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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.
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.
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!!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
This is what started the Ethan Van Sciver controversy on January 21st, 2018. Jon 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.
Some of my favorite work on Cable and co. In years. Doing my babies proud. https://t.co/Q6XQ6XDiZJ
— robertliefeld (@robertliefeld) January 8, 2018
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.
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.
- 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
- Darryl: “so obviously, we’re off this “Jon Malin” shit” — 7:33 PM – 21 Jan 2018
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Ethan: “There shouldn’t be “sides”. We have to be better to one another.” — 9:15 PM – 21 Jan 2018
- Ethan: “ALLRIGHT. Who wants me to take
@JonMalin live on ComicArtistPro Secrets to discuss this hullabaloo right now? @darrylayo? You down?” — 9:36 PM – 21 Jan 2018
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Ethan: “JON MALIN LIVE Q & A https://youtu.be/C6cmYaviWJA via @YouTube” — 9:58 PM – 21 Jan 2018
- Darryl: “No, I will not debate ethan van sciver on his podcast” — 9:58 PM – 21 Jan 2018
- Darryl: “Do you even know what time it is in new york” — 9:58 PM – 21 Jan 2018
- Darryl: “he “invited” me and then his fans are demanding a cage match” — 10:00 PM – 21 Jan 2018
- 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
- 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
- Darryl: “This tweet is a masterclass in audacity” (quote tweets Ethan) — 10:57 PM – 21 Jan 2018
- Ethan: “Audacity would have been standing up to your ideological foes in a civilized debate. You failed.” — 10:58 PM – 21 Jan 2018
- 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) —
- Ethan: “Dude, I have no wants or demands. I’m good. Lol” — 11:02 PM – 21 Jan 2018
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Suddenly, Jon Malin’s tweets didn’t matter no more.
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 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.
The closest thing to a “conversation” these two had is as follows.
- 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
- Ethan: “Wow. Darryl, this is getting weird now.” — 5:17 AM – 22 Jan 2018
- Darryl: “he’s trying to gaslight but he’s really bad at it” — 5:19 AM – 22 Jan 2018
- 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.
People have told me that it’s impossible to have fair discussions with ideologies and I find that tough to accept. Surely they’d want to talk their ideas out, maybe come out on top in a discussion.
Nope. They scream and cry that you even asked them. It makes Bieber sad. 😢 pic.twitter.com/IMWTBTRCDC
— Ethan Van Sciver (@EthanVanSciver) January 22, 2018
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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.
“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.
The two most notorious incidents that surfaced as a result of this mob going after Ethan Van Sciver happened in 2012 and 2015. It’s two opposites in the way they’re structured. One details a disgruntled fan who moved into stalker territory to the point where Ethan had to step in and intervene directly. The other story is of someone Ethan considered to be a friend until a podcast that went wrong turned things sour.
A key fact of either situation worth pointing out is that Ethan maintains two separate Facebook profiles. One of these is his personal one, whereas there’s a separate one for his professional self. Such distinctions matter when it comes to the instances of drama behavior at the center of this mess. If Ethan Van Sciver made a controversial comment or reply of any kind on his professional Facebook, it would, of course, reflect worse as he’s acting as a public figure. But if an incident occurred over on his personal page it changes the context.
On May 29th, 2012, someone by the name of Jeff Hartz made a forum post on IGN detailing a story involving himself and Ethan Van Sciver. The main point Jeff alleges is there was a terrible falling out between the both of them as a result of miscommunication involving a charity project he wanted to do.
In light of recent events causing this part of the past to resurface, Ethan Van Sciver responded to this himself in a video at the end of January. But it’s also important to note that Van Sciver acknowledges his “megaphone status” is a responsibility. He tells the viewer he’s not the type of person to address these sorts of drama rumors head on like this.
The difference between Ethan’s and Jeff’s retelling is striking. Jeff Hartz’s main point was Ethan Van Sciver is an “internet bully” for complaining about Jeff’s actions on his personal Facebook. Whereas Ethan himself tells us that Jeff manipulated his ex-wife into handing over personal information about their family. That Jeff Hartz was nothing more than an obsessive fan overstepping boundaries and harassing both Ethan and his family.
Early on in the video, Ethan explains that this IGN forum post is a copy and paste from another website. Somewhere where the story was originally shared, but Ethan/Gail Simone/DC Comics got in touch with the website hosts and had it taken down. One of the indicators of that (as shown in the picture above) is places of text where pictures appeared to have been.
Ethan’s perspective makes it clear that he was kind and personable to everyone. Jeff invited Ethan to come on and they exchanged email addresses thereafter to set that up. He says the “30 or 45 minutes talking comics” bit was more like Jeff stood around while other people were trying to get their books signed. If anything, the guy might’ve talked to his wife Sharis. Her motivations for being decent in interaction were because she wanted to help drive business to this fledgling firearms range that was starting up in Charlotte.
Ethan never responded to the guy’s emails. He then says Sharis wasn’t as excited about Jeff ‘s common interests as he’s implying. Sharis “heard” Jeff was going to visit his friends from Jeff himself. He told her. Ethan points out the wording comes off as very buddy-buddy in this guy’s post. What was actually going on according to Ethan was Jeff used the comic book signing as a springboard to try and get close to him. In this case, Van Sciver had like 5000 Facebook friends so the direct approach didn’t work. Sharis was the backup option for this guy. Ethan says the more realistic situation going on was Jeff told Sharis “I’m going to be in North Carolina I wish I could go shooting.” With Sharis saying “yeah alright” in response. Ethan says Sharis giving Jeff her cell phone number was a mistake. He says her intent of inviting Jeff was to promote her job.
Ethan points out the fact that Jeff actually shared that his son was punished and how bizarre that is. Van Sciver says Sharis held a position where she was open to answering questions in a straightforward way. Naively giving a default human level of trust when replying to Jeff’s inquiries. Ethan says Jeff was being nosy and invasive, and Sharis had no understanding of how to set up a personal barrier on how much to share with Jeff.
Same dynamic as the earlier questions applied to the paragraph talking about Ethan’s autograph hobby. Van Sciver points out that Jeff was using this opportunity with Sharis to ask personal questions about Ethan. Later on in the video, Ethan addresses the differences between his hobby compared to what Jeff was trying to do.
Ethan explains that wasn’t what his ex-wife was experiencing. Sharis was experiencing continued contact after she took someone out for what she presumed was a business related trip to her shooting range. It was from that mistake on her part that Jeff led himself to believe Sharis wanted to be friends with him. Instead of “like you would from a friend” it was more of “oh god it’s that guy again maybe if I’m nice he’ll go away.”
Ethan says this is where it began to be clearer that Jeff was interested in getting information on him. “I remember Sharis coming into my office and saying ‘um okay so this guy like wants to know if um he can send over some books because um there’s a ten-year-old boy who’s sick and uh would you sign some comics?’ And I said ‘Yeah where are they?’ And she was like ‘he was gonna send them.’ And I was like ‘ahh we shouldn’t – we don’t do that. We don’t give our mailing address out to fans. We don’t want to start receiving things in the mail. It’s just not what we wanna do.’ And she said ‘yeah but just this once?’ And I said ‘if it’s for you, sure.'”
Ethan states flat-out that Jeff was not business correspondence. He highlights, in particular, the part where Jeff admits he and Sharis were more friends than they were. It raises the question as to why Jeff was so keen on Ethan then. Ethan says Jeff was sending Sharis text messages for years, and that the couple at the time pointed out how odd it was. Ethan says they were being polite to Jeff. The two discussed at length about giving Jeff that information and said: “this isn’t a good idea” at the time.
Ethan points out that the extent of “what [Jeff] could do for this industry” was impose on Van Sciver (using the address obtained by manipulating Ethan’s ex-wife) to send him things to sign. He says he’d have to repack them, go to the post office, and go through the process of sending it all back. On the point of Moose Baumann, Ethan explains that Moose is his personal friend for many years, working as Ethan’s colorist. When Moose and his wife fell on hard times, Ethan went on tour doing a lot of conventions. Part of the cost of getting Van Sciver to come was two plane tickets. One for him, and one for Moose. He came along, staying in Ethan’s hotel room for free, chipping in for Baumann’s meals too. On these outings, Moose was able to sit next to Ethan in artist alley and sell his prints. Further, Ethan sent Moose commissions, paying him out of pocket to color them because Van Sciver preferred Baumann’s talent over his in that regard.
Ethan points out he gets requests all the time and that his general tendency in dealing with that was avoiding being rude (ignoring them over declining). Van Sciver states that Jeff was in no way owed an answer to someone who was habitually texting his ex-wife unwanted. Which in itself went on for as long as it did because Sharis did her best to be polite, despite wondering why Jeff was still contacting them all the time. “What you’re doing is harassing my wife with requests of her to make impositions on me,” Ethan says. He gets upset momentarily when Jeff drags Moose’s “conduct in the past” into this dramatic story. According to him, if Jeff was really looking to just be a charitable person he could’ve just donated another $100 to Moose on his own. Without all this hassle.
Ethan says he didn’t even read Jeff ‘s post. They saw the guy’s name pop up, knew who they were, and elected to ignore them for it. Van Sciver points out the evidence of Jeff ‘s inflated sense of self-entitlement from that. Ethan did not owe Jeff a moment of his time. He says he gets at least one-hundred of these kinds of request per month. In response to that their blanket statement is he does not want unsolicited mail sent to his house.
Ethan reveals he threw them in the garage. As an unsolicited package, he didn’t appreciate it. He asked Sharis what it was, and she didn’t know either. He refrained from signing it because it would just encourage more, similar behavior like that in the future. Sharis agreed with Ethan’s choice.
Ethan says it was outrageous that Jeff approached them with this idea. The notion that a stranger finds out where he lives, for one. For two, the idea that Jeff was amenable to just giving that private information out to other people. Van Sciver says Jeff was texting all the time. Every time, Sharis would show Ethan their phone and say “your fan is bothering me again.” In reply, he’d tell her “you shouldn’t have given him your number. I don’t know why you did that.” Ethan says this fiasco was a blip on both his and his wife’s radar, as they had their own lives to attend to. Clearly, at this juncture, it was a boiling point.
They were just some random fan that became a customer of Ethan’s wife under what may have been false pretenses. Ethan didn’t know what Jeff looks like or knew who he was in particular, until this long forum post. Ethan points out that Jeff was continuing to text Sharis despite explicitly stating “I’m not happy you’re texting Sharis.”
Ethan says Sharis only gave Jeff their address because he manipulated her into worrying about a sick 10-year-old boy. There was a problem as it created a rift of awkwardness between Ethan and his wife. Van Sciver says Jeff didn’t need mutant powers to understand boundaries. He gives an example of if someone asked George Clooney if they could come over to their house, and Clooney didn’t respond, doesn’t mean anyone can waltz on in that case.
“Finally after over four years you overstepped with Sharis,” Ethan says. Van Sciver takes the time to explain the process of his autograph hobby. He mails them out to fan mail addresses that are publicly available on the internet. Ethan makes it clear that Jeff was not. When Ethan sends his DVD sleeves out to these fan mail addresses, he’s fully aware that they may never even be returned to him. Ethan says he doesn’t go on a tirade and call people hypocrites for not going along with what he desires.
Ethan Van Sciver made a post on his Facebook about the Jeff Hertz situation. In the original post, Jeff listed dozens of comments. Ethan and his wife made some too and they’re thrown into the mix. To make it easy to read, click here for a sorted version (plus a copy of the original chatlogs if you want context for particulars). Ethan says at this point was when he told people on Facebook about what transpired. Given the repeated, unwanted contact that Ethan and his ex-wife received, he’s confident in labeling Jeff a harasser. Specifically pointing out the private means of communication via cell phone being involved. Ethan said he made this call-out post because he feared this person was dangerous and wouldn’t go away. “It didn’t feel good to be on the end of four years from you,” Ethan says about Jeff. “Making personal demands.”
Ethan says he talked to fans and made the decision to make a little P.O. box. He notes that this box didn’t last very long.
“I don’t need to help you give something more. Give something more if that’s what you want.”
A few years go by since that IGN forum post. By mid-2015 Ethan Van Sciver would find himself on the receiving end of a second call-out post. Which piggybacked off the general message, tone, and formatting of its predecessor. What’s different about this case is that the author of it was an actual friend of Ethan Van Sciver’s, for a time. How their friendship came to an end is part of the blog’s story.
Ethan Van Sciver made a video response to this as well on their YouTube channel.
It’s told in four parts.
Part 1 is Alfie’s introduction portion of his situation. He tells us he needs help in what he calls a cyberstalking situation. He names Ethan as the cause of a group of online bullies harassing himself and his loved ones (“my girlfriend, her family, and other friends”). Norris says it started out as “tasteless jokes” that intensified to four men making multiple posts on Alfie’s online pages, daily. He says they set up six accounts impersonating him, posting messages both to Alfie himself and possibly others. The only evidence of past incidents that Alfie can point out in this section is the May 2012 IGN post discussed earlier.
Like the last video, Ethan explains his general attitude towards these things is not responding to them. He ignores them because he doesn’t want to look like he’s punching down. Ethan says he’s aware of this dynamic that whenever he responds to these sorts of things there’s the possibility of fans attacking the disgruntled person in question. He takes the time to remind the viewer to not go after these individuals in any capacity. This is the third time Ethan has had to say as such when it comes to Alfie.
Alfie used to be a high powered lawyer from Alabama, Ethan says. He doesn’t know if that’s current to this day. The skills from that trade allowed him to pull together a narrative from distant and far apart threads.
Ethan had a Facebook page from 2009 to the Trump presidency dedicated to political discussion. Ethan considered that to be limited to just family and friends. There were around 50 regulars that’d drop by daily. The routine was talking about the political articles of that day (going to places like drudge report) and posting a link to it and giving his two cents. The people in the comments would either agree with Ethan or disagree, thus sparking a debate. It was mostly just fun but sometimes it got heated, Ethan made sure to pull things back when that was the case.
“Alfie is no longer my friend,” Ethan says. The two had a falling out around the exact time Alfred’s personal life fell apart. Ethan used to feel pity, but then he learned “dark secrets” about Alfie’s past that made him change his perspective.
Ethan states that he didn’t have the routine of making “multiple posts on” Alfie’s personal and business pages. Ethan says he’s not aware of who the girlfriend and family or friends he was referring to.
Part 2 is where the story really begins.
Alfie tells us he met Van Sciver in 2009 when he liked his Facebook page. He ended up later meeting Ethan in person at an Atlanta convention in 2010. The two had some political back-and-forth banter online, but Alfie notes that all was harmless back then. They became friends. But Alfie notes that Van Sciver allegedly posted insulting messages to his Facebook page as a trolling technique. When Norris and others responded and debated, that’s when he says “his gang of friends would target individuals for harassment.” That meant taking the conversation beyond Ethan’s page and sending messages to people’s accounts, according to Alfie. Alfie names Kevin Oakley, Mikal CG, Kevin Nehring, and Christopher Hugh Varney as the members of this “gang.”
He writes: “They stalked me, as they have others, by searching my internet presence and finding personal and professional information that they used to embarrass and insult for no other reason than they disagreed with me politically.”
Alfie accuses them of targeting Ian Auld, Steven Seitz, and Randy Pare, for the reasoning of “not being conservative enough” as fans of Ethan Van Sciver. To that effect, Alfie posts a private message showing Ethan Van Sciver admitting to “trying to get Ian going” for fun. He then shares a forum post from someone else describing this dynamic going on online. Alfie shares the same IGN post again from earlier, but separately points out the two comments from others who had negative interactions with Ethan Van Sciver. After that, there’s a full paragraph alleging Ethan and his gang attacked women such as Alfie’s ex-wife and girlfriend. But amidst the slew of accusations about negative comments being left in various places, there are no links to proof nor specifics mentioned here. It’s after that Alfie Norris gets into Ethan’s role in particular. He paints Van Sciver as “playing the good guy” whose method was stringing folks along. In one breath, Alfie shows a screenshot of Ethan apologizing to Alfred. In the next, Alfie accuses Ethan of being the “ringleader” behind it all. But later on, Alfie shows a screenshot where Ethan admits that it was Michael Nehring behind things like fake profiles. Alfred assigned Ethan as the person in the role of having to babysit his friends. He says he tried to break things off and that led to Ethan and his group attacking him still (doesn’t provide links to anything to that effect). This back-and-forth climaxed when Nehring barraged Alfie with insults, leading him to demand Ethan to get him to take it down. When that was unsuccessful, Alfred took to his own Facebook page to announce that Ethan and his gang were attacking him. That appeared to have pissed Van Sciver off. “I’m SUPER PISSED. I feel like choking you,” he wrote in a DM to Norris. This leads to a falling out between the two. With Ethan not being sure whether Alfie was a friend or a fan. Alfie elects to just cut off contact with Ethan. A few weeks on, Ethan tried to make amends by refriending him. Alfred declined. Norris then shares a screenshot from November that shows Ethan asking Alfred to leave HIM alone and that Alfred was getting paranoid about Ethan’s involvement in his life. In April and May 2014, it looks like Van Sciver made an effort to work things out with him. Part 2 ends with Alfie circling back around to what looks like that November 2013 conversation a second time, for whatever reason. This time we see more of it. Ethan tells Alfred “nothing happens that I don’t know about” when it comes to his friends. What that amounts to here is Ethan telling Alfred “nothing happens that I don’t know about” when it comes to his friends. What that amounts to here is Ethan telling Alfred that Nehring has four fake accounts messing with Alfred.
That’s the long and short of Alfie’s side of it. He claimed to be a victim of a system of cruelty under Ethan Van Sciver’s leadership. But with that said, Ethan’s response video offers evidence to cast doubts on Alfred Norris and his narrative.
I’ll say this straight so you understand correctly. The same guy who claims Ethan Van Sciver sent a gang of Facebook goons to “harass” him, is someone who had a habit of saying things like they’d “jerk your mom’s prick and choke on the load.”
So as you can imagine, Ethan refutes Alfie’s assessment. He says it was more like Ethan posted a mildly partisan political article where he would express his sincere opinion, admitting to over-enthusiasm at times in that respect. Ethan invited folks to come and debate it, maybe “roast” each other too. Alfie joined in on that. While Alfie didn’t provide proof for this, Ethan says he has some. He sets it up by explaining he’d have to step in sometimes if discussion got out of hand. Ethan shows us these comments from Facebook to demonstrate Alfie provoking people, in addition to showing the contrasting reality of how people actually responded to Alfred, rather than what Alfie alleges.
Ethan says Randy Pare was another person who showed up to the board saying provocative, over-the-top things in a similar fashion to Alfie. Steve Seitz was a liberal who posted crazy things. Ian Auld showed up and threatened to kill people. “That’s correct,” Ethan says in reply to the charge that he liked to mess with Ian Auld. Here it meant posting political articles to get Ian cursing Republicans. Ethan points out nobody had to come to his Facebook page. That choice was always left up to everyone else to decide.
Ethan says the four snapshots used to prop up the IGN forum post were from sock accounts used by Jeff to inflate the situation’s impact on the community-at-large. “I don’t know what this is. I don’t know what he’s talking about here,” Ethan answers in response to the section of the blog where Alfie says he attacked women.
Ethan says he never said any of that. That Alfie’s attackers were high-spirited guys. He never “strung” Alfie along. “I condemn your attackers. I acknowledge that you have been on the receiving end of a lot of harassment.” Ethan says the reason for that (in Van Sciver’s assessment of the situation) is when Alfie was on Ethan’s Facebook page he made a lot of enemies with strangers. Van Sciver says he was busy working on assignments while he was doing this sort of thing.
Ethan points out Alfie’s general reputation among the group.
Ethan explains the context behind what Michael Nehring had done to Alfie exactly.
“Basically what had happened here was Michael Nehring, knowing that Alfie was just kind of scanning the internet looking for ways to be cruel to the people who posted on my page regularly. Michael Nehring decided to try a practical joke on him. He created four accounts with different names like Douglas Delta or whatever it was, and he basically pretended to be a school friend of Michael Nehring’s. He private messaged Alfie (this was very immature but this is the reality of what’s happening here to give you context for this and what comes afterwards) and I remember this vividly. He said to Alfie ‘I went to school with Nehring. And basically everyone used to call him Dancing Hippo. Dancing Hippo. And he would cry if you called him Dancing Hippo. And that’s the whole thing. Don’t tell him I told you, but like dude he would like honestly he wanted to kill himself when you call him Dancing Hippo.’ So Alfie received this information and I think he sent me a message about it. And he said ‘is this true? Look at this.’ And I said ‘Alfie, that is Nehring. And that guy is Nehring. And *that* guy is Nehring. And **that** guy is Nehring. And they’re trying to trick you.’ And he said ‘what? What. You guys are all trying to trick me together.’ And i’m like ‘no. They’re trying to trick you to see if you’ll be extremely cruel with information that you received.'”
Ethan says Jimmy Bradbury was the character Nehring was playing. The “seeing if you’d be super cruel” line is in light of the context of Alfred being abusive towards Nehring, and seeing what Alfie would do when given this seemingly sensitive information about Nehring.
So what was the other side of the story behind the “I feel like choking you” bit?
“Somebody posted something mean about Alfie, I found out who it was, I think it was on my Facebook page, and I took it down.” Ethan left it up initially, and so Alfie said “Ethan is responsible for harassing me.” which led Ethan to say the “Take down that message” line. Ethan still viewed Alfie as his friend after that “I feel like choking you” line. He was just on Van Sciver’s “last raw nerve” by this point.
That led to their first falling out in September 2012. The story gets hard to follow here as Alfie is jumping around the timeline throughout.
Here’s the DMs he presents next in his piece, arranged properly for the sake of clarity.
“Alfie would constantly PM with me with complaints about the way he was being treated on my page. Constantly. Relentlessly. And I would say to him ‘you’re being obnoxious. On my page. Now if you don’t want to get treated like that by people, stop being obnoxious on my page. If you want to just be treated reasonably? Act reasonably towards these people. Argue the way some of the other nicer people who argue on my page do.’ And he would say ‘Ohh I’ll try.’ And then he would go back and say incredibly obnoxious things to people. He’d get out of control. He’d get out of hand, and then he would come back crying to me. He told me I was a father figure to him, which I think was the weirdest moment of my life as a professional. I considered him a friend, and it became clear – he kept saying ‘but you are famous artist Ethan Van Sciver,’ I’m like ‘I’m your friend, Alfie…'” then he goes into the screenshot itself. “Where’s the post before this?” Ethan asks. “This looks like I’m manipulating him.”
Ethan says he came back twice. Six months later, then a year later. Just to ask Alfie if he was still mad. “I did contact him unwantedly twice and I’m sorry,” Ethan admits. Van Sciver says they were both friends and he got the wrong impression.
Alfie posts 11/29 a second time. Ethan points out that Alfie used the screenshot twice and that events were placed out of order. It looked like he contacted Alfie after their falling out. When it comes to “Nothing happens that I don’t know about.” Ethan says he was kidding around. “Those 4 IDs” were all telling him about the Dancing Hippo.
Part 3 is where we get some clarity. Alfie and Ethan made up enough to the point where he went on Ethan’s “VANSCIVERTOWN” podcast.
In his response video to Alfie, Ethan explained what exactly this show was.
“In 2011 I started up a page. A private page that I invited my closest friends to, and family. It was a page that where I needed help because it was becoming clear that I was about to go through a divorce. People who were on that page (my closest friends) all became “VANSCIVERTOWN.” It was kind of like a place where I would go and say you know ‘she said this to me’ and I would whine and complain and ask for advice about my marriage that was falling apart. I got good help from the people that were in there. I invited people in from church, I invited people in from, like, my mom was there, my brothers (a couple), maybe one of my sisters, and some Facebook friends. People that I knew and wanted to get closer to, were all part of this support group called “VANSCIVERTOWN.””
The episode in question took place on May 3rd, 2013. Alfie, Ethan, and the other guys had a civil conversation for the majority of the show. Even back then he was telling people outright “i’m just one of the guys, not a celebrity.” Alfie was quiet for most of the time, telling the gang he had to scoot out at some point to see Iron Man 3. But he stayed anyway and he loosened up some. Even saying it was “going better than [he] thought” at one point.
You take that, add a drunk Michael Nehring, and you throw in a debate about politics? It was a recipe for disaster. Alfie took that back-and-forth banter personally and left suddenly. It was such a spectacle that it made sense for Ethan and the podcast crew to talk about that ordeal for the rest of the show.
The follow-up show happened on May 15th, 2013. Alfie wrote a letter and Ethan read it on-air.
“well I listened to the podcast. Really wasn’t the big deal that I thought it was going to be. You said it was going to be non-political but obviously that wasn’t agreed upon. As expected they couldn’t help but talk a little trash after I left. No big deal, really. Well everyone kinda made a big deal on whether or not I was broken, or “I hope he’s ok.” Like I can’t take a joke, or there’s something wrong with me. Including you. One of my favorite lines was “the real test to whether he’s okay is if he comes back next week.” As if there’s no valid reason to opt out, huh? Interesting. So next week will address me insulting CHV, eh? You guys are making a mountain out of a molehill. If my comment had been race related, y’all might have something there. As it is, not so much. It was pretty funny hearing CHV get all amped up at the start for what he thought was going to be confrontational. Randy Perry seems to think y’all enjoy the thrill of pissing people off and convincing them to come back for more. I don’t know if I buy into all that. I’m just not really seeing the upside of VANSCIVERTOWN yucks. No harm. No fowl. Life can resume as it was, I suppose.”
On the podcast itself, Ethan says he “didn’t have issues with Alfie, Alfie had issues with” him. In regards to the “fags” comment, Ethan says that was a byproduct of growing up with four brothers and a neighborhood full of Italians. They beat each other up and call each other names like that. He notes Alfie was madder at him for not sticking up on his behalf, more than the guys who actually yelled at Alfie in the first place.
Ethan explains in his response video that there was an effort on his part to mediate the heated tensions between Alfie and others in the Facebook group.
Alfie says he didn’t block them because he didn’t want to exacerbate the situation. Again he mentions “daily” “derisive” comments on Facebook (on his own, on his law firm’s, and his girlfriend’s) yet he shows no links to that. Again. The instance he *does* demonstrate screencaps of is from a thread on a post by his friend Lita Rebello. However, we can’t see any comments by Alfie because here he apparently blocked Ethan, contradicting his own earlier statement saying he didn’t block him. If you analyze the contents of the thread itself, Mike Nehring and Ethan (assuming his comments are even there because we can’t see them) are simply carrying on a conversation about the podcast. This bothered Alfie and he goes out of his way to make a dramatic situation out of nothing. Next, he shows three random comments on his girlfriend’s modeling page photo. Alfie had issues with the wording of them and says they were references to other things. There’s no direct attack on Alfred there at all. Where this *is* happens in the next photo. A fake account going by the name of Natasha Knight comments and says “Alfred Norris raped me,” alleging Alfie and Bill Cosby took turns on her. Later we see a photo from Alfred telling Kevin Oakley to stop contacting him, even though we haven’t seen anything insinuating Kevin was in the first place. Alfred shares another message of the same request soon after. But beforehand he sandwiches in a screencap from a *different* Facebook user that DM’ed him confusingly.
Plus, a message from Ethan thrown in. Passed along via a mutual contact after he and Alfie had their falling out. To clarify the confusion this message is real despite the fact it comes off as possible Alfie wrote this on his own accord.
No. I checked with Ethan. It happened.
Alfie was talking about Ethan negatively on his Facebook page, stirring the pot. Ethan heard about it and asked him to stop. The conflict between the two led to the message you see above. The context of the message is Alfie’s job as a cosplay costume maker is illegal (thus the mention of copyright attorneys). DC Comics doesn’t crack down on the process itself with an iron fist. But, with Alfie Norris going to the degree and capacity of which he did make the higher scale of his business apparent.
It turns out reportedly Alfie Norris was taking people’s money and didn’t produce costumes anyway.
Alfred’s blog is hard to follow. It gets easier when we get into the section about fake accounts. Alfie shares a post demonstrating he asked his friends to help report a fake account. That one was Malfred Malfie Morris. Jalfred Jalfie Jorris made sexual comments on one of his girlfriend’s Facebook posts. So did Lalfred Lalfie Lorris. We see Lalfred went further and commented on Alfie’s own posts, going as far as to mirror posts by Alfred on their own Facebook page. On more than one occasion. On another occasion, there was a Jalfie Borris calling Alfie “Hitler,” “Phaggot,” and a “pretty little cuck princess.” Then there was a Zalfred Zalfie Zorris, an Alfred Alfe Norrees, Halfred Halfie Horris, and Salfred Salfie Sorris too.
The last remaining bit involves an Adam Kast. He contacted Alfie pretending to want to mend the fence, but the conversation went elsewhere in what looks a troll effort by Kast to get some kind of legal representation from Alfred.
A majority of part 3 is from people that aren’t Ethan but Alfie alleges Ethan was behind it anyway. Ethan admits Alfie went through a lot in that regard. He does not believe the fake accounts were from him or anyone he knew.
“Alfie’s article was a sad and sordid affair of some actual true and ugly harassment. Much of which he probably deserves. From people who have interacted with him, who have dealt with his abuse. His harassment. His language, his vile, coarse treatment of other people. And Alfie has turned that around, and laid that at the feet of me. I was his friend. We had a falling out because I got sick of it. I got sick of it, and this fellow? The type of fellow who gets upset because I take another man out to see Bruce Springsteen, that isn’t him? This fellow wrote an enormous column defaming me, accusing me of things he has no evidence for, and that are currently being circulated by people who are calling me names. Calling me a harasser, calling me an abuser, calling me a bully. For their back-up, he posted a link to Jeff Hartz, who stalked and harassed my family, until we got brave enough to tell him to go away. And he uses that as proof, as evidence, that I am all the things he accuses me of being.”
It was some time after they stopped being friends that Ethan heard about things Alfie was involved in, like the story of Socies Wilson. As someone who has an interest in cosplay and convention stuff, Socies had a run-in with Alfred Alfie Norris. Specifically, Alfred is alleged to have made sexually charged comments towards this girl. Who at the time was underaged. Socies revealed this on August 15th, 2017. Coincidentally around the same time Ethan Van Sciver was facing another wave of social media backlash. Wilson came out of a hiatus she was in to tell this story, along with some encouragement with her friends to motivate her. Socies removes herself emotionally as much as possible. That’s intentional. She says it’s so the public can review the facts and make their own mind up as best as possible.
Below are the screenshots Socies shared of her encounters with Alfie Alfred Norris.
“Im to the point where I’m wondering how hard it would be to get green makeup off from your body off my junk,” Alfred wrote.
Looking into the matter further, I managed to get a copy of another DM exchange Alfie sent someone. This comes from a reliable source that’s close to the situation.
Mr. Norris allegedly wrote:
“Not to be evasive, but I enjoy a wide range. From a bratty teen who teases and seduces and gets blackmailed into playing… to much younger, still learning what all the body bits do. For me it’s about helping a little get to that mindset where she can release and let go.”
It’s unclear whether or not these situations Alfie may have been involved in could be related to the brief loss of his license to practice the law. Past records indicate Alfred Norris was suspended in 2016 in the state of Alabama, with a further recent reprimand taking place this past January 23rd.
The two incidents of 2012 and 2015 were enough to get the public to believe Ethan Van Sciver is a cruel maniac who sends his fans to mob random people. The person who wrote the IGN forum post from 2012 wants you to believe that Ethan and his ex-wife were vindicative enough to put a target on their back for a charity effort. But as you saw Ethan explain, the other side of the story indicates the key details that were painted in a different light to look more favorable for Jeff Hertz. He thought he became friends with Sharis. However as Ethan went over, Sharis didn’t exactly see themselves as Jeff’s friend. That forum post set an example of how to come off as damning, however. Enough so that Alfie Norris was able to adapt that example for his own four-part series. One that Alfred says tells the story of how Ethan (the “ringleader”) led a gang of tormentors to use him as a punching bag. Yet again though there’s another side to it. As Ethan discussed in his video explanation, his friend Alfie Norris wasn’t exactly someone who came off clean in this ordeal. Ethan Van Sciver showed sufficient evidence that demonstrates that Alfie Norris had a “provocateur” reputation on Ethan’s Facebook page. He looked for fights, and the variation between what Alfie says occurred and the reality of it is striking. When Ethan and Alfie had their falling out, it became clear he had more on his plate than he thought. Which in itself Ethan condemned.
But there’s still another angle we need to go over with the Ethan Van Sciver situation. Who is Diversity & Comics? What exactly is ComicsGate? These two elements serve as a backdrop to this online environment that every played out in.
If you want a short version about what people see as going on here with #ComicsGate, it’s the most recent surge in ComicsGate interest happened at Marvel’s recent snafu at 2017 ComicCon where comic shop retailers essentially sent a message to the company that forcing diversity in comics doesn’t sell. It got to the point where they replaced editor-in-chief, Axel Alonso, with someone who has a more traditional background in the industry C.B. Cebulski. A lot of hooplas happened because of moves Brian Michael Bendis made at Marvel. The most prominent of these being forcing Miles Morales as a replacement for Ultimate Peter Parker, and Riri Williams becoming the new Iron Man. While both of these characters are black, people’s issues with them are the circumstances in which these characters are introduced, and the quality of writing behind them. These recent decisions made by Marvel are what necessitated the rise of channels like Diversity & Comics. Who has a catalog of videos speaking out against these decisions “The Big Two” (Marvel and DC Comics) make. Making efforts to point out not just the decline in writing quality, but spotlighting bad actors in the comics industry who take to social media to do things that chases away customers.
Longer? Well. Strap in.
On July 28th, 2017, Marvel editor Heather Antos posted a selfie with other Marvel staff enjoying milkshakes. After receiving some ugly tweets, Heather lamented about it the next day. The resulting media coverage (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) helped to create this deeper ideological divide within the comics industry. It’s part of a larger schism informally known as #ComicsGate. The term itself follows off the general labeling practice of these sorts of situations.
The online world has adapted in the wake of GamerGate’s war. Before the advent of Facebook and Twitter, it was generally accepted by creatives that their work was destined to be criticized by the public. For better or worse. Make something good, and people will buy it if they think you earned their dollars. Today’s social media entitlement age has shifted the perception of value when it comes to the artistic mediums of entertainment. People are making things with the belief that it’s inherently good by default simply because they built it with a certain ideological lens. What gets lost in that shuffle are the objective factors of what separates a good story from a bad one. Writing composition and structure with a logical flow that compels the reader’s interest. This is all coupled with the reality of modern technology binding us all closer together in terms of communication accessibility. To put it another way, the lines separating a creator from the public have blurred and thinned. Whereas in the old days, someone had to write a physical letter and mail it when they wanted to give an artist their two cents. Now it’s as easy as a few clicks and strokes of the keyboard and mouse. Smashing the enter button and instantly making your voice heard. Now the tables have turned. Especially as it applies to the comics industry. The value of feedback is usually not taken in full, written off as a “vocal minority” of enthusiasts (“geeks and nerds and dorks”) that supposedly don’t represent the entire audience.
With all that in mind the “VOTE WITH YOUR WALLET” mantra becomes ever more clear.
The man at the center of ComicsGate is Diversity and Comics. A YouTube channel that has a habit of being blunt and honest about their perspective on the state of the industry. As a result, his critics have labeled D&C to be a sexist/bigot/racist. Ethan Van Sciver is considered guilty by associating with this individual in any capacity.
On January 29th D&C did a video pointing out that founder/editor of DoomRocket Jarrod Jones made a threat of violence towards Ethan Van Sciver if he were to show up at Emerald City ComicCon.
The Diversity & Comics YouTube channel started back in April 2017. They currently have 58,000 subscribers according to Socialblade, and they’re growing at a solid pace. Ethan Van Sciver did a livestream with D&C on January 16th, 2018. Shortly before the Darryl Ayo ruckus first began. Ethan describes D&C as a “headless horseman of Sleepy Hollow” that people know exist, but only talk about him in whispers. His real name is Richard C. Meyer and he comes from a military background, serving in the Marines. Ethan says even D&C’s biggest enemies would have to concede that at least he’s a big comics fan. The two during this livestream connected with having similar professional acquaintances “way back in the day,” and on their similar disdain for how people in the industry behave. At the time though, Ethan didn’t see the “mean girls” vibe that has been described to him. But even before the Darryl Ayo incident, he knew it was out there. D&C says he was inspired to join YouTube because of a channel by Captain Cummings. Ethan learned to treat his fans like customers from D&C. Getting people back into comics shops is one of their mutual aims. But along with that comes accepting the reality that “SJWs” have chased away normal customers. D&C started his channel during a crucial year in comics (2017) where shops basically limped through the year with unsold comics (many of which were in the “diversity quota” variety) dragging them down. Neither of these guys wants to replace these SJW comics with “alt-right” stuff, they just want to return the medium to its state of balanced normalcy. Ethan disagrees with D&C’s theory that the “Milkshake Girl Incident” was manufactured by the women involved in order to save their own jobs.
When it comes to Diversity & Comics industry-side background, he explains it here. D&C says they chose their name because people like Kieran Shiach between 2014 and 2017 were handed the “keys to the kingdom” of comics and drove it straight into a ditch. These people who were preaching this gospel of “diversity” actually created the opposite of that in action. This “homogeneous state” of far-left extremist ideologues. On the other hand, D&C says they started their comics career back when Ronald Reagan was in the White House. The X-Men were the most popular superhero team back in 1988. Storm was their leader on a team with 50% women. A few of D&C’s favorite superheroes growing up was Night Thrasher (black) and Northstar (homosexual).
“Nobody has had a problem with diversity, going back to the 1960s. But you guys are not about diversity. You’re about scaring and chasing away everyone who isn’t like you,” D&C says.
In September 2017, Mark Waid helped boost D&C’s online presence significantly when he posted his intent to confront him at ComicCon on Facebook. A separate incident where people fantasized violence against D&C is addressed in one of his videos.
To find out what Diversity & Comics really talks about in his YouTube videos, I checked him out. One of the recent ones he released was “Marvel Insider Tells How BLEEDING COOL, Comic Book Deep State & Portland Comics Mafia Destroy Pros” back on February 8th. A Marvel insider tells D&C the pattern of destructive behavior involved in the industry. They point out the root of these kerfuffles lies within a few dozen people kicking up enough dust to get companies to notice.
Using the recent Nolan Bushnell Atari incident as an example, this person correlates that with what happened to Ethan Van Sciver.
“Just like the SJWs in comics, the SJWs in video games can scare off an organization with two-dozen tweets and a few hundred likes. As it is in comics, these tweets from fringe outsiders are shared by a couple of rabid SJW pros and used in an article hit piece. This is precisely how the whackos have been trying to take down Van Sciver and Malin. The people on the ‘comic deep state’ list say that they don’t have power, but people without power don’t confidentally launch campaigns to get people fired. These people know the power which is why they launch attacks. They know it only takes a few hundred retweets to get a publisher’s attention, or a Bleeding Cool article. If some ‘legit’ website runs an article about it, the accusations magically become real. I think that’s why Darryl Ayo kept tweeting about Ethan. He wasn’t obsessed so much as persistent. He was looking for the right tweet to go viral and catch the attention of pros. He knows how the game works. He knew that calling Rich Johnston a coward would result in the much needed article on Bleeding Cool.”
They go on to say that the industry has given a lot of power given to a small group of damaged people. D&C’s agenda appears to be identifying troublemakers in the industry who are trying to tear down good people. He notes that it’s too easy for careers to be ended, but not easy to find talent to replace that. D&C says there has to be room for an apology.
In another video, Diversity and Comics is aware that three loud people with Twitter accounts can destroy someone’s career. To counteract that, he suggests efforts to try and use his own influence to #MoveTheNeedle in a positive way. D&C wants companies to search the hashtag and see people buying comics and helping support the medium. He says this shows the difference between themselves and SJWs. Since the latter tends to demand books of certain kinds and ends up not buying them. D&C doesn’t approve of the boycott lists that people were making in the #ComicsGate hashtag. Stopping short of full-on denouncement.
Another angle that Diversity and Comics emphasizes is the poor interaction between creators and fans. In one video he points out a jab made by Magdalene Visaggio in particular.
He calls Magdalene “fansphobic,” and says the above situation shows how backward the comics industry is if a customer has to provide customer service. In a situation where Magdalene doesn’t even respond to the person directly, instead, they use this person’s tweet as an opportunity to mock the individual and put them down. “It costs you no money to act professional,” D&C says.
Another video on D&C’s channel talks about the difference between criticism and insults (he makes fun of someone’s eyes for being too far apart in a lame throwaway quip early on). But then he gets on to the main point of the piece by talking about Scott Snyder. He’s seen as a solid example of how to do things right. If you don’t like his comics he’ll DM you and politely ask how he can do things better. D&C says it’s not a coincidence that Scott Snyder (talented and also good at customer service) is also one of the most successful people at the company. In contrast, D&C presents Alanna Smith of “SJW Marvel,” referring to her as one of the “milkshake girls.” One of a bunch of women who were hired either without experience or terrible experience (his words, not mine).
D&C’s main critique is that it’s abhorrent for Alanna to make a statement about one race, one gender, and one sexuality in her above tweet mentioning “white straight guys.” It’s a strawman argument that’s never been true in the thirty years that D&C says he’s been collecting comics for. He points out that Alanna Smith responded to Scott Snyder’s legitimate statement, with someone illegitimate. Twisting his words to invent another way to insult the customers of Marvel.
D&C says Marvel went from 20% to 80% women in their assistant editors department. He stresses the issue isn’t the fact Marvel hired women. D&C points out that in Marvel’s “virtue signal” effort to hire women on a basis not based on merit, these new employees have no desire to improve their work performance. The problem with that is the ripple effect it has on the comics industry. D&C shows an article titled “THIRD COMIC BOOK STORE IN THREE MONTHS ANNOUNCES CLOSURE IN SAN DIEGO” from Outhousers. It was a store D&C had fond memories of, personally. D&C indeed sounds a bit outraged here. What he’s seeing is stores closing while people like Alanna Smith are chasing away their consumer base online. Alongside odd decision making when it comes to what these comic book companies ship out to retailers is what contributes to stores going under. D&C states that comics places need a couple years to go out of business and that the effects aren’t immediate. These brick and mortar stores that had decades of work invested into them are forced to close because of this dynamic.
Most prominently in recent memory on the Diversity and Comics channel is a video titled “The Comic Book Industry “Deep State” Is REAL,” uploaded on February 5th. That’s essentially the name D&C gives what he sees as the gatekeepers of the comics industry. People who weren’t exactly in high positions but able to wield a huge amount of influence. It’s these same sorts of people kept popping up over and over again in drama situations online. It’s their tendency to brag about their actions that D&C was able to discern that Joe Glass (working with Bleeding Cool) was behind the effort to get his channel taken down.
A Marvel insider that D&C is in contact with gave him the answer to this ongoing mystery. This person says their main weapon is rumor spreading. Another industry insider was having the same line of conversation with D&C, going as far as to name some of the people involved in this “Deep State.” Darryl Ayo in particular cost D&C’s insider two jobs. In 2016, after this insider had some online banter with Ayo, their work at Image and Marvel disappeared without explanation. This insider was told they “pissed off the wrong guy.” There are two types of “Deep State” people. The rumor creators and then those who spread it.
In a follow-up video, D&C emphasizes how things need to change. What the problem is and what needs to stop. The comics public is willing to forgive Pros for bad behavior. This portfolio of behavior that D&C refers to is the consumer base’s memory for the hostility directed towards them by creators in the industry. The main example that he gives, and which serves as the background for the video, is Heather Antos taking the piss out of some random potential customer online.
D&C simply recommends that creators don’t make comments like the one you see above. That’s the long and short of it. There’s hope for anyone to change their ways. Nobody has to get “removed” from their jobs, either.
But in “Marvel Insider Reveals What’s It’s Like To Work For The Milkshake Girls At SJW Marvel” D&C tells us that this is the environment of fear going on today. This insider was condemned for saying fake nerd girls are a thing that can happen. Their opposition labeled them a “misogynist” for not believing women wouldn’t want to change anything when coming into the comics industry. Collectively, informal agreements were made against rape depictions in comics. This notion of displaying women as victims had been talked about and addressed since the 1960s. But modern feminism decided to dig that argument back up again. The insider told his colleagues that caving into these political moves was a slippery slope where the bloggers would make more demands afterward. Private emails of support were sent to the insider, but these folks were afraid to speak their mind publicly and engage these war-hungry politically correct feminists. The insider says it’s too easy to piss off the progressives online in today’s toxic social media environment. Waves of private support, confined to that because of the waves of hatred from “nutjobs” publicly. They mobilized. This is due to the internet allowing damaged, obsessive people to easily group up. Led by people who don’t like the industry but like the idea of changing it. Newbies hired off the street meant to be taken on the same level of seriousness as experienced industry folks who rose in the professional world based on merit and tact. These “Heather Antos” feminists (using the phrasing given by the person in the video) have taken over the assistant editor positions company-wide. If they make it to a higher position within the company these people are more likely to hire ideologically similar people themselves. The Marvel insider says there’s no more creators or editors to stand against this because they’ve been totally “cucked.” Weak-willed beta men who have no idea how to tell a woman “no.” D&C refers back to Heather’s tendency to chase away consumers with the type of tweets and posts they make online.
Another insider names several figures in this comics industry “Deep State” who use the social media snowball effect to wield their influence.
- David Brothers: manager at Image (now works for Viz), made sweeping changes in favor of SJWs and his friends, leading to sharp decline in sales.
- Darryl Ayo: sells mini-comics, creates them. Judge at comic festivals. seen as having influence in trying to shape the ideology of the comics industry, been around since 2010 and sooner.
- Matt Santori Griffith: store owner, senior Editor at Comicosity website. Habit of calling people a “nazi” and spreading rumors regularly. Launches boycotts that don’t go anywhere.
- Christopher Sebela: writer. huge rumor spreader (cited as #1 of that by D&C’s insider sources), seen as one of the worst next to Tess Fowler. Got work at Marvel but kept at an arms distance. Runs a nightly Google hangout full of other industry folk, and that serves as a place for rumors to propagate.
- Tess Fowler: writer/artist. “most hated woman in comics,” says a female insider to D&C. D&C notes that Tess Fowler’s artwork is beautiful and fantastic, but bogged down by their online behavior. In recent memory, back in November 2013 Tess Fowler destroyed the career of Brian Wood and accused him of preying on women. D&C says he was constantly getting work from the big two and poised to be the next big thing. Until that fiasco.
- Andrea Shockling: fan? (D&C doesn’t elaborate on why this person was named by the insider.)
- Jennifer de Guzman: journalist. Doxed Diversity and Comics.
- Heather Antos: accused of actively harassing and attacking the fans. D&C says she wasn’t hired on merit.
This list would come up in a later D&C video where Magdalene Visaggio shares a snapshot of a #ComicsGate tweet, which in itself states the people mentioned need to be expelled from the industry. This is said on the basis that these individuals are working to push consumers out of comics that don’t share the same ideological stances as them. D&C mentions that Magdalene Visaggio used to be male and people in the industry couldn’t stand them back then. But after they transitioned, it was seen as “in” to clamor all over them, from a professional standpoint.
“so FUCK YOU. FUCK CIS ASSHOLES. FUCK YOUR BULLSHIT. GET READY FOR A BASEBALL BAT TO THE TEETH.” — Magdalene Visaggio, 5:13 PM – 27 Jul 2017.
The misconception is that #ComicsGate grouped these people together because they’re “minorities.” Magdalene says “i am simultaneously a nobody with no career and an imminent threat to DC Comics.” D&C says she’s implying it can’t be both, but he thinks it can. That she wasn’t hired on merit or talent, but because of being trans. People don’t have a problem with gay or trans characters, it’s being told they have to like the creator based on those particular qualities.
D&C says SJWs don’t sneak in, they go in and “hold the door open” for their friends. He names IDW and Image as examples of this happening. These people who can’t sell books and battle customers, chasing people away in a process that hurts the comics industry. The difference is “who attacks fans” and who doesn’t. The reality is retailers aren’t selling this product they were emotionally blackmailed into stocking in the first place. On the side of the creators, creativity doesn’t give you the right to be an asshole. Contractors not employees argument be damned, because it doesn’t cost you a dime to be nice to people.
A particular element of the comics industry D&C highlights in one of his videos is the Portland Comics Mafia. According to an insider who spoke to D&C from Portland, this indie comics mafia serve as gatekeepers who collude to keep aspiring new blood from entering the industry. None of them have successful careers on their own, and their constant stream of indie comics canceled for low sales by issue 5. Why do these politically left people have power? This insider specifies the power lies in the network of friends at the smaller companies. If you are a new creator at these smaller companies and they don’t like you, they can sabotage your career. Lower-level work at smaller places is required for a resume to get into bigger places. The end result is controlling the flow of new talent and backs up the assertion that “only SJW talent” gets pushed to the front.
This insider goes on to name some people in this “mafia” group. Justin Jordan, Christopher Sebela, Amy Chu, Alex de Campi, Ryan Ferrier, Ulises Farinas, Curt Pires, and Paul Allor. Infighting and jealousy are common, with members falling in and out of favor. The worst crime is becoming more successful than them, turning quickly on those who do. Joseph Keatinge was a former member and had a hit with his GLORY series. This led to work with Marvel that pissed off the other mafia members. So when Marvel work dried up, the group allegedly ostracized him. This collective of people has their own sycophant followers, who go out and help spread damaging gossip against other creators. This insider names Christopher Sebela as one of the worst, running a nightly Google hangout with a slew of comic book folks. In what’s described as a chain of “talking shit” that leads to work prospects drying up for whoever is their targets.
D&C makes it clear he doesn’t want anyone going after the people mentioned by this insider. Neither do I.
Even if people like Susan Auger condoned going after Ethan Van Sciver’s children.
It’s not my place to say Ethan is a good or bad person. I just believe that everyone benefits from having all the facts in front of them to decide for themselves.