he realize that as a known Republican in comics, I’ve been abused and spat on, called a Nazi my whole career, despite the fact that my kids are Jewish? That I despise Nazism? And that accepting the prejudices of people who vote differently than I do in comics, and being bold in doing so, has inspired gallows humor in myself and my friends? Tim doesn’t care. Something, something about geese.  His goal since Trump won, when I celebrated and I assume he fumed, was to destroy me, and he set out to do so with an obsessive vengeance that is odd for a man who, as far as I know, has never met me. Maybe he has, but I do not recall having met him, and he made no impression on me. I guess it’s often those people who end up insisting on impressing you. And I am impressed with his nonsensical, ignorant and stupid rhetoric. I am impressed with his ability to comb through 15 years of my social media, to pull out a handful of moments with he hopes, through retweeting by his allies, will define and ruin me. I believe Tim and people like him are one of the problems with comics. He makes it unsafe for normal, everyday people who vote Republican to just be themselves. To become part of an American discussion. To add real diversity to this industry, which depends greatly at this time on a wide variety of people feeling at home in comics. Reading them, writing them, drawing them.

He wants comics to be a cult, where he and his friends can weed out people he doesn’t like, even though as far as I can see, he’s contributed nothing but angst and grief to comics. I’ve poured my life, all of my energy into this industry. I’ve created characters and concepts that have enriched the company I work for, and the imaginations of those who read my books. And yet, he’s welcome in comics too. Everyone is welcome.

Point by point: I have never been “vocal” about diversity, as he describes, because I don’t feel that way about diversity in comics. I’ve co-created one of the first Muslim characters at Marvel, an X-Man named Dust. And I co-created the new Latina Green Lantern Jessica Cruz. Both are great characters. So I care about creating good representative characters and do create them.

I have done two livestreams with the youtuber known as Diversity and Comics. As far as I know, he isn’t anti-trans, and his stance on diversity is that there have been a lot of recent comics that focus on diversity first, and story and character second. He makes his arguments, and it’s up to his viewers to decide if they agree. In any case, I don’t require my friends or acquaintances to adhere strictly to my own belief system in every last detail lest I denounce them. We disagree. That’s fine in my view. Our livestreams are posted on my YouTube channel, and they’re certainly available for listening and criticism. I don’t “throw down a bunch of Alt Right memes,” except ironically before the election, when it was clear Trump would lose.

And I don’t wave the confederate flag. I’m from New Jersey. Get outta here.”

Darryl Ayo himself showed up in May 2017. “It would be hypocritical for me to condemn ethan van sciver because my own political ideology is “All Nazis Must Die’,” he tweeted on the 11th.

In June of last year, Kieran Shiach said “Ethan Van Sciver is still drawing Green Lantern Corps despite telling someone to kill themselves and using blatant Nazi imagery in his work,” in a tweet. He linked to Tim Doyle’s thread from the month before as proof and further claimed he’d no longer buy more issues as long as Ethan was involved. Kieran continued this campaign against Sciver in late July.

“I’m never going to shut up about this. He’s one of their biggest names and regularly collaborates with chief creative officer @geoffjohns,” Kieran wrote.

Then August 2017 came. At around 1:45 PM on the afternoon of August 12th, James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd of protesters at Charlottesville. Ending the life of Heather D. Heyer. The chaos of that day was a boiling over point between the Alt-Right and Far-Left. Violence escalated fast as the police in charge of maintaining order that day failed to carry out their duty.

Thus leading to Heyer’s death. But Kieran Shiach would use this opportunity to his benefit, as a chance to go after Ethan Van Sciver on Twitter.

KieranCharlottesville

Here’s his full comments from that day.

“I know it’s my own bugbear and there’s larger Nazi related stuff to worry about but I would love it if @DCComics fired Ethan Van Sciver. Like ✨obviously✨ I know that what’s going on right now is infinitely more important but I’m an ocean away and feel helpless all the time. Ethan Van Sciver is an artist who often collaborates with DC’s chief creative officer and is either a Nazi or thinks Nazi imagery is cool.  I don’t want to piggy-back on a tragedy but if you’re going to fight Nazis you should start in your own community. Every time I mention Van Sciver’s use of Nazi imagery, there’s always people for whom its new information, so I’ll keep banging on about it. We should be talking about Ethan Van Sciver’s Nazi affiliation as often as we talk about Berganza being a harasser. At every opportunity. Ethan Van Sciver put out a sketchbook titled My Struggle (Mein Kampf) with Space Hitler on the cover and a swastika for a signature. Kick Nazis Out Of Comics (And Everywhere Else).”

Kieran brought the subject up again the following day, as people were still reeling from the aftermath of Charlottesville. Given the strong reaction people had to his thread yesterday, Shiach clarified that he thought Ethan Van Sciver was “either a Nazi or thinks their imagery is cool.” He offered an ear to anyone with dirt on Ethan, inviting them to come forward with further evidence to back up his assertion.

On August 14th, Kieran’s threads caught the attention of Bleeding Cool. They wrote an article about it titled “No, Ethan Van Sciver Is Not A Nazi.” It includes Ethan’s long Facebook response in full, addressing the allegations that he’s some kind of Nazi or white nationalist.

Ethan explains that this targeting is happening because he’s a Republican, which is considered to be a rarity in the comics industry.

“To me, white supremacists are villains from movies. They aren’t me, they aren’t my family, and I deeply resent these calculated efforts to make me feel unwelcome in the industry that I’ve given my life to, and by the way, which has profited greatly from my work. This industry isn’t them or me. It’s us.”

He addresses the pieces of evidence being brought against him, like Mark Waid once calling Ethan a “Nazi” in jest. As well as the assertion that his autograph signature shaped like a diamond (and based on the Iron Maiden logo) looks like a swastika. Ethan says his friend satirized it as such as a joke. That claim can be backed up via this email exchange I obtained from Ethan. His colorist Moose Baumann took responsibility for making that image.

Kieran Shiach inaccurately described the joke image Moose Baumann made as another one of Ethan’s sketchbooks.

EVSUberAlles
Moose also took credit for the My Struggle concept for one of Ethan’s old sketchbooks. As Van Sciver explains in his post, My Struggle had supervillain Sinestro on the cover. They redesigned him that year to resemble Hitler as a joke. One of the issues people had with that sketchbook was the name of it. My Struggle is the translation of what Mein Kampf (the title of Hitler’s autobiography) means in English. Ethan explains he took the political dogma motif further with his other sketchbook Manifesto, which utilized communist dogma and backward letters as a cover theme.

Kieran Shiach ended up taking issue with having his tweets in a Bleeding Cool article, so he changed his name to “Fuck Bleeding Cool” as a means of responding to that.

FuckBleedingCool

Tim Doyle believed the fact that Ethan Van Sciver had to address the Nazi rumors meant “his messaging is fucked beyond repair. He’s clearly a douche.” In response to the wide berth of difference between terminologies, in any case, Tim asserted Ethan was “too toxic” to hire.

When Bleeding Cool released their article about Ethan Van Sciver, Darryl had a lot to say about it the following day. “Bleeding Cool is a bad website about scumbags,” he said. Darryl called the site’s boss Rich Johnston self-absorbed, on top of dog-piling Ethan Van Sciver for naming his sketchbook My Struggle as a joke.

Darryl Ayo wrote a long tweet thread letter on August 18th, 2017. He made his intentions toward Ethan Van Sciver clear.

“not all republicans are white supremacists but ethan van sciver surely is a white supremacist. Rich Johnston is a coward. Here’s the deal. If Ethan van Sciver were just some random asshole online, you’d have no problem recognizing is “jokes” for what they are. ethan van sciver can do whatever he wants but he is a white supremacist. rich johnston’s assertion that ethan van sciver isn’t a white supremacist because he’s toned down his rhetoric is fucking insane. alsoALSO a l s o : the first thing I saw when I walked into work yesterday was Ethan Van Sciver original pages. I’m an atheist but sometimes I wonder about synchronicity, hahaha. so anyway: Ethan van sciver’s pages are really well done. On a craft level. There’s a reason that people have trouble letting go. but, that said: you have to let some people go. How to know which people? The people who think that nazis are fun and funny: start with them.”

In late September 2017, Kieran wrote, “I got harassed for days by EVS’ followers when I called out the Nazi imagery in his work and Bleeding Cool defended him against me.” Not focusing on the fact he made his name “Fuck Bleeding Cool,” Kieran instead dwelled on the article’s contents showing both sides of the argument. Shiach’s tweets as well as Ethan’s response to the charges Kieran brought against him.

The Ethan/Kieran feud bubbled up again in early November 2017 after a shop that hosted an EVS event was vandalized. People were claiming it was Kieran’s fault this happened. In response, he wrote the incident off. “Someone smashed the door of a shop that hosted EVS, which apparently has nothing to do with the other shops that were robbed that night,” Kieran tweeted.

The name of the shop is Gotham City Pizza. As you can infer by the name, the logo and interior of the place are comic book themed. Van Sciver was invited there for an autograph signing session/beer and pizza party night. The event itself went off without a hitch. Towards the end of the night, Ethan drew a batman on the shop’s wall. Ethan made a video explaining the situation. Before the meet-up, he was worried about specific threats of violence he received. Gotham City Pizza announced the event on October 2nd, 2017, and by the 10th Ethan received a slew of threatening messages. The direct message this harasser sent to him said they’d see that “nazi piece of shit” at “Gotham Pizza.” The night that Ethan Van Sciver was there was November 4th. Gotham City Pizza’s shop window was smashed on the evening of November 5th/morning of November 6th.

To make it up to them, Ethan Van Sciver rallied his fans together and did a GoFundMe to raise the money for a replacement window.

People would attempt to discredit the incident as having any motivation based on Ethan Van Sciver’s appearance. Dan Slott, for example, used an article written on the 12th to suggest a general local crime wave sweeping the area was likely responsible. That there wasn’t a political motivation behind the vandalism. However, if you look at the actual piece on The Daytona Beach News-Journal, the suspect in question was arrested on November 1st. Several days prior to Ethan Van Sciver’s Gotham City Pizza appearance on the 4th, and the window smashing by the morning of November 6th.

Further, Ethan stayed in touch with the owner who updated him on any progress the police made.

“Gotham City Pizza update, from the owner: “Gotham city pizza door has been ordered. They caught one of the “suspects ” from another break in…he confessed…but knew nothing about ours. Detectives don’t believe it was related…they believe it was a stand alone incident ….”

On December 22nd, 2017 Ethan Van Sciver made a video responding to the people trying to get him fired for his 2007 My Struggle sketchbook. This demonstrates his awareness of what people were saying about him, that Ethan didn’t pick someone like Darryl Ayo “out of the blue” for no particular reason.  A sketchbook in itself shows unseen artwork that was either rejected or left on the cutting room floor during Ethan’s earlier days as an artist. Ethan’s friends encouraged him to make them at the time because they were the “in” thing back in 2007 and 2008. If he was going to go to San Diego, he needed to have a sketchbook. Thus, My Struggle and Manifesto were born. DC Comics was on the fence about it, but Ethan defended his position by stating that if they ran with who the character Sinestro was and what he stood for, through the lens of a cruel dictator, it’d make him a compelling villain. At the time when Ethan’s My Struggle sketchbook came out, everyone got the joke. He says even back then, people labeled him as a “Nazi” for being a Republican in the comics industry. But the contents of the book itself show Ethan’s struggle to be a comic book artist from 1993 to 2007, showcasing his early work. That’s what he talks about for 12 minutes of this 18-minute video. Instead of the drama, Ethan takes us through the sketchbook itself and he walks down memory lane.

JonMalinHitlerSJW

This is what started the Ethan Van Sciver controversy on January 21st, 2018Jon Malin was a Marvel comics artist who had become politically vocal about the state of the comics industry.  In response to a question about the X-Men, Jon Malin responded that they were “closer to Jews in SJW Hitler’s Germany fighting for freedom because they see ideologues rising, silencing them, weaponizing hate, racism and socialism against the people they claim are the root of social ills. SJWs are not Nazis but Nazis are SJWs and X-MEN aren’t SJWs.”

Jon Malin was praised by Robert Liefeld for his work on Cable #153.

Which easily could have been what put this guy in the spotlight, because when Jon Malin made that “Hitler SJW” comment it caught certain people’s attention. With that context in mind, we can now return to the most recent events in this timeline.

On the evening of January 21st, it started out with Ethan calling out Kieran Shiach and someone named Spacetwinks for trying to get him fired for being a Republican. Van Sciver was concerned enough by their efforts that he wanted people to report them for targeted harassment.

“There shouldn’t be “sides”. We have to be better to one another,” Ethan tweeted.

Darryl Ayo came into the picture when Ethan Van Sciver wanted someone on the other side of the political aisle to discuss the”Hitler was an SJW” controversy with.

EthansInvite

Ethan didn’t wait up for him and did the show without Darryl. Who happened to decline the exact same moment Ethan went live. The reasoning Darryl gave was it was late in New York, and he was “on the phone, talking about real things.” Afterwards an hour later Darryl kicked up some dust on the issue. He said he hoped Ethan invited other people that had taken issue with Jon Malin’s comments. Both his peers and other comics people in general.

“I hope he doesn’t just think that a zinester will be his punching bag.” Darryl wrote.

HOLD UP. Just to make the order of events clear, here’s a list of which tweets were said when.

  1. Darryl: “Take your screenshots now, before sense gets the better of this one” (links to Jon Malin’s tweet) — 7:30 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  2. Darryl: “so obviously, we’re off this “Jon Malin” shit” — 7:33 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  3. Kieran: “LRT: To think I actually felt bad for calling Jon Malin the worst artist in modern superhero comics because “I’m sure he’s a nice guy” It seems his personality sucks even more than his art, which is saying something.” — 7:36 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  4. Darryl: “good for him. It’s important that if one is going to go down, one should go down in flames” — 7:38 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  5. Kieran: “A great point by Colin. How much stuff are you warned against saying if you want a career in comics, but EVS can talk about “queer globalisation” and Malin can say “Hitler was an SJW” without consequence” — 8:01 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  6. Darryl: “I don’t see it and I don’t see the relevance. The art he’s drawing is dead-center “C”-average for these days and times. The only reason we’re discussing him is that he’s a sick person with sick opinions.” — 8:07 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  7. Darryl: “It doesn’t matter if you like Jon Malin’s comic drawings or not. If you base your politics around whether or not somebody’s art appeals to you then you’re going to disappoint yourself sooner than later” — 8:21 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  8. Ethan: “KieranShiach and this Spacetwinks creepo are probably the worst people on Twitter. Two weird little busybodies acting as though they determine who gets to work in comics. FELLAS: STOP HARASSING REPUBLICANS. It’s enough already.” —  8:31 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  9. Ethan: “These two guys. Report them for targeted harassment now. It’s got to stop. #PositivityinComics” (links to tweet with a screenshot of Kieran’s 8:01 tweet mentioning EVS) — 8:32 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  10. Kieran: “I wanted to disagree but I sat with it instead and realised you’re right. I’ve deleted the tweet because it distracts focus from what’s important; thanks for the reality check, genuinely.” — 8:32 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  11. Darryl: “I get it; it’s something that I have felt during comics political controversies as well. But yeah, ultimately works against the matter at hand. Thanks for listening.” — 8:50 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  12. Ethan: “There shouldn’t be “sides”. We have to be better to one another.” — 9:15 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  13. Ethan: “ALLRIGHT. Who wants me to take live on ComicArtistPro Secrets to discuss this hullabaloo right now? ? You down?” — 9:36 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  14. Ethan: “Darryl, come on my show right now and say what you have to say. I’m putting Jon Malin. Discussion.” — 9:38 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  15. Ethan: “I’ve invited @darrylayo, who seems to be a gifted spokesperson for the left in comics, to come on my show and confront this matter with Jon Malin and let’s hash this issue out. This is what civilized people do.” — 9:41 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  16. Ethan: “He’d be wrong to do so. This will get him some publicity. And it’s meant in honor.” — 9:43 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  17. Ethan: “JON MALIN LIVE Q & A https://youtu.be/C6cmYaviWJA via @YouTube” — 9:58 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  18. Darryl: “No, I will not debate ethan van sciver on his podcast” — 9:58 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  19. Darryl: “Do you even know what time it is in new york” — 9:58 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  20. Darryl: “he “invited” me and then his fans are demanding a cage match” — 10:00 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  21. Darryl: “I’m on the phone, talking about real things. But I’ll have some words to talk about this sitch later” — 10:02 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  22. Ethan: “Well, that’s not what this would have been, Darryl. It would have been a conversation between you and Jon Malin about this situation. And what you say tomorrow is far less interesting that what you might have said when it counted, which was an hour ago. Sorry.” — 10:53 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  23. Darryl: “This tweet is a masterclass in audacity” (quote tweets Ethan) — 10:57 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  24. Ethan: “Audacity would have been standing up to your ideological foes in a civilized debate. You failed.” — 10:58 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  25. Darryl: “Look at this nonsense. He thinks I’m likely to be flattered, impressed, cowed or influenced by his wants and demands.” (quotes Ethan tweet again) —
  26. Ethan: “Dude, I have no wants or demands. I’m good. Lol” — 11:02 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  27. Darryl: “I hope that Ethan van Sciver has extended his gracious offer of a debate to his direct peers who have been flogging his pal Jon. I hope that he’s not only reaching out to me, a cartoonist who is unknown to his giggling superhero fans” — 11:03 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  28. Darryl: “I hope that Ethan is reaching out to other superhero workers who have expressed disgust with Jon’s ugly comments. I hope he doesn’t just think that a zinester will be his punching bag.” — 11:05 PM – 21 Jan 2018
  29. Ethan: “One hopes that a man of your intellect wouldn’t be a punching bag to someone like Jon Malin, tho, Darryl. I have more faith in you than that. And why not you?” — 11:37 PM – 21 Jan 2018

If you look at what was said by who, and when they said it, you can see why Ethan asked Darryl to come on his livestream that night. Darryl was the first person to call it out. But Kieran joined in, and the two had a back and forth discussion. Meanwhile, when Kieran threw Ethan Van Sciver into his tweets about Jon Malin, that’s how Ethan became aware that a discussion was going on. Realizing the past history of Kieran campaigning to try and get Ethan fired from DC Comics, but still wanting to have a mature discussion about the topic, that’s how Ethan chose Darryl Ayo as what he thought was a suitable debate candidate.  Given the fact Darryl articulated himself fairly well in his discussion with Kieran. But when presented the offer, Darryl does an about face and says he’s too busy to occupy himself with such petty matters. Then it just unfolded from there.

justlikethat

Suddenly, Jon Malin’s tweets didn’t matter no more.

On the morning of January 22nd, Darryl Ayo wrote more than a dozen tweets (23) talking about the run-in with Ethan Van Sciver he had from the previous night. Wew.

Here it is:

“Good morning. So last night (or: just a couple of hours ago, really), your man Ethan van Sciver attempted to goad me into coming onto his podcast show to “debate” some ridiculous right-winger artist at Marvel. Ethan van Sciver said: “ALLRIGHT. Who wants me to take @JonMalin live on ComicArtistPro Secrets to discuss this hullabaloo right now? @darrylayo? You down?” followed by: “Darryl, come on my show right now and say what you have to say. I’m putting Jon Malin. Discussion.” This is literally in the midnight-hour, EST. The only reason I was still awake is that I was talking with someone on the phone about something personal. So, somehow, this guy’s plan was to try to call me out in the middle of the night to debate “right now.” I saw the weird conversation brewing in my mentions and I posted onto my twitter that I would not be debating anybody about anything on Ethan van Sciver’s podcast. EVS replied: Well, that’s not what this would have been, Darryl. It would have been a conversation between you and Jon Malin about this situation. And what you say tomorrow is far less interesting that what you might have said when it counted, which was an hour ago. Sorry. 

Look at the tactics that Ethan Van Sciver deploys:

-false innocence

-false diplomacy

-false scarcity (it had to be “RIGHT NOW”)

-false loss (my words wouldn’t possibly matter tomorrow, in the day time)

All to goad me into an obvious setup. 

 -attempts at flattery

-proposing a mutual benefit (as though such a debate would be good promotion for me) 

It’s all because he wanted me to enter into a situation where I’m not in control. This is not a possibility. I’m too smart for that. Ask around; ask anyone: If there’s ONE THING that I will not tolerate, it’s people trying to play me for a fool. I’m absolutely not the one. I am not stupid. Ask about me. Now, some of you are probably looking at this and asking “what…I was only asleep for a few hours…why is Darryl Ayo fighting with Ethan van Sciver???” So once upon a time, (yesterday), a Marvel Comics artist named Jon Malin said that Hitler is a social justice warrior. Most people got online, saw that tweet, expressed disbelief, and said their little bit. Plenty of comics fans, critics, other superhero creatives are included here. That’s what’s odd. Why ME?  Why would Ethan van Sciver, who decided “I want to turn this into a circus!” decide to reach out to me, a small-time minicomics zinester, to “debate” this topic? Why not approach one of the many superhero writers, artists and mainstream critics? I’m very familiar with superhero comics. I’m willing and able to discuss superhero topics with folks and have done so in the past. But how did I become the center of attention in THIS conversation? Y’all didn’t listen to me before…am I suddenly an authority? Here’s what’s what: For over a week, I’ve been one of the new people who’s been singled out by right wing comics fans and hangers-on. I’ve been told that I’m the subject of mocking YouTube videos and I have experienced ugly trolling until I deployed group blocking. See, these right-wingers see me as a brand new snack for them to chew on. Not knowing that I’ve been holding my own against their sect for my entire life. There’s a lot of comics cultures; it’s not all one thing. Here’s a funny fact: Ethan van Sciver has a brother. His brother, Noah van Sciver, is from my side of town, with respects to comics. Now, personally, I don’t have siblings. I don’t know what sibling relationships are like. And I don’t know the relationship between these two men. What I do know is that Ethan is well aware that there’s a different side of comics. I know that Ethan is aware that there is not much intersection between his superhero world of Green Lanterns and my world of “comics about feelingsssss” So, look at his supposed offer: What’s really in it for me? What would I get for bumbling onto his platform to “debate?” To make an analogy, why would a folk-punk band go onto The Breakfast Club radio show and argue with Charlemagne? We do different things, man. So why would I agree to go onto your platform to debate you and your friend? And if I did that, why would I do it spontaneously? And in the middle of the night? That is absurd.  I’m a big talker. And I walk what I talk. If anybody of reputable merit wanted to summon me for a discussion (I don’t really do “debates”), I have my terms of engagement. I’ve spoken on podcasts, I’ve spoken on panels. These are things that I have done and would gladly do again. But I don’t do these things willy-nilly. And I would never allow an ideological enemy to moderate a discussion that I’m participating in.”

In response, after Darryl wrote his long tweet letter, Ethan tells us that Darryl was among the social media group that had gone after him last year. He caught word of Ayo’s efforts and hoped Darryl would be amicable to mending the fence. Darryl mocked Ethan for that.

“Last night, when things were heated over comments that this fellow Jon Malin made, was an opportunity for people who disagree to talk it out, with an audience of people listening. Darryl thought it might be sabotage. Projection,” Ethan responded.

What Ethan was commenting on is Darryl’s continual commentary on social media about him. It seemed hypocritical that someone who was willing to make remarks on their social media wasn’t willing to address their subject directly.

DarrylEthanBackAndForth

The closest thing to a “conversation” these two had is as follows.

  1. Darryl: “Ethan Van Sciver tried to mess with me and when I sidestepped his nonsense, begins screaming that I’m beating him up.” — 5:14 AM – 22 Jan 2018
  2. Ethan: “Wow. Darryl, this is getting weird now.” —  5:17 AM – 22 Jan 2018
  3. Darryl: “he’s trying to gaslight but he’s really bad at it” — 5:19 AM – 22 Jan 2018
  4. Ethan: “Oddball.” — 5:20 AM – 22 Jan 2018

After that, Ethan understood that Darryl wasn’t open to defending his statements face-to-face. “Darryl doesn’t have to come on the show. He said no. It’s over,” he wrote.

It was a learning experience for Ethan.  The only further response he gave Darryl was to clarify his actions. “The “creepy stunt” was inviting you onto my show for a conversation about your creepy stunt, which has been an ongoing harassment campaign against me,” Ethan told Darryl.

Darryl replied that “Ethan doesn’t want his actions here to be seen by his industry peers.” He claims to be a victim of targeted abuse led by “Diversity and Comics” and right-wing trolls. Darryl clarifies he hadn’t talked about Ethan in any way but hostile, claiming he’s selling bigotry.

On the 24th, Darryl admitted to calling Ethan Van Sciver a Nazi in the past for his sense of humor, and labeling “Diversity and Comics” a bigot. He then asserts D&C came after him because of this “strong stance against fuckery.” Instead of talking to these people, Darryl decides to just block everyone. But he then calls people cowards for not going after people’s jobs because “they have bad opinions.”

“It shouldn’t even take any level of courage to say that bigots are bad and should be shunned. It should be a reflex. You should automatically say that. Your choice should be clear,” Darryl wrote.

It’s a study in contrasts when it comes to Darryl Ayo. In one tweet he claims Ethan Van Sciver and D&C are harassing colleagues and peers. But in a tweet from the 25th, Darryl says that Ethan gets called a “Nazi” because of their beliefs and things they joke about.

“on that note, the reason that ethan van sciver is fighting me so hard is because he psychologically cannot continue to exist if he consciously acknowledges how immoral and evil his life path has been. He cannot survive reckoning with his own actions. So he fights,” Darryl writes on the 26th.

But a look at Ethan’s Twitter feed shows he wasn’t “fighting” Darryl so hard at all. From back on the evening of the 22nd, Ethan elected to just block or mute the drama.  All the way through until several hours after Darryl wrote that tweet on the 26th when he was dragged back into it. It may surprise some, but Ethan spent that time talking about comics (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15), 16, 17). He also encouraged aspiring artists to draw (1, 2, 3, 4), shared his own artwork (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16), and talked about his YouTube channel (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11). Jordan Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos came out on January 23rd, and Ethan did illustrations for it. So, of course, he talked about that as well (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

Tim Doyle took offense to that. He tweeted at Ethan:

“Ethan Van Sciver is tweeting artistic collaboration with deeply transphobic, woman hating, Milo-loving, darling of the Alt-Right-Jordan Peterson…In case you needed more evidence EVS is a disgusting trash fire of a human. But don’t take my word for it- http://pressprogress.ca/university-of-toronto-professor-men-cant-control-crazy-women-because-men-cant-fight-them/” — 5:15 PM – 23 Jan 2018

Hey buddy, get fucked. Transphobia kills people, and Ethan facilitates that, as does Jordan Peterson. We see you, and know who you are. Your soul has been found wanting.” — 8:59 PM – 24 Jan 2018

“I have a social media platform that I mostly use to promote my artwork, but I’ll also take a stand where I need to. I’m extremely proud of my peers who do likewise, and who work to make this industry safe for everyone. Cheers,” Ethan wrote during this time.

He also tweeted messages like this.

TheEthanAgenda

On the 21st Kieran jumped into the online foray that was brewing around Ethan Van Sciver’s decision to talk with a man who said: “Hitler was an SJW.” By the 24th, after the incident with Darryl Ayo, Kieran rekindled the flames of his long-standing crusade against Ethan.

Where it really picked up was on the 27th.

“Don’t buy into EVS’ attempts to rebrand himself as anything other than a bigot. He and his followers have been directing a harassment campaign against both @darrylayo and @NakatomiTim for days now. He’s a bigot who is friends with bigots and collaborates with bigots. I never saw it because I have sturdy block lists but apparently he was bad mouthing me during my own DnC saga a few weeks ago. I get the sense he’s scared now that a backlash may be strong enough to actually cost him his big, so he’s toning himself down in public. I’m going to try and find a copy of Peterson’s book on Tuesday, I’m curious to see what EVS’ illustrations actually accompany. I do think it’s funny that he allied himself with an odious bigot then said odious bigot spelled his name wrong in the book’s credits. According to EVS, he’s not a bigot and we’re all nasty SJW vipers coming after him for no reason, but like, why him if there wasn’t significant evidence? If it’s because he’s a republican, why aren’t we going after Bill Willingham or Chuck Dixon in the same manner? I mean, Chuck Dixon is a bigot too but in a Mr. Bean way where he constantly says homophobic stuff while producing some gay as fuck superhero comics.”

Something was different this time though. Kieran was digging up whatever scandals he could on Ethan from Google. The highlights of these include a post on IGN’s forums from 2012, and a July 2015 four-part blog series from someone named Alfie Norris. We’ll go over those on a separate page, but it’s worth pointing out here that this is where Ethan’s old skeletons came back into the picture.

Why was Kieran doing this? He explains.

“One last thing about EVS before I go to bed. He’s a Trump supporter and when it comes down to it people that supported and continue to support his racist policies and racist initiatives are racists themselves. You can’t say “I support Donald Trump but I’m not racist.” Some people will say “you can’t paint all Trump supporters with that broad of a brush” but if you’re still on his bandwagon at this point, you must fucking hate anyone who isn’t a straight white man.”

Despite the declaration that Ethan Van Sciver was a “racist,” “Nazi,” and that DC Comics needed to fire him, Kieran Shiach said he was “bombarded” with “trolling messages” for his efforts.

On the 27th Darryl wrote another letter about Ethan.

“Facts: Ethan Van Sciver realized that I’m not an anonymous little fish that he could pick on with impunity and after following me to harass me, he blocked me. He couldn’t take it anymore that I was dragging him from pillar to post after what he’d done. Now he’s sending goons.  Reality facts: despite what lil homie was trying to say yesterday about me being “a coward who blocks,” I held it down against Ethan Van Sciver directly. He blocked me because “he couldn’t take it.” Realer reality: You should block people who annoy you. It’s not cowardice, it’s common sense. But talking by YOUR rules, looks like the real quote-unquote “coward” is your lord and master Ethan Van Sciver. Ethan Van Sciver ain’t a thing. To be quite honest, Ethan Van Sciver has done more to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that he’s a vicious bigot in his denials of being a bigot. My mentions are a mess. I’m apparently the subject of an ongoing harassment campaign led by him and his pal D/C.”

On one end, you have Ethan Van Sciver telling people he doesn’t hate anyone. On the other, you’ve got Darryl calling Ethan a “harasser and abuser.” Ayo says he has “the pull” to show people that.

What followed is essentially what connects Kieran Shiach back with Asher Elbein. Calling Asher his friend, he says Asher was covering it for The Atlantic. This was of course later stated as not exactly the case by their editor-in-chief. Confusingly, Kieran flip-flops from wanting to report on it, to stating he can’t “because unfortunately I’m part of the story.” He himself admitted to that conflicting view and the clear conflict of interest that he describes as stemming from “being the subject of harassment” from Ethan Van Sciver and Diversity in Comics.

KieranShiachReporter

Let’s review.

“I know it’s my own bugbear and there’s larger Nazi related stuff to worry about but I would love it if @DCComics fired Ethan Van Sciver.”Kieran Shiach, August 12th 2017.

“I’m okay, but I can’t think of many other industries where a prominent creator could openly attack reporters and journalists and get away with it. Look at the stuff EVS has said about me and imagine a game dev, screenwriter or novelist saying the same thing.”Kieran Shiach, January 29th 2018.

Isn’t it ironic, don’t ya think?

That leads right back into where Asher Elbein got involved on the 28th. By that point, attention had started piling up on the YouTube subs and Twitter followers front for Ethan. “I’m being harassed for my politics at the moment. I have not, and am not pointing anyone to harass anyone on my behalf.That is indeed what is happening to me even now. I asked for a chance to talk to my harassers. This is what happened instead,” Ethan said early on that day.

Bleeding Cool ended up writing an article referred to as “The Return of Ethan Van Sciver’s Mean Streak.

Rich Johnston had difficulty getting a comment from Ethan Van Sciver about it. I emailed Ethan about his recollection of events and got a reply quickly.

“Shortly after the events of Charlottesville, a strange buzz began to circulate that I was a “Nazi.” Lots of people were being called a Nazi, but I’d see retweets of this guy Darryl Ayo, announcing that I was a White Supremacist or a Nazi. I’d never heard of Darry Ayo. But he kept at it, tweeting about me almost every day, over the course of two months, and then just a mention now and then, for the remainder of 2017. He was one of three or four people, actively and insistently pushing this narrative, and a lot of people were retweeting it. It reached me many times. I kept my eye on him, curious about who he was. In the meantime, I had built up a YouTube channel about comics, which allowed me to sit down with all kinds of people in comics, and just talk. I had famous outspoken far Left creators on, and just chatting, I helped humanize them to the audience. Bridges were built every single video. I felt like I was helping repair this awful divide that was growing. However, more recently, I was hearing people back down from appearing with me…suggesting they’d received pressure that my channel was also humanizing ME. And nobody needed to sit with me. So not too long ago, a new artist named Jon Malin, who was also known by his fans to be conservative, issued a perplexing tweet suggesting that Hitler was an SJW. It was midnight, and my phone started buzzing with fans telling me that something big was happening, and my help was needed to cool things down. I went on twitter and asked Jon if he wanted to go live and talk it thru. Darryl Ayo, I saw on my timeline, was up and tweeting about Jon. So I thought I might be able to have a real moment here. Darryl comes on, we chat, we probably disagree, but I could have shown Darryl that I’m a kind person and not some kind of Nazi. We might have been friends after that, just like everyone else I’ve interviewed. Darryl declined on his Twitter while we were live streaming, a fan in the chat quoted his tweet, and I said “Darryl won’t be joining us, that’s a shame.” Meanwhile, he was up and tweeting that he believed I was going to ambush and humiliate him, and that he’s too smart for that. And we had a small and unproductive, frankly hostile twitter conversation that I ended by blocking him. He had already sent a message to Facebook alerting people that I had begun a harassment campaign against him and he was scared. That’s when his nonstop tweeting about me began. I didn’t see it, because he was blocked. But lots of my fans took notice, and tried to respond to him, politely. He told them all to go fuck themselves. And look. I believe his tweets are all there. He won’t stop mentioning my name, which brings my fans running, which allows him to tell people I’m orchestrating this….because that’s precisely what they’re doing to me. Before too long, the story was that I was harassing Darryl Ayo, a beloved and innocent cartoonist and comic shop employee, ALL WEEKEND LONG. And that it was “disturbing.” I found it infuriating. But I’m quiet.”

Ethan’s reply lines up with the recollection he gave already elsewhere on social media. Darryl Ayo claimed he didn’t have a history with Ethan Van Sciver before January 23rd, 2018. Not only does that discount the exchanges the two had on the 21st and 22nd, it also completely disregards the August 2017 comments calling Ethan a “Nazi” that Darryl had made. That feeds into the second answer Darryl gave in this interview. When asked “what led to his recent invite to you?” Darryl plays dumb and says “nothing.” Ayo insinuates that there was no reason for Van Sciver to be thinking or talking about him, again brushing the previous comments smearing Ethan as a “Nazi” aside. He says Ethan invited him to come on his YouTube show in light of “Diversity and Comics” focusing their attention on him and having their fans come after them for a week. In addition, Darryl actually admits to being a part of the outcry against Jon Malin for his “Hitler SJW” comment. But the rest of this video is Darryl Ayo essentially trying to rewrite history and say tweets he made last year didn’t happen.

Just to make it clear. Darryl Ayo was aware of Ethan Van Sciver before January 2018, according to his own tweets. By making his perspective and stance on Ethan clear back in August 2017, it creates the necessary pre-existing context to support the notion that Darryl Ayo is crying wolf. What to take away from this is Kieran Shiach wants Ethan Van Sciver fired from DC Comics by any means necessary. So does Tim Doyle. Neither of them makes that a secret, and they’re more than happy to admit it. Their reasoning for doing so stems from the notion that Ethan’s social media presence and actions create an unhealthy environment.

For someone who says Ethan Van Sciver organized a harassment campaign against them, Kieran’s own statements don’t really reflect that.

“I’m wondering if we can’t get DC to address it directly, if a grassroots movement might help. Maybe a hashtag? I’m leaning towards #EVSOut but I’m open to suggestions.”

Despite Kieran Shiach claiming he wants to tell this story correctly, there’s reason to doubt his definition of that word.

Tim Doyle’s argument is Ethan Van Sciver has allegedly been an abuser for years now and that his work pals have “tried to get him to knock it off.” Tim says people on Facebook are reportedly sharing not so glamorous stories about working with him. While it’s easy to try and dismiss Doyle’s argument as ridiculous when he implies Ethan needs to babysit his online followers, it’s harder to do so elsewhere.

“I’ve had current working comic creators reach out to me and say they are afraid of losing their jobs if they speak up about Ethan Van Sciver because they know @DCComics will protect abusers over listening to them. This is not what a “Super Hero” company does. This is wrong.”

I’ve tried to ask Tim further about this but he was reluctant to do so. Regardless, it’s not my place to judge on that front. However, Ethan Van Sciver has taken the time to go over two major pieces of blog ammo that have been used against him. It’s worthwhile enough to look at that at greater length.

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