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January 15, 2018

A Few, Quick Words On An Argument Portions of Which No Longer Exist

I don’t have a whole lot to say about the current set of realities facing the publisher 2dcloud. I don’t know enough not to sound stupid. In the grand tradition of CR, here then are 800 likely-to-be stupid words.

imageIn case you missed it, the long-running alt-publisher 2dcloud recently dismissed core cartoonists Andy Burkholder and Blaise Larmee due to incidents related to harassment -- details occluded both generally and here for the sake of those victimized. Then there were charges that either the incidents were known or could have been Nostradamused/Columboed from the art each cartoonist had made, which I don’t understand and don’t think art works that way. They’ve also since moved publishing control -- someone correct me if I’m wrong on the details here, please -- from longtime front man, publisher and I think co-founder Raighne Hogan to former associate publisher Kim Jooha, with various members of the immediate 2dcloud community in support.

Update: I became aware of this article with a lot more information about ten minutes after I hit the submit button. I also have to rewrite a joke that no longer applies.

While there’s been a lot of e-mailing and talk about this series of events and 2dcloud’s past/future in particular filling up my inbox, I haven’t seen a whole lot that’s public. I even had to have someone text me a snapshot of the latest pertubation in the whole affair: former TCJ Co-Editor and Picturebox Inc. Publisher Dan Nadel building on what seems like was the same argument expressed 100 social-media cycles ago by his former TCJ partner Tim Hodler: that it’s odd there was not one but that there were two harassers of the press-the-eject-button variety in the catalog, and that this state of things should be questioned above and beyond their removal. When Dan wrote it, it sounded more like 1980s James Spader saying it, I’m sure.

I don’t think Dan and Tim are wrong to have this thought -- questioning narratives is what journalists and editors of journalists do. I don’t think an open-ended question or two is the same as pursuing that kind of thought. I mean, I do that, too, especially these days, but it doesn’t make it fair or even useful. I’d have to know a lot more about the situation to figure out if my own open-ended questions would be the right ones. We lack knowledge more than we have knowledge. The big one is on timing: who knew what and when. The others are very nuanced community dynamics. It’s possible that a publisher might have a culture around it that leads to problems it later has to take action to solve. Sure. It also may be that a culture drives the solution to pre-existing problems that slipped past the previous culture; or that a culture might impede progress because of other, positive qualities; or that broken down step-by-step these aren’t issues you and I find as troubling as that community does, and so on. We should all continue to pay attention and keep asking whatever questions we feel compelled to ask, but when to come forward is another set of decisions.

This is going to sound evasive to some, but I sense there’s a lot of pain here on all sides, and in a New Year -- it’s not 2018 until I do laundry -- I’m going to at least hope for less of it. I wish for everyone, the unnamed victims to the vaguely yet seriously incriminated, the best outcome possible. I welcome and encourage the reporters and critics looking for a more satisfying truth and hope that one day those discussions can be had. I feel for Hogan and hope he’s okay; publishing is hard, publishing art is harder and publishing by force of will over a long period of time is certainly the hardest of those three things and probably impossible -- even if Groth and Thompson look to have scowled their way to front-page NYT obits. I wish the new publisher(s) the best of luck although if it’s not too late I might suggest they start a completely different endeavor with the same aspirations and less of the overall baggage. There are a lot of companies out there that divested of their first acts would be more greatly appreciated for themselves.

I’ve been talking to several of my friends with more experience in this specific world than I have, including a half-dozen either published or formerly published by 2dcloud. While having a publishing slate that does not match the values of the publisher and its attendant community is a problem worth fixing, it’s not the only problem that companies like 2dcloud face, and almost never will solutions to one problem fix another. 2dcloud raises its capital via serial kickstarters that barely make their goals, which can exhaust a company of goodwill and limit its ability to operate. Like many small companies, 2dcloud seems to struggle with both the strategy and execution of publicity. In recent years the bulk of what I hear about the company is that its projects been conceived at the far end of their ambition in terms of print runs and price points, when publishing to the realities of right now in every way except content might have been more wise. I suspect over time most publishers are judged at least as much by the ethical, positive treatment of their artists than they are by the ethics of their selection.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

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