But we’re supposed to be about news and webcomics, and a giant bolus of webcomics news hit yesterday in the form of John Campbell’s presumably last Kickstarter update. It’s painful and horrifying to read.
I’ve liked Pictures for Sad Children a lot, but I don’t know John Campbell; I’m pretty sure we briefly met once¹, and we have people in common. Or perhaps we’ve had people in common; reading between the lines on Twitter yesterday, along with conducting a book-burning Campbell has apparently cut ties with just about everybody.
The rambling, makes-sense-if-you-wrote-it … I’m going to call it a manifesto … that Campbell dropped yesterday puts a lot of past behavior into stark relief: the claim to have been faking depression, the systematic removal of comics from the web, a needless shitfight on Tumblr, and a book about a hallucinogen that may or may not be autobiographical.
Like I said, I don’t know Campbell; those that do² have said online that Campbell doesn’t acknowledge inconsistent or worrying behavior, and refuses both contact and assistance. Campbell did some brilliant comics; it’s likely that will not happen any longer, and for reasons that are almost certainly outside Campbell’s control. I’m going choose to remember Campbell not for this turn of events, but for PFSC and the moments of insight and uplift it provided.
And there is nothing else that can be done in this situation but to bear witness, to recognize that this is something that happened, and to hope like hell that this story eventually has a non-tragic outcome.
¹ As near as I can recall, our interactions were limited to an email exchange around the time of the Mexico Comics Commune of Aught-Seven, and it’s possible Ryan Estrada introduced me when we talked that night before he walked across the border. Honestly, I can’t remember.
² No names; this being the internet, somebody is going to berate them simultaneously for what they did and did not do vis-à-vis Campbell, and they don’t need the grief.
Although there are multiple people in that bonfire video; I can only hope that one of them recognizes that in front of them is somebody that needs help immediately and tries to arrange it. I don’t typically hold people that would burn books for the hell of it to be capable of such rational analysis, but I’m willing to make an exception here if it means Campbell finds safety and care.