Jun 15, 2009

One of the life lessons I will apparently never learn is that it never, ever pays to mix it up on the web.

Last Friday morning, I was awakened by an early phone call. A friend of mine–let’s call him/her “Pat,” just to keep her/him out of this mess–was calling to tell me that industry rumormonger Rich Johnston, in trying to drive traffic to his new rumor site, was contacting him and others for “comments and background” based on a Twitter comment I’d made, since deleted.

Yeah, I know. Twitter’s a public forum. That’s the point of Twitter. I get it. But (a) the only “story” seemed to be whether I knew this person and, if so, how and why–how is that anyone’s business and how does that merit an outside follow-up, and since when am I Kim Kardashian, who cares?–and (b)  the sidewalk outside my house is a public forum, too, but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to get frustrated if paparazzi stake it out to take pictures of whoever might be dropping by.

In this particular instance, the collateral damage was fairly negligible (which, in my experience, is unusual for a visit from Rich). Pat seemed harassed and annoyed that he’s being bugged out-of-the-blue, I got an early wake-up call, I had to take time out of a busy morning to commiserate with Pat…that’s no big deal, I suppose. But you can bet that the first thing I did after that was block Rich Johnston from following me on Twitter. I mean, as he does with all comics pros, yes, he’s gonna cyberstalk me and the rest of us everywhere we go anyway in hopes that he can find things to pull out of context and twist into a morass of Dramatic Supposition that can give his site more hits. There’s no stopping that. That’s how he chooses to feed his family, by doing things like exploiting Twitter streams to his monetary advantage. But anything I can do to make that less easy for him, I will. And if you think that’s foul play, you try spending a chunk of your workday dealing with the backlash that happens when the context of your words is ignored and they are instead judiciously lifted, edited, and then spot-welded to paraphrase and conjecture simply to create someone else’s traffic-for-profit. Doesn’t matter how careful you try to be about what you say; hell, give me ten Kurt Busiek posts, a text editor and a need to drive traffic to my site, and I could make Kurt sound like a nut…and Kurt’s the yardstick by which pretty much all of comicdom measures Good Internet Behavior.

So, anyway, I block Rich from eavesdropping, treat him the same way I do that weird Britney Porn video twitterer that finds us all sooner or later. (What, just me?) No big deal, so far, so good.  But then I let my annoyance get the best of me. I then offered to spot ten bucks to the HERO Initiative charity for anyone else who followed suit and permanently blocked this Twitterazzo from eavesdropping on his or her account.

I suppose you see where this is going. Meaning that you are wiser than am I.


In retrospect, bad form, words chosen poorly, a kneejerk reaction on an already bad morning. (But, to be fair, kinda funny.) I honestly assumed the only replies I’d get would be from fellow pros (because who else would even care or know what I’m talking about?) equally as frustrated with him as I’ve been–and, believe me, plenty such replies rolled in. In addition, however, I also got an unforeseen slew of fans following suit, eager to make a contribution to charity even though they didn’t have a dog in this fight. And I will freely admit being overwhelmed by that, maybe even a little bit intoxicated by the momentary power. (Because that’s what passes for “power” in my tiny world. My tiny, tiny world.) But it was a fleeting moment. And I honestly didn’t see–don’t see–the harm.

However–that wasn’t the intent. The intent was to raise awareness among fellow pros to be careful and to remind them that even their personal, non-comics chatter is under the microscope of a guy trying to attract attention to himself and his own work by leveraging the reputations of others. So the charity donations start to stack up, which is swell, and pros are being reminded, “Hey, yeah, I oughta do that” and acting on it…but then someone else points out that if Rich is blocked often enough in a short-enough timespan, his account might be banned.

Well, that’s no good. That’s also not the intent. Twitter’s not my private property; I don’t have the right or the desire to decide who can and can’t play there, nor would I
ever assume otherwise. So a couple hours into it, I decide I’ve made my point–a bunch of pros have messaged me “Oh, yeah, thanks for the reminder–blocked!”, the charity is richer…and God knows Rich’ll be able to find some way to monetize the event on his site, as he always does, so shed no tears for him. I dial it down, and at the $540 threshold, I call “game over” and everyone goes on his or her way and I think it’s over because IF self=relaxed THEN GOTO opening paragraph.

You would think I would be capable of learning. I have thumbs. And yet.

In the last 48 hours, the private messages and e-mails and “you’re such a bully, Mark Waid!” crime-of-the-century comments have been rolling in from those who’ve read Rich’s account of this whole affair over on his Avatar Publishing-funded, “Nothing I’ve done with [my website] has been an attempt to stir up controversy” website and think they now know “the real story.” Well, no, but I can certainly see how they’d think so after reading Rich’s write-up. So now I’ve said my piece. I don’t know or care if it makes me look better or worse–I suspect nothing I’ve written here has swayed public opinion on my level of childishness pro or con, and I admit to a moment of dubious judgment–but since this seems to be eating up so much of the comics blogosphere’s time and energy, I was asked to give my side.

While Rich is certainly capable of doing some genuine reporting from the greater good, and he has, he also causes a great deal of unrepentant harm. Gossip, by its nature, is salacious and unreliable and does more damage than good, and that’s something we all learn almost as soon as we learn how to talk. I’m as guilty as anyone else of dishing it after a drink or two, but I would no more think to make a living off of it than I would sign up to be a Big Tobacco lawyer. Nor would I try to hide behind bogus disclaimers or semantic technicalities if I was busted. I doubt there’s much question at this point in my career that if I have something to say, I tend to come right out and say it.

Actions have consequences. Say what you like on the internet–God knows, I write something stupid there pretty much every time I hop on–but don’t be disingenuous about it. If you said something that causes harm, if you knowingly implied it…then own it, be honest about your motivations and methods, stand by it if it’s true and apologize if you were wrong and hurt someone, and then move on. Here, I’ll start. If Rich had to take time away from his day to deal with any unintended Twitter fallout, I apologize. See? Was that so hard?

  • Oct 02, 2023
    HOW TO STAY IN COMICS   The following--“How to Stay in Comics”--is the keynote speech I gave at the 2023 Ringo Awards in Baltimore, so named after the late artist--and my good friend--Mike Wieringo. Even if you’re not familiar with Mike, you will be by the end of the speech. I hope you enjoy it;... more
  • May 11, 2020
    Can you point to something specific you read, something specific you saw or heard as a kid that is the one thing that made you what you are today? Chances are you can't--lives are huge tapestries full of so many, many threads, and we're the sum and expression of millions of experiences. I can,... more
  • Aug 28, 2018
    If anyone has the sheer credibility to write a Superman movie, it's Mark Waid. The longtime and acclaimed comics writer has penned terrific story arcs for both of the big houses, Marvel and DC, and has put his imprint on many of the greatest heroes in each of those universes, including The Flash,... more
  • Jun 21, 2018
    Mark Waid, current writer of Marvel’s Doctor Strange and Ant-Man and the Wasp and Archie Comics’, well, Archie, and past writer of seven zillion comic books, will be doing a chat with us next week based on YOUR questions! We’ll be taking reader-submitted questions until Thursday, June 21st at 11:59... more
  • Jun 04, 2018
    Mark Waid will team up with co-writer Brian Augustyn, artist Peter Krause, colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick, and letterer Jack Morelli for a brand new Archie Comics series, Archie 1941. The new series will see Riverdale preparing to deal with the impact of World War II and how it affects the personal... more
  • Feb 17, 2013
    I was honored last week to be asked to be a Keynote Speaker at the O'Reilly Tools of Change Publishing Conference in New York (thank you, Kat Meyer, for lining it up!) Here I am, preaching Digital Comics Storytelling (as usual). I'd like to think what I lack in polish, I make up for in enthusiasm.... more
  • Jun 01, 2012
    Hi! Lori here. I feel you should know that Mark, John Rogers, Peter Krause and Thrillbent all got written up in a terrific New York Times article entitled "In New Digital Comics, Each Tap Holds a Surprise.? Check it out!
  • May 01, 2012
    Somewhere, somehow, in the middle of 850 new Dark Knight trailer posts, the web has a really good interview with Thrillbent partner John Rogers on
  • Apr 30, 2012
    In the spirit of trying to learn and be receptive rather than hidebound and ranty, I have a question for all creative types: where do you draw the line on using certain words/images/phrases that could be inflammatory? I ask because a couple of times over the past few weeks, I’ve been brought to... more
  • Apr 14, 2012
    Hi! Lori here. Mark delivered his big announcement at C2E2 earlier today: On May 1, he and writer-producer extraordinaire John Rogers will launch Thrillbent, their new digital comics website. Mark will post much more about it here when he returns from Chicago so until then, check out this dandy... more
  • Apr 07, 2012
    Because Lori Matsumoto lives on seven minutes of sleep every 24 hours, the forums are up and running. I'm gonna get in there and lob some ideas out ASAP.  Come join me.
  • Apr 04, 2012
    Some very harsh truths about comics’ current existence and its future burrowed their way into my thick head about three years ago, back when I was Editor-In-Chief of a comics publisher called BOOM! Studios. I learned a lot at that job about the current state of comics publishing–not just from BOOM... more
  • Apr 04, 2012
    In the previous post, I was using Muncie as an example of a town that ought to be able to support more comics shops than it does given that it's a college town (Ball State). As I'm well aware because I shop there, Alter Ego Comics is in Muncie, and store owner Jason is great and will order anything... more
  • Apr 03, 2012
    Got back yesterday from the 2012 Gem City Comic Con, a great Dayton-area show run by a terrific and energetic young Nate Corddry lookalike named Jesse Noble. I endorse it unreservedly. Amazing show, lots of money drummed up for the Hero Initiative, well worth the trip for me. And only one very... more
  • Apr 02, 2012
    Welcome to the blog relaunch. Enjoy the show. If you’re just joining us, as many of you are, I’m Mark Waid, a very lucky writer whose 25-year career has depended exclusively on print–specifically, on comic books and graphic novels in their familiar paper format. I’ve had some very good years and a... more
  • Aug 12, 2009
            …my friend and creative partner, Mike Wieringo, was taken from us all way, way too early. Miss you, pal, more than you’ll ever know.
  • Jul 22, 2009
    KCRW, maybe the best-known, most well-respected indy station in America, has a weekly Guest DJ slot where they have famous folks come in and talk about their favorite music. Some of their guests include David Lynch, Tony Hawk, Tracy Ullman, Paul Feig…and, today, me.  I’m really, really proud of... more
  • Jun 15, 2009
    One of the life lessons I will apparently never learn is that it never, ever pays to mix it up on the web. Last Friday morning, I was awakened by an early phone call. A friend of mine–let’s call him/her “Pat,” just to keep her/him out of this mess–was calling to tell me that industry rumormonger... more
  • Jun 11, 2009
      This is, hands down, the best cover I’ve seen on a comic for a while, maybe all year: DC’s THE SPIRIT #29 drawn by Paul Rivoche. It’s a master class in everything a cover should be, and I’m going to be using it as an example of “how to do it right” for perhaps the rest of my life. Let’s walk... more
  • May 08, 2009
    It’s not that I don’t have anything to say about the craft of comics this week–it’s that I’m too busy writing them to get my thoughts together, so thanks for your patience as I try to wrap up scripting THE UNKNOWN. In place of my usual weekly lecture, I will instead refer you to the most invaluable... more
  • Apr 16, 2009
    You want your weekly dose of counsel and advice on being in a creative medium? Really? Is that what you want? Fine. Here: spend the sixty lousy bucks on Quicken and be done with it. Don’t just throw all your receipts and 1099s into a big drawer and expect to be able to neatly and effortlessly... more
  • Mar 27, 2009
    The Incredibles #1 came out yesterday. Artist Marcio Takara made me look good. As usual. And I’m pleased that it seems well-received. I mention this not to plug my own work (though nothing makes Ross happier), but to brag about how I am roiling with only a little bit of bitter jealousy that The... more
  • Mar 10, 2009
    BOOM! co-founder and creator of the TV series EUREKA (comics on sale monthly from BOOM!) points out to me that there were no fewer than eight (!) EUREKA actors in WATCHMEN.  Three were non-speaking roles (Mike Carpenter and Clint Carlton, both stunt doubles on EUREKA, played Nite Owl I and Young... more
  • Mar 06, 2009
    On the whole, I’m very pleased with WATCHMEN the movie. It reminded me a lot of BRAZIL–not because of the 1985 connection or because it was just as long, but because WATCHMEN was a wholly immersive experience. We made a BOOM! outing of it and everyone went, so if you weren’t at our offices today... more
  • Feb 20, 2009
    There are some folks who have been very kind to mention this blog on their sites, and since I’m fans of them all, I want to share some links with you (here, at least until our webmaster sets up a links sidebar for me. It’s not just my being polite; it’s that this will hopefully lead you to some... more
  • Feb 06, 2009
    Some totally random catchup items as we continue to wait for the podcasts to be edited, DAFNA. (“Dafna” is either [1] “Dafna Pleban,” our editorial assistant, or [2] the acronym of a sophisticated Kryptonian missile defense system. Your choice.) * 2009 New York Comicon this weekend. Unfortunately,... more
  • Jan 30, 2009
    Normally there would be a much longer post here, but it's been quite a week, so for now, check out my interview on CBR about The Incredibles, and a keep eye out on this blog because we've got something special in the works!
  • Jan 27, 2009
    The word’s out as of today. With the inestimable help of artist Pete Krause, I’m launching my next BOOM! series in April: IRREDEEMABLE. It’s a complex story about a complex man, but the short take is this: How does a man go from being the world’s greatest superhero to its greatest supervillain?... more
  • Hi, and welcome to Mark Waid’s blog. If you’re here, I’m gonna presume you’re already passingly familiar with my resume, so here are the highlights: have written comics (like KINGDOM COME, FANTASTIC FOUR, EMPIRE and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) for more than two decades; have been a publisher, an editor, a... more