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Adding More

It’s been a long few days. On the site:

Eleanor Davis interviews Jillian Tamaki:

ED: What story of yours have you found people respond to the most strongly? And what was your response to their response?

JT: Well, obviously the strongest reaction I have had to A Book has been This One Summer, which is a collaboration. [This One Summer, by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, was the ALA’s most challenged book of 2016 – ED]. It’s interesting, for the interviews for Boundless thus far, people have wanted to discuss “The ClairFree System.” Which is slightly surprising.

ED: I experience the clearest emotional arc reading it. Not intellectual clarity, but emotional, with the conditional intimacy of the final moment.

JT: I’m trying to think of their “reaction” though. I feel like they want to hear me talk about it. It feels very mysterious and strange to them, I guess? It’s not a typical image-text pairing. I mean, it’s about The Economy, which I think about constantly.

ED: I read that comic as both a feminist critique, and defense, of Capitalism. I LOVED it, obviously.

 JT: I had forgotten: that story was sparked by learning that some of my friends in my hometown had gotten into what they called a “Skin cult.” Which is maybe a pyramid scheme? You made commissions off of selling to your friends. But on the other hand, it just seemed like Mary Kay or Avon for the millennial set. And it was bizarre because I was like, oh, I remember Avon and these suburban selling-parties when I was a kid. But now I’m on the flip, the adult, and the moms needed CASH.

Elsewhere in comics-land:

Geoffrey Hayes, cartoonist, illustrator, and brother/collaborator of Rory Hayes has passed away.

Last week Drawn & Quarterly announced a book by the cartoonist Berliac. There was an immediate reaction online, as cartoonists and readers pointed to public statements about transgender people made by the cartoonist, some aggressively aimed at artist and TCJ-contributor Sarah Horrocks, who unpacked her interactions and thoughts on Twitter. After two days of research and thinking, D&Q, which like many small publishers, is based on fairly intimate relationships with its authors, no longer felt it could support Berliac given his behavior. The company’s statement is here. Berliac’s statement is on Facebook. 

The New York Times Magazine this week was given over to cartoonists, most notably David Mazzucchelli, Sammy Harkham and Kevin Huizenga, who drew versions of stories taken from the Metro Desk of the paper.

And finally, Robert Storr writes about Raymond Pettibon at NYRB.


20 Responses to Adding More

  1. L. Craft says:

    I happened upon this weird alternate-reality version of D&Q’s response to the Berliac controversy, and thought I’d share it here:

    A NON APOLOGY

    We’ve been receiving a lot of criticism for our decision to publish the work of the cartoonist Berliac, due to a displeasing essay he wrote and an online spat he had two years ago with critic Sarah Horrocks.

    Now that we’ve familiarized ourselves with that short essay (“Gay-jin”) and Sarah and Berliac’s exchanges following its posting, here is our statement:

    We do not agree with everything Berliac wrote in his essay, nor how he wrote it, but we believe that he wrote it in good faith, with good intentions towards trans people. The essay, whether or not you agree with his tone, his analogies or his conclusions, is premised on Berliac’s belief that trans people are natural and good, and on the kinship, arguably misplaced, he feels with them.

    We agree with many of Sarah’s critiques of the essay and with the propriety of her making the critique, but acknowledge that although for the most part her tone was neutral, there are parts of her reply which seem to us dismissive and disrespectful towards Berliac (we wish she hadn’t been, but can sympathize with her exasperation), and though we think Berliac should have taken the high road in his response, we understand why he didn’t, and why he was dismissive and disrespectful in return.

    After we learned of these events, we had several exchanges with Berliac in which he explained that after some difficult conversations and self reflection, he does consider himself to carry some latent transphobia of which he was unaware. We take him at his word, and wish him luck in his efforts to confront and change these aspects of himself, but we do not consider this the type of transphobia that is grounds for severing a business relationship. Many of us unknowingly carry these types of subtle prejudices within us- it is not a mark of unusually poor character, it is a common human flaw, often a side-effect of an upbringing we had no control over, and we believe that people should be judged by how they grapple with these prejudices, not simply their existence.

    Despite receiving pressure from people who think that this is sufficient reason for us to sever the agreement we made with Berliac, we disagree. We do not feel that we need to approve of everything our authors think or say in their work, or outside of it, or even that every author we publish need necessarily be a decent person. But Berliac is a decent person and a fine artist. He, like all of us, has committed some misdemeanors of tact and judgement, but the punishment must fit the crime, and for us to pull out of our agreement on this basis would be unfair to Berliac and would diminish D&Q as publishers and as the decent people we strive to be in our own right.

    Some of those who wish for us to part ways with Berliac are our friends, whose disappointment in us me must bear, while others are popular and powerful within our small industry, and have the means to hurt D&Q with negative publicity if we don’t capitulate. But we believe we do ourselves, our authors, our industry and our art form much greater harm if we do. Thank you.

    Submitted by Bizarro Peggy on Friday, June 2, 2017 – 3:55pm.

  2. Steph says:

    I’m truly dismayed by the mob-like reaction to what appears to have been an equally aggressive and small-minded internet encounter that took place years ago. Strange times when we have to look to the likes of Nick Gazin for a voice of reason and understanding (in the comments section of Berliac’s post).

  3. Steph says:

    *equally –by which I meant both Berliac and Horrocks seem to share equal responsibility for inflaming the argument and escalating their opponent’s bad behavior

  4. Rodney says:

    Is it really the job of a critic to actively encourage the silencing of a voice, as Horrocks has done here? It’s one thing to express her opinion and displeasure with respect to anything she disagrees with. It’s quite another to encourage silencing a voice, in this case Berliac’s, in order to be spiteful and to satisfy a grudge.

    I take it that any artist who risks Horrocks’ displeasure will be in for the inevitable pile-on that these things result in.

    D&Q’s actions are also disappointing. The work itself was not objectionable, as D&Q itself acknowledges. Would D&Q have likewise cancelled publication if the artist had been Crumb or someone from Le Dernier Cri? Likely not.

    Berliac comes off as something of big mouth who who should know better. In this case, the penalty far outweighs any crimes.

  5. Tim Hodler says:

    Did Horrocks ever actually say anything like that? I saw her criticize Berliac’s essay and comments to her, and say she was disappointed in D&Q for publishing him, but I didn’t come across any tweet or statement where she encouraged silencing him… It’s possible I missed something, since Twitter is hard to search sometimes.

  6. Rodney says:

    Does she actually go ahead and use those exact words? Of course not. But look at https://twitter.com/mercurialblonde/status/869972022473785345, where she piles on and effectively “warns” D&Q What will be coming next.

    It’s a tad stronger than encouraging disappointment.

    Again, Berliac comes off as an idiot and a smart ass. I don’t see him as someone who is trans-phobic.

  7. L. Craft says:

    She also retweeted Michael Deforge saying: “It’s extremely fucking disappointing they’d publish this sack of shit and frankly embarrassing”.
    It seems pretty clear to me that she got what she wanted, with the added bonus of never having had to ask for it outright.

    And regardless of whether she specifically lobbied for Berliac to be let out of his “contract”, Rodney’s statement above: “I take it that any artist who risks Horrocks’ displeasure will be in for the inevitable pile-on that these things result in” also seems true enough, and the particular means by which this gets enacted aren’t going to feel very relevant to the targets.

  8. Rodney says:

    Perhaps the best way of looking at the dispute is as presented by Ambook Originals on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/p/BVAOmBMh5J8/

    ambookcomicsWe have just learned that @drawnandquarterly pulled back on the deal for publishing Sadbøi by @yung_qin_berliac and we regret their decision to compromise the writer’s career.

    Drawn & Quarterly decided to not publish the book based on some comments that the author had made on his website page more than two years ago. Berliac, a 34-year-old Argentinian writer, had responded in an offensive way to a reader, Sarah Horrocks, who hadn’t appreciated the self-ironic blog post “Gay-Jin, Manga is not a genre, it’s a gender.” We won’t comment on Berliac’s remarks themselves, as they are there for everyone to see and it doesn’t seem sound to us to prolong a social media controversy that has been going on for too long.
    Berliac’s remarks were offensive and stupid. But how could he have been motivated by transphobia if he hadn’t even been aware that the person he was bashing was, in fact, transgender—as it has been amply proved?
    Berliac may have been indelicate, and he apologized for it. Still, the kind of virtual witch hunt which his remarks had triggered and which apparently is still after him has nothing to do with what he actually wrote or meant, or the well-being of the person he offended, for that matter. It is just another of those scandals which we see on social media day in and day out, in which an indignant crowd takes issue with a single person for its own sake.

    We are stupefied by the fact that a publishing house as serious and independent-thinking as Drawn & Quarterly would take heed of such things and revoke a decision already taken on such shaky basis.

    Closing remark: even if Berliac were the awful human being social media purported him to be, his awfulness wouldn’t be a reason good enough to embargo a book whose artistic quality and political relevance are beyond dispute—a book which the American public should read, controversies notwithstanding.

    #berliac #comics #sadboi #comicbooks #drawnanadquarterly #art #artwork

  9. Nike says:

    Who cares what an author says or believes? It’s the work that counts. Really quite dumb. Decades from now, people will look back at the hysteria of today much like eastern Europe looks at the Soviet era.

  10. Emanuel says:

    Even if you think D&Q should have published Berliac, don’t make excuses for his atrocious behavior. He wrote an offensively stupid text (“Gay-jin”). He then sexualised a critic and sent her some virulently transphobic imagery in response to patient and even friendly criticism. And when this resurfaced he posted a long condescending nonpology and painted himself as the victim.

  11. Doc says:

    This dipshit said some stupid, hateful shit and is paying for it. Milo Yiannopoulos’ book got cancelled too, because of shit he said. You reap what you sow. Actions and words have consequences. I don’t get the hate toward Horrocks on this. The publisher is well within their rights to change their mind on the type of people they want to work with.

  12. Zak Smith says:

    Giving a transwoman any kind of static for calling out bigoted behavior is

    1. Encouraging more bigoted behavior

    and

    2. Ass backwards af

    …if you have beef with her criticism, directly address her actual words, don’t talk in accusatory vagaries.

  13. Ryan Hupp says:

    “But how could he have been motivated by transphobia if he hadn’t even been aware that the person he was bashing was, in fact, transgender—as it has been amply proved?”

    So did you actually read Berliac’s gross-ass piece, or register the incredibly shitty tone he took in his response to Horrocks (the one with the Ace Ventura embed and a weird hashtag aside about Horrocks’ breasts)? I’m not really following your logic here either- it’s entirely possible to, say, not know that you’re conversing with someone who’s an ethnic minority but that doesn’t make it any less racist if you post a bunch of demeaning stereotypes and crude insults.

  14. Rodney says:

    The publisher’s actions can be disappointing regardless of whether or not the actions fall within its rights.

    Hate for Horrocks? Where did that come from? No one has expressed hate for her…explicitly or implied. Disagreement, sure.

    Had the artist been Crumb, rather than Berliac…I wonder what the consensus would’ve been. Obviously D&Q never “researched” when it published Crumb in the past.

  15. tucker says:

    “Decades from now, people will look back at the hysteria of today much like eastern Europe looks at the Soviet era.”

    Decades from now, absolutely zero people except, possibly, Berliac will remember anything at all about this particular moment in time.

  16. Tim Hodler says:

    It should be possible to disagree with D&Q without making things up about what Horrocks said. Criticizing someone is not the same as asking for them to be silenced.

  17. R. Fiore says:

    People are so intent on pussyfooting around what was actually said that I have no idea what’s going on. All I see is a series of comments about how awful it was.

  18. R. Fiore says:

    It occurs to me that maybe I should elucidate. This Berliac fellow makes an analogy that is completely ass-backwards, that part I get. Sarah Horrocks takes this rather personally, but you take personally that which is personal to you. Then Berliac writes something that puts him beyond the pale, but nobody will say what it was.

  19. niko says:

    Me: “Decades from now, people will look back at the hysteria of today much like eastern Europe looks at the Soviet era.”

    Tucker: “Decades from now, absolutely zero people except, possibly, Berliac will remember anything at all about this particular moment in time.”

    I was speaking generally, dude. Like, not everyone who suffered under communism can name everyone who every suffered, but they sorta have an idea that a lot of people did.

  20. RBronstein says:

    This shit is twisted. Schadenfreude masquerading as rectitude.

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