What constitutes harassment at a comic book convention?

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Don’t touch her butt

The Los Angeles Times blog Hero Complex published an article about the San Diego Comic-Con and its lack of a policy on harassment. Although the event is attended by 130,000 people from all over the world, organizers haven’t seen fit to define what harassment is. Not really. This is the only thing posted on the official San Diego Comic-Con website about harassment:

Code of Conduct

Attendees must respect common sense rules for public behavior, personal interaction, common courtesy, and respect for private property. Harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated. Comic-Con reserves the right to revoke, without refund, the membership and badge of any attendee not in compliance with this policy. Persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee not in compliance with this policy should immediately locate a member of security, or a staff member, so that the matter can be handled in an expeditious manner. 

Not once do they define what harassment is. How do you have a policy on something that you fail to define what it is? If you are coming up with code of conduct, and you find yourself using the phrase, “common sense”, you need to stop and start over. There’s no such thing as common sense. What may make sense to one person, may not make sense to others.

In fact, the word “common” should be stricken from any credible code of conduct. The San Diego Comic-Con uses the word twice in the first sentence.

For what seems like my entire adult working life, at every job I’ve had, I’ve had to take a yearly class on harassment. I find it boring and completely unnecessary, but I invariably realize some people are stupid and actually need an annual reminder on how to treat others in the workplace. Every workplace harassment class I’ve ever had has always began with defining harassment.

Every single one.

I’ll admit that defining harassment in the workplace is much easier than defining harassment at a comic book convention. A comic book convention is a social event. What’s considered unacceptable in the workplace may not apply in a social gathering. It’s why San Diego Comic-Con and other similar events need to define what harassment is.

You can’t have a policy on something if you never bother to define what that something is.

Photo: Kotaku

 

Ben Affleck as Batman

BVS-00754-Edit_53d03e04c5f306.62433326DC Comics premiered this photo of Ben Affleck as Batman at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con. I really don’t understand how anyone could have a problem with Ben Affleck playing the Dark Knight. I think he will go down as the second best Batman of all time, second only to Adam West.

Ben Affleck is Batman.

2014 San Diego Comic-Con

20130116-084416The 2014 San Diego Comic-Con kicks off today. It’s, among other things, the largest comic book convention in North America. With each passing year, the show becomes less about comic books, and more about general nerdom and pop-culture. That’s a good thing considering that comic books are becoming less and less popular with each passing year.

The San Diego Comic-Con generates millions of dollars of profit. According to the IRS, they’re a non-profit, educational charity exempt from paying taxes. They’re dedicated to creating an awareness and appreciation for comics and the related popular art forms. For that, they don’t have to pay taxes on the profit they generate.

According to their 2012 IRS Form 990, the San Diego Comic-Con had $13.7 million in assets, up $3 million from the year before.

Tickets, or badges, are already sold out. If you didn’t already get your badge for the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, you have no chance of going.

I’ve never been to the San Diego Comic-Con, and I doubt I’ll ever attend. I’m not sure it would be worth the money. Hotels in San Diego raise their prices during Comic-Con. Also, I don’t think I’d enjoy being around all the crowds.

Like past years, I’ll just have to experience San Diego Comic-Con online. I’m sure Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and comics centric blogs and websites will have a plethora of San Diego Comic-Con content this weekend.

San Diego police moving homeless people away from Comic-Con

hobo-with-a-shotgunThe San Diego Comic-Con kicks off this week and it seems the police are trying to clear the surrounding area of homeless people. Good for them.

From ABC 10 News:

“People on these streets are unsightly to the public, to the general public and certainly to visitors coming in from out of town,” said David Ross.

Ross, who is better known as “Waterman,” is a well-known outspoken advocate for the homeless. He is often seen downtown handing out water bottles and blankets to transients.

Ross says San Diego police are rounding up people to make way for the biggest city event in the city, Comic-Con.

Ross forgot to point out that the homeless are not only unsightly, they usually smell really bad too. He should know this if he spends time downtown handing out water bottles and blankets to homeless people, encouraging them to stay in the area, thus perpetuating the problem. Their putrid, rank smell wouldn’t be a problem if they kept to themselves, but too many of them engage in aggressive panhandling and other forms of intimidation in the attempt to get money they do not deserve, from people they do not know.

People should be able to walk down the street without fear that someone will aggressively ask for money. The reason they do it is because too many people give them money. If everyone stopped giving them money, they wouldn’t hang around and ask for more. They would move on somewhere else.

Oh no, Alan Moore doesn’t want me to see a movie?

Comic book curmudgeon Alan Moore

Comic book curmudgeon Alan Moore

Comic book writing legend and all-around angry weirdo Alan Moore wants people to boycott the upcoming Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson movie, Hercules. Because he feels the late Steve Moore (no relation) wasn’t adequately compensated for his work on the comic Hercules: The Thracian Wars, published by Radical Comics. The movie is reportedly based in part on the comic. That, and of course Greek mythology. I think it’s safe to say that most people think the movie is based on mythology, not a comic book. I also think most people have never heard of Radical Comics.

Alan Moore believes that Radical Comics owes Steve Moore, who died earlier this year, $15,000 for compensation regarding the comic being made into a movie. This is what he had to say to Hannah Means Shannon in an interview published by Bleeding Cool:

But on this occasion when I went down to visit him, he was quite cross, because he had just heard that there was a movie to be made out of this. And he said, “I’ve just written them an angry e-mail asking why I wasn’t consulted in this and when I can expect the something like 15,000 dollars”, which was the paltry amount which Steve thought was the amount that it said he’d be getting in his contract. He was cross about this, and he said, “I haven’t heard back from them. There’s just a deafening silence, so I’m going to pursue this further”.

When I went down to see him a couple of week later, I said, “So, did you get any response from Radical about your e-mail?”. He said, “No, I didn’t. But I went away and dug out the contract, and it turns out that no, they don’t have to consult me and they don’t have to pay me the 15,000 dollars. That must have been in some earlier version of the contract as opposed to the one that I signed. So, I’m not getting anything out of this. The only thing I am glad of is that apparently they’re not putting my name on it. Because it sounds like it’s going to be idiotic shit”.

So Steve Moore thought he was owed $15,000 from Radical Comics for the comic being turned into a movie, but after reading the contract, realized that was not the case. Got it.

Alan Moore went on to say:

I would also ask that anybody out there who gives a damn about Steve Moore or his legacy not go to see this wretched film. It is the last thing that Steve would’ve wanted. And I cannot un-recommend it too highly or anybody involved in it. I think it is absolutely shameful, however, there are also more positive elements of Steve’s legacy.

The problem I have with Alan Moore calling for a boycott of a movie is that if it were up to him, nobody would watch or read anything. He seems to always be against everything.

If I were to ever start a non-profit organization related to the comic book industry, I think I would create one that helped comic book professionals read and understand their contracts. There seems to be a terrible need for something like this. Too many comic book professionals simply don’t understand the legally binding documents they sign their names to. This includes Alan Moore. The reason he’s so angry at DC Comics is because of his deal over the rights of Watchmen. DC Comics would retain the rights only as long as they were publishing it, and when they stopped, the rights would revert to the comic’s creators, Moore and artist Dave Gibbons. The problem is that Watchmen has never gone out of print. It will probably never go out of print. It’s one of the greatest comics ever created.

The fact that Alan Moore hates something would carry more weight if he actually ever liked something.

Trying to get a comic book writer fired is one of the worst kinds of censorship

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Comic book writer and drinker of bottled water, Rick Remender

Evidently there has been a quasi-organized campaign to get Marvel Comics to fire writer Rick Remender. There’s even a special Twitter hashtag connected with the crusade, #FireRickRemender. The reason some folks want him fired is because they don’t like some of the things he’s written in the current monthly Captain America comic.

This is what Jackie, the person who supposedly created the aforementioned hashtag, had to say about it on her Tumblr blog, Weiner Soldier:

FireRickRemender

I don’t understand the mindset of trying to get someone fired because you don’t like them or because you don’t like what they wrote. I can’t think of a single scenario where I would want to get another human fired, especially because of their writing. That seems to me to be one of the worst forms of censorship. If I don’t like something that someone writes, I just don’t read it. It seems pretty simple, but it works for me.

Also, if you don’t like something someone wrote, don’t blame the writer, blame the editor. You don’t know what story the editor told the writer to tell, this is especially true when it comes to characters owned by Marvel Comics and their parent company, Disney. If the editors of Captain America didn’t like what Rick Remender wrote, they would have kicked it back and told him to do it again.  I guess they didn’t do that.

When people call for someone to be fired over something they said or wrote, I often wonder how exactly they will be ultimately satisfied. Will a single firing do the trick or do they want a permanent ban on all future employment? For example, say Marvel Comics fired Rick Remender over this and then DC Comics signed him to an exclusive contract, would people then demand that DC Comics fire him too? What if he left the world of funny books entirely and got a job serving endless salad and bread sticks at Olive Garden? Would he need to be fired from that job too?

When will the get-someone-fired madness end?