PR: What Not to Do: Be a Kickstarter Jerk

Kickstarter is so easy to use that a lot of people are rushing into it who don’t have the skills necessary to run their own business, especially when it comes to marketing. With so many people using it for comics, it can be difficult to get attention and meet your pledge goal (especially if you’re asking for thousands of dollars). Many Kickstarters know that they need to get mentions and links to succeed.

Earlier today, I got one of those pleading letters that wanted me to mention their Kickstarter project. The email was pretty good, although it was obviously a form letter to a large group of websites. It opened by saying that the person didn’t want to beg, but he was hoping to get the word out and “get some feedback from a professional source”. It continued: “I’m definitely not looking for just a quick way to get some free advertising (ok, I am, but I’m not), so if you guys want to give this thing the old once-over, I would appreciate your time and thoughts”. Not surprisingly, this turned out to be completely untrue.

The project itself is a graphic novel pitched as being just like an 80s action movie. It was also (this has since been changed, based on my feedback) revealed as a screenplay that the author knew he couldn’t get produced, so he turned it into a comic.

I sent back a note saying that I wouldn’t be covering the effort because there was nothing that made this comic interesting. I thought he should make the comic sound more special, since “lots of action” described too many other books out there. Plus, talking about how it was originally a screenplay made it sound like settling for making a comic was a booby prize.

Even weirder, there are two versions of this work. The writer/editor couldn’t decide which of two artists to pick, so he had both draw the script, and he’s offering either or both in book form. I think if you can’t make tough decisions, like selecting just one artist, you should stay out of comics. Maybe then you can ask for a more reasonable amount of money. When I see a newbie asking for more than $10,000, and the book prizes start at $45, I’m turned off. $20-25 is a more reasonable price for pre-ordering a graphic novel, in my opinion.

Anyway, my blunt email said much of the above, although I did try to couch it in terms of tips he could take action on, as with the change he did make. Silly me for believing that the petitioner really meant it when he said, “I hope to hear from you.” It won’t surprise you to hear I got back insults and reasons he didn’t want to listen to me.

My criticism was “constructive (although completely unhelpful)”. He wasn’t mad, he told me, but he felt the need to assert I was turned off by his manly comic and I was criticizing him because he wasn’t a woman. He then told me I clearly wasn’t the target audience. (I know that. But if you think that, why promote it to me in the first place?) When I was a potential advertisement for his project, my site was fine; now that I’d rejected him, I had no idea what “original” looked like because I read manga and Archie and that was all the same. This did somewhat impress me, in a demented way, because most he-men “you women ruin comics” idiots don’t bother to check out the site to any depth.

Then the email got really weird. Let me quote: “You seem like one of those snobby know-it-alls who sips wine while snuggling up to “classics” like Essential Dykes and who would be more than happy to hear more about my book if I won the Prism Comics Queer Press Grant”. So he’s also marginally homophobic and biased against wine drinkers.

I know people like this who ask for feedback are lying (or misleading themselves). They don’t want honest reaction. They want to hear how great their work is and how eager you are to tell others that. Any other reaction hurts their widdle ego and drives them to find reasons to ignore you. It’s completely understandable, and it goes along with the job.

I shouldn’t even be wasting your time telling you about this — but this kind of behavior does give anyone using Kickstarter a black eye by association. Now, I’m even less likely to listen to anyone pitching a project using that method, because I don’t know when I’m going to scratch another ridiculous person lashing out.

Update: I’ve now received the following offer for a “compromise” from this guy. If I “call it even”, he’ll stop berating me (although he’ll keep calling my words “slander”), but in return, he wants me to either erase this post (and his many comments) or remove the information about his project being an 80s action movie comic, because he thinks that’s too specific an identifier. Sorry, dude, not going to happen. I think people should know who they’re trusting to send them Kickstarter rewards in return for their money.

85 Responses to “PR: What Not to Do: Be a Kickstarter Jerk”

  1. Aaron Says:

    WOW, interesting post and quite awkward conduct by this guy. Speaking about, I have tried to pitch the mighty Jim Shooter to use this platform to raise some money and publish some new super-hero books. What do you think?

  2. Kitten Says:

    Yeah, I always found your love of Archie comics and shojo manga super snotty and the type of thing wine drinkers every where get into. (For reals?)

  3. The Man Says:

    HAHAHA! Hi, I’m the horrible “Man” type that she’s referring to. I like how she made herself the hero in this, when in fact she’s making up “facts” and misrepresenting her “feedback” which was actually more of a directed attack on the idea of having a book made by a man, for men (or men who still think they’re teenage boys), about something that dudes actually care about.
    The fact that I did, in FACT (FACT), take to heart some of her suggestions should point to the FACT that I did care about the feedback – just not the salt attitude and attack on the idea that came with it.
    She started out by saying how uninterested she was, then followed with “It sounds like every second comic already out there.” except…wait for it…it isn’t. She chose to continue focusing on the whole “action, action, action” thing she made up in her head since she was already biased against it, and continued to insult me based on the idea that I was new to the industry. I apologize for not being an expert.
    And like she said, she capped it off by suggesting I lower the standard to something that wouldn’t even be enough to fund the printing costs of a 500+ page, full color book.
    Then, signed off with the real confidence boost to a newbie: “good luck. I think you’ll need it.”

  4. Johanna Says:

    Aaron, I think the world has more superhero books now than it needs.

    Kitten, ha! Thanks for putting that in perspective.

  5. Aaron Says:

    With The Man’s reply this thing is starting to become interesting. I would suggest the parties involved – in order to avoid confusion, misleading info or anything else – to share with the readers the integral content of their email exchange. Only in this way the readers – who have been called to take interest on this matter because of this post – will have all the info they need to draw a conclusion.

  6. The Man Says:

    BTW, here are a couple more things she misrepresented:
    The pricing did start at $25 from Day 1, not $45.
    The reason I sent the email in the first place was because I WAS actually aware that was some sort of an actual critic and I assumed would get some sort of unbiased feedback on it since it wasn’t about zombies.

  7. Aaron Says:

    Johanna, I agree with you that there are too many super-hero books out there. At the same time, I believe that 70% of them should be cancelled and I think there is still space for Jim to innovate in this field.

    The dream would be to have Jim take the control of Marvel again but given that this is not likely to happen, it would be equally great to have him writing some interesting comic book.

  8. The Man Says:

    And when I called the feedback unhelpful, it was. There were no suggestions, only feedback telling me what I did wrong (which by all accounts was everyting)

  9. The Man Says:

    I also NEVER “asked” her to mention anything. I asked her to look it over, give feedback, and if she held any interest to contact me for more info or interview or whatever. I specifically went out of my way to basically say “I’m not looking for free advertisements”.

  10. The Man Says:

    ORIGINAL EMAIL BELOW, MINUS THE LINK (I’m still not looking for free advertising, but I will take it if someone WANTS to give it):


    I’m not really sure how to approach this without looking like some kind of beggar or spammer…or beg-spammer…but I was hoping to not only help get the word out about my project, but also to kind of get some feedback from a professional source and maybe even discuss my project, plot, and share some inside art and such with you guys.

    I am fully aware that there are some people who think Kickstarter stuff is really cool, although I am also fully aware that there are people who think it’s already old news and completely played out. (Un)fortunately for me, I’m using the site because I don’t really have many other options…so it’s a long shot.

    I’m definitely not looking for just a quick way to get some free advertising (ok, I am, but I’m not), so if you guys want to give this thing the old once-over, I would appreciate your time and thoughts:

    If the idea of looking over some nobody’s Kickstarter page didn’t cause you to quickly delete this email, feel free to contact me any time and I’d be glad to share more about this project, do interviews, and even discuss some sort of review copies. Sorry, my noobness probably reeks all over this message, but that’s only because, well, I have never done anything like this before…but I’ll be damned if I won’t try every avenue.

    Anyways, thanks for making it this far in my maniacal ramblings, and I hope to hear from you.


  11. Aaron Says:

    The Man, your email seems OK. Nice and sincere. I am now curious to see what Johanna replied to your email.

  12. The Man Says:

    Oh, and FYI for those of you who don’t know…the Prism Comics Queer Press Grant is a REAL GRANT, and the only grant left now that Xeric is gone.

    I would have applied for the grant, except for the fact that my book doesn’t fit the LGBT book category. She apparently took that as some sort of hidden insult against the LGBT community, which is far from the truth (much like most of her assumptions passed as facts).

  13. The Man Says:

    I would post her email replies, but I respect a person’s privacy and typically don’t gallant about making public posts of their emails. I pretty much paraphrased the whole thing in my previous posts.

  14. Aaron Says:

    The Man, now you should stop posting comments. Let’s wait and see if Johanna wants to share her email and then we will continue the discussion. Otherwise, this becomes a one man only show :)

  15. The Man Says:

    Here was my REPLY to her original scathing assessment of my pitch:

    lol, that’s a pretty low blow, but I’ll take it since you used somewhat constructive (although completely unhelpful) criticism.

    Without seeming like I’m mad; I almost stopped reading when you claimed that it “sounds like every second comic already out there” because… Really? Name one. I can’t recall seeing any non-superhero guns-blazing, Vietnam vet, POW rescue books out there in the vein of Command/Rambo, but then again you do read manga and lord knows those are all completely original.

    I can only assume you got immediately offended by the idea that it’s all about manliness, guns, and misogyny, then just decided you weren’t going to like it because it’s not about empowering women and it’s not Betty & Veronica’s Christmas Spectacular. That’s fine. I probably should have realized you weren’t the target audience. Although, I can only hope this isn’t how you treat all newcomers and first-timers to publishing – it probably is, if they’re not women.

    You seem like one of those snobby know-it-alls who sips wine while snuggling up to “classics” like Essential Dykes and who would be more than happy to hear more about my book if I won the Prism Comics Queer Press Grant for LGBT books.

    Anyways, good luck with your life of being a snobby prude. I think you’ll need it.

  16. The Man Says:

    I don’t care. If I was wrong, then I apologize. I don’t feel I was wrong. She slung crap at me, I slung it back…she didn’t like it and posted a big public slander-fest about me.

    I’m not above saying I’m wrong, and I’m not a “women ruin everything” homophobe like she wants to make me out to be…and maybe that’s because I basically labelled her a man-hater, but she sure as hell gave me that impression.

    It’s very possible we are BOTH wrong, but I also didn’t expeect it to become a public debacle.

  17. Johanna Says:

    Aaron, I think Mr. Man’s behavior here speaks for itself, don’t you? Nine responses in the space of a half-hour indicate a particular kind of personality. I leave it to the reader to conclude what type that is.

  18. The Man Says:

    And the “classics” reference is simply because I happened to bother looking over the “Comic Classics” section rather thoroughly before I bothered submitting, and when I saw “Essential Dykes” listed among greats like Watchmen, I couldn’t help but recall how odd I found that.


    The point wasn’t to insult Prism, or LGBT, it was to point out that I’m not some acclaimed award winning woman artist, but I’m sure if I was, I would probably be afforded more respectful feedback than the “everything you have has been done and is generic, you should get out of comics” reply she gave.

    I actually wish I had seen her prior rants about people contacting her with indie stuff, and kickstarter…I would have avoided the whole spectacle.

  19. The Man Says:

    Call me OCD, just come out and say it…so what?

    I’m pretty sure I’m spot-on with my assessment about your personality too.

  20. The Man Says:

    Sorry, I have problems collecting all of my toughts into a single post, but I think I’ll be fine without your “press” since the project already has over $500 funded and has only been up for 2 days. So, stay silent, don’t post your correspondences, and I’ll let the readers conclude what kind of personality you are* , and I’ll leave it at that.

    *a condescending bitch

  21. dern Says:

    In a weird sort of way, “The Man” is right about one thing – she is more likely to give more respect to an “acclaimed award winning woman artist” [sic].
    That’s because acclaimed, award-winning artists generally have a lot of talent and have earned the respect of their peers and critics. It will have nothing to do with said artist being a woman.
    As for seeing comics as an “avenue,” or not doing enough research on Kickstarter to call it “completely played out,” I’m not sure this is the business you should be getting into.
    And for Joanna – please don’t let him taint Kickstarter for you. It’s a place that’s legitimately doing good things for the creative types.
    (And full disclosure, I’ve already had one Kickstarter campaign and am considering a second in the next few weeks).

  22. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for that reminder, Dern. In a weird way, all of this is a good reminder of the passion some people can have for comics, even if it sometimes comes out in misguided ways. And yes, I will try to evaluate campaigns on their own merits. I’m glad you’re finding it a helpful tool.

  23. Parker Says:

    I’ll can give my perspective as someone who came to this thread totally new to Comics Worth Reading. You really are both wrong.

    The Man, your original letter was much more sincere and friendly than Johanna implied. But your follow-up was really unprofessional and weak – weak because you jumped out of the interaction you had and into suppositions about Johanna. You can never really win a debate once you deviate from the facts. Plus, it wasn’t going to help you in any way – it was just a revenge response. Better to internalize her feedback (however useless you may feel it was), try to improve your pitch, and develop a thicker skin. I kind of think you know this already.

    But Johanna, you really fumbled here. Not having read anything else you’ve written, I don’t have a preconceived notion of you – but you do come off as a snob here. You used your post to attack someone, but when he came back and engaged in the discussion, you held back – which comes off as you hoping the commenters here will see as you taking the high road. But to me it seems like cowardice – especially since you never posted your initial feedback to The Man. No, his behavior here doesn’t speak for itself – not in a way that benefits you, anyway. He’s being open (even when, I’m pretty sure, it makes him look bad – meaning his response) and you’re withdrawing.

    What an ugly conversation all around.

  24. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for your feedback, Parker. I’ve already given this guy multiple chances, and all I’ve gotten is insults, so yeah, he’s not worth my time talking to any more. Life’s too short, you know, and I have too many other things to do. If you see that as cowardly, well, your opinion. Thanks for reading the site, and I hope you’ll look around and check out some of the other, more positive posts.

  25. Trisha Lynn Says:

    I’m in favor for not allowing this creator any slack at all because not doing any research on a review site before asking them to review your work is definitely a wrong move. Johanna has her review policy linked at the top of her site & her views on Kickstarter are searchable. This reminds me so much of the Bloggess/demonstration of relevance thing. Also, of sour grapes.

  26. Comic Diva Says:

    I’ve being reading Johanna’s blog for years. Sometimes I agree with what she says and I’m willing to do further research on the matter. Sometimes, I don’t agree or I’m not interested in what she’s written, in which case it’s simply my choice to walk away. This is Johanna’s website. It’s unprofessional and inappropriate to come to her site and attempt to bad mouth her. So she didn’t like your letter, move on, there are tons of other avenues to pursue.
    I’d wager those who criticize Johanna cannot point to the years of experience or the wealth of knowledge she had. She owes none of us an explanation nor should she feel obligated to provide one. We read her blog of our own free will, don’t like it, don’t read it.

  27. Comics A.M. | Alan Moore responds to Frank Miller’s Occupy remarks | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment Says:

    […] Marketing | Johanna Draper Carlson, always quick to call out bad marketing tactics, takes a Kickstarter creator to task for not responding well to criticism. The creator responds in the comments; you be the judge. [Comics Worth Reading] […]

  28. Kitten Says:

    Even though I reacted sarcastically earlier, I will say, I was willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt after his first reply and even after reading the post because I do believe that she might have been harsher than a person of my own temperament could have taken easily and maybe she had misinterpreted the reply, BUT he’s written eighty bazillion comments, each of which gets odder and odder.

    I think the correct response is not to engage if you are the blog author at this point.

  29. Parker Says:

    No, she already engaged by posting the original piece. Sitting back now and being quiet – on her own blog – makes her seem snobby and fearful of a real conversation.

    If there was a correct response, it would have been to not publicly post this in the first place – but then, she wouldn’t have been able to rally everyone behind her – even though that hasn’t fully happened.

    If you’re going to start something, follow it through.

  30. Johanna Says:

    Parker, I’m not being quiet. I’m talking to everyone except the person who doesn’t understand how conversations work. (“You bitch! Why won’t you answer me?” is a question that answers itself.) And as I said in the piece, I didn’t post this to “rally supporters” — that never happens! :) I posted this so people contemplating Kickstarter marketing would have an object lesson in what NOT to do. It’s a long-standing column topic of mine. In this particular case, I also thought the immediate jump to “you hate men” fit into some of the recent web discussions on how female writers are reacted to VERY differently than males are.

    Thanks, Diva, Kitten, and Trisha.

  31. Aaron Says:

    I agree with Parker. Johanna was the first one to make all this thing public. At least she should publish the reply she sent to The Man, otherwise it’s like throwing a rock and withdrawing your hand (I hope this makes sense in English, it’s the translation of an Italian expression).

    As for The Man, while I don’t like the tone he has been using in his latest comments, I can totally understand his frustration. He sent request for feedback, he received a harsh reply, he continued discussing privately and then he saw everything published for the world. Private conversations should remain private.

  32. jon Says:

    Regardless of what was contained in the original response, I think he’s pretty solidly established himself as a misogynistic prick in his comments here. He’s made his ignorance as to what the word “slander” means very clear, too.

    But saying, “the world has more superhero books now than it needs,” absolutely comes across as snobbish. I don’t understand people with such an attitude, that no one should ever enjoy anything they don’t like. I don’t care for manga, but I would never suggest that too much of it is published. I don’t read many superhero comics, either, but I won’t dismiss the genre and act like I’m somehow above people who are fans of the books. Plenty of avid readers would look at an adult’s consumption of ANY comics as a juvenile waste of time, never mind referring to any of them as “classics.” They’d be just as pretentious.

  33. Pants Says:

    I gotta be honest, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for The Man here. HE’S the one who solicited Johanna, and in doing so threw away all his “rights” to keep this thing quiet. PR is not half of the battle in trying to get a new comic book noticed, it’s ALL of the battle, so for him to send out a blanket, shot in the dark request email WITHOUT researching what sites and reviewers would be the potential target audience for his book shows a complete lack of an understanding as to how both comics and entertainment work. To follow up the rejection letter with a spoiled, attacking attitude only further proves how unprofessional this guy is. You can’t walk uninvited into someone’s yard and then yell at them when their dog bites you, and that’s exactly what he did. A professional, noob or experienced, would have sent a response email thanking Johanna (and hopefully ANY othe outlet that took the time to respond) and moved on to other possible promotional outlets. Instead he attacked the very person he had moments before asked for help, and that person, having a public voice with which to voice her frustration, put her on blast for it, as is her absolute right to do. They say there is no such thing as bad press, well I beg to differ. When your response to the press makes you look like an @$$ and a rank armature in a medium where the creator’s voices and connection to their readers (and potential readers) is so incredibly important, then that is very very bad press indeed.

    New comic book creators, take heed of the three golden rules of trying to “break in”: Respect the medium. Respect the reader. Respect those that can get your book into the hands of others.

  34. brian Says:

    If he’s having a hard time gathering his thoughts in one post how can he be trusted as a creator to gather his thoughts in one comic book?

  35. Parker Says:

    Wow, some balanced feedback in the last couple comments.

    And your latest “update” shows the same poor judgment that caused you to post this piece in the first place – he’s communicating with you privately, and you’re responding publicly. Even as someone who’s commented here, and even though I don’t like to see posts deleted – I think that would have been the classy thing to do.

    He’s being more discreet here than you are, so I’d be way more apt to trust him on Kickstarter than you, Johanna.

  36. Arniec Says:

    Having read all of the above, there are no winners in this conversation. Only losers. Both parties come off looking worse for having participated.

  37. Rachel Says:

    How is touting your project as bringing back misogyny a good thing? I can’t, for the life of me, begin to conceive how this could be a selling point…

  38. Hector Says:

    I do think that the “Good luck, I think you’ll need it” comment was unecessary, and yes, bitchy.

    Like the Johanna stated, the person’s original email was polite, if maybe a bit naive.

    If he couldn’t take the criticism that he got back is one thing, but I’m wondering what was constructive about that last bit. What good does it do?

  39. Johanna Says:

    Hector, I know it doesn’t read that way, and I should have rethought how it would sound, but I did intend to send him good wishes. Ironically, I thought “good luck” by itself would sound snarky. My mistake.

    Jon, I’m glad you mentioned that. I do think there’s a glut of superhero books, but that’s not the same as me saying “there shouldn’t be any”. (I just praised one highly in my Daredevil/Flashmob Friday post this morning.) I think they’d be stronger if there weren’t so many of them, so creators and publishers could better focus on higher quality work, but if you’re enjoying all of the many superhero books from DC, Marvel, and independent creators, more power to you. (FYI, I think there’s too much of certain kinds of manga, too.)

  40. Matt C Says:

    Yes, The Man, I too wonder why one of, if not the, first serious explorations of queer identity in comic form, the originator of the famous Bechdel Test, and probably the most widely red LGBT comic of all time would ever be placed on a list of worthy comics.

    Doesn’t this chicky-poo realize that’s the sort of place one should put serious works, like Kick-Ass?

    Gawd…She recommends Stuck Rubber Baby, too. Doesn’t this little lady realize that gays are yucky?

  41. Matt C Says:

    Jesus christ, did I actually let that publish with “red” instead of “read”? OK, people, just ignore everything I say. I have apparently slipped back to “Steinbeckian Manchild” levels of intelligence.

    I’ll be out back, petting the bunny rabbits if anyone needs me.

  42. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for that humor! There must be something in the water today, because I just saw this Slate piece asking why angry commenters exist:

    It, of course, was responded to here with sarcasm:

  43. Paul Roman Martinez Says:

    This post and all the comments have turned into a very valuable, “How to not handle PR” post. Aside from that I am so tired of hearing about people turning their scripts into graphic novels because no one would read it. There are a lot of books out there that are obviously stealth movie scripts that are not really that interesting. It reminds me of a Darkman movie adaptation I bought as a kid. About halfway through reading it I thought, “the movie was way better than this”. You can do amazing things with the comic medium but if all you’re trying to do is storyboard your film then it won’t be a very interesting read or contribute much to the medium.

  44. The Man Says:

    It’s funny how self-righteous people can be when they’re taking things completely out of context, like the whole “he don’t like women or gays” thing.
    If any of you knew anything, you’d know that my primary artist is both a woman, and *gasp* gay. But then again, if we’re to believe everything said about me and my works, I don’t think women can do anything right and I hate “the gays”, so what the hell was I thinking hiring one?
    It’s not ok for me to jump to any conclusions about someone’s snobby ass attitude, but it’s ok for everyone to accuse me of women/gay bashing? Nice.
    Simply the idea that my book forcuses on an era and embraces that era must surely mean that I’m a thoughtless caveman. Just like glorifying gangsters makes you one, or making a book about the glorious days of the prohibition era and glamorizing the mafia makes you one, right? I guess Sin City’s bathing in helpless women and misogyny makes it somehow not readable (or viable in movie form either).
    And what’s so wrong about adapting a story to a different medium if it’s done faithfully? That’s some elitist BS right there. Just because major studios half-ass their way through a movie-to-game or movie-to-comic cash-in doesn’t mean that a well-planned and built storyline is somehow garbage simply because it started out with the intent to be a film. And this is where I get my “win sipping” comment from – you’re all so much better than the puny nobody with an idea, a dream, and the will to make it happen.
    You’re all right, and I’m so very wrong. Johanna is a saint, and her word is golden.

    BTW, I asked her politely to take down the article yesterday after my initial comments, and was met with silence. Then I come back to see her snyde remark about how she’s going to just smuggly let all this ride as-is.

    That one guy was right: We’re both wrong, but at least I’m willing to admit it. This whole thread should cease to exist.

  45. Parker Says:

    Hey – I only go by “that one guy” to my friends!

  46. The Man Says:

    Oh lord, don’t get them started or it may be taken out of context, twisted used against me. Please don’t tell me you’re gay, or that’ll really open up the can.

  47. Greg Says:

    When there’s blood in the water, sharks will gather. Looks like Johanna threw some tainted meat into the pool and this guy is getting bites from all angles.

    I agree that the whole thread should be deleted. Shame on Johanna for using her journalism to lash out at someone asking for help and feedback. The Man may have used choice words and overreacted a bit, but I get the feeling there are hints of reverse-prejudices going on here with certain comments toward The Man. I don’t think anyone is actually fully reading what he’s saying, rather skimming over and choosing what to comment on. You basically have the guy backed into a corner, publicly.

  48. Parker Says:

    Don’t ask, don’t tell. ;)

    I disagree with Paul, though – this thread isn’t going to hurt anyone other than Johanna, unless she outs The Man’s identity, or the name of his future project. I wouldn’t be surprised.

    To me, it’s become a “How Not to Handle a Blog” post. She did all this, knowing he reads her blog – she had a good idea he’d respond as he did. All of this could have been easily avoided!

    The strangest thing is the way he’s trying to communicate with Johanna in these comments, but she won’t respond to him here.

    And then he e-mails her privately and she responds to him on the blog post, with the “UPDATE”.. All this discussion about trust and how to behave, and whose forum it is, and yet she’s still trying handling it so poorly.

  49. Johanna Says:

    Greg, is it a coincidence that your IP address is the same as “The Man”? Have we descended to sock puppetry now?

  50. Greg Says:

    I’m on a college library computer. I’m guessing they all share the same IP range. Are you trying to accuse me of something?

  51. Mark Says:

    re: “This whole thread should cease to exist.”

    Well, I can kind of see the reason for it. I mean Johanna usually runs about 3 or 4 responses per article on a good day.

    And it’s not like there isn’t a precedent to anyone that’s read the site the last few years. I remember Johanna behaving in a similar fashion during that whole dust up with Val over Lulu in which Johanna laid on the snark, Val got pissed and lashed back and Johanna then did her usual “Johanna” thing where she acts all shocked and surprised and victimised. “whaaa? Why are you lashing out at me in such a fashion? I was only being a gleefully condescending snarkasaurus”. It happened again with Ragnell over a hilariously condescending article that Johanna wrote about women being too touchy about sexism in comics (now THAT was an awesome internet feud).

    But on the other side of the coin, if you can’t take the heat, etc, etc.

    Personally, I eat this stuff up. I enjoy a good little internet shite storm. Like the one that was linked to at Salon. Lord help me, I do love sarcasm so.

  52. Aaron Says:

    Well, with the update of the blog post and the latest replies from Johanna, it really seems like The Man was the sincere one and the naive one. The update of the post is really bad, as Johanna – as correctly stated by Parker – keeps on doing the same mistake, by publicizing private conversations and avoiding to answer to The Man directly using the comment section of this blog.

    The Man, one suggestion for you. I would maybe write on your own blog (or just create one if you don’t have it) a post where you’ll tell your side of the story. Don’t write any defamatory thing, otherwise you’ll go on the wrong side, but just say how things happened, how you sincerely approached Johanna to have her feedback or to seek some publicity (nothing bad about this) and the way she treated you by posting this blog post and commenting the way she did.

    At least in the big world of Internet, people will be able to find both version of the thing.

  53. Greg Says:

    Ohhhhhhhnooooo. You better not side with The Man, or she’ll indirectly accuse you of being in cahoots with him *eyeroll*.

    Now this has me curious who did use the computer before me. Looking at the timestamp, I just missed him.

    But the fact that I’m attending a Navy medical college and the library PCs are shared apparently means I’m sort of shadow puppet. I better leave a note under the keyboard warning the person who uses this PC after me. I’m off to class now…

  54. Johanna Says:

    Mark, it’s great to have such a devoted fan.

    Aaron, what, pray tell, do you think I have to say to someone who thinks calling me a “condescending bitch” is a good way to get me to agree with him? Since he’s already posted his email (including the charming comment 15), there isn’t any other “side” to this story. (Especially since he seems to want to make it all go away by someone convincing me to remove evidence of his behavior.) He’s shown what he thinks is a good marketing strategy. I disagree. (Although I do appreciate him not trying to ride this for additional publicity by not posting his link.)

    Thanks for explaining that you’re using the same network, Greg.

  55. Aaron Says:

    Johanna, I agree with you that The Man used the wrong tone in his more recent comments. At the same time, I am still waiting to see a full copy of your first reply to his first email. This is a missing piece so far. We know what he wrote you because he posted it here, we know the update you wrote on your post but we still don’t know exactly what you wrote to him that made him turn “crazy”.

    I would suggest you to post the content of your first reply. In this way, we will all have all the tools needed to judge what happened.

  56. jon Says:

    “I think they’d be stronger if there weren’t so many of them, so creators and publishers could better focus on higher quality work…”

    So cut a few titles other people read and enjoy, put a few writers, artists, and editors out of work, and then publishers can focus on what *you* consider to be “quality” content. That’s quite the sense of entitlement you have there.

  57. Johanna Says:

    Usually, Jon, it’s the superhero comics that I enjoy that are the ones being cut for low sales, so it’s actually very much the opposite from feeling entitled. And the companies are already following this approach, with DC going from 80-some skus per month to 52 + whatever miniseries, so maybe there’s something to it?

    Aaron, here you go — I can guarantee, while blunt, this is much better than what you’ve been imagining.

    “You asked for feedback, so… I’m completely uninterested in this project. It sounds like every second comic already out there. You need to find some way to make your work sound different, and “lots of action” isn’t it. Plus, saying “this started as a screenplay”, that’s another black mark. (That is also far from unique.) It makes your project sound like you’re settling, like this isn’t what you really wanted to do. Why should I buy a comic that’s a boobie prize? That impression is backed up by the “I couldn’t decide, so there are two artists” approach. If you can’t make tough decisions, you should stay out of comics. Last, your reward levels to get a book are too high for an unknown. So is your goal — you should have pitched somewhere between $4-8000. That’s just my opinion. I won’t be covering this effort, but good luck. I think you’ll need it.”

    Note that the advice about eliminating the “started as a screenplay” reference was good enough to follow — he edited the Kickstarter after he got this email, while he was slamming me for being an elitist prude. I await your rationalization of why this email justified his resulting abuse. :)

    Seriously, critics can’t win — the people you respond to would rather have gotten no response than a negative one. The people you don’t respond to (in the “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anthing” mode) run around bad-mouthing you for “ignoring” them. The ones you are careful not to be blunt with, for fear of offending them, don’t take the hint. It’s easier to cover manga, where there’s a language barrier in the way. :)

  58. Parker Says:

    Good job, Johanna – I agree with you. That was blunt, but not out of line, though a couple comments could be taken the wrong when (hey, when can’t they). And you have given yourself a thankless job.

    Thanks for posting that.

  59. Johanna Says:

    True enough, when complaining, I should remember that I chose this job. Thanks for reminding me of that. (Not like I could leave it at this point.)

  60. Aaron Says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Johanna. Finally I can draw my conclusions here and…I think Johanna’s first reply was hard but not bad, it gave many suggestions and tips to improve the project. I re-read The Man’s reply to this email and I have to agree with Johanna, the tone was harsh and not justified.

    Therefore, my conclusion is that The Man wrote the wrong reply.


  61. Johanna Says:

    Well, that surprised me. Thanks, Aaron.

  62. Jim Plausible Says:

    Let’s hope this screenplay/graphic novel is half as fantastical as “Greg”s story about having “just missed” the other guy on the very same community computer by 3 minutes or less.

    What a wild, unlikely coincidence… talk about a potential “meet cute”!

  63. Parker Says:

    Way to bring it all home, Jim.

  64. jon Says:

    “Usually, Jon, it’s the superhero comics that I enjoy that are the ones being cut for low sales, so it’s actually very much the opposite from feeling entitled.”

    So you want books with lower numbers to be the focus of publishers at the expense of books that are enjoyed by more readers, but that does not reflect a sense of entitlement? That’s certainly an interesting way of seeing it.

  65. The Man Says:

    lol, you guys are actually serious about your little Greg conspiracy? Wow.

    You make me laugh, Johanna (or should I call you Aaron? You do have full control over the site…must be conspiracy!). Next time I’m in the library, I’m gonna wait for the guy. I saw him sit there after I left; long-haired white dude? Yeah, I saw you! lol, you’re there all the time. Guess I shouldn’t have left the page open when I left, I might have saved you from becoming my puppet. lol

    BTW, Jo, I did have a question on my mind: What does your husband think of the book? I bet he actually likes the idea. If you let him see it, his sack would probably drop another pair and his chest hair would explode from the top of his shirt.

    Anyways, it looks like the jury is out and I was wrong all along. I apologize for getting all in a hissy over your shitty attitude, but maybe next time you want to give some blunt advice to someone, you’ll do it without the veiled attacks, then you won’t get attacked back.

    The thing that set me off was that you insulted my book in the worst way possible: You essentially called it generic, pointless, and ‘done before’. That was uncalled for…but what upsets me even more was that you posted blatant lies in your article, and you still refuse to correct them (or even admit it).

    Obviously, the fight is over. And while you’re out claiming victory, the fact is there was no winner. I’m sure you’ll have a snappy comeback for that too.

  66. MrJM Says:

    Quit while yer behind, ya hockey-puck.

    — MrJM

  67. Ben Towle Says:

    Honest, constructive feedback on a project is a rare, rare commodity. To turn up one’s nose at it when offered demonstrates a singular lack of exactly the sort of acumen that’s required to run a successful self-publishing venture.

  68. Parker Says: is a great site.

  69. Root Says:

    Found my way here through twitter, reading The Man/Greg’s comments made me flinch with sympathetic embarrassment. I applaud your patience, Johanna, and as a comics creator who intends to make use of Kickstarter to fund the publication my own work in the future, I will bear this post in mind when I get to that point.

  70. Brian Fies Says:

    I’m guessing that The Man is young. He sounds like kids I know. If he’s under 22, I’d tend to cut him a lot of slack with the understanding that he’ll figure it out, look back someday and shake his head in dismay at his younger self. If he’s older than 22, he needs to learn how to handle life better fast.

    I wonder how many of those 500 pages The Man has actually completed. What artist (let alone two competing artists) would draw 500 pages on spec, or even for a few thousand bucks? That’s at least a couple years’ of hard dedicated work. If he’s actually got two 500-page graphic novels ready to publish, my respect to him and his artists. That’s a big accomplishment.

    I took Johanna’s post not as an attack on The Man, whose anonymity she respected, but as an example of the kind of thing she deals with all the time that gets exasperating. Once in a while someone asks me to evaluate their work and be brutally honest. I’m always careful to stress that mine is just one opinion, and they should take what works and leave the rest. I’m a kind person. Even with that, the reaction is invariably bad. Johanna’s right: very very few people really want honesty. They want praise. Creators who can truly take constructive criticism like a pro are one in a hundred.

    The professional thing to do when you get feedback you don’t like is say “Thank you” and walk away. Arguing never helps, even if you’re sure you’re right. Let it settle for a while. Learn what you can from it. Don’t burn a bridge you may want to re-approach 1, 5 or 10 years from now. It’s a small industry.

    In other words, show some class.

  71. Jason Green Says:

    Wow, I didn’t think this comment thread could get any more sad or pathetic…

    “BTW, Jo, I did have a question on my mind: What does your husband think of the book? I bet he actually likes the idea. If you let him see it, his sack would probably drop another pair and his chest hair would explode from the top of his shirt.”

    …and then it did. You really are a piece of work.

    First of all, “The Man,” you completely and totally fail at reading comprehension. You keep whining that Johanna called your book ” generic, pointless, and ‘done before’.” But read what she wrote and she did nothing of the sort. She told you, and I quote,

    “[Your comic] sounds like every second comic already out there. You need to find some way to make your work sound different, and ‘lots of action’ isn’t it.”

    This is not a comment on the quality of your comic book. This is a comment on the quality of YOUR MARKETING PITCH. What she’s saying here, in quite plain English, is that your Kickstarter page does not do anything to differentiate your book from what else is on the market. This doesn’t mean your book *IS* generic (how would she know when she hasn’t read it?) but that you’re making it *SOUND* generic because you aren’t marketing it right, and that you would be well-served to rewrite your pitch.

    And this is good advice! If your sales pitch doesn’t grab people’s attention, you should want to know that, because then you have a chance to tweak it to grab their attention. That’s how you get readers, by getting the word out what it is that makes your book worth checking out. Unfortunately for you, it seems you’re much better at driving people away with insults and childish behavior than you are at drawing them in.

  72. Greg Says:

    ok so since I was last here, things seem to have spun back out of control a little. I don’t know that guy, and I do use the shared PCs somewhat often. Hopefully that puts the cap on those accusations.

    I did have just one comment about what Jason said: Sure, it looks that way now that you point it out. when I read the email, I felt like she was pretty rude and judgmental about the book, to be honest. i ddnt think about it being a critique of his marketing pitch until you said it. For someone who is providing feedback, she may want to choose her words better, if that’s the case. I think both of their messages were misconstrued (spell check?) and that’s how the whole thing started. like I said before about the ‘sharks in the water’ he was being cornered and everything the Man was saying was being taken out of context, similar to how he took her words out of context, so he fired back. I’m sure weve all been in that situation before in some fashion.
    With everything settled down a bit, it’s easier to look back and see how it fell apart. you know what they say about hindsight.
    i’m not here to takes sides on the matter, but she’s supposed to be the professional here, i would assume, which is why I’m being more critical of her behavior. For all we know, this guy’s book could be great; its too bad he was put in a shadowed light publicly like this. It really should have stayed private. but that’s just my opinion.

    ps – i think the comment about her husband was a joke. Am I the only one not reading everything as being aggressve?

  73. William George Says:

    ^ When the hole is deep the digging should stop.

  74. mark Says:

    Man up, Man.
    If you do get your comic published, their might be critics who say mean things about it. That’s the way it is for comic writers, musicians, and artists of all varieties. That’s the way it goes and talking like that is highly unprofessional.
    So be nice, young man.

  75. The Man Says:

    William, I’M DIGGING TO CHINA!!

    So, this is going to seem out of character of me based on the past messages… but I decided to get my wife’s opinion on the whole thing (I usually keep her out of my BS comics stuff since she could care less). She said she understands why I flipped my lid, but I did get too accusatory in my original reply, then I proceeded to continue getting more offended with each reply.

    I scrolled through the thread, and I do look kind of crazy. To a degree, I can see how I look like some kind of gay-crazed asshole making a straw man fallacy.

    So, in the interest of being an adult; I apologize for ranting. I have faith in my works and have put a lot of effort into it (even if it’s glorifying misogygy) – well, all of us have put a lot of effort into it. It’s not a one-man show, and I owe the other contributors more than this type of behavior, privately or publicly.

    It was not about the critique itself being negative; it never was. I perceived it as an attack on the content, and on me for being “a nobody”. I think what drove it home to me as an attack was the last sentence.

    I apologize for getting all worked up over the whole thing. I’m still not particularly happy about some things in the article because they are misleading (the pricing thing is still not correct)…but I’ll leave it alone, and I’ll stand behind the fact that I am willing to admit wrongdoing.

  76. The Man Says:

    Oh, and FWIW, I really don’t know that Greg dude. He just had the unfortunate luck to snag the machine when I left to take a leak. He’s probably an intern. Those guys are always hogging the free PCs when I’m there. Seriously, are you the guy with the long hair and the wallet chain?

    And yes, the husband thing was a joke…lighten up Jason. Please don’t tell me you didn’t know that was a playful jab. – But really, his chest hair WOULD increase ten-fold. -

  77. The Man Says:

    Oh, and for Brian, the book is pretty much done.
    And yes, both artists are very talented and have been working swimmingly for the past 2 years. I had a budget; it recently exhausted, and now has been exceeded…right at the end of the book. I’m literally like 10 pages away from completion. Regardless, the artists need to be paid for their work to wrap it up, but the bulk of the money is going to printing.

  78. hapax Says:

    @ “The Man” —

    Is the comic linked to your name in comment #77 a sample of your work?

    Two minutes of clicking around displayed a painfully cluttered and clashing site design, numerous basic grammar and spelling errors, and several examples of potty jokes and misogynist, homophobic, and anti-semitic slurs presented as a sophomoric attempt at humor (Eric Powell the creator is not).

    If that site is yours, and is representative of your craft and professionalism, I am surprised that Johanna critiqued your work so gently.

    If that site is not yours, or does not reflect what you are attempting in your Kickstarter project, you might wish to be more careful of what you link in your responses.

    You are, after all, still trying to market your work, and the internet is still a surprisingly small place.

  79. The Man Says:

    lolol, no. I didn’t mean to post that. I pasted it in the blank space because someone referenced it to me on another forum and I was going to visit the site after the post to see what it was. That was supposed to be a reminder. I didn’t realize I forgot to cut it out of there before posting.
    Probably doesn’t look good on me. I’m sure after all the crap I said before, that’s not going to sound believable :p

    If anyone can remove that, it’d be appreciated. That place has quite a bit more worse junk than what you listed. Holy cripes did I find that out the hard way. I seriously did NOT mean to post that.

  80. Mike McLarty Says:

    I am thoroughly entertained. The ‘Greg’ persona is my favorite!

  81. Johanna Says:

    Link has been removed as requested.

  82. The Year So Far at Comics Worth Reading » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] PR: What Not to Do: Be a Kickstarter Jerk — 81 comments […]

  83. takingitoutside Says:


    Thank you for your comments – they were particularly balanced in the midst of a comment thread that often hasn’t been (and which I purposefully stayed out of because I didn’t want to make it worse). However, I have a bit of distressing news for you: I’ve seen similar behaviour from a lot of guys who are well over 22 (my age group, to be precise). I’m hoping they grow out of it before we hit 30.


    I was going to comment about Johanna’s e-mail after she first posted it, only I decided that I didn’t want to rile things up more than they already were. However, I’ve reconsidered that decision. I thought you might be interested in the thought processes of someone who settled down pretty firmly on Johanna’s side.

    Shared networks/computers happen, so don’t worry about that. (I’m a student, too, so I’m sympathetic to library-related arguments:)) In reference to your comments, though, you are being overly harsh on Johanna. You asked, “Am I the only one not reading everything [written by the Man] as being aggressive?” Well, here’s a sampling of what the Man called Johanna:
    *snobby know-it-all
    *snobby prude
    *condescending bitch
    *snobby ass attitude
    *shitty attitude

    That’s only how he described her, herself; it doesn’t include his accusations about what she was doing, and it doesn’t include his consistent, derisive suggestions that not liking his comic made her an elitist who loves all things homosexual and hates all things manly. Forget aggressive, that’s nasty.

    You suggested that his comments were taken out of context, but they weren’t really. Johanna was pretty even-handed in her initial description of their e-mail exchange (she called her own response blunt and his initial e-mail pretty good). Regardless, most of us would have been willing to overlook a single, rash e-mail to some extent. It was the deluge of immature comments that the Man posted here that nixed that possibility.

    He has apparently calmed down significantly in the last few weeks, but even his first attempt at an apology was a passive-aggressive jab at her – he apologized, “for getting all in a hissy over your shitty attitude”, and promptly started telling her how badly she’d behaved. That isn’t sorry at all. (Yes, he came back and made much better amends, but the simple fact is that he had a lot to apologize for.)

    That question aside, you’re forgetting one salient point where the Man’s comments about Johanna’s husband are concerned: jokes are funny. His comments? Not so much. We’ve all made a joke that fell flat at one point or another, but all throughout this thread you can see him expressing his anger through obnoxious comments which inexplicably tie having a low view of one of his works to hating masculinity and loving homosexuals/homosexuality, in general. That didn’t come from anything Johanna or the other commenters wrote – it was all him. So it’s hard to read that as a joke.

    In contrast, Johanna could have deleted his comments, called him obscenities, published his name or otherwise fallen to his level. She did not. I, for one, wouldn’t have blamed her had she deleted his comments outright. Yet, she allowed him to keep defending himself as best he could.

    By the way, what I was originally going to comment on? From her tone earlier in the thread, I thought Johanna had decided she was overly blunt in her initial e-mail. When I actually read the copy she posted, I was surprised by how much nicer it was than what I had imagined. She’s a busy woman, but she took the time to look at something that she wouldn’t normally be interested in, and she gave a fair bit of useful information that could have helped him greatly improve his project. I ended up thinking she went beyond the call of professionalism.

  84. Dougie Says:

    Bill O’Reily writes comics now?

    Well I’m with you Bill! It’s about time someone took that limousine liberal suffragette Johanna down a peg!! I bet her and her bisexual Japanese friends are in some atheist coffee house as we speak, plotting to destroy Christmas and replace the statue of liberty with a giant statue of a WOMAN!!!!

  85. Omar Morales Says:

    I’m doing the Kickstarter thing and I’ve been able to raise the money without being a jerk (I hope).

    The one thing I do find odd is when I am willing to pay for advertising on a site and I’m ignored. Most sites, podcasters, bloggers, etc, jump at the chance to make money. But when they don’t even respond, I find it odd … I’m OK with no.

    Anyway, I’m doing this on my own and it feels pretty good. Great site and advice on all fronts.
    – Omar




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