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Saturday, August 04, 2018 

Max Bemis and Taylor Esposito injected a stealth attack on Jon Del Arroz in a Centipede adaptation

We have another case of writers, and even letterers taking advantage of privileges in getting jobs on other people's properties just so they can attack people they don't like. In the 4th issue of a comic based on Atari's Centipede (which was originally overseen by a woman in 1980, Dona Bailey, for the historical record), it turns out Max Bemis and maybe most notably letterer Taylor Esposito, stealthed an attack against novelist Jon Del Arroz, who's also got his own comics project in the works. Basically, what they did was disguise their attacks as an alien language, which can be understood in English if the panel is turned upside down:
From what's told, artist Eoin Marron appears to be innocent, as he's only the illustrator and not the letterer:
Hmm, that is unusual alright. I’m afraid I had nothing to do with the lettering though (and it certainly wasn’t in the script I was provided, where it was only described as alien gibberish), you’ll have to refer to the series’ letterer Taylor Esposito.

My involvement with the issue was complete once I handed off the B&W inks, so colors and later letters were handled afterward.
Bemis and Esposito apparently also stealthed in insults against Arkhaven with their weird upside down letter shapings, because they didn't like Alt-Hero. Luckily, Dynamite's managers took care of the issues involved, and it looks like they're going to modify it for the paperbacks they're preparing for this Centipede adaptation. They also apologized to Del Arroz for any harm caused.

Esposito himself responded to the scandal he's caused, but it sounds like he's trying to bounce blame onto an unnamed source:

I'm sorry, but I just don't buy this defense, and he was notably one of several "pros" who took part in a Facebook forum making inciteful comments against Richard Meyer. Bemis, from what I learned earlier, is also a bad lot.

What's really fortunate in this case is that Dynamite's approached this responsibly and professionally, proving that a comics company can and does want to maintain a good reputation, along with the licenses to any products and merchandise they're adapting into the funny pages. Arroz figures it was only Esposito who was responsible, and I think publishers who don't want their products being abused for a would-be creator's personal agendas should distance themselves from people like Esposito in the future, along with Bemis, if he's also responsible.

In past decades, when foreign/otherworldly languages were put to use in comic panels, the publishers would often put brackets around English-language dialects in the word balloons and a footnote saying "translated from fill-in-the-blank language". If it was a Latin-based language like French or Spanish, you could sometimes see lines like proverbs in use, recalling Beast/Hank McCoy had some in the pages of Avengers a time or two along with his "stars and garters" quips. Some of the few differing examples I know of where alien-shaped languages were used was when Marv Wolfman introduced Starfire in the 1st and 2nd issue of New Teen Titans in 1980, and John Byrne was writing post-Crisis Superman in the late 80s and used some to serve as Kryptonian pictograms. But after this whole affair at Dynamite, there could be an argument made that, unless proper screenings are worked out by the editors, it would be better if plain English was put to use for alien cast members with brackets if they are meant to be speaking in a foreign tongue, and we should be able to know what an alien might be saying in his/her own language.

Anyway, I wish Del Arroz good luck with his new projects, and it's good that Dynamite's management lent a helping hand.

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Don’t like Max Bemis or Taylor Esposito. But Jon Del Arroz isn’t someone whose comics I’d patronize. Guy is good friends with Vox Day, proudly identifies as alt-right, and defends Vox Day’s support for white identitarianism by falsely claiming Israel is an ethnostate.

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