Lies, Blacklists, and other Handicaps.
Last night I was talking with my good friend Julie Ditrich, a writer from Australia. A long time ago Julie and other people in our professional circles had disturbing experiences with a client which tried to do things they did not have the legal right to do. They were personally and professionally abusive. Despite their attempts to repackage themselves as gay friendly and female positive, they were none of these things when we worked at that company. They were openly anti-feminist and frequently spouted gay slurs.
When we objected to their behavior, they trashed us to anyone who would listen and went after our creations and ability to work. While they’ve gotten along with a few other people they work with, they were alternatively weirdly possessive and jealously nasty with us, even long after we left the company. I don’t know a single quality creator who worked there who was well treated.
Even as recently as the past year, several of us had to deal with their public libel and slander campaign.
Julie and I both realized that unless we are approached by some of their fans, or unless they try to come to our websites and cause trouble, we really don’t have a clue what these people do these days, and are always surprised when some fan pops up to try to stir the pot. For example, neither of us had any idea what their website looks like. We just don’t go there.
I remove comments from people who play troublemaker. I had to part ways with one fan whom I’ve known for years who seemed to spend a lot of their free time going to message boards trying to find nasty things they or their fans said about me. I have a file full of letters from fans and former employees all complaining about their treatment, or repeating things they said about me and other creators. It’s tedious. I just file them away and try to forget the latest dose of creepy. And it’s sad, because they just can’t move on. They just gotta keep trying to drag down, almost always when I have a new book that gets a lot of press.
It’s nice to just not care, and to be secure enough that you don’t have to worry about people who never grew up and away from fannish power politics, even though they were older than all of us when we dealt with them and should have been more mature.
I know the truth of what they did must be incredibly embarrassing and no one wants to have their worst moments made a public issue. But you don’t get to claim to “live in truth” and then lie to try to protect a history of abuse.
It’s tough to reconcile the public image of people who created characters you enjoy with the way they treat the real people around them. Every time Stan Lee does another interview, people rush forward to speak out about how Jack Kirby was treated. And other people rush forward to complain about the buzzkill.
I can love Stan, and I can love Jack, and I can dislike what happened to Jack at Marvel at the same time.
Julie and I, and the many other creators who know what really happened to us when we were young creators starting out (not at Marvel, obviously) refuse to live a lie. We don’t shove our reality in people’s faces, but we don’t have to bury it to make other people comfortable, either.
We don’t have to “live in our truth” like it’s some sort of personal reality bubble. We have facts and objective reality- contracts and letters that prove everything.
Their baggage is spending a lifetime trying to cover up.
We don’t have that baggage to carry. Which may be why I have so many accomplishments, such a large body of work, and so many clients which hire me again and again.
I had several conversations with some women creators who have had to deal with similar experiences with this and other clients. And I keep telling them the same thing: they have no power over you. There is no blacklist. They cannot keep you from working. There are sour, jealous, backstabbing people all over the art and entertainment industry. EVERYBODY has to deal with it.
There is no way to stop a liar from lying. Keep going forward, keep on working, keep telling the truth. You will win in the end.
My body of work is proof. YOU CANNOT BE BLACKLISTED. If anyone could have been blacklisted, that would have been me, then a teenaged girl who had the misfortune to get involved with some odd people.
Lies can slow you down, they can trip you. But they can’t stop you unless you want to stop.
And that is entirely up to you. You have the right to stop on your terms. You have the right to keep on running. Your choice. They don’t win when you stop. You just go do something else. YOUR CHOICE.
Lies are heavy, they’re a handicap, even more for the liar than for you. There is no real power in a lie. When they stoop to lie, they admit they have no power.
I have ALL THE THINGS when it comes to a career in comics. And I got it despite the best efforts of some very nasty people.
I won that race.
I travel light, so I travel fast. I don’t have the baggage of lies to keep straight.
Light and fleet.