Occupy Comics, The Past And The Future

Posted by February 16, 2013 Comment

There are few things an activist hates being labelled more than a sellout. This idea that you have sacrificed your principles for easy gain is an anathema.

But accusations such as these have been levelled at Matt Pizzolo, the man behind the Occupy Comics kickstarter, who yesterday revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that the Kickstarter moneys and the time and work donated by creators were being used to launch the previously announced Black Mask publisher and using the names of Alan Moore, Robert Kirkman and more to do so.

I put the issues that some found problematic, to Pizzolo saying;

Some see this as a bait and switch. That people donated money, time and effort to help a particular cause, only to find it being used as a way to launch a new transmedia publisher and a career for yourself in a way that wasn’t even been publicly suggested, or the donors informed until the Hollywood Reporter article. How do you see this?

He told me;

Well, I understand the concerns but mostly it has to do with the way the article was written. I didn’t write that headline… probably the writer didn’t even write that headline. I wouldn’t have phrased it that way.

And obviously my comment about “transmedia worldbuilding” has nothing to do with Occupy Comics.

We announced Black Mask last year (after Bleeding Cool scooped it from a comment Niles made at Wondercon) and were very clear that the inspiration behind forming Black Mask was to get a better deal for Occupy Comics distribution since the offers from traditional publishers (and there were plenty, as it was a much talked about project at the time) seemed unfair to us.

So, by building the infrastructure to release Occupy Comics, we would also be building a pipeline to support other outsider/transgressive/non-traditional comics.

If the Kickstarter pledgers don’t want us to release Occupy Comics in comic shops and want us to limit it to Kickstarter, then we’d honor that… but limiting it to Kickstarter was never the intention.

As for my career, yeah… volunteering for a year and a half on an anti-corporate comic book was all a clever way for me to get rich. There’s nothing about the other projects listed in that article that isn’t right in line with what I’ve been doing for many years, and my producing and organizing of Occupy Comics continues to be a volunteer effort for fundraising and supporting the ongoing conversation about the goals and themes of Occupy.

Shortly after talking with Pizzolo, he posted the following as a Kickstarter update;

There was a little bit of confusion yesterday that I want to quickly address.

Most of you will recall that around this time last year I was trying to figure out how to get Occupy Comics into comic shops, but all the offers coming in from traditional comics publishers were really lousy and would eat up most of the funds that we’d be hoping to raise for Occupy protesters.

So, rather than sign Occupy Comics to a lousy deal, I partnered up with Steve Niles (writer of 30 Days Of Night and original-team Occupy Comics organizer) and Brett Gurewitz (guitarist Bad Religion, founder Epitaph Records, backer of Occupy Comics Kickstarter) to build a pipeline for bringing Occupy Comics to broader audiences at a lower cost than going through a traditional publisher so more money could be donated.

Since we were go ing through the effort of building the pipeline anyway, we figured it would be a good way to support other
outsider/transgressive/radical/non-traditional art so we called it Black Mask Studios and offered it as a new distribution mechanism for creators.

Yesterday when we announced that Occupy Comics #1 would be in comic shops through Black Mask on May Day, we also announced other books we’re releasing through Black Mask in the Spring. Incidentally, every one of the books has at least one Occupy Comics contributor on the creative team: Darick Robertson on Ballistic, Matthew Rosenberg & Patrick Kindlon on 12 Reasons To Die, and Matt Miner on Liberator.

Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision comics blog covered the story, and most blogs picked up the way Heat Vision framed the story instead of picking it up from our official announcement. And, thus, confusion ensued.

Two main points of confusion:

1. Heat Vision is a Hollywood-centric comics blog, so they a sked me if Black Mask intends to be in the business of developing intellectual property for Hollywood movies. I said no, we’re not looking at comics as movie treatments, but we’ll be doing transmedia worldbuilding. Now, “transmedia” is kind’ve an annoying buzzword, but if you’re familiar with what I’ve done with my Godkiller series and what I’m working on with Hack/Slash you’ll know that I just mean telling stories across multiple media platforms… which is basically what I do when I’m not volunteering on radical fundraising comics.

Anyhow, my comment there led some people to theorize that Occupy Comics is becoming a “transmedia” project and being used to launch some sort of transmedia company.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are no plans for “Grand Theft Auto: Zuccotti Park,” and anyway I wasn’t even talking about Occupy Comics when I answered that question. Occupy Comics is not “going transmedia,” whatever that even means.

Also, the whole point behind forming Black Mask was to get Occupy Comics a better deal and raise more money to be donated, not to launch some new company. Believe me, volunteering for a year & a half on an anti-corporate-greed comic book is not a get rich quick scheme. I know it sounds like one, but it’s not.

2. Heat Vision said “a portion” of the money from Occupy Comics is going to be donated.

Concern about that wording is totally valid, but it’s still kind’ve
weird that anyone would assume Heat Vision is revealing a secret plan of ours to siphon cash out of the project… especially when the official announcement and Black Mask homepage all make perfectly clear that nothing has changed, this is a volunteer effort, and the revenue past hard costs is being donated.

Heat Vision just didn’t know the details so they said “a portion.”

But just to be perfectly clear, the revenue past hard costs is, was, and always shall be donated.

And, for further clarit y, Black Mask will be *lessening* costs versus traditional publishers.


I’m sure most of you don’t read Hollywood Reporter and have no idea what I’m talking about, but, in our ongoing effort to remain as transparent as possible, I thought it best to err on the side of TMI.


(Last Updated February 16, 2013 10:02 am )

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