Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

March 2, 2014

What Few Updates I Have On That John Campbell Thing

The cartoonist John Campbell posted a lengthy message on a Kickstarter saying that she was going to stop fulfilling incentives at about 75 percent of completion. This led to a wave of concern for Campbell, confusion as to what she's doing, anger if what she's doing is what some people think she's doing, people agreeing with an implied criticism of capitalism as it relates to art, people deriding any such cultural criticism as unserious and beside the point, and all the usual passionate opinion within a very specific context and world that one might expect when someone who is well-liked enough to have her work supported does something extreme and public.

A few things I've seen:

* Gary Tyrrell is my go-to person for news about the world in which John Campbell has functioned as an artist; this was his post last Friday.

* I found this article helpful in terms of providing a bit more detail, even though as much as I understand the narrative it presents I find its conclusions unconvincing. I was told via a couple of e-mails and twitter that this article was not a good one, but I was unable to get anyone to unpack that for me. To be clear, sending people to read an article is not an endorsement of an article and all of its conclusions, I don't endorse articles unless I say "I endorse this." I do find some articles useful, though, and that includes this one; and even that can change as more information becomes available. As is the case with all articles, even the ones I trumpet to the heavens as gospel, I trust in your ability to discern what rings true to you and what doesn't.

* I didn't find this article useful at all, but I'm sure it worked some people up.

* this is a Tumblr post that several people have passed along with a version of the events leading to where we are right now. A key there would be that this isn't a bolt from the blue for the backers and others, just those of us in a wider community and interested in comics more generally that paid attention to this story once it gained some steam via the alarming Campbell post.

* it's sad to me that Campbell's friends that have expressed concern for the well-being of their fellow cartoonist while at the same time being clear that destroying work people have paid for is a bad outcome have to defend themselves as if they did not qualify their concern. In fact, I would wish for a world where concern never had to be qualified, although I get it and that's not a criticism of the very real place I assume those friends are coming from in making that known. Sadly, there's not a whole lot of room for nuance on-line, or complex truth, or even patience for getting to one of those places. The timing of this kind of thing always gets weird. If there's a discussion to be had about the nature of crowd-funders or capitalism in art or whether or not someone is being an asshole or not -- or whether someone is in an awful place more generally and could use some help -- I think it can wait a few days until friends and family ascertain if someone's harming themselves or in immediate danger.

* this is apparently Campbell's tumblr, with book-burning video up top.

So that's what I have right now. As always, I'm happy to hear from anyone that can shed more light. My hierarchy of concern starts with severe personal pain and immediate personal safety and then folks immediately feeling an impact and then to the structures and then to the sensibilities of on-lookers, and I think there's plenty of time to figure all of it out moving forward. If I can do anything to help divorced from my capacity to try to relay to people what I think may be happening, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink

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