The webcomics blog about webcomics

Opportunities And Around-Jerkings

Sometimes you really have to wonder how we as a species have managed to get this far when it’s clear that we are all working at cross-purposes. Because I’m hopeful, I like to think that the average non-sociopath doesn’t wake up in the morning and wonder exactly what kind of jerkass behavior would be most fun today. Because I’m a realist, I know that while true sociopaths are rare, there are an awful lot of close approximations out there who just don’t care to make the effort to look any further than the tip of their noses in determining who might be affected by the actions they take in their daily lives.

Case in point: it made the rounds on Twitter yesterday that Sophie Goldstein had some of her artwork appropriated by a linkfarm site¹ without permission. Happens all the time, sadly, and as of this writing the offenders have had a full 23 hours to respond to Goldstein and have seemingly not done so. But wait — it gets better.

About an hour after Goldstein tweeted, I was forwarded an email conversation between the offending site (I don’t even want to name them, despite the fact that their logo is right there in the screencap, so I’m just going to call them Useless Jerkasses, LLC) and another creator², where they were asking to partner up³:

Hey [creator’s first name],

My name is [redacted because I’m a nice guy] and I am an account executive for [UJLLC]. I was just browsing your site and I think that it will actually be perfect for our network given its content.

Our network has grown to become one of the largest on the internet an we can promote your site to get you more visibility. Our price is $.04 per click, would that be something you would be interested in?

Account Executive
New York, NY, 10005
Direct: (646) [redacted]
Mobile: (646) [redacted]

E-mail: [redacted]@[ujllc].com
www: http://www.[ujllc].com

[UJLLC] – News and Entertainment Portal
Monthly Reach: Over 17 Million Unique Visitors

This transmission may contain information that is privileged, confidential and exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, photocopying or distribution of these contents is unauthorized and prohibited. If you have received this in error, please notify the sender immediately and destroy all copies.

So, they have clearly got an understanding over at UJLLC, that creators have an interest in being associated with their creations that that interest is worth money; in Goldstein’s case, they simply don’t care. However, there is an outcome here that may reaffirm some of your faith in humanity, as Mr Account Guy at UJLLC received this reply:

Funny you should write. My friend Sophie was just pointing out that you are using her artwork (“come here”) illegally on this page: [link removed to not give them traffic] – how about you make this right and then we can talk.

That was 22 hours ago and they haven’t stopped being useless jerkasses (but what can you expect? It’s right there in the name); in some small way they’ve been told exactly what they are, and I’ll take that small slap as a first step towards a better world.

At least until Phil McAndrew tweeted three hours ago that another linkfarm had done essentially the same thing4, adding a stupid caption and omitting credit from one of his cartoons. If anybody gets approached by these entirely different jerkasses (or any one of the jerkass linkfarms out there), may I suggest that we all reply with a variation of the No, you’re a jerk email above?

It doesn’t even end there, as in the past 48 hours I’ve learned of the depressing extent to which two different creators (again, no names; again, prominent people) are getting jerked around not by content-appropriators, but by two different corporations that apparently believe the best way to deal with creators is to scream Dance for me, little monkey, dance!

I swear on whatever you find convincing, if you people elect me as benign dictator of the world, these production suits will be the first people up against the wall in a brief reign of terror that will be based on Golgafrincham Ark “B”.

Happily, not everything in webcomicdom involves creators getting jerked around. From various corners of the intertubes, we learned more today about Strip Search as Robert Khoo, Mike Krahulik, and Jerry Holkins sat down with Mashable. My two favorite quotes were from Krahulik, on the twelve contestants getting along:

We never had to call an ambulance to the house. And to me, that’s something we need to work on for season two.

… and from Holkins, on what was difficult about sitting in judgment of others:

[It] turns out that dashing people’s hopes is actually a very tough business if you are the sort of person that has hopes yourself. Like, I know exactly how they feel and what they’re up against, trying to lead a creative life. In one hand, I have the life that they want. In the other hand, I have a black sword. And it’s hard to have those two things.

And finally, BOOM! Studios5 made it known today that their latest licensed Cartoon Network tie-in comic to take talent from webcomics will be Regular Show, to be written by KC Green and drawn by Allison Strejlau. Disclaimer: I don’t watch Regular Show (not out of sense of dislike, I’ve just never seen it), but it’s my understanding that it’s built around exactly the sort of anarchic humor that one would find at Gunshow, or even Hugsown (but not, curiously, Hung Sow). Oh, and KC also wanted it made know far and wide that he is known on Twitter as BarfCaptain, at least this week.

¹ Ordinarily, I’d link to the original tweet from Goldstein, but I don’t want to do so because it contains a link to the offending site and I’m not interested in giving them traffic. Thus, the screenshot up top.

² I haven’t received explicit permission to use this creator’s name, so let’s just say that he is one of the successful ones, and you’d definitely recognize his name as a longtime pro webcomicker.

³ The letter is written such that I can’t tell if Useless Jerkasses, LLC is asking to use the webcomicker’s IP and pay him for the privilege, or if they’re offering to promote his content and charge him for the privilege. If it’s the latter, I have to say that their usual audience is absolutely useless to this creator.

4 Again, no link. I swear, it’s almost like all these linkfarms are just different aspects of one shell company, run out of some seedy office in Delaware, maintaining the fiction that they’re all different people. Jerkasses.

5 About whom some creators of long standing have vented on the web for being willing to pay criminally low rates for various aspects of comic book production. I have no direct confirmation of this from the people I know that work for them, but one must acknowledge elephants in the room even while hoping people you like aren’t getting glazed in elephant poo.

Seriously, though, footnote four could be true.

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