I’m still in Toronto sleeping in and resting up from TCAF, seeing good friends here and making plans for the next big cycle of goals. It was a delight through and through, and getting to introduce Bryan and Dave in person was a highlight.
At some point i really should sit down and add my own thoughts to Bryan’s excellent Note Book post on the show – i don’t know if the long rows truly can be avoided but I’ve always had ideas about alternate ways to configure tables that might make things more interesting. TCAF has been an excellent example of the community coming together from near and far to put on an amazing, free, fun and family friendly presentation of our collective efforts. While profitable for most, it shows what can be done when money is NOT overtly the primary goal, but instead a benefit of presenting good works. A subtle distinction often missed in many big events.
For my part I’ve been scanning my Facebook feeds and looking for interesting things from others about the show to add to my own thoughts. It was doing that this morning that i came across something unrelated to TCAF but relevant to the community here, striking in contrast, and a continuing affront to many.
Political reporter and comics writer Daniel William Barlow posted a link on Facebook to a new Pat Lee interview on Newsarama, and took the words out of my mouth with his intro.

“Shame on Newsarama for interviewing Pat Lee and not asking him about the thousands of dollars he owes comic creators for work they did. The interviewer makes some vague mention of “prior controversies” and then lets Pat discuss his new comic at length.”

As one of the lions of our field commenting on the post said, “What, you expect the so-called US comics ‘press’ to be awake? C’mon, Dan. It’s a joke; a PR machine and little more.” – What he says is often true. Even Sequential exists most of the time to promote and not critique. But there are things that need to be underlined in red sometimes, and poor behavior not acknowledged is one of them.
What strikes me especially as the publisher of a comics news site, is that Newsarama massaged the “controversy” for it’s lead in on this story, opening this very short soft ball interview with…

When Pat Lee’s Widow Warriors arrives in July, it’s sure to cause at least a little discussion about the artist’s past. We asked Lee about that and more.

But this is what we get in full on the subject, and i include the follow up question to underline my point…

Nrama: Pat, it’s true that you have what can be considered a controversial past. With a renewed visibility on this project, are you expecting controversy in return? And how would you answer your critics?
Lee: I am aware of the controversy to some degree and I respect what everyone has to say. I understand people’s anger towards the past and I’m not going to challenge them. People make mistakes, I’m just as human as everyone else is. However, I’ve always enjoyed drawing comics and I respect any and all comments, bad or good – everyone has the right to speak their mind! But I’m still going to continue drawing comics and do what I love.
Nrama: This issue carries a “Book One” subtitle; how many issues do you plan this “book” to be, and how many “books” do you anticipate?
Lee: There will be 4 issues for this title.

Regarding Pat’s response, first thing i thought of when reading this was Carol Tavris & Elliot Aronson’s book about the larger consequences of this kind of behavior, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me). It also reminded me of an ex’s accounting of infidelity. And, I’m not at all surprised.
One of the few comics journalist with teeth, Rich Johnston, has added this comment to his continuing coverage of the story.
So here’s the thing. Comic journalism is media coverage of a medium. Often done, as in this very instance as i type, by members of the medium.
And by nature we have a tendency to want to avoid poking each-other in the eye, as we’ll sooner or latter run into each other at some convention, or festival? But almost worse than trying to stay out of editorial commentary or hard journalism, is using an illusion of it for a fluff piece. Newsarama has done me personally the favor on occasion of helping to promote my comics work and i thank them for it. But i would ask them how it helps us all to allow the events surrounding the Dreamwave Bankruptcy to be brushed aside so simply?
Where is the minimum second question “how do you feel about how the company’s bankruptcy affected your’e employees?” or perhapses “Did it occur to you that driving such an expensive car while artist you called friends went unpaid was, shale we say rude? Did you ever think of selling it to raise funds to pay them at least part of what had been owed?”
If asked and unanswered, then where is the statement to that fact?
What Pat did is not “a controversy”. These are in fact demonstrably provably true events, things that indeed happened.
I am fairly certain going bankrupt gave him a degree of protection, that his fraud is protected legally. But It’s not a point of view that he promised payment for work, and then DID NOT PAY while driving a Porsche and living a good life. He did not suddenly run out of funds unexpectedly – He took a big chance, let the game play out without letting anyone know how tight it was getting. And then protected the investors he could not doge, his parents. But he did not protect the friends and talent he had working for him. And in the end he skulked off and has not accounted in any kind of dignified manor for his massive and costly failure.
Yes Pat, you’re human, and you Fucked up. But dismissive declarations that your moving on and doing what you love do not amount to any kind of accounting for those human actions. Far far from it. Yes Pat, people will want you to spell it out, and say it was not just a mistake and human, but wrong. Until then, a few of us at least are not going to let you off so easy.
Make it good Pat.