Taking a Swipe at What Passes for Comics Journalism

Normally I don’t waste much time thinking about Rich Johnston, professional comics journalist. However, recently he featured a pal of mine, Cathy Leamy, in a feature on his site. Unfortunately, that feature is called “Swipe File”.

If you’re not into comics, you may not know what a swipe file is, but you can probably guess. It’s a term for a collection of images that an artist “swipes” — that is, copies — from. It’s not a term of endearment. While it’s true that even some of the big names have been caught swiping others, there aren’t many artists who would be pleased to find themselves accused of such.

On Rich’s site (which I’m not going to link to; even the paltry hits I’d provide would be too many) he compared the cover of Cathy’s minicomic, Geraniums and Bacon #4 to Ryan Kelly’s cover for Local #12. Both were labeled as coming out in 2008. Since Ryan Kelly’s book is more well known (and was displayed first in the post), the implication, along with the title “Swipe File” is that Cathy swiped Kelly’s art for hers.

Problem is, G&B #4 didn’t come out in 2008, it came out in 2007. Given the context, that’s a huge difference. This “professional” didn’t even bother to check that the date he was giving was correct (it’s printed on the inside cover of the minicomic, and the blog entry linked above is from 2007.)

When this was pointed out to him, he “corrected” the error by changing the date on his site. So now what were we to infer — Ryan Kelly swiped from Cathy Leamy? Nobody thinks that. Clearly it’s just a coincidence that the covers look similar; the image on both is pretty basic and straightforward. Nevertheless, it’s still labeled “Swipe File”.

A bunch of us who know Cathy were just bamboozled by the whole thing. Swipe? Really? This is going to be the first time many people see Cathy’s work and right out the gate she’s pretty much labeled a plagiarist. What’s up with that?

However, as Rich points out, just because the feature is labeled “Swipe File”, it doesn’t mean he’s saying that one of the images is a swipe of the other. In fact, the page has a very “professional” disclaimer on it:

Swipe File understands presents images to comment on their juxtaposed similarities and/or differences and makes no allegation that either was inspired by the other. Swipe File subscribes to the concept of IdeaSpace, synchronicity, ideas whose time has come, and all the rest.

So there, that settles everything! Just because he labels it a swipe doesn’t mean he wants you to infer it’s a swipe.

There are plenty of ways to do this sort of thing without having to accuse anyone of anything. For example, Bully has a regular feature called “Separated at Birth” that handles this same idea but also allows for homages, coincidences, and parodies without making any accusations. I even suggested to Rich via Twitter that if he wants to also handle such things without problems, maybe just change the name of the feature to something like “Twinsies” or whatever.

Rich, however, wanted to handle this like a professional. He felt that changing the date was good enough, and besides, he’s got the disclaimer! The place where he swiped the idea from (his words) called it “Swipe File” so it has a “long and glorious history” of presenting similar images of all types. In fact, he couldn’t understand why he was getting so much hassle over a simple mistake of putting the wrong date.

Really, Rich? You didn’t see what the big deal was? Your failure to check your facts results in the implication that a comics artist is stealing her material and you want to claim you’re the victim here?

I tried to help him see the effect of what he’d done by asking him, on Twitter, “Would you like seeing your work featured on PLAGIARISM!, even with a note somewhere saying ‘possibly not plagiarism’?” And this was his response:

If “Plagiarism” had a long and established history of not showing plagiarism…

Really, what do you say after that? His argument is, essentially, “Even though I’m using the term ‘A’ I mean ‘Not A’ and don’t know why anyone would assume I mean ‘A’.” As Dorian Wright quoted:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

Rich Johnston still has no idea what he did wrong, and sees no problem with implying someone is a plagiarist, since when he labels it “plagiarism” he means something other than the commonly-recognized definition of the word; in fact, the complete opposite of the commonly-recognized definition of the word. As far as he’s concerned, he’s the one who’s been wronged here. It’s utterly ridiculous.

Considering the level of maturity and competency the “professional” comics journalists display, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the amateur ones must not even be multicellular yet. There really is some great serious, thoughtful, and humorous comics writing being done on the Internet, but very little is being done by the people who somehow get paid to do it.

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51 Responses to Taking a Swipe at What Passes for Comics Journalism

  1. “the implication, along with the title “Swipe File” is that Cathy swiped Kelly’s art for hers.”

    That was NOT the implication. You may choose to use the word in that fashion, Humpty dumpty style, but you are inferring, I am not implying.

    Those were the dates I first had for the titles. When that was corrected I immediately corrected the piece. But there was clarly no tracing, and there were significant differences. There was just an iconic similarity, and I don’t believe one was copied from the other.

    Indeed, if there was an implication, putting the same date on both implied that it was a coincidence, given, you know, how long it actually takes to put a comic together.

    Nevertheless, Swipe File in the Comics Journal ran all sorts of similarities, the Swipe File website did the same and so did Lying in the Gutters for decades with the title Swipe File. And now the caveat on the BleedingCool version is very clear for a reason.

    I choose the phrase “Swipe File” as it has been used in the comics industry for decades. Just as “novel” does not mean new, “comic” does not mean funny and “trade paperback” is actually for the public and has a card cover.

    One of the points of the title “Swipe File” is that it has been stolen from one publisher to the next. Calling it “Twinsies” would end a long and proud tradition.

  2. Wow. You pals of Cathy Leamy are really defensive.

    I saw the original “Swipe File” posting on http://www.BleedingCool.com, and I don’t recall Rich claiming that either image came first. He simply pointed out their similarities.

    The only people I have heard implications from are friends of Cathy Leamy.

    I was also able to look at the two images and see enough differences to know that neither was a swipe.

    And yeah, “Swipe File” has a history of showing images that are similar – and which may, or may not actually be swipes. So deal with it.

  3. And do you know what? Cathy has been very pleasant to talk to online. She alerted me to the problem with the dates, not in any accusative fashion, simply a factual concern, something I was keen to address as soon as I could. And managed not to be sarcastic in the process.

  4. Mike Choi says:

    Mark and Rich –

    Whether you think it’s warranted or not, can neither of you see WHY Cathy Leamy would be upset?

  5. Mike Choi says:

    …or I should say, someone in Cathy Leamy’s position, whether or not Cathy herself did get upset.

  6. Laroquod says:

    I can see why she would be upset if she were in fact upset, but the fact that I can see the reason doesn’t really make it a good reason.

    Some people, and that includes both critics and artists, take the idea of ‘originality’ much more seriously than others. This has always been the case. I am utterly not surprised that somebody used the term ‘swipe file’ thinking it would be viewed with automatic irony, whereas somebody else takes that term seriously. Anyway, a critic has no responsibility to treat anyone with kid gloves anyway, so…

    P.S. You should definitely link to the article you are criticising if it is easily available, unless you want all your readers to simply take all your words on faith…?

  7. Maybe it’s just a problem if you’re not familiar with Rich’s column, but I’ve never read the swipe file section and assumed everyone was plagiarist.

  8. Chris Sims says:

    Makes sense. I’ve never read Batman and assumed I was going to see a Batman story either.

  9. Christina Strain says:

    Everyone’s arguments aside, can we all agree that the word, “swipe,” in and of itself has a negative connotation and therefore “swipe file,” might be interpreted that way?

  10. I don’t know, Wally Wood seemed to be quite comfortable with it. Something along the lines of “Never draw what you can swipe, never swipe what you can trace, never trace what you can cut out and paste in, and never do any of that if you can hire somebody to do it for you.”

    Next time I swipe my credit card, I’ll remember how negative that is.

    As ever, context is context. Will some people be put of graphic novels because they think it’s full of people stabbing each other? The title “Swipe File” has existed with this meaning before I even started using the internet, there’s a caveat at the bottom of each of these posts, and basically I’m refusing to rename a long standing tradition over a hypothetical person who will be hypothetically unable to appreciate context.

  11. Christina Strain says:

    Now you’re getting sarcastic with me in the way you criticized someone earlier for being “sarcastic in the process,” with you. Especially when my comment wasn’t even directed at you and you alone in any way that would warrant your comment.

    Even with your sarcastic example of swiping your credit card it still is a synonym for stealing and you can go ahead and try to defend it, but stealing is a pretty bad negative thing according to most people.

    Please don’t quote Picasso in response. I already know the quote.

  12. Mike Choi says:

    Rich –

    I think the main problem IS the context. You group two main sets of “swipes” TOGETHER: the intentional copying or tracing of an existing work, and the similarities between works stemming from coincidence.

    The problem is that one is condemned as pretty much the worst thing that an artist can do, according to the Internet comic book fanbase that includes your audience (you and I KNOW that’s true,) while the other is considered benign and merely interesting. Let’s face it, we all know that a major appeal of The Swipe File is the possibility of catching someone trying to get away with something unethical, and not merely just to see an interesting coincidence. This is why many, even those who are familiar with Lying In The Gutters, look at two works on The Swipe File and immediately evaluate, “Holy crap, that’s a swipe!” or “No, that’s not a swipe, the pose/angle is different, etc.”

    This is why I can safely tell you that NO artist that I know of ever wishes to be somehow named in The Swipe File, interesting coincidence or not. Swiping is pretty much the most unethical thing the average comic book artist can do, and to be grouped in any way shape or form with the intentional “swipers” is something to be greatly defensive about. I suppose from the outside it might be hard to agree with that defensiveness, but as a writer I find it hard to comprehend that YOU wouldn’t be defensive about being put in an article segment where an intentional plagiarist had been featured the week before, for the same reason you’re on it.

    I’m not asking you to change anything, just to understand that this is WHY some people might have the reaction they have regarding their inclusion in The Swipe File.

  13. Mike Choi says:

    Also, Wally Wood shot himself to death. Just because he was comfortable with something doesn’t mean everyone else should be.

  14. Laroquod says:

    “This is why I can safely tell you that NO artist that I know of ever wishes to be somehow named in The Swipe File”

    With all due respect Mike Choi as of this post you can no longer make this statement. I am a comic artist and a filmmaker, and if either a comics critic or a film critic decided to show my image side-by-side with someone else’s, and note the similarity and call it the ‘Swipe File’ I would be ecstatic. Ec-STATIC.

  15. Christina, swiping a credit card is when you put it in the slot of a machine and, you know, swipe it. Not stealing. Just moving it to register its presence and embedded info. Have you never done that?

    Mike, the context here is specifically stating that the column is not alleging theft or ascribing motivation, merely pointing out similarities. And yes, it’s all about the reaction. People are invited to form their own opinion. This post talked about me implying theft, the point of the column is that no implication is made. People infer their own interpretation, which differ wildly and as you show, become a point for debate and contention.

  16. Mike Choi says:

    Rich –

    I understand that you make no implications of plagiarism or theft in this instance, but you have in the past in The Swipe File (For example: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=15559.) If you didn’t mean for people to infer that this one was an accusation of a “swipe” in the negative context, I’d have to say you should have been more subtle.

    (Here’s the thing, if it was something that you outright thought was theft or plagiarism, like my example, I would have no issue with seeing it in The Swipe File, as long as you allowed the accused to defend or explain him or herself first. It would almost serve as an art policing service, and people would be correct in judging and debating something as an intentional swipe or not. That is what they are going to do anyway.)

    But that’s beside the point. Again, I’m not asking you to change anything. All I’m asking you is that, you do understand why someone wouldn’t want to be in The Swipe File and be a subject for debate and contention as a plagiarist, especially if they were innocent, right? Because whether or not that’s your implication, you have to aware that that IS what happens with The Swipe File, the debate of outright plagiarism, and not just a discussion of the similarities?

    At this point, I’m not even looking for an answer from you either way, Rich. I’m just trying to explain why this person went apeshit over something that happened to his friend, and why, though Cathy was cordial and non-combative herself, a lot of the people named in The Swipe File might not be if they were innocent of any plagiarism or theft, even if they were named by you because you saw coincidence and not theft, because you make it a point not to say either way.

    Except Laroquad, of course.

    Sincerely,
    mike

  17. Mike Choi says:

    Ah, sorry. The example I’m referring to would be the Spider-Man one.

  18. Laroquod says:

    I would not even be particularly embarrassed to be the artist behind that Spider-Man example.

    I guess I just don’t have the same reference points. I do not read that Spider-Man Swipe File as an accusation of plagiarism, either! Plagiarism is a very specific thing, that is considered death to one’s reputation. Taking inspiration by employing similar characters, situations, or poses, is not plagiarism, and it is not even clear that the latter is a bad thing – the repetition of poses can be quite ingeniously economical. Even if it is a bad thing, it is far from the plagiarism-level accusation that everybody is making it out to be.

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  20. Christina Strain says:

    Seriously? Are you actually trying to be even more sarcastic with me? Dude, where in my response to you did it sound like I didn’t know what the hell “swiping” was in terms of credit card useage. Are you not willing to accept the fact that the word has MULTIPLE definitions?!
    Listen, man, I have nothing against you, I don’t read your columns, I didn’t even know who you were until like a month ago. I just don’t understand how a guy who’s supposed to be a writer can’t accept the FACT that more than one of the definitions of the actual WORD “swipe” as defined in the dictionary has a very negative connotation. Seriously. It’s not even a subjective thing here.
    And to make it worse, I just read that example Mike left and it looks like exactly what it sounds like. It sounds like you were showing an example of art Greg Land copy/swiped/stole from another piece of print/art/whatever the hell you want to call it.
    You’re coming off pretty hypocritical here to me and like I said, I don’t even know you or read your columns.

  21. Mike, you are totally right about that Lying In The Gutters example. As you’ve proved, the context of each piece is everything.

    Christina, you said “Even with your sarcastic example of swiping your credit card it still is a synonym for stealing” – in that case it is not a synonym for stealing. That’s why I wasn’t sure what you understood. Not sarcasm.

    I am definitely willing to accept the word has multiple definitions. You said “Can we all agree that the word, “swipe,” in and of itself has a negative connotation”. I was trying to point out by multiple definitions that that wasn’t true.

    Christina, like Mike, you’ve shown that context is everything. In the Greg Land piece and in the Local/G&B piece. Swipe File covers so many aspects of similar images, from downright tracing to mild coincidences.

    You may not read my column, but all I rely on people to do… is read.

  22. Laroquod says:

    I appear to agree with neither side in the debate — ah well. My final cryptic attempt to shake some sense into the human beings on this world: Recognise when a gift has clearly been given and when one’s interests have clearly been advanced, regardless of one’s feelings, and don’t point and laugh at the colour of the wrapping paper.

  23. Andrew Weiss says:

    Thus Laroquod seals his place in The Directory of Internet Martyrs forthcoming from Who Gives a Shit Press.

  24. David Thiel says:

    I’ve got no horse in this race, but for fuck’s sake, this “words have multiple meanings” argument is insulting. Yes, you can “swipe” a credit card, just as I can “murder” a milkshake. But the “swipe” in “Swipe File” has a definite (and negative) meaning, and the phrase itself has a commonly accepted definition within the industry about which you write. No reasonable person would look at it and believe you were referring to credit cards.

  25. Mike Choi says:

    David –

    Some of us DO have horses, that’s why we’re making this a point of contention. Although I think this horse is on its way to the glue factory…

    Rich, at this point it DOES seem to me like you’re using excuses like context that a lot of people aren’t going to see to keep doing what you’re doing with a clear conscience. You can’t say that you don’t make any commentary or implications so as NOT to provide context (by putting coincidental similarities AND intentional swipes in the SAME context,) and then break that self-imposed rule, and say it was to provide context.

    I think I really need to stop flogging…

  26. Michael Cho says:

    Hola,

    I am a pretend lawyer, at this point in my career. That being said, if the common lexicon and usage of the term “swipe file” is of a negative connotation, the reasonable person would say that association with such is also negative. Derivative or alternate meanings of the word are not applicable in this situation either, especially in light as many of you are involved comic (a term I am using generically) industry/field. Because of said involvement, you all, will me MORE aware of the negative implications of that association that the average person. In light of that, people in the know, who have a greater knowledge or expertise, have a higher standard of care/duty in using such a phrase.

    The application of that higher standard of care/duty, to that of the average person is not applicable. Example: Oh it’s a “swipe” file, then is the term “swiping a credit card” equally as malicious? No, it isn’t, thats the type of buffoonery that gets you held in contempt by a judge.

    If I got a hundred people in your industry together, and polled them about the term “swipe file,” in front of a jury or judge/magistrate, I’m certain that I could establish common usage and understanding that “swipe file” is negative, and has detrimental effect on those in your industry associated with that term. I’m not going so far as to say that inclusion in the article is libel, because I don’t think it is. However, I would be able to make the argument that no constructive effort was made disassociate Cathy Leamy with “swipe file.”

    Finally, as a nitpicky point, the disclaimer is pointless. It applies to the average person. Like I stated earlier, people in the industry who have a greater knowledge of what the term means, like the author, can’t erase the common lexicon or usage of the phrase. Especially the author of the site, and because I’m willing to bet that past columns would demonstrates that the author does indeed have a very clear knowledge on what the term means.

  27. David Thiel says:

    Mike–

    I definitely understand why you and others are coming to Cathy’s defense. I just wanted to preface my argument by declaring my outsider’s perspective. I’m friends with Dave L., but otherwise have no stake in the outcome.

    That said, the “words have different meanings” argument is horseshit. It’s the Bill Clinton Defense. “Swipe” may mean more than one thing to the general populace, but in the context of a comics industry blog the meaning is mutually understood.

    I would argue that the disclaimer isn’t pointless. It’s got a point, and that point is “I’m making no actual judgments here. I’m just calling the resemblance to your attention and allowing you to infer. Please don’t sue me.”

  28. Laroquod says:

    @Andrew Thanks can I have the URL of this dictionary – I’d like to link it on my site.

  29. Blasterhappy says:

    Even a child knows that the word “Swipe” is negative. I quote Dora the Explorer “Swiper…No Swipping!” (the fox that steals stuff) Now why can’t some adults get it?! Some people bullshit even if the Truth Sounds better!

  30. Michael Cho says:

    David –

    As a pretend lawyer, I see your point about the disclaimer. If and when I decide to become a real lawyer, and need these insane student loans paid off. I’m suing everybody. Us pretend lawyers don’t turn into assholes until we get those loan statements.

    Michael.

  31. R.D. says:

    Rich Johnston still self-serving disingenuous sack of rancid shit: Film at 11. Right after the report about the Pope’s religion and the investigation into the toilet habits of ursines.

  32. Laroquod says:

    Meh. Judging from the precipitous drop in tone the comments are taking, it seems like I walked into the middle of an artist/critic thing with some history I don’t understand.

  33. Jonathan Callan says:

    While I understand concerns from all involved here, I tend to side with Rich. He’s up front about what this section of the column means and has always meant. Yes, people are more than capable of misinterpreting that. But if we’re going to base our decisions on what the stupidest person in the room might think, we’re going to have a very boring industry, all ’round.

    Also, I’m getting very tired of how fashionable it is to knock on comics journalism. Rich is actually *the only* comics journalist I know of. The number of stories that come into our periphery that we never run because it might offend someone in the industry – just as Rich running this feature has offended those here, even after over a decade of it existing in the form it has – would truly shock you . We are, in many ways, an industry of promotion and not of press.

    Rich actually does some digging. Checks facts to his ability. Runs stories whether his subjects will want to be his best friend or not.

  34. Dr. K says:

    Jonathan, if Rich is the only comics journalist you know of, I would suggest checking out Tom Spurgeon at http://www.comicsreporter.com if you want to see how a real journalist operates.

  35. Laroquod says:

    This is an ethical issue, not a legal issue. And if I had written this article, I would now feel morally conflicted over all the hits and attention coming to this page. There is a hair’s breadth of difference if any between what this page is doing to RIch Johnston, and what it alleges he did with Swipe File. There is no need for this hypocrisy. The more morally consistent and incidentally, far socially smarter position is to be open to people criticising you even when you think they are obviously wrong and the things they say make you sound like a wanker or a ripoff artist – those things are not crimes so critical appraisals alleging such are not crimes, either. And no it is not comparable to accusing someone of murder, that is obviously an idea that is totally off its meds.

    It is not hard to clear your conscience when you dash off an opinion of a fellow artist – all you need to do is give the same liberties that you require for your own expression. I find that most of the opinions on this page do not measure up to this standard.

    The Brits have it right. It might be just the online Brits, but I have found them much more comfortable with this sort of thing, and it’s a richer environment more conducive to learning – i.e. I think it’s superior to everyone being ready to take umbrage, because criticism needs to be justified or something. I don’t want to offend everyone but this is the truth so there it is, whether shits are given is incidental.

  36. bugink says:

    wow…I am totally going to buy that little comic about periods and stuff.

  37. Rich Johnston has a long history of acting like an amateurish imbecile.

  38. Raphael Wendt says:

    “You said “Can we all agree that the word, “swipe,” in and of itself has a negative connotation”. I was trying to point out by multiple definitions that that wasn’t true.”

    “As ever, context is context.”
    “the context here is specifically stating that the column is not alleging theft or ascribing motivation, merely pointing out similarities.”
    “As you’ve proved, the context of each piece is everything.”

    All your words, Rich. Context. Big, big buzzword here. That last sentence right there, that’s the kicker. The context of each piece is everything. So forget that “SWIPE” has multiple means. So do lots of words.

    Yes, you do swipe a credit card. But what has that got to do with comic book art here in this context? You can’t argue on and on about context, the context of your article and so on, and then ignore a perfectly valid point because you can bash a homonym.

    I’ve read through these posts, watching people articulate a nice point. Not an argument, mind – a nice point. Explaining things. And you address them with mockery, scorn and sarcasm, ignoring all their points.

    You are entitled to, of course, but you do come across as a man who has obviously realised he’s made an error, and is too damn proud to back down and admit it, so you have to keep on kicking up a fuss, mindlessly putting your fingers in your ears while you repeat to yourself “I’m right, I’m right, I’m right.”

    And, honestly? You’re not.

    Journalist making shit up and acting like a silly little man? Why yes, and scientists today revealed the sky is blue.

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  40. R.D. says:

    Oh for fuck’s sake. For the last time, people: Rich Johnston is NOT a ‘journalist’. The thing about journalists, you see – Or at least it used to be before Matt Drudge and the blogging generation tried to redefine ‘journalist’ to mean ‘any dribbling mongoloid with two typing fingers and a modem’ – Is that they are supposed to actually take responsibility for what they say, not run away squealing every time someone tries to bring up real-world consequences, hiding themselves behind bullshit rationalisations and/or nudge-nudge wink-wink ‘disclaimers’ they know full well 95% of their intended audience will ignore. Rich is just a small-scale practitioner of the routine perfected and popularised by the patron saint of all such vacuous moral wastes, Rush Limbaugh: Garner attention by slinging as much shit around as you can, then excuse yourself by claiming that gosh, you don’t really mean any of it, it’s just a bit of fun, it’s just entertainment BUT OF COURSE YOU MUST TAKE ME COMPLETELY SERIOUSLY WHENEVER I HAPPEN TO FEEL LIKE DEMANDING IT BUT NOT OTHERWISE. Well, sorry, but no. You don’t get to have it both ways.

  41. Jonathan Callan says:

    “Jonathan, if Rich is the only comics journalist you know of, I would suggest checking out Tom Spurgeon at http://www.comicsreporter.com if you want to see how a real journalist operates.”

    Spurgeon is good. But he wields his bias like an axe. He has a viewpoint and he’ll often get in the way of the subject to make that viewpoint known.

  42. Jonathan Callan says:

    I think my point was more that Rich actually digs into things, asks questions and publishes stories without considering publication schedules and who might get pissed. Perhaps using the term “journalist” was a mistake. But I certainly respect Rich for what he does and I’m tired of the double standard applied to comics journalism.

  43. Laroquod says:

    Shall we now have a debate over the definitions of words like ‘mockery’, ‘scorn’, and ‘sarcasm’?

  44. I’m with Jonathan in the sense that I’m tired of this “all comics journalists are hacks and bastards” song and dance. The fact is that every time something happens to bump a creator out of their comfort zone, they cry foul on the comics press. It’s maybe one in every ten times that what’s happening is something that ANY OTHER REPORTER ON THE PLANET wouldn’t have done.

    The difference? Comics is this tiny, insular community where creators (especially those with connections to the major publishers) are used to being pandered to. Publishers and creators want to be best friends with Rich, CBR, Newsarama and the rest when they want friendly, non-confrontational coverage of their funnybooks. But step an inch out of (what they perceive to be the) line, and they’re ready to show us who’s boss.

    As a comics journalist, critic and blogger who has worked as a researcher and fact-checker for a BBC-affiliated investigative journalist with a pair of NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers under his belt, I can tell you that when comics journalism isn’t journalism, it’s because they’re erring on the side of trying to help the publishers/artists/industry and because they all want to be friends (or at least casual) with their subjects. There’s almost no malice or desire to see anyone hurt anywhere in comics journalism (at least where I’ve worked).

    I don’t always love the WAY that Rich carries himself, but the fact is comics journalism needs another dozen guys like him.

  45. Mike Choi says:

    Russ –

    1st paragraph – Who does that? That sounds like one big generalization there. When has anyone ever said “ALL comics journalists are hacks and bastards?”

    2nd paragraph – Really? That also seems like a big generalization. I’m a creator with a connection with a major publisher, and I don’t do that, nor do I think even a significant number of creators do that. From this paragraph I get the impression that you think creators are sending their comics to CBR or Newsarama, and fully expecting glowing reviews every time, lest they incur their wrath.

    How the heck do you think creators are going to show anyone “who’s boss?” Ultimately, when it comes to CBR, Newsarama and all those sites AND their readers vs. publishers and creators, who do you think has the upper hand when it comes to demonstrating any displeasure with the other party?

    3rd paragraph – While there may not be any malice or desire to see anyone hurt, I think what people are saying is that responsibility should be taken when innocent people MIGHT BE potentially hurt, and if not responsibility, then at the very least acknowledgement of that possibility through one’s actions. That’s all I’m getting at anyway.

    Kudos on everything else. The Josh Hoopes scandal uncovering is great work, because people want to read it as an account of justice meted out. Even a “Swipe File” explicitly exposing PROVEN plagiarists would be good for the same reason. But leaving what could be seen as circumstantial evidence of DEBATABLE plagiarism and washing your hands of accountability for what happens to the artists in the eyes of public opinion is just irresponsible at best, and at worst, just a really douchebag move. I think that’s what the “complainers” are getting at for the most part here.

    Sincerely,
    mike choi

  46. Laroquod says:

    “washing your hands of accountability for what happens to the artists in the eyes of public opinion is just irresponsible at best”

    But this is exactly what a critic must do. Art critics do not need to be accountable to the artists for their opinions. That’s what makes them worth reading.

  47. Mike Choi says:

    Laroqoud –

    Who’s talking about art critics?

  48. Laroquod says:

    You don’t consider comics critics to be art critics? Perhaps therein lies the problem…

  49. Mike Choi says:

    Who’s talking about critics at all?