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Monday, March 23, 2015 

Comics Alliance has a resident cybertroll, and they're still defending him

And it turns out it was Chris Sims, he who runs the "Invincible Super-Blog", who's now been hired by Marvel to write a digital X-Men story harkening back to a time of decline, 1992. A decade back, he was harrassing former DC employee Valerie D'Orazio, who wrote about the experience here. Personally, I may have noticed a bit of that harassment myself on the blog she ran a decade back, and remembering it now, I can say for starters that it only enforces my already poor perception of young Mr. Sims. He's basically the product of a time when mainstream comicdom was on a serious plummet downwards, and that's apparently going to be his influence for whatever dreck he's planning to write for Marvel. I'd written about a few of his takes on comics history, and his problem is that he speaks from a view that doesn't distinguish between fiction and reality. For example, his take on Terry Long, ex-husband of Donna Troy. And his pathetic view of Aquaman. And, his head-shaking take on Cyclops. He may have even trolled here at least once, all because he didn't like my belief that logic should accompany criticism, and be leveled at the writers, not the imaginary characters. No wonder Axel Alonso must've hired him.

Sims apparently encouraged some hostility towards D'Orazio when she was writing a Punisher one-shot:
This hit its peak when it was announced that I was to write a one-shot for The Punisher. Apparently Chris thought this was the wrong choice, and he made his opinions clear.

8:00 in the morning the issue was to hit stands, Marvel Comics called me to warn that there was a “harassing” atmosphere on the internet regarding my comic. They told me to “be careful.” Over the next week I received constant harassment and threats. The result was that, among other things, I refused to go to comic book conventions or other events in which somebody might know I would be at a certain time—because I believed I would be hurt or even killed.
I don't think she'd have to worry about any violent hooligans - there may have been nasty messages all over the place when the Gamergate campaign rose up, but no actual assaults were committed, so I think it's safe to say she wouldn't have to worry about alleged readers breaking the law. But if Mr. Sims was stoking a hostile atmosphere, that was wrong, and he's unsuited for working at major publishers.

There may be an interesting argument here: if it was needed, Marvel's staff should've defended her by condemning any online harrassment publicly. If they failed to do so, then they're part of the problem, as they've already made clear by their ignorance of Dan Slott.

Sims may have apologized publicly for his actions, but this email he sent to D'Orazio's husband leaves room for doubt he really means it:
“I saw what you said to that dude yesterday, and just felt awful. You, and Valerie, have a very good reason to throw me under the bus, and you have always treated me with way more respect than I deserve. I was a complete asshole to Val, and by extension to you, and while in my head I thought I was keeping it about the work rather than being personal, I know I stepped over the line more than once. I was completely the bad guy, and once I realized that, I stopped, and the only reason I haven’t reached out to apologize is because I know that both of you (rightly) think I’m a real jerk, and I didn’t want to try to insert myself into your lives because I suddenly realized I was being a dickhead about it.”
And what's that supposed to mean? The phrase usually means "abandon" or "betray". Is he saying Val and her husband David "owe" him something? They owe him nothing, because all he's contributed is trouble, and I wouldn't be surprised if she wasn't Sims' only target. Plus, why is he apologizing more to David, but not so much to Val?

These kind of revelations even have the effect of making me doubt Sims really takes offense at some of the most sexist tales published by the Big Two, if he ever had anything negative to say about them. In fact, he's one of a few writers for Comics Alliance who apologized for Islamofascism, though he did at least do a favor by letting everyone know Judd Winick exploited Power Girl's title for apologia. It's not just flagship superheroes whose books have been exploited for Islamic propaganda.

Sims' fellow staff at Alliance made their own statement about this, where it appears they're using some slimy tactics to defend him:
Chris understands this now, and has understood it for years. He ended his harassment of D’Orazio several years ago. He has issued an apology on his own blog in an overdue attempt to make amends, and will issue a second statement and apology shortly via this site. We know Chris, so we know that his apology is sincere, though we cannot and would not insist that others believe or accept it.
Umm, no, you do not know for sure, if he used fishy phrases backstage. I don't see how the following excuses his attitude either:
The apology did not come out of nowhere. It was initially made in direct response to David Gallaher, a comics writer and D’Orazio’s husband, who contacted Chris to warn him that someone was threatening to expose Chris as a bully following the news of Chris’s recently announced Marvel writing assignment — despite the fact that everything they sought to “expose” is on the public record. We were also aware of this campaign to target Chris, as Twitter accounts were created and later deleted solely to further this campaign, and messages were sent to Chris, David, their friends, and the editors of ComicsAlliance.

Someone was targeting Chris not out of a sense of justice, but because they wanted to destroy his success. The campaign may also have been one of several efforts we’re aware of to discredit ComicsAlliance. These are not the tactics of progressives concerned about harassment in comics, but of agitators looking to tear down progressive voices — of which Chris is certainly one — using methods of harassment. [...]
It should be pretty clear by now D'Orazio disagrees no matter her own politics, and so does Gallaher. What is this, an attempt to put words in the Gallahers' mouths? I'm sorry, but this spoils everything, and says a lot more about CA's staff: they're trying to play victim here, and could still be defending him. If D'Orazio spoke out against Sims on her own accord, then their victimology is effectively mooted. I think there's a case here for asking advertisers to boycott CA. Axel Alonso also addressed this, and his reply is just as laughable:
It came to public attention that Chris Sims, co-writer on the recently announced "X-Men '92" series, had a history of harassing and bullying Valerie D'Orazio, an industry veteran who has written several stories for Marvel in the past. It's a situation that has sparked debate and discussion among fans and industry pros. Given that Sims is about to make his Marvel debut, do you have any response or comment on the situation, and if his standing on "X-Men '92" is affected?

Alonso: We had no knowledge of what transpired on the Internet between Chris and Valerie. We have since come to understand that several years ago both were active voices in the comics community -- both were bloggers and Valerie wrote a couple of stories for Marvel, including a "Punisher" one-shot that I edited -- that some sort of bad blood developed between them, and that Chris crossed lines in his treatment of Valerie that were indefensible, as he himself acknowledged. In his formal public apology, Chris took full responsibility for his actions. Some believe Chris is sincere -- Comics Alliance wrote an editorial supporting him -- and some don't. While we condemn Chris' past actions, we see his strongly worded apology as evidence that he now understands that verbal bullying and harassment of anyone is totally, unequivocally wrong.
Please, his wording is very weak, as his letter to Gallaher hints, and an editor who sees nothing wrong with Dan Slott trolling and attacking any criticism of his work has no business commenting on this.

That said, I'll have to admit I'm disappointed and find it bothersome if D'Orazio couldn't develop a thick skin for all the vile reception she got several years ago. People who want to become pros know they have to expect this hostile reception and can't let it get the better of them, resulting in the PSTD she says she got from her experience. And that's not the only thing that bugs me: for someone who found DC's sexist storytellings offensive, I just remembered she didn't seem to level the same amount of criticism at Marvel for One More Day and the Spidey deal with Mephisto. All because she wanted to get writing assignments from them.

What can I say? I felt very let down, and it soaks the impact of her prior arguments against DC.

Still, she hasn't worked for Marvel in a couple years since the 2-3 jobs she got, so maybe she's since come to realize there's some prices just too high to pay for a dream career. And Alonso's proven he's untrustworthy. The kind of man and his staff whose picks are very selective, who gives you a gig one day and spits you out the next. There's no need to sacrifice dignity and common sense when men like him are in charge. Sure, I'd like to learn how to be a writer too. But with editorial mandates as awful as the Big Two now impose, that's why I'd see working for them as this point as an impossible task. Only if and when they're in the hands of caring owners would that be a possibility.

As for Sims and CA, I figure this'll probably damage their reputation appropriately. Passing it off as a "conspiracy" does nothing to help what's already been a very crummy site crawling all over with moonbats whose admiration and respect for comicdom's founding fathers is extremely questionable. If he continue to write for their site, he'll probably get far less audience, and with any luck, this'll ensure his X-Men project doesn't do well financially.

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Modern-day self-flagellation?

Sorry about the double-post, but any of these sites an improvement over what is being published nowadays?:


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