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IDW Firing Aubrey Sitterson Over Tweets Would Set Dangerous Precedent

Written by Tim Midura on Thursday, September 14 2017 and posted in News with Benefits
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ComicsIDW

IDW Firing Aubrey Sitterson Over Tweets Would Set Dangerous Precedent

A vocal minority has had it out for him from the start.


Source: Twitter

On September 11, G.I. Joe writer Aubrey Sitterson tweeted out

The second of which links to author Porochista Khakpour's tweet of this picture.

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Not much was made of Sitterson's initial tweet until the next day, when Diversity In Comics uploaded a YouTube video criticizing Sitterson. This is the same channel that includes the videos MS. MARVEL Is SJW Propaganda On Almost Every PageICEMAN Coming Out Is Worse Than You Could Possibly Imagine, and Words Cannot Express How Much I Hate TRANSFORMERS. "I'm assuming the last video is someone screaming nonsense for 10 minutes or a link to Zechs' Transformers review, same thing.

The G.I. Joe fansite YoJoe posted that they would be stopping coverage of all IDW products as long as Sitterson was on the book.

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Bleeding Cool reached out to YoJoe for a statement on their history with Sitterson.

On several occasions between February and June of this year, Aubrey joined and would attempt to market his book to a private Facebook group for G.I.Joe. Many long time fans from the community, as well as past Hasbro people were in said group, with a member count into the thousands. Feedback towards Aubrey's work was often mixed, and any negative feedback resulted in Aubrey lashing out.

This is straight-forward enough. Sitterson was in a private Facebook group and reportedly couldn't handle negative feedback.

Previously, the G.I.Joe community had an issue with the G.I.Joe Collectors Club and the design of a third-tier but beloved character named Salvo. A large muscular character with a big missile launcher, the club's design was more of an average person's build. The Club took this constructively critical feedback and released a figure more in line with fan expectations. This is relevant because not long after this event, Aubrey changed everything about the character when Salvo debuted in issue #3. Instead, the character was a large, woman of color. Considering that the community had just gone through an episode with this character's design, most in the G.I.Joe community felt that Aubrey's changes were less story driven, and more of a way to illicit a reaction from the core fans. And that was in fact what occurred, when people questioned why Salvo was changed, they were accused of being bigots, just for wondering why a major change to this character occurred.

This isn't relevant. The community's involvement in a character's design is irrelevant. They're not the creative team behind the characters. The statement also says that Salvo is a third-tier character. It's not like he gender swapped a more popular character like Dial Tone. That was Chuck Dixon.

This was our introduction to his personality, of Aubrey Sitterson the Wrestling fan, with a heel persona. We get it, he likes to be tongue in cheek.

Understatement of the century, but I digress.

This hit a peak in June, when a cover variant had some subtle support for Pride month. Feedback was negative not because of the subject matter but the consensus was that the art just wasn't that good. Aubrey took great offense, and began calling members homophobic or other such slurs, regardless of how clearly users would articulate their opinions that it was about the technicalities of the art, and not of the pro-LGBTQAAIP subtext.

The cover in question is Ed Luce's variant cover for issue #7.

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That didn't matter. Aubrey took screenshots out of context of long discussion threads, and labeled the G.I.Joe community as nothing but white male, Trump supporters, to his Twitter following. From that point to September, the community at large had completely dismissed Aubrey as nothing more than an antagonist and provocateur, for the amusement of his Twitter following. Then the more generic but offensive Tweets began, first with the burning of people's employers in effigy, and what really set our community into full outrage was his callous comments on 9/11 followed by half-hearted backpedaling and the rest is the little drama we have today.

Moreso sent a few people into an outrage, picking up pitchforks and torches.

The G.I.Joe community has many member who are currently or have served in our nation's – and other nation's – Armed Forces. The tragedy of September 11th is still filled with passion and pain. Aubrey is fully entitled to his comments, but in this day of social media, that freedom of speech also has the responsibility of consequence. And alienating yourself from your core audience, along with actively antagonizing them, will bring out calls for a new author. I don't think it can be stressed enough that Aubrey went out of his way to antagonize the community. This is an issue of people caring about the G.I. Joe brand, and they see Aubrey as harmful to the brand, and that he isn't really concerned with helping or growing the G.I. Joe brand, as he is about growing his Twitter interactions. I have heard and read endless commentary from within the G.I.Joe community, and the vast majority do not feel that Aubrey is the right type of personality for the G.I. Joe brand, or any Hasbro brand, because at the end of the day, these are still children's products.

Calls for Sitterson's head have been coming from before the September 11 tweets. A vocal minority is using these tweets as a springboard to get Sitterson off G.I. Joe, the book about children's products that fetishize war.

Bleeding Cool posted screencaps of a Facebook chat from June that Sitterson is enjoying playing with the G.I. Joe universe, despite IDW still publishing Larry Hama's G.I. Joe series right alongside Sitterson's.

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This screencap from HissTank show G.I. Joe fans angry with Sitterson for his claim of being a socialist. It's not a problem with his G.I Joe book, it's always been a problem with him.

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IDW's initial statement on Sitterson's tweets was:

"Aubrey was living in New York on September 11, 2001 and like many New Yorkers who saw their city attacked and who breathed in the dust of the wreckage and the dying, he at times finds it hard to take when people who didn't have that direct connection, that direct suffering, make statements that imply their suffering was as bad. Yes, the entire country was attacked but we do see how people who were so directly impacted as New Yorkers can take exception to people who want to likewise connect to the event in the same way. The connection for everyone is there—like I say, everyone was attacked on that day—but it obviously hit New York and New Yorkers more directly.

That's his whole point, not to slight anyone. It is a thing you see on social media when any notably sad event happens or hits an anniversary: people who can't just mourn a celebrity but who have to make it seem like they were personally connected and so their suffering matters more. I believe that was Aubrey's while point. I'm not saying I agree with his approach but I also didn't live in NY and so can't put myself in this shoes in that regard. The attack remains a raw, open wound for everyone and everyone deals with it best they can on an ongoing basis. Aubrey as a New Yorker and as someone who feels everything very deeply clearly struggles with the events of that day and other peoples' approach to it as do most all of us. Sorry you found what he said offensive but we've talked to him in person about that day and know that he didn't mean it to sound the way some have taken it."

 

IDW then backtracked with another statement:

"It has come to our attention that a freelance comic book writer, whose work includes IDW titles, has expressed opinions on his personal social media account that many find insensitive, divisive, and inflammatory.

IDW in no way condones or supports these personal opinions whatsoever, and recognizes the pain they may cause our readers.

Discussions regarding next steps are underway. We appreciate the patience and understanding of our many fans while these concerns are being addressed."

 

YoJoe members were supportive of IDW's new stance.

 

While members of the comics community came to Sitterson's aid.

 

And it certainly takes a lot to admit that I agree with Tom Brennan.

 

There's a vocal minority that has had it out for Sitterson from the start. They created backlash to Salvo's change. They created backlash to Luce's variant cover. His 9/11 tweets are a platform for them to elevate themselves on. They're not mad about the tweets. They're mad he changed G.I. Joe.

If IDW fires Sitterson over this, they're setting a dangerous precedent that a loud vocal minority can get their way. One YoJoe commenter already voiced their opinion about who IDW should let go of next.

 

Once again, here's Sitterson's initial tweet.

And here's one of those self-centered national tragedy remembrances.

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About the Author - Tim Midura


Born in the frozen tundra of Massachusetts, Tim Midura has long possessed a love for comic books and records. After stealing the beard of Zeus and inventing the pizza bagel, a much more heavily tattooed and bearded Tim Midura has finally settled in San Diego. He's the world's first comics journalist who doesn't want to become a comics writer. Find him on twitter, facebook or by email.


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