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Do the Right Thing

Fantagraphics, the publisher of many of the greatest comics ever made, is being sued by a petty old sci-fi writer for using an interview even he admits they own and for listing his name on the cover of a book wherein the interview is contained. (In truth, because his widdle feewings were hurt at how they descwibed him).

How to support is here. Facts are here. Helping is as easy as buying really, really good comics. Might I suggest Mome, a great anthology? Or The Living and the Dead, a zombie epic? How about the Complete Peanuts? Love and Rockets collections? Beasts? Some Bill Ward pinups? Usagi Yojimbo? The genius of some Acme Novelty? The potty humor of some Angry Youth Comix? There is literally something for everyone. Go, do it. Help yourself, and help a great company.

85 Comments

Where do I go to support Ellison?

Considering Ellison’s and Groth’s basic personalities, this seems like two vaguely misanthropic, strongly opinionated guys slandering each other. Ellison’s motion might be more convincing were it not loaded with language at least as slanderous as anything it attributes to Groth.

Ellison said nasty things about Michael Fleisher, who sued Ellison and Groth, et al. Groth and Ellison had a falling out during the trial, and have spent years saying nasty things about each other. Groth’s happened to publish some of his nasty claims in a book, and Ellison is suing.

My own take on this is to stay the hell out of it.

Groth put no nasty claims in a book. He put Ellison’s own words of interview.

Harlan Ellison is a dick, he is not a hack.

Ellison has gotten a reputation for being outspoken and opinionated etc. But basically he’s just an asshole.

I don’t pretend to understand the law-talkin’ stuff surrounding the case, but basic research shows that these guys have been sniping at one another for twenty years. Two grown men’s schoolyard nerd fight escalating to the legal system doesn’t interest me one way or another.

I pretty much have no horse in this race. I’ll keep buying Complete Peanuts because I like it, and buy Complete Pogo too. at the same time, if I see an Ellison book in B&N that looks interesting, I’ll

And Joe, considering Ellison’s been honored by the SFWA as a Grand Master, I think “hack” is overdoing it. Unless you think all these guys are hacks too: http://www.sfwa.org/awards/grand.htm

You may think he’s an ass (something many people who’ve known him would agree with you on), but that’s separate from his work.

This piece from the Seattle Weekly goes into a bit of depth on the history of the feud:

http://www.seattleweekly.com/2007-03-28/news/from-hell-s-heart-i-litigate-at-thee.php

I am a bit baffled, though, by the lead’s assertion that there’s some kind of historic bad blood between comics fans and sci-fi fans. On the fringes, sure, but I’ve met plenty of people into both.

Winning an award doesn’t make you an unhack. James Cameron won an award. Gladiator won an award.

Look at it this way . . .maybe it’s schoolyard stuff, but Ellison’s trying to hurt Groth’s (spectacular) company, and at worst for Ellison all that got hurt was his feelings.

Look at it this way . . .maybe it’s schoolyard stuff, but Ellison’s trying to hurt Groth’s (spectacular) company, and at worst for Ellison all that got hurt was his feelings.

You could also point out that Groth would look a lot better if at some point he would at least own up to the fact that “my pettiness and inability to let this idiot nerd-feud go has resulted in the many fine artists and writers that depend on my coimpany for their income being thrown under a bus.” I’d look much more kindly on that than this pseudo-heroic First Amendment stuff.

Yeah, Ellison’s being a dick. But he’s not the one that’s been stoking the fire for twenty-seven years.

Hey, let’s not insult dicks and asses. They’re perfectly delightful body parts.

Well, I’d argue that neither James Cameron nor Ridley Scott are hacks. Also that the Grand Master Award isn’t just something they give away in Cracker Jack boxes.

Joe, have you read anything by Ellison? Are you judging his writing at all based on a critical evaluation of his work, or are you calling him a hack simply because you want to have Gary Groth’s back?

Call him an ass, call him a sue-happy wimp, call him late for dinner, I don’t care, but if you’re gonna make comments about his writing, do it based on the writing, not whom he’s pissed off.

As for the company: It’s certainly unfortunate that this feud has escalated to the point where it might hurt innocent people who have nothing to do with it. But that doesn’t suddenly turn Fantagraphics into Sparta, or Gary Groth into Leonidas. From an outsider’s standpoint, neither man comes away looking good.

Also, if only to satisfy my own morbid curiosity, I’d like to see a lawyer’s chiming in on how likely this case is to bankrupt Fantagraphics. Certainly, the legal fees won’t be cheap, but at the same time, it looks like it’ll be really hard for Ellison to prove his case. If he loses, the judge might order him to pay the defendants’ fees. And Fantagraphics have countersued, which could possibly lead to them being awarded damages.

Or, as the article I linked implies, Ellison could just die before the case goes to court. In which case, I doubt his heirs (assuming he has any; he has no children, and with a grand total of five wives, the divvying of that estate is gonna be one hell of a clusterfuck) will share his terrier’s tenacity for holding a grudge.

I also wonder if Groth has considered appealing to the CBLDF for aid. It’s not their usual type of case, but if it really is a First Amendment issue, it seems up their alley.

And let’s not forget: A comic company going bankrupt and still continuing to publish material unimpeded is not without precedent.

>> (In truth, because his widdle feewings were hurt as how they descwibed him).

Patrick Hamilton

April 13, 2007 at 10:07 am

Michael:

Groth has already asked the CBLDF for assistance and been turned down.

I always think “hack” is just a lazy way of saying “I don’t like this guy’s art/writing/whatever.” It’s the (pseudo-)intellectual version of “that sucks”.

That’s why I avoid the temptation to use the word “hack”, except maybe for Brett Ratner.

I mean, James Cameron is not a very good writer, but I can’t say that the guy who made the two ‘Terminator’ movies (among other great action movies) is a hack. And he writes to his own strengths as a director.

In the war of petty vs. petty, the only winning move is to not play.

Patrick: Well, that answers that question, I guess.

sean: I think “hack” has a real and important use in criticism, but I think Joe’s misusing it here. But not as a pseudo-intellectual (I actually think that’s more of a nonsense buzzword than you do of “hack”), just a guy who’s pissed off.

Just thought I’d mention that Linda Medley of Castle Waiting (published by Fantagraphics) has been running a benefit of sorts for this specific case.

Check out her blog at castlewaiting.com (scroll down a bit) and then click on over to her cafepress page to get a really cool shirt for a really good cause.

Let’s keep in mind that Harlan has registered his name as a trademark, and to keep a trademark, you have to defend it (regardless of whether registering one’s name as a trademark is a good idea or not), and also that he’s claiming defamation for statements made about him by Groth about him trying to get out of paying his legal debts.

You don’t have to agree that his suit is worth pursuing (I don’t), but to say that it’s just that his feelings were hurt by Groth reprinting his own words is incorrect.

For the record, I think both parties are morons in how they go about things. I wish they’d both grow up. Imagine how many more good stories we’d have if Ellison would just concentrate on writing, and how many more good comic books we’d have if Groth would just concentrate on publishing high-quality work.

Rereading Omar’s post, I feel compelled to make a correction. Ellison was actually complimenting Fleisher in that interview all those many years ago. Which just goes to make the ensuing events all the more absurd.

Wow. Joe Rice’s post and comments here are horribly one-sided, rude, petty, and immature. I don’t think I’ll bother reading any more of his posts in the future.

Both Ellison and Fantagraphics have done some good, important work.

Both have acted like asses regarding each other. Ellison might be cranky and overly-litigous, but Fantagraphics have been poking a mean dog with a stick for 20 years and now they’re running around crying about being bitten.

Nothing I’ve read of Ellison raised him above “decent competent genre hacksman” to me. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, some fun stuff has been written by those guys. But I don’t get the reverence. Or, frankly, how including an interesting, important interview is some affront to him. Ellison’s suit is ridiculous, no matter how dickish Groth has acted in the past. Ellison is the one that decided to litigate vs. a good company just because of this long, tired grudge. Groth’s been an asshole to him in the past, but including this interview isn’t an example of such.

If I seem pissed, yeah, I was. But not because I’ve taken Groth’s side in some playground fight I wish they’d both leave in the past. But because Ellison is bringing in a publishing company full of great work and contributers in this current escalation.

In otherwords, don’t punish Fantagraphics for Groth’s mistakes. They’re the ones with something to lose here. Ellison’s just trying to lash out.

And John, whoever you are, bye!

I like Fantagraphics.

Um, if I buy one of their books through the LCS or chapters or something, does that help them at all? I ask because I’m broke, but have gift certificates.

Joe, my understanding from reading Ellison’s complaint is that at least part of Ellison’s claim involves his contestation of Groth’s own recollections regarding Ellison trying to evade court costs and some legal fees, etc., in the “oral history of Fantagraphics.”

Indirectly, yeah! Said shop then has to re-order book to keep it in stock, so that’s more money for Fanta. Good work, stealthwise!

Omar: Yeah? I didn’t get that, but it could be. Even if so, sounds pretty frivolous to me, and just the newest, nastiest part of a dumb feud.

This entire thread is going to get everyone sued.

Re #25: What, specifically, have you read of his? I’m not sure how one would call I HAVE NO MOUTH AND I MUST SCREAM or PAINGOD “hackwork”- he was a part of the New Wave of SF back in the 60s, mostly doing unconventional stuff.

It may have seemed unconventional then, but nothing has impressed me so far. Granted, I have an inborn distaste for sci-fi to begin with, so I might not be the fairest judge. He’s not a BAD writer.

Wow, you guys are kind of late with this, aren’t you?

On the TCJ message boards there’s a lot of clarification of legal stuff available: what’s at issue in the lawsuit, for example! Also quite a lot of (seems to me, anyway) restrained speculation by lawyering types. Pretty informative.

Sorry, no link! Don’t have time to find it right now. Whoops.

Michael said: “In which case, I doubt his heirs (assuming he has any; he has no children, and with a grand total of five wives, the divvying of that estate is gonna be one hell of a clusterfuck)…”

Actually, the first 4 wives are SOL on this. Only the current wife is a legal heir.

Joe Rice said: “Granted, I have an inborn distaste for sci-fi to begin with…”

Comics are fantasy or science fiction, depending on the character.

Iron Man…science fiction.
Superman…fantasy.

plok said: “Wow, you guys are kind of late with this, aren’t you?”

Yep. Several months late, and did no research, either.

CBLDF opted to not get involved with this case because it did not involve a governmental agency.

That’s the key to claiming it is a 1st Amendment case: it must involve a governmental agency. The 1st Amendment pertains to the Government trying to stop free speech.

“with a grand total of five wives, the divvying of that estate is gonna be one hell of a clusterfuck”

As mentioned, the first four are out of luck…particularly since Harlan and Susan celebrated their 20th anniversary last year. While Harlan probably has various other specific bequests in his will, I’d be shocked if Susan didn’t get the lion’s share of his estate, and certainly more than any other person (I’d consider it a possibility that a fair amount might go to setting up a foundation or something similar, thus the qualifier. I’ve no personal knowledge of what’s in Harlan’s will).

Joe, frankly I consider you incompetent to judge Harlan’s writing. For starters, you keep referring to him as a “sci-fi writer”. As Harlan himself has pointed out many times, and which is obvious if you look at his work, while he has written science fiction, the vast majority of his work fits better under the fantasy label (with a possible side order of magic realism).

You also toss aside the number of awards Harlan’s won, and don’t seem to know what the awards are or how they’re selected. Harlan’s won numerous Hugo and Nebula Awards, which are voted on by, respectively, members of the World Science Fiction Convention and the Science Fiction Writers of America (and yes, fantasy is eligible for both awards). He’s won multiple Writers Guild awards for his scriptwriting. The Grand Master award is given by the SF Writers of America at a rate of less than one per year and is probably the most presitgious award in sf/fantasy. It has not been watered down, and to receive it says that your writing peers consider you one of the very best writers in those genres over a long period of time.

It’s fine to say that someone’s work doesn’t appeal to you. To use a classic Fantagraphics book, Love & Rockets just never did anything for me (and I lived with someone who did like it, so I did read a fair amount of it). But I’ve never claimed it was bad or hack work; it’s clearly quality work, but of a type that doesn’t personally appeal to me.

Frankly, you weaken your own case as you’re coming across as someone just proclaiming “X is attacking company Y, whose books I like! Therefore, X must be belitted, incompetent in their craft, and who cares about what the case is actually about! X is a poopyhead!”.

“Comics are fantasy or science fiction, depending on the character.”

No they aren’t. Superhero comics maybe, but not comics.

“No they aren’t. Superhero comics maybe, but not comics.”

Oh come on, Joe. What is Fun Home then? Lesbians are a great magical race of people, much like orcs or elves. Maus? Everyone knows that the Holocaust was pure science-fiction. A CONTRACT WITH GOD… given that the title character is the greatest fantasy character of all-time? ;)

Btw, I ordered a volume of Mome and The Living and the Dead.

Stealthwise: HA! And AWESOME!

Tom: Hey, I already said I was a bad judge of his work. And my opinion of his work has nothing to do with the issue, really. It’s just how I talk. Oh, and:

“You also toss aside the number of awards Harlan’s won, and don’t seem to know what the awards are or how they’re selected. Harlan’s won numerous Hugo and Nebula Awards, which are voted on by, respectively, members of the World Science Fiction Convention and the Science Fiction Writers of America (and yes, fantasy is eligible for both awards). He’s won multiple Writers Guild awards for his scriptwriting. The Grand Master award is given by the SF Writers of America at a rate of less than one per year and is probably the most presitgious award in sf/fantasy. It has not been watered down, and to receive it says that your writing peers consider you one of the very best writers in those genres over a long period of time. ”

None of that is at all impressive or meaningful to me. Sorry.

Oh, and I meant to say this to mike a while ago: Scott and Cameron may not be complete hacks, bug Gladiator and Titanic are hackworks.

Lesbians aren’t magic. Their science is just so advanced, it looks like magic.

Wow, what a woeful post and comments. I never imagined CSBG, absolutely one of the best comic-related websites, could be so … jejune (to borrow a keyword within Ellison’s 14-page complaint, which is actually worth reading if you’re going to post your opinion on it).

“(In truth, because his widdle feewings were hurt at how they descwibed him).”

You have no idea how much respect the phrasing of this statement will cost you.

Joe Rice, whoever you are, bye!

Yup, I think I can agree with that sentiment. Joe Rice, whoever you are, bye.

Comics journalists should be good.

“I don’t pretend to understand the law-talkin’ stuff surrounding the case, but basic research shows that these guys have been sniping at one another for twenty years. Two grown men’s schoolyard nerd fight escalating to the legal system doesn’t interest me one way or another.”
-Michael

I agree wholeheartedly. I can’t imagine wasting a single penny on this childish pissing match, and if anyone outside of Groth or Ellison has a partisan stance, it suggests to me a sycophantic devotion just for the sake of it.

Rice: You are a colossal tool. Get off your knees.

This isn’t even a first amendment issue (as far as I can tell) which is why CBLDF isn’t getting involved. If my neighbor claims I badmouthed him and we both have a feud that goes back for years and years, it’s not a governmental issue if he gets pissy and decides to sue me. Framing it as a first amendment violation seems to me like a ploy to rally sympathy. Otherwise, CBLDF would be more than happy to help.

Anyone contributing is just funding a petty slap-fight between curmudgeons. Ridiculous.

“…to borrow a keyword within Ellison’s 14-page complaint, which is actually worth reading if you’re going to post your opinion on it”
-Ken

“Comics journalists should be good.”
-Gil Jaysmith

Both good points. You link to TCJ and Fantagraphics as citations for factual, objective evidence as to why we should support Groth. Gee, those two websites wouldn’t be biased at all, would they?

I agree with Gil that you’re doing a disservice to yourself and the blog in terms of legitimacy. You’ve completely abandoned anything even remotely resembling objectivity and even gone so far as to adopt a chiding, immature tone to further your point… your stance seemingly based on fanboy-ish dedication.

Nobody takes Ronee Bourgeois seriously as a comic book journalist anymore because she let her own bellicose partisanship obfuscate her role as impartial third party. She also tried to rally the troops in the name of a legal misadventure that was more bluster than substance. Ironically, you faulted her for her actions, and now you’re doing the same thing.

No, you’re mistaken. Joe said the facts can be gotten at the link, and they can. Full stop. Your idea that he claimed they were his “citations for factual, objective evidence as to why we should support Groth” doesn’t make any sense: Ellison’s documentation is there too. And anyway, none of us are lawyers (well, at least you and I aren’t; even a jackass could tell that), so what the hell do we know about what kind of “evidence” it is?

Of course, you seem to be saying it may be biased evidence, designed to part people from their money, or at least from their common sense. Gee, really? See, I think that’s a buncha crap, if that’s what you meant. Obviously Joe’s opinion is that Ellison is full of shit and that Fantagraphics is great. No surprise there. But, Joe twisting the truth so he can scam the crowd on Gary’s behalf? Nonsense. All you have to do is click on the word “facts”, for God’s sake. It isn’t exactly the Da Vinci code.

And by the way, I believe Ellison has told his meesage-board supporters that he doesn’t expect them to deprive themselves of Fanta’s Pogo, Popeye, and Peanuts re-issues, etc. Says he’d buy ‘em himself, if he didn’t already own a bunch. So, good news, eh? And no reason in the world not to buy Fantagraphics now, so at last, everybody’s happy.

[quote]None of that is at all impressive or meaningful to me. Sorry.[/quote]

I can understand not being impressed by industry awards generally…but in this case, I’m thinking it might be a better idea for you to explain objectively why the science-fiction/fantasy professionals are wrong and you’re right.

Using your influence to promote a cause (albeit not a particularly inspiring one) is good. Doing so in a manner that suggests serious personal bias…not good.

I’m a journalist now? That’s a huge surprise to me. I write reviews and opinions, not news stories. And like plok said, Fantagraphics of COURSE would not be an unbiased place to get the facts, but the truth is they link on those pages I showed to the actual court facts and documents.

Of COURSE I’m biased . . .I’ve never claimed otherwise. I think, as plok says, Ellison’s suit is full of shit. I also think Groth has been full of shit during this whole feud. But damaging the company is one line too far for me, and I see no reason not to go buy some great, great, great frickin comics if it helps undamage said company.

Look, I’m not looking for respect (or journalism cred) from folks that get this mad reading someone’s opinion about a court case and what to do about it. If your issues with Groth or Groth and Ellison both are so strong that you can’t even buy some admittedly amazing comics, that’s your problem.

Who would even BEGIN to think of me as a journalist? That’s crazy talk.

And KM, I’m not saying I’m right and they’re wrong. I’m saying I don’t care. It’s not my thing.

“(In truth, because his widdle feewings were hurt at how they descwibed him)”

I think I stopped caring about here. As someone with no real knowledge of Fantagraphics or Harlan Ellison this would have been the ideal chance to convince me one way or another so it’s a shame you had to phrase it in a way which undermined your argument.

Geez, sorry, Caleb. I’m not a debater, really. I thought just putting my opinion out there was dry and boring. I didn’t realize a dumb joke would upset so many.

You have rallied me, Joe. I will buy lots of Fantagraphics comics this weekend to make up for the imaginary sales they appear to have lost from people so turned off by your horrid tone that now they will not buy books they weren’t going to buy anyway.

I’m a journalist now? That’s a huge surprise to me. I write reviews and opinions, not news stories.

Yeah, but you’re also the author of a lengthy and impassioned post on the absolute need for objectivity. :) Unfairly or not, I think you’ve set a certain standard for yourself…

Anyway, thanks for clarifying.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could write something on-line without a bunch of self-righteous nerd assholes getting up your crack because you ripped on their favorite nerd author?

“Oh shit! Someone I don’t know just made a wiseass comment about that smug dork that wrote that Star Trek episode where Bones goes crazy! I better defend him, lest my whole world-view crumble!”

It’s okay guys. Joe can say things like this without urine filling up your Lucky Charms.

Anyway, if sci-fi dude wins his case, everyone here who mentioned his name is in line to get sued too. So contact your lawyers, Trekkies.

km: Interesting point. To me, I was then talking about degrees of objectivity in reviewing art, but I can totally see how that would bite my ass a bit on this post.

To make it clearest, this column is completely subjective opinion of mine!

Julio Dvulture

April 14, 2007 at 7:06 am

As good as Fantagraphics maybe, it is endangered only by the stuborness and petiness of its owner. So I will do the right thing: I will stay the hell out of this playground fight. Because, really, if he couldn’t stop being childish long enough to remove a text from a book not yet published just because he want to piss off Ellison, maybe the company deserves to go under and those great authors would be better served by a professional editor, not infantile one.

Don’t be as petty as Ellison and Groth, Julio.

I think the problem is that you’re mixing up two points. The one you care about, obviously, is “Fantagraphics publishes great books and you should buy them.” No problems there.

But you’re also trying to make the argument – unsupported and unresearched, judging by this post – that Fantagraphics is the target of a frivolous lawsuit by a mediocre writer. And honestly, I think it’s hard to conclude on the evidence that this is anything other than the latest round in a petty pissing match that’s been going on for 20 years. While the lawsuit, in a vacuum, might be fairly silly, there’s been enough malice on the part of Fantagraphics towards Ellison that it’s not hard to believe they really did set out to defame him.

Supporting a publisher you like is one thing. But asking people to support a couple of jerks who could have easily avoided this mess just seems absurd. If you don’t care about the details, fine; but don’t lead with a haphazard and uninformed opinion about the lawsuit and that absurd “Defend the 1st Amendment!” graphic.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if you could write something on-line without a bunch of self-righteous nerd assholes getting up your crack because you ripped on their favorite nerd author?”
- Richard Flair

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I never mentioned being a fan of Ellison (I’m not).

“I will buy lots of Fantagraphics comics this weekend to make up for the imaginary sales they appear to have lost from people so turned off by your horrid tone that now they will not buy books they weren’t going to buy anyway.”
-Ed Cunard

I never said I didn’t like Fantagraphics, either.

My only point was that this isn’t an issue worth taking sides over.

It CERTAINLY isn’t a 1st Amendment violation. There is no constitutional breach here. It’s not like someone is being imprisoned without trial, or that the FBI is targeting non-violent war-protestors. In fact, Groth isn’t even being censored. He can publish whatever he likes, and apparently chose to publish something construed as offensive.

The framing of it as a “freedom of speech” debate seems like a fairly weak attempt to make it look like The Man is coming down on poor old Gary Groth when, in reality, both sides in the debate have a hand in it and both sides have a case. Not only should there not be a “defend the 1st Amendment” logo at the top of the site, titling the post “Do the Right Thing” is equally ridiculous. Some would argue that choosing NOT to publish inflamatory material and thus driving your company into bankruptcy would have been the right thing.

At this point, our (bloggers) taking sides wouldn’t be a matter of right or wrong, just a matter of liking one guy’s publication history more than the other. I think some of the people posting on this thread are just calling for impartiality, pragmatism, and taking a non-committal, adult approach to two men bickering like children. I’m a bit disappointed with the tone of your post, but only because I enjoy this blog enough to expect better coverage than mindlessly toeing the party line.

I completely agree with Ryan Day above. Comment 62 is one of the better arguments for pragmatism here. If you want to buy Fantagraphics books because they’re great, then go ahead. More power to anyone who supports good work. I just think it’s completely misguided to go around with your hands outstreached, begging for money to pay for legal fees that could have been avoided with some prudence and forethought. Again, pretending one side is Objectively Good and the other is Objectively Evil at this point is nutty.

As for you being a journalist, I just think it’s funny that you criticize Greg Burgas (or anyone else) for inserting too much of their own subjective opinion into a blog that’s supposedly here to represent what are objectively “good comics”. When it comes to reading reviews you don’t like, they need to adhere to stricter standards of integrity, but when it comes to rah-rah-rahing Fantagraphics, you can be as blindly loyal to brand names as you like. I don’t have anything against you or the blog, it just seems like a double-standard. Keep in mind when the whole Ronee Bourgeois thing went down, you did call her out on lack of journalistic objectivity and she was in the same situation that you’re in now: just a blogger with an opinion.

These comments are exactly what I expected when I read your post, Joe. Well, I was expecting some unfounded speculation on Fantagraphics’ insurance policy. I guess there’s still time for that, though.

“I don’t have anything against you or the blog, it just seems like a double-standard. Keep in mind when the whole Ronee Bourgeois thing went down, you did call her out on lack of journalistic objectivity and she was in the same situation that you’re in now: just a blogger with an opinion.”

I’d say there’s a significant difference. In this case, Joe is–rightly or wrongly–calling on people to spend money in support of a civil case. He hasn’t, that I’ve seen here or elsewhere, muddled in a criminal case that left fingers pointed at people uninvolved due to misleading vague statements, nor has he said he’s the only one with the courage or temerity to cover a case the mainstream comics media doesn’t want to touch, calling into question the “journalistic objectivity” of everyone else on the internerd.

“To make it clearest, this column is completely subjective opinion of mine!”

The fact that you even had to say the most obvious of all obviousnesses means that yes, Virginia, the sky is falling.

And I didn’t even bring my umbrella.

“Keep in mind when the whole Ronee Bourgeois thing went down, you did call her out on lack of journalistic objectivity and she was in the same situation that you’re in now: just a blogger with an opinion.”

As Ed pointed out, these two situations are wildly different, for a variety of reasons.

WILDLY different.

Wow. If anyone thought this (truly late) opinion piece about supporting a good company was an attempt at objective reporting, they need to take a step back from the keyboard.

Calling it an opinion piece doesn’t mean people won’t call you on it when you:

- get facts incorrect (Ellison is suing primarily for defamation, not merely the interview/cover)

- off-handedly dismiss Ellison’s work (of which I’m not even a big fan, but hey – this whole mess started because Gary Groth thought he was an important figure)

- disregard a quarter-century of feuding and petty squabbling and grossly simplify the situation to “Ellison is mean and Fantagraphics publish good books.”

It’s quite absurd. If you want to hate Joe for being derisive to Ellison, then fine, whatever. And if you want to hate this site for giving Joe the opportunity to be derisive to Ellison, then fine, whatever.

But this is strictly an opinion piece. Nothing more and nothing less. It is fairly clearly an opinion piece.

An opinion piece that has, at the very beginning of it, “by Joe Rice.” So while I happen to agree with the gist of Joe’s post (A. Fantagraphics is a great company and B. Ellison’s case seems wanting), that does not mean that Joe is “speaking for Comics Should Be Good.” It’s not some collective hive mind.

We all have our opinions, and I like everyone to have the freedom to express that opinion, even if it is one that I, personally, disagree with.

ETA: Ryan’s post (which he posted while I was writing this one), though, was a lot better than most of the criticism Joe was getting. That’s some fine criticism there, Ryan!

Richard Flair’s lumping in “Trekkies” with the people leaping to Ellison’s defense is wonderfully amusing.

Yeah, some Trekkies are alright.

Fantagraphics is publishing an interview with Ellison, and are promoting the interview in a book. But Ellison doesn’t like some of the things that he said in the book, and he doesn’t like the guy who owns Fantagraphics. So he’s suing them to stop them from publishing material that even Ellison acknowledges they own.

That’s about the gist of it, right?

I’ll be buying some Fanta books this week.

That’s about the gist of it, right?

Not entirely.

Gary Groth also writes about the trial that led to the whole hullabaloo, and he says several unflattering things about Ellison, who considers this to be libel. Defamation is the big part of the lawsuit. Who knows if it’s true or not, but Groth & Thompson have taken pretty much every opportunity to snipe at Ellison over the years, up to and including forming the “Enemies of Ellison”. I’d probably consider the comments innocuous on their own, but Fantagraphics have given Ellison plenty of ammo over the years. The Comics Journal has certainly spent a lot of time writing about a guy who hasn’t done much work in the medium.

The other part isn’t quite about the interview. Ellison doesn’t deny that Fantagraphics owns it; he claims that Fantagraphics doesn’t have to right to use his name to promote the book. Which seems a bit of an arbitrary distinction, but I can almost-kind-of see his point.

The page Joe links to actually has some very good info, including Ellison’s full claim and Fantagraphics’ rebuttal (which is rather more legalese)

BAH!

I’m out of this.

Joe, you are entitled to your opinion without question, however, others are equally entitled to their opinion regarding yours. Anyway, please look up the First Amendment as it has nothing whatsoever to do with this lawsuit.

They don’t have a banner without “first amendment.”

…and I am entitled to my opinion that people are acting like… well, like they got their widdle feewings hurt.

Regarding the involvement of the First Amendment, here’s Fanta’s justification for invoking the phrase.

“Notwithstanding Ellison’s own denials (embedded in the text of his rambling lawsuit), we consider this suit to be a petty and malicious effort to trample our 1st Amendment rights to truthfully relate the history of our company, and to cost us money and time.”

“Anyway, please look up the First Amendment as it has nothing whatsoever to do with this lawsuit.”

Some folks seem to disagree.

But I imagine that will be settled in a court of law, rather than in blog responses, no?

exactly ALex. It’s quite puzzling to read people again and again understanding “1st Amendment Issue” as “clear violation of their 1st Amendment Rights”. Not the same.
That said, the claim to a 1st Amendment issue strikes me as tenuous as well.

I’m also partly shocked partly amused by the declarations of intellectual bancruptcy inherent in responses along the line of “it’s just an old feud”, “best not get involved” or “how can you know who’s right here” or “both have been dicks to each other”. Do those people self-identify as mentally challenged? There are legal documents available, anyone willing to do so can inform themselves and form their own opinion. No need to argue them or be interested enough in the first place, but if either of these is the case, that can be stated without having to resort to nonsense-phrases. As to the “feud”-line, it appears (but probably isn’t the case) that people are too dense to understand that it doesn’t matter who has been the bigger jerk over the years. That’s not how morals work and it certainly isn’t how the law works. There is a concrete claim/suit here which will be settled/decided one way or the other. Groth could eat little children in his spare time and still be 100% right in this case and vice versa.

I always smile when I see someone post something like: ‘I’m not going to be a part of this’

Just by taking the time to compose and post a comment, you have, in fact, participated. You just haven’t added anything of note to the ‘discussion’.

What I find distasteful with this case is that Ellison seems like someone who has no problem when he’s the one calling people names.

That’s not how morals work and it certainly isn’t how the law works.

Except it is, kind of. If I understand American defamation law correctly, Ellison needs to prove that Groth’s comments are untrue and that they were made maliciously.

I have no idea whether they’re true or not, but Fantagraphics have provided plenty of evidence that they don’t like Ellison, and have taken several opportunities to insult him.

Joe, you are entitled to your opinion without question, however, others are equally entitled to their opinion regarding yours.

I didn’t see anything where Joe said they weren’t. I did see something along the lines of “I don’t really care if my post has offended you”, but he’s never claimed to be entirely empathetic to the readers.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

April 18, 2007 at 3:54 am

“Nothing I’ve read of Ellison raised him above “decent competent genre hacksman” to me. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, some fun stuff has been written by those guys. But I don’t get the reverence.”

That is subjective, not objective, something that you’ve complained about before.
He defnietly has a voice to his writing, and his work has more levels to it than just a surface one, so ‘genre hacksman’ is a misuse of the term.
You’re sounding more Joe Quesada than Joe Rice by ignoring that and getting defensive.
(sorry if that’s too harsh)

” Or, frankly, how including an interesting, important interview is some affront to him. Ellison’s suit is ridiculous, no matter how dickish Groth has acted in the past. Ellison is the one that decided to litigate vs. a good company just because of this long, tired grudge. Groth’s been an asshole to him in the past, but including this interview isn’t an example of such.”

Neil Gaiman succesfully sued over using his name to advertise the the TPB of the mini-series Angela by Todd Mcfarlen (among other things), so there must be some merit to the claims of Ellison over using his name to advertise a work.
(Maybe they should just put the publisher on the cover without a motuh to poke fun at Ellison’s story ‘I have no mouth but I must scream’. Those who were going to buy it already would get the joke, and with a clever tag it might appeal to the casual shopper).

Ellison and Groth have both made valuable (dare I say, even essential) contributions to certain media and genres, which would be woefully poorer without them.

Ellison and Groth have also both become completely inexcusable assholes as the decades have gone by, to the extent that they actually prove correct the Dr. Evil quote, “There’s nothing more pathetic than an aging hipster.”

My point is, I still want to support their respective works, but I really wish I could do so without lending any support whatsoever to the two men themselves.

So, I’ll continue to buy Ellison’s stories and the stuff out of Fantagraphics’ catalog that interest me, but I’d feel much better about it if I could be picking the pockets of Ellison and Groth themselves to pay for their work, so that the work could continue, without bankrolling either man in the process.

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