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Trolling And Comics Don't Have To Mix

Over the weekend a couple of creators came out in support of some women who were targeted and cyber-bullied. Here's why being proactive is a good thing.

The existence of internet trolls is nothing new. Working on the internet that's one of the first things you familiarize yourself with: trolls are everywhere. They don't only exist in the seedy underbelly of the internet that is 4Chan -- they exist in various forums and social media platforms dedicated to the discussion of comics, too. And if you're a girl working in comics (either making them or are reporting on them) or even a fan who happens to be vocal about the depiction of women in comics, you have probably seen your fair share of trolls.

"MisterE2009" -- whose Twitter comments discriminated against women, were misogynistic and extremely offensive -- were revealed to have been targeting female creators, writers, artists and comic journalists for over two years. Over the weekend "MisterE2009" or "JonVeee," as he is sometimes referred to, was formally called out via Twitter courtesy of comic creators Ron Marz and Mark Millar. Now, many people in the past have stepped up and defended themselves and others against these attacks from this individual, but this was the first time that anyone threatened the anonymous user behind the twitter accounts with legal action.

== TEASER ==

Millar has since contacted authorities in California, where the Twitter user lives, and has made an effort to call to arms all the victims of these cyber attacks; asking them to step forward to make a proper case against the man. Let me start off by saying that I don't love KICK-ASS and wasn't crazy about Millar's NEMESIS series. I don't personally believe I am the target audience for a lot of Millar's independent work -- but right now, I feel like his biggest fan. Regardless of whether or not "JonVee" suffers legal ramifications for his actions, his accounts have since been deleted and he's been wiped off the face of the internet -- at least for now. We can all rest easy that this person won't be bothering anyone for the interim, and that's a pretty big win considering what we're dealing with. The internet. A place where you can hide behind a fake name and a fake picture and not have to take any accountability for your actions if you don't want to.

I believe in freedom of speech on the internet. I think it's important. However, I also believe that there are those who use that freedom to hurt other people, and that in itself is a threat to all of our freedoms.

I can't think of the number of times that I've seen "trolling" or comments that are just so misogynistic and just plain awful and turned a blind eye, looking the other way. The fact that I, and so many others, have become so accustomed to seeing commentary like this, and statements of how "X character would totally rape Y character" is a bad sign. When did I become so immune to comments like this? It's as if you are forced to build this invisible cyber-wall against commentary like that because it's both so frequent and just too offensive to deal with. But we have to deal with them, and we have to try to be proactive.

This sort of thing doesn't just happen in comics, either. This behavior is commonplace in online video game communities where woman are explicitly targeted. Back in June, the creator of a Kickstarter project became a target of sexual harassment and cyber bullying after she launched a campaign to get funding for a video series that would explore the stereotypes of women in video games. The creator, Anita Sarkeesian, was attacked. Her wikipedia page vandalized to the point that Wikipedia was forced to lock it down. So should she, and should anyone just accept that it's "just the internet" and that these things will happen? Why should this behavior be tolerated? And why does it feel like it's so heavily embedded in "geek culture"?

OK. So, why am I writing about this on a comic website since it doesn't directly pertain to events in comics? I would argue that it does directly pertain to comics. The bottom line is, the industry is changing. More and more women are taking trips to comic shops and falling in love with characters like Batman and Captain America -- and in turn, they are helping shape and evolve this industry. They are discovering this amazing, creative and vibrant genre that is comics and they are in turn influencing the types of books that you and I read everyday by speaking with their dollars. And frankly, I don't want that influence to dissipate. Today, we have titles that feature strong female characters from both of the big two, and that is a great thing -- and a big improvement from what comics were like 20 years ago. Sure there can be more improvements, but change isn't going to come overnight. So while it doesn't necessarily relate directly to comic books, Comic Vine is an internet community. It's a social platform for people to talk about their favorite books and characters without having to suffer discrimination for their sex, gender or what have you. I for one think it's great that Millar and Marz both stepped up in defense of those people who were being harassed, and I think we should all take a hint from both these gents.

If you want to read more about the events that led up to all of this, check out Heidi MacDonald's THE BEAT where she discusses being directly attacked by the individual as well as Millar's forums. What do you think of all of this? What do you think of online forums dedicated to comics? Feel free to share your experiences below.

162 Comments
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Posted by x_29

k

Edited by GR2Blackout

About time that guy got whats coming to him.

Posted by crazyflashfan11

@GR2Blackout said:

This can tell us one thing (if anything): trolls ruin everything.

yep

Posted by GokaiFire

I hope nothing comes out of this. People need to suck it up and ignore the trolls because having your feeling hurt is not an actual crime. Get the hell over it.

Posted by JoseDRiveraTCR7

TBH, I think a little hyperbole is good every now and then, but I think guys like this take it too far. I don't understand how people can spend so much time living in a pit of negativity and attacking/harassing people they don't like. I hope something is done.

Also, I'm a bit surprised with Millar's involvement as he always struck me as sexist. Then again, he knows the women being harassed.

Posted by Ganthetsward20

Wow, I'm happy to hear that action is being taken against someone like misterE2009. people who just seem to go out of their way to hate, (and I'm guessing) not defend his ideas/beliefs needs to be deleted! Great article Sara! Glad to see people stepping up to try to make the internet more friendly.

Posted by NlGHTCRAWLER

Politics and Comics.... sigh.

Posted by TheCrowbar

@Babs: Loved the article! But 4chan isn't the seedy underbelly of the internet.

Also is there a way to keep taps on Millar's actions? I guess this whole thing proves James (Robinson) right, what with his annoyance over people with anonymous twitter accounts.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@GokaiFire: If somebody said that stuff to a person in real life they would be charged so why should they be aloud to do it on the internet? 
Posted by Rainooo

Not everything can be chalked up to trolling. It's not always trolling. That word. Sigh.

But keep spreading the word. We could always do with less hate and more love.

Posted by feargalr

Very interesting piece, I suddenly have a new respect for Mark Millar.

Posted by No_Name_

@TheCrowbar: At the very bottom of the article there's a link to Millars forums. You might be able to follow from there! :)

Posted by k4tzm4n

Good read.

The Newsroom had a great scene on trolls (I believe in the episode "Bullies"). Basically, Will McAvoy went on a rant about how the majority are cowards who hide behind the illusion of safety that comes with anonymity. I guarantee a vast majority these people would never act in such a manner when discussing something face-to-face.

Staff Online
Posted by JohnnyWalker

god, you make him soud like a serial killer finally aprehended. ever heard of 'sticks and stone will break my bones but words will never hurt me'? ignore him, dont read his stuff. no biggie. everybody sees him as trolling, nobody will give him any credibility. there are some real sickos out there and this deserves attention from the authorities? 'he wrote something bad about me. wha'. priorities people. he isnt the first or the last.

Posted by No_Name_

@JohnnyWalker said:

god, you make him soud like a serial killer finally aprehended. ever heard of 'sticks and stone will break my bones but words will never hurt me'? ignore him, dont read his stuff. no biggie. everybody sees him as trolling, nobody will give him any credibility. there are some real sickos out there and this deserves attention from the authorities? 'he wrote something bad about me. wha'. priorities people. he isnt the first or the last.

Not sure if you knew, but he made some threats to some people.

Posted by sturmritter

@NlGHTCRAWLER: "Politics and Comics.... sigh."

You are surprised? Or merely resigned? Art has always been a commentary in one manner or another on society. You might as well say "Poltics and Art....sigh." I don't always agree with the politics injected into comics, but I always appreciate the ability to voice one's opinions about art. And in some ways, though misterE2009 is a complete baffoon for spewing his hatred in public, the allowance for such offensive speech allows us to identify it, shame it and overcome it.

Posted by x_29

@JohnnyWalker said:

god, you make him soud like a serial killer finally aprehended. ever heard of 'sticks and stone will break my bones but words will never hurt me'? ignore him, dont read his stuff. no biggie. everybody sees him as trolling, nobody will give him any credibility. there are some real sickos out there and this deserves attention from the authorities? 'he wrote something bad about me. wha'. priorities people. he isnt the first or the last.

...be quiet.

Posted by Owie

I think Babs and a number of the other women on CV have done a solid job keeping the watch out for this kind of mysogyny. I really appreciate the consistent, even-keeled, well-considered comments, and I think she makes solid points about how some people need to grow up. I'm a guy, but like most guys who have a daughter, I am full-on into equality and acceptance for girls in geek culture. Guys need to stop being so offensive and defensive about how they act towards women. The "rapes" stuff in the battles forum is ridiculous. I know people don't mean anything by it, but try thinking about how heavily charged that word is to some people before you throw it around so casually.

Posted by TitanTempest

Love the article, im going to head straight to twitter and follow Millar now, as support of his actions

Edited by NlGHTCRAWLER

@sturmritter said:

@NlGHTCRAWLER: "Politics and Comics.... sigh."

You are surprised? Or merely resigned? Art has always been a commentary in one manner or another on society. You might as well say "Poltics and Art....sigh." I don't always agree with the politics injected into comics, but I always appreciate the ability to voice one's opinions about art. And in some ways, though misterE2009 is a complete baffoon for spewing his hatred in public, the allowance for such offensive speech allows us to identify it, shame it and overcome it.

I'm not surprised, i'm content. You act as if he's the anti-christ of comics. No one is forcing you or anyone else to read his stuff and the only thing this is doing is giving him the attention he wants. I didn't even know this guy existed before this article and I doubt I will remember him in a week or two.

Posted by mikeclark1982

i heard about this idiot on the comic book resources website. this guy is disturbing and i hope someone gets him. if any of you women are hounded by fools like johnvee or whatever, the best thing to do is ignore them. all they are trying to do is get attention. immature turds.

Posted by Mercy_

Amazing article, Sara!!!

Moderator
Posted by NightFang

@JohnnyWalker said:

god, you make him soud like a serial killer finally aprehended. ever heard of 'sticks and stone will break my bones but words will never hurt me'? ignore him, dont read his stuff. no biggie. everybody sees him as trolling, nobody will give him any credibility. there are some real sickos out there and this deserves attention from the authorities? 'he wrote something bad about me. wha'. priorities people. he isnt the first or the last.

I read the guys comments (Witch you can read here Comics Vs MisterE2009), and all I can say is....

Posted by Sovereign91001

People like JonVee and his ilk that say 'ah its just the internet' make me wonder where we as a species are going. I know we've come a long way but stuff like this highlights just how much further we have to go.

Edited by GundamHeavyarms

What this guy did was in extremely bad form, I mean, I understand not liking someone's opinion, but you can convey that without reducing yourself to baseless character attacks and harassment.

Now that I think about it, really think about it, I enjoyed comics a lot more before I started getting on forums, there's so much anger and hate on a lot of these sites, I know you cant please everyone, and there are certainly things to be critiqued, but all this vitriol sucks the fun out of it.

Posted by JohnnyWalker

@Babs: he's been spewing that kind of crap (pardon my language) for over 2 years. if he meant anything he said, he wouldve done it by now. he is just misogynistic. he wants attention which is provided now by the truckload. if the authorities get involved he will get what? a fine, maybe a restraining order. he'll back online the next day using different accounts, IPs. ignoring him is the best solution. trolls get bored after a while. this guy however is still trolling after 2 years. fine. let him type whatever he wants till his fingers bleed. does anything he says matter? after 2 years?

Posted by Z3RO180

well done mark and ron for standing up for the litile guy or girl.

Posted by SavageDragon

Great article Sara. I always like to here your take on interesting topics, or normal topics like X-Force.

Posted by Magicallystoopid

Let me start before saying anything else that I completely agree with the main point of this article, baseless attacking of women has no place in today's society. Especially if its all some sad desperate plea for attention like I'm sure it was with the guy.

Though I do have a problem with Anita Sarkeesian being shown as another victim. Since a good portion of the compliments against her stem from the fact she was asking for 100 k to make her web series, which while I don't produce or make any video series anywhere, seems like a stupidly high cost to produce a show when an HD camera, microphone, and edition software can cost 250 at least.

When people got onto her about it, she used it as a railing cry by using the more slandering/stupid trolling comments put against her as evidence of sexism in gaming, so thus she got all the money she asked for and then some. Now, if you go onto her tumblr page, she has a picture of a large portion of all the games she purchased, more than a few barely have anything to do with the issue.

http://i.imgur.com/vwRgH.jpg

Further more, she also has a flickr account where she now shows all the high end restaurants she's been eating at. Pretty high amount of places I will add.

Posted by TheCrowbar

@JohnnyWalker:

Violating a restraining order can land you in jail.

Posted by x_29

@Magicallystoopid said:

Let me start before saying anything else that I completely agree with the main point of this article, baseless attacking of women has no place in today's society. Especially if its all some sad desperate plea for attention like I'm sure it was with the guy.

Though I do have a problem with Anita Sarkeesian being shown as another victim. Since a good portion of the compliments against her stem from the fact she was asking for 100 k to make her web series, which while I don't produce or make any video series anywhere, seems like a stupidly high cost to produce a show when an HD camera, microphone, and edition software can cost 250 at least.

When people got onto her about it, she used it as a railing cry by using the more slandering/stupid trolling comments put against her as evidence of sexism in gaming, so thus she got all the money she asked for and then some. Now, if you go onto her tumblr page, she has a picture of a large portion of all the games she purchased, more than a few barely have anything to do with the issue.

http://i.imgur.com/vwRgH.jpg

Further more, she also has a flickr account where she now shows all the high end restaurants she's been eating at. Pretty high amount of places I will add.

Excellent point on Sarkessian. Its sad because while the inhumane hate for her is unforgivable, I cannot comletley sympathize with her.

Posted by JohnnyWalker

@TheCrowbar: does a restraining order apply to the internet? or an even better question has he ever physically assaulted anybody hes trolling?

Posted by Funrush

@Babs said:

@JohnnyWalker said:

god, you make him soud like a serial killer finally aprehended. ever heard of 'sticks and stone will break my bones but words will never hurt me'? ignore him, dont read his stuff. no biggie. everybody sees him as trolling, nobody will give him any credibility. there are some real sickos out there and this deserves attention from the authorities? 'he wrote something bad about me. wha'. priorities people. he isnt the first or the last.

Not sure if you knew, but he made some threats to some people.

Out of curiosity, what kind of threats did he make?

Edited by x_29

This is one of the reasons why most girls who want to get into comics change their minds; the boys only/screw you girls attitude. This needs to stop.

Posted by FLStyle

@Babs: If you'll indulge me and an issue I have before you get back to discussing the topic at hand with the rest of the comments:

Is it not a contradiction for the Assistant Editor of a publication, of which their are only two members, to be calling an opinionated article an Op-ed? Unless I've missed something, this is clearly an Editorial, not an Op-ed.

Edited by TheCrowbar

@JohnnyWalker:

Yes and to the next question:

Doesn't matter California law specifically prevents him from directly contacting any of the people who file a restraining order against him through any electronic medium.

Edited by SimonM7

The internet basically operates on the presumption that people can moderate themselves, that everyone wants to be polite and constructive, but way too many people don't. Random, generic frustration is just too easy and gratifying to vent, and I bet people with these tendencies don't really distinguish between the interchangeable "cause" they're venting in the guise of. To actually say something of substance takes a degree of involvement that immediately reaches beyond the tiny attention span that brings this stuff on, so they reach for the most impactful shorthand instead.

I definitely believe there are awful, hateful people with an actual agenda, too, but I think ultimately, the majority is just working with their ignorance, preconceived notions and frustrations and project those because it's just so easy. It's the PUNCHING A WALL of the internet.

I also genuinely believe that there have been significant advances in bringing women to the forefront in movies and comics and video games, so much so that there's now a tangible anti-movement. Maybe it's males freaking out over "losing their foothold", I don't know, but I'm seeing more and more comments about "oh boy, another STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER, ho hum!". The notion that women are rising up in these areas, and that verbally attacking them is no longer "kicking someone who's already down" is seemingly reaching a fever pitch in threads like the "Tropes vs Women" one. It's SO pervasive and SO blunt.

A different, far more subtle problem is that as these issues are highlighted more, and the discussion ramps up, you have a lot of people that just don't want to deal with it, and rather not think about it. Games, comics, films they're used to just enjoying are suddenly examined and called out for this thing they "don't care about", and they just see it as an attack on something they like. They develop some sort of anti stance where they just go I DON'T LIKE INJUSTICE TO MALES NOR FEMALES, I DON'T GET WHY WE'RE HAVING THIS DISCUSSION - missing the fact that it IS an issue that affects women primarily. Trivialising that fact is almost just as bad, just as ignorant, and even a bit delusional, frankly.

If there's a silver lining, it has to be that someone is likely doing something right, because the douches are clearly freaking and coming out of the woodwork en masse. To any reasonable human being, their behaviour is obviously absolutely despicable, and they will hopefully be shunned and ridiculed until GENERATIONS do their thing and we bury such old fashioned world views.

Edited by JohnnyWalker

@TheCrowbar: ok (sorry if i came off cocky dont know your laws). well thats great. why havent they done this? even after 1 year they wouldve had enough proof.

Edited by etragedy

This is not a good news story.

I'm not referring to the incidents of trolling being good or bad. I'm not talking about the subject of the story at all.I'm referring to the fact that good journalism is supposed to report the relevant facts and this article does not. Sara opens with a statement about who/what trolls are. O.K., so far so good. Then there's a graphic. Then she goes on to say:

"MisterE2009" -- whose comments discriminated against women, were misogynistic and extremely offensive -- were revealed to have been targeting female creators, writers, artists and comic journalists for over two years.

And from there she goes on to talk about Mark Millar and others formally challenging this particular troll - which seems to be the crux of the story.

But there is a key part of the story missing. It assumes the reader knows about the activities of "MisterE2009". I have no idea who this person is, or when/where he/she/it has been trolling. Is it here on ComicVine? On the earlier mentioned 4Chan? Where were these troll posts and what exactly did they say???

The article goes on to to say that

his accounts have since been deleted and he's been wiped off the face of the internet

What accounts?

Where were these accounts?

Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about the subject of this news story - whatever this guy did it sounds like it was offensive to many.

NOR am I complaining about an article on CV about industry related news. Indeed I wish CV would have MORE stories about what's going on in the world of comics and less articles about Hulk mustaches.

I want to know what's going on in the industry, behind the scenes at conventions and in the corporate boardrooms of WB and Disney. And yes, everything else fans are talking about (like this MisterE2009 guy). It is only the quality of the journalism that I'm concerned with. Please report all the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and WHY of a story - the basics of good journalism.

Posted by judasnixon

 You do not talk to women like that period! I don't care if it's twitter, message boards, or f***ing sky writing. 
I pray that spineless middle age cowardly fat bucket of s**t finds his way into jail gang rape, since it makes him 
feel sooooo big twittering about rape so much to women.

Online
Posted by jinxuandi

Great article. Many thanks for putting this out there.

I hate when idiots try to justify this behavior by claiming that the victims of this behavior should just shut up and take it. It would be one thing if this clown simply believed that women could not write/draw comics and kept that opinion to himself and among his friends. No one his questioning his right to hold that factually incorrect opinion. Where he crosses the line into illegality is perennially harassing others when he knows he is unwelcome. No one would ever claim it would be acceptable for some idiot on the street to scream profanities at someone inside their house. It's past time the internet grew up and held itself to real-world standards.

Posted by GrimRealities

I thought it was a very well written and poignant article (especially poignant here in Australia at the moment with an all to similar story focused on a female celebrity that came under attack on twitter). I want diversity in my comics and the only way to get that diversity is by have people of different genders, races and backgrounds working in the industry and buying comics. Its sad to see people destroy the purpose of freedom of speech by being hateful and hopefully if we can stop some of these people then other's will realise its not okay and you will be caught!

Posted by Inverno

Mark Millar, even thought I hate you as writer, I respect you as a man. I tip my hat to you.

Posted by jwalser3

@NlGHTCRAWLER said:

Politics and Comics.... sigh.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Personally for me, I see what Millar and Marz having done as a good thing but, unfortunately to what end I cannot say this will do any good. Yes, in the end this nobody who's doing all the trolling has had his accounts taken down and thus he's cutoff from such contact through the social network...for now anyway. It will just be a matter of time before he gets a new IP, new identities and all that and start anew. Unfortunately trolling and griefing on the net is akin to air bubbles getting under a freshly laid floor of linoleum; if you stamp it out someplace it will just come up somewhere else. Now that's not saying I disagree with what Marz and Millar have done, for I actually praise these true gents for what they did. They have done something great and stood up to cyberbullying which is NEVER okay. But I also am a fan of being proactive in the face of eradicating evil, and something like this will be meaningless unless followed up with a general crackdown on cyberbullying in through the net. Unfortunately that just opens up the cyberworld to having the monitors everyone fears about in classic dystopian literature. Thing is, in the end what those two comic creators did is right, for what this troll did was essentially both morally wrong and illegal, but unless they are going to continue the crusade against any and all trolls that inhabit the world wide web, what will the point be? Standing up to this guy is but a drop in the ocean. There needs to be more done, plain and simple.

Posted by ArtisticNeedham

Wow, nice article. I had to click on this article just to find out what Trolls were. I am not up on my Internet terms. Good for Mark and Ron. I hope others follow in the coming years.

Posted by danhimself

I don't understand this "get over it" attitude...someone is expressing a valid point and people are actually taking steps to stop people from ruining things that they enjoy...if all you have to say is "get over it" or "ignore it and it will go away" then you're a part of the problem

Posted by No_Name_

@etragedy: Unfortunately, the individual's accounts were deleted. I did link to THE BEAT where Heidi MacDonald posted screen captures of what happened explicitly. The fact that I chose not to outright state "this is what he said" might be because that's not where I wanted discussion to go. It's less about what he said explicitly, and more about the fact that it's said, and is tolerated, accepted, etc. Did you want to see the comments he made?I did mention in the article that this stuff happened on Twitter. Sorry if anything I wrote wasn't clear.

@FLStyle: That's a good point. I guess I wanted to be specific in regards to the fact that this is my opinion, not necessarily the opinion of the site in general, you know what I mean?

Posted by thveej

@etragedy: its not a news story..... its an op-ed (should be really an editorial but weteve) if you don't know the difference then look it up.

This sort of trolling is really over the top, but I really don't know what the solution is. I do wish that people like this JonVeee scumbag would get punished/embarrassed but then that leads to these questions about how we should regulate the internet which is not something I am interested in.

Good job on the the article though, this sort of issues should be addressed and discussed.

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