Ringo and Comicsgate (aka the crappiest gate)

Comicsgate, the culture war rebellion that was so self-defeating that it managed to turn its own harassment campaign against itself still drifts on. The anti-free speech group that engaged in online harassment campaigns against multiple creators (e.g. Magdalene Visaggio, Sue DeConnick, Alyssa Wong, Noelle Stevenson and Ta-Nehisi Coates to name just a few) likes to style itself in the standard alt-right opposite-day rhetoric as being pro-free speech and opposed to “cancel culture” “mobs”. The movement engaged in verbal abuse, rape threats, death threats and doxxing as well as calls for boycotts and campaigns to get creators fired for their views. Connected with the harassment campaigns were various crowd-funding attempts by comicsgate creators such as Ethan Van Scriver to take advantage of the outrage marketing to help fund their own projects. [for examples see the references]

When Vox Day decided to attach himself to the movement [see my coverage in the references] the amount of abuse increased but much of the toxicity turn in on itself with pro-Day and pro-Ethan Van Scriver factions attacking each other. Caught in the crossfire (or fuelling the crossfire depending on who you ask) was our old pal Jon Del Arroz, who after spending a few years on his own harassment/culture-war grift, is currently complaining, as a consequence of his comicsgate experience, about right-wing culture war grifters [references].

Well that’s two paragraphs just to cover the background. What has all that got to do with John Ringo?

Currently there is a crowdunding campaign on Indiegogo to turn John Ringo’s zombie apocalypse Black Tide Rising series into a series of graphic novels [references]. The creators involved are Chuck Dixon, Derlis Santacruz, Brett R Smith, and Dave Dorman.

Veteran writer Chuck Dixon became embroiled in the alt-right comics culture war after being recruited into Vox Day’s Arkhaven Comics ‘Alt Hero’ line of comics. Day, in case anybody here has forgotten, is infamous for his support of terrorist Anders Brevik and called the mass murder of over 70 people (the youngest of whom was 14) “a highly effective blow against the political machine”. Day’s randomly vandalised version of Wikipedia also spreads conspiracy theories that casts people convicted of child abuse as victims of state conspiracies [references]. I mention all that not to say that somehow Dixon is guilty by association but to point out which things bother these ‘alternative voices’ in comics and which things very notably do not seem to bother them at all.

Of the others, Brett R Smith openly aligned himself with the comicsgate campaign eg:

However, Smith’s most notable connection was with the comic Jawbreakers, which he worked on with notable comicsgate figure Richard C. Meyer. Smith also attempted to produce a comic in support of violent far-right protestor Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman. Chapman, a man with convictions for robbery, theft, and illegal weapon sales, became something of a hero among the alt-right when he was filmed beating protestors with a stick. Chapman later attempted to set up his own quasi-Proud Boys street-fighting spin off called ‘Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights’. Smith said of Chapman: “I concur but we have an army of our own. @BasedStickMan_ @ProudBoysUSA @Oathkeepers all kept the peace. They stood firm & we won the day.” [references]

I suspect that just listing all this stuff in one place and pointing to the connections will engender counter-criticism that doing so is ‘cancel culture’ or stirring up an SJW-mob. It isn’t. If people want to buy a John Ringo story in comic book form then that’s their business but we shouldn’t be shy about discussing the overt and publicly stated views of the creators. If people state they are engaged in a culture war then it is really odd, indeed psychologically unhealthy, to pretend that they aren’t.

Meanwhile, Baen Books is promoting the crowdfunding campaign on Twitter and in their forum.


22 thoughts on “Ringo and Comicsgate (aka the crappiest gate)

  1. The fact that Comicsgate (along with its predecessor Gamergate) is the most canceliest of “cancel culture”….I guess it’s okay if it’s the “correct” targets?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Perhaps before adapting a seemingly never-ending novel series they should test the market by adapting one of the shorter stories. Perhaps this one. I wonder how many of these culture worriers realise Scalzi has contributed to the series.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. John Ringo, affiliating his intellectual property with individuals with questionable politics?

    Yeah, imagine the gif of Fray going “I’m shocked! Shocked!, etc.” here.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Comicsgate started when a bunch of women Marvel editors went out for a milkshake to celebrate a legendary woman comics editor and took a happy photo of it and put it online. This started a harassment attack at some of the women, claiming that they A) slept with men to get those jobs that should be given to men; B) along with non-SWM
    creators and too liberal SWM creators were mean/un-professional to conservative/libertarian straight white men who were the backbone of the comic audience (they aren’t) and wouldn’t let those men say any nasty, harassing thing they wanted without blocking or pushback; and C) were destroying comics through girl cooties and SJW politics/feminism. This last one was supposedly the cause of monthly floppies sales declining and local comics shops closing (before the pandemic, the number of shops was actually increasing,) and would take out Marvel and DC Comics, to be replaced by plucky but conservative only indies.

    This launched the harassment campaigns that were a combo of guys who really thought the 1990’s muscle comics collector balloon era was the nostalgic highlight of comics and Gamergaters who hadn’t really read comics but pretended to and claimed that none of the legendary creators ever had SJW politics in comics. It was primarily anti-woman, but it got homophobic, transphobic and racist real fast, as a loose conglomeration of different factions. It merged with the men who were angry at Disney comics movies — Star Wars and Captain Marvel and some anime battles from a failed attempt at Animegate. A comics fan and cosplayer who goes by the handle of Renfamous on Twitter decided to engage a lot of them to take the heat off their victims and aim it at her and this was partly successful. They repeatedly doxxed her in the process and one tried to accuse her of sending minions to destroy his mailbox.

    A handful of guys, some of whom have been dropped from DC/Marvel jobs, positioned themselves to crowdfund off the outrage for indie comics projects, some of which were produced, others not and few of them involving comic shops at all. They also used it to make a lot of money streaming and video angry rants again mainly at Disney movies and stabbing dolls of women superhero and Star Wars characters, etc. The most successful of these was Van Scriver. Into this area wandered Del Arroz and he played introducer for Beale to Van Scriver. But then Beale tried to take over and co-opt the term Comicsgate for his comics projects. Van Scriver wasn’t having it and he had the infrastructure. Other internal battles have since occurred among different factions. In recent times, Comicsgate has gotten some negative media coverage as a Gamergate spin-off and some of the creators involved with it have tried to distance themselves from it.

    The Ringo adaptation might involve some Comicsgate players but at this point it’s unlikely to get much of a boost from the Comicsgate audience, a lot of whom have wandered off. The remaining ones have taken great delight in comics creators having to stop working on projects due to the pandemic and distribution problems in the industry and blame it on them being SJWs of course. Ringo’s fans might fully fund it, though, especially if Baen is supporting it.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. this is not meant to be snarky in the least, but does Ringo really have that many fans? I gave up reading his stuff at least 10 years ago, and I don’t bother tracking sales numbers (I just am not that into book stats). So acknowledging that I’m sure I’m not his target audience, I’m wondering if you all have any opinions on whether he’s actually got enough fans to make this work. Given the whole recent Hoyt/Baen kerfluffle, I was beginning to wonder if Baen’s authors weren’t losing their alleged mojo.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. In terms of Comicsgate crowd style numbers, yes, he may have enough pull for funding. Apparently some of his fun fans like to be a pain at conventions, so there’s probably a sufficient contingent. In terms of his overall sales in the field, I have no idea. He’s possibly not as prominent as he used to be.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Is anyone (or many people) who were big at the same time as Ringo’s height as prominent as they used to be? I mean, times change, careers ebb and flow, the market is fickle. All out of an author’s control.

        But if Baen’s still publishing new work by him — and the last of these collections came out only last year — then he’s probably got a big enough fanbase for a crowdfunding project. Whether said fanbase wants a comic book is another issue entirely.

        They’ve got 3 weeks to go and are over 1/3 there, so it’s not a dire situation yet. The sample pages look very polished.

        Brett R. Smith is doing himself no favors with that photo. He literally looks like a mouth-breather. Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel. He must have better pictures of himself.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It seems to me that Ringo is yet another example of the typical pattern you can find with many Baen authors. They have a group of very eager and devoted fans, but comparatively few readers outside this group. And this pattern is mostly found among Baen authors, because Baen fosters a community feeling via Baen’s Bar and also because of Baen’s well-known distribution problems outside the US.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah, quite a few authors who built audiences in the early oughts are still going strong or got bigger. Ringo
        does a lot of team-ups now with other authors, I think. The zombie series that they are adapting has done fairly well. Basically, they give each other work in that own the libs retro pulp corner of the market and there’s an audience for it. But the Comicsgate outrage crowdfunding campaigns have sort of hit a fatigue level in indie comics. Ringo’s stuff being a book adaptation, not really directly Comicsgate related, might however be separate from that issue.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Its nice to see that the “People with American flags beside their Twitter name are a-holes”- rule still applies.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. peer: Its nice to see that the “People with American flags beside their Twitter name are a-holes”- rule still applies.

      As an American who considers themselves an adamant Patriot of what the U.S. is supposed to be about, I can unfortunately confirm that this is the case.

      The people who are genuinely Patriots don’t have to engage in that sort of virtue signalling — their words and their deeds are proof enough of their value systems.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Somewhat off topic but whenever I read about this stuff, I feel I should mention that Ethan van Sciver’s brother Noah van Sciver is a really excellent cartoonist and super nice guy who has nothing to do with any of that bullshit. I highly recommend everything he does, but especially The Hypo and One Dirty Tree. He hasn’t really done anything SF/F-related, although he’s currently working on a long biographical comic about Joseph Smith who could be considered genre-adjacent.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Joseph Smith did produce some surprisingly successful fantasies. A pity that they are rather lacking in literary merit.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. An early reviewer of Smith’s work — one Mr. Clemens — opined it was “chloroform in print”.

    The derived works with the killer robots are much more interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, if you assume the author to be Smith rather than Moroni, the process by which it was written down was so unlikely to produce good prose that it’s kind of impressive it resulted in anything remotely coherent. Smith was dictating with little if any reference to any visible notes, in a fairly rapid process that wouldn’t have left much time for editing. If I knew the Bible extremely well I might be able to extemporaneously compose a pastiche along the same lines, but trying to keep track of a bunch of new characters would be a challenge. It’d be kind of cool though if epic spoken performance of unwritten material became a popular SF genre.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. The musical, while swell, isn’t SF/F. Although musicals in general are popular with fen, so close enough?


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