Friday, October 26, 2018


This “Friday” sermon is likely to ramble all over the place, but I wanted to start with a show of support for those who are unfairly targeted by those for whom “hate” appears to come as naturally as breath. It is something you should always know about if you’re at a convention or other event where I am a guest.

Consider me and my table(s) to be safe spaces. This was a Mark Waid idea that I have shamelessly appropriated for myself.

The election of the Dumpster President empowered bigots and racists and misogynists. No matter how hard conventions might try to keep their events welcoming to all, there’s no such thing as a jerk detector. Some of these unpleasant sorts will be at our conventions. They will try to make you feel uncomfortable. For what it’s worth, you are not alone.

If you feel uncomfortable at a convention that I’m at, consider my booth or table to be a safe space. Come to my booth and hang out as long as you need to. If the situation calls for it, I will ask the promoters to deal with whoever is making you feel uncomfortable. I have stood up to bullies my entire life and I’m not about to stop now. Word.

I ask other guests to do the same. If some enterprising artist can create a sign designating a booth or table as a “safe space,” I’ll be proud to display one at my booth or table.

Not coincidentally, Waid has been hit with a frivolous lawsuit by Richard Meyer, who Waid describes as “one of the perceived leaders of a relentless online harassment movement called ‘ComicsGate’ which [he] and many comics professionals strongly feel has unfairly and offensively targeted women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ creators working in our industry in an effort to make them feel unwelcome.”

People claiming membership in ComicsGate have also gone after those who are allies of their targets and those who have spoken out against  the group’s bigotry. The worst ComicsGaters have generally proven themselves to be cowards who “confront” only from the safety of their computers and, usually, from the anonymity of their screen names.

Yet, as the Dumpster President and his followers, people who have openly advocated violence against their opponents, people who have tried to blame recent bombing attempts against Democratic leaders on the news media and false flag operations, continue to encourage bigotry, harassment and violence, it is not inconceivable that some few individuals who champion Comicsgate will attempt to harass or even threaten decent people at conventions. And that is why I vow I will always be a safe space at the events I attend.

Stronger together. Always forward. These are the mantras I try to live by. These are the stands I take against hate.

Waid’s defense against this blatant attempt to silence him will be expensive. He has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help him meet the legal expenses. As of this writing, it has raised over 20% of its goal in eight hours. I have donated $100 to this campaign. I urge all my readers to donate whatever they can, even if it’s only five bucks. Your standing alongside Mark and so many other comics fans and professionals is as important to this cause as your financial contribution.

Stronger together. Always forward.

Something weird has been going on at some of the recent conventions I’ve attended. Someone comes up to me and asks if I hate (fill in name of comics industry figure who did me wrong or is acting badly online). I usually brush off the question with something along the lines of a glib “Who’s got time to hate comics folks when Trump and the Republicans are wrecking our country?”

While that’s true enough, my not answering the question is because I am well aware of the kind of “let’s you and him fight” click-bait tactics of disreputable websites. I don’t have time to get involved in that stuff because there are so very many important things I want to do.

However, the fact of the matter is...I don’t hate (fill in name). I might be appalled by their actions and conduct. I might still be a wee bit upset an assistant editor took it upon himself to change the ending of a two-year story and has lied about it ever since and has lied about me in other ways over the years. I’m curious as to why this guy, who has many notable achievements and good deeds to his name, feels compelled to try to rewrite history to erase those times he did not act well. If I were him, I’d concentrate on that good stuff. As Stan Lee taught us, there is good and bad in all of us. That’s as true today as the day Stan said it to me, as he had said it to many others over the decades.  But, like I said, I don’t hate this guy. He’s out of comics. He can’t affect my life. I wish him well when he’s not, you know, lying about me and other comics people. The only time I think about him is when someone asks me if I hate him.

I don’t hate the executive who, while claiming to be my friend, did everything he could to screw me for decades. I don’t hate the guy who fired me from my second Black Lightning series. Getting screwed over and fired is something that happens. I don’t like these guys. I don’t want to associate with them. But if I hate anything, it’s their actions. And, whatever damage those actions did to me at the time, well, I’m doing pretty good right now.

Since I started keeping track of this, I reckon I’ve been asked if I hate about a dozen comics pros or other industry figures. In one case, I’d never heard of the person someone thought I might hate. Obviously, I’m not going to comment on these individuals here or anywhere else. I ain’t got the time to get into it with anyone just for your amusement.

I don’t even hate the ComicsGate people. As any decent person would be, I am appalled by their bigotry, misogyny and racism. I actually feel bad that (in most cases) their desire to work in comics isn’t compatible with their lack of talent. I know what it’s like to want something and not be able to attain it. It’s their actions that I hate and their actions I will fight against.

As anyone familiar with my work knows, I have written a great many “redemption” stories. I’m a firm believer in the concept. However, I also believe one needs to earn redemption. They can’t double-down on their atrocious behavior and then bray that no one will forgive them for that atrocious behavior. Maybe there should be twelve-step programs for the Internet.

I would be over the moon happy if any of these folks cleaned up their acts, admitted  their sins, did what they could to make amends and do no further wrong. I’m a sucker for redemption stories.

Towards that end, I’m going to work hard to temper my own comments on such people. I’m going to try to make it clear that I hate the behavior and not the person. As the title of today’s bloggy suggests, I don’t have time to hate. There are too many important things I want to do as an individual and too many important things I want to see my fellow comics people and my fellow U.S. citizens do in the days, weeks, months and years to come.

I’m as human as the next person. I will likely not always succeed in keeping my comments on a high level. But I promise you I will be making that effort.

In the case of the badly-behaving comics people, while my time is limited, if you reach out to me with a truly sincere desire to not behave badly, I’ll do my best to offer you whatever sage advice I can. I won’t tolerate excuses or outright bullshit, but, if you can look at yourself in the mirror and not like what you see and want to change, we can talk. If you want to do better, I’m rooting for you. If you do better, we all do better.

Which brings me to my glib response “Who’s got time to hate comics folks when Trump and the Republicans are wrecking our country?” I know is the area of our discourse in which I will be struggling the most. Because their actions and comments are so horrible and have hurt or have the potential to hurt so many innocent people in the United States and around the world.

Just off the top of my head, here’s the kind of stuff I am talking about. Voter suppression. Trying to erase transgender individuals. Trying to remove protection for people with pre-existing conditions and lying about it. Blaming the targets of domestic terrorism for that terrorism. Covering up for a murderous totalitarian leader in service of an arms deal that doesn’t actually exist. Characterizing asylum seekers as some invading army. Attacking legal immigrants. Claiming we must come together while cheering on a politician who body-slammed a reporter. Putting an accused serial sexual predator on the Supreme Court without a full investigation. Bragging the guy will protect the President from the consequences of his seemingly illegal actions. Running blatantly false political advertisements. And so and so on.

I confess I can’t fathom why good people would support Trump or the Republicans. I don’t think I hate you who do, but, honestly, I have to question if you are mentally and morally ill. I admit that I have often called you monsters. I’m trying to avoid that. These days, what I want is to not hate you, but, instead, encourage you to take a hard look at yourselves, consider the awful things you advocate and get yourself into rehab or other treatment.

Your unreasoning fear of the other and your subservience to ideals diametrically in opposition to the common good are not in any way, shape or form healthy. Not for you. Not for our country.

I don’t hate you. I hate your actions. I hate your crazed rhetoric. I hate your blindness. I wish I knew how to lift the darkness from your minds and souls.

But I don’t hate you. I want you to be better. If there’s a way I can help you with that, I want to hear it.

Stronger together. Always forward.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

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