Once upon a time, Antarctic Press announced that they were to publish Jawbreakers, the crowdfunded graphic novel written by Richard Meyer, accused repeatedly of hate speech and of encouraging hate speech. Amidst controversy, Mark Waid called the publisher to talk about that decision. Shortly afterwards, the publisher announced they were no longer publishing the graphic novel. It was self-published a year later and individually distributed.
Meyer then sued Mark Waid over claims of tortious interference and defamation, claiming damages against Waid for his actions.
Last November, Mark Waid’s legal team filed a motion to dismiss the claims, citing a lack of jurisdiction in the state of Texas. After a number of agreed extensions, corrections and motions of confidence, Meyer’s legal team has now responded to that motion to dismiss, claiming that the case is within Texas’ jurisdiction, adding more evidence and making more claims.
The released documents run below, and they have been redacted over matters of commercial confidence.
As well as the call to Texas publisher Antarctic Press, they also cite an appearance by Waid at Comicapalooza in Houston, in which he publicly criticized Meyer, which Meyer’s team define as ‘defaming’ him.
We also learn that Ben Dunn is Antartic Press’ former owner, its current owner is Dunn’s brother Joeming Dunn and it was to him who Waid – fullname William Mark Waid – unknowingly spoke.
They also cite precedent that a single phone call is enough to establish jurisdiction, stating that one case, Brown v. Flowers Industries upheld jurisdiction based on a single phone call that included Texas citizens even though the call was not even initiated by the defendant, but was a conference call initiated by a third party.
“It was Waid who initiated contact by calling AP to threaten repercussions if it published Meyer’s book. They allege that during his half-hour call with Dunn, Waid bullied him into cancelling the book. And they claim that these are intentional actions taken by Waid during those phone calls.”
“Waid travelled to Houston, Texas and publicly repeated the statements on which Meyer’s defamation claims are based. These included the false allegation that Meyer distributed a list of the first and last names of the employees who worked at book stores who were not planning to order Meyer’s book and encouraged his followers to harass the employees.”
Other evidence entered into record includes then Editor-In-Chief Jochen Weltjens (fifteen years or more writing) as this began to blow up, regarding Meyer and Jawbreaker:
I’m honestly not sure you understand what you’re getting into, I was at the comicbook store and even Bob said so and he said,”if Joe thinks this is gonna blow over, it isn’t.” I thought about it long and hard, I haven’t been able to sleep or work and that’s because it boils down to this: I’m not comfortable being associated with this guy, it’s not his work, and it’s not his beliefs, it’s his conduct. And, if it were any of the other guys at AP that conducted themselves similarly I would divest AP of them as well. There are standards of civil and professional conduct I believe in. This guy obviously has issues. I’ve told Doug to take my name of the books immediately and I’m also worried about how this may affect other AP creators and San Diego and the booth. Please be careful.
With publisher Joeming Dunn describing the situation, Antarctic Press found itself in as a “Kobayashi Maru of comic books, a no-win situation”, a term he would have to explain in deposition, and expressing his frustrations at length, saying:
I am going to rant… not at each of you personally but to everyone who has put us in this situation. On Monday we are going to vote on this situation and in lieu of that impending vote I want everyone to be aware of the rant I will most likely give. No matter the decision I will take the heat for the decision so there will be nobody getting thrown under a bus and nobody will point fingers. I can take the heat and I will take the brunt of the criticism.
With Joeming defining the situation as:
I will accept any line that you all vote for but my rant to everyone else in the industry… WHERE DO YOU DRAW THAT F-CKING LINE? And where is the line drawn on these type of issues. ..if a creator has 10 offensive tweets 5 years ago does that preclude them from being published now… or is the line 15 tweets. ..or 20 … or is just 2…or even 1 tweet from last year. …where is the proverbial line for any creator? What if we want to publish someone who is Islamic or an anti-abortionist or a socialist or have a certain sexual orientation? Are we precluded from publishing them since they may have a statement or opinion that you do not agree with? Are we now restricted from publishing someone who may be an ultra douche bag? We are an ALL-INCLUSIVE publisher for the very we believe in ALL 1NCLUSIVITY. Have we gotten to the point where when someone from the certain religion does something bad we blame the whole religion,. When a cop does something bad, we accuse all the cops of being bad. When one person of color commits a crime, we condemn the entire race. When one politician or media member lies we think all the politicians and media members lie. So now that we publish a book that people do not agree with because of the creator-of the book (for whatever reason) people are making judgments on our- – entire publication line? F-CK THEM.
And Joeming talks about his reasons for taking on the Jawbreakers project in the first place.
I will admit that to a certain aspect this was a financial decision for me. .1 knew that he was a popular online figure I just did not realize he was that polarizing. As everyone knows we are running on fumes. Over the past two years I have had to put close to $70,000 of my own money to keep Antarctic Press afloat. To make sure bills – are paid on time, to keep the lights and phone on.. .to keep the printers going. I know currently this is not just a financial decision and prior to this sh-t storm I looked at it as a purely financial decision and I thought we could handle it (using My Hero as a measure).
This was their comic My Hero MAGAdemia, a comic parodying My Hero Academia that had an overall Trump-supporting line, critical and satirical of his opponents.
I was extremely happy that My Hero saved our ass these past weeks… his online sales for has been remarkable and a godsend despite the flack we received (which is tame compared to what we have been getting with Richard). What Jawbreaker did on Indigogo did put some dollar signs in my eyes. Could I finally get some sustainability for Antarctic Press without me having to contribute constantly? Could he bring the fans to us as My Hero did? Now again my rant again not to you but to everyone else… . I know this is not going to be a purely financial decision but I know that he could help us financially as I know his fans are passionate and supporting. But it bothers the f-ck out of me that we are getting these industry professionals and pundits telling us how we should run our business even as an ALL-INCLUSIVE supporter of creator’s rights. I will stand by our record of inclusion for any sex, race, religion, social standing and sexual orientation and any other f-cking thing you can think of.. .but in this case that is completely irrelevant now. But how many of these people really support Antarctic Press? Does Rich Johnston only write about Antarctic Press when there is some sort of controversy?
No, though I do tend to look for something newsworthy. And this does count. He also laid out some recent sales figures for Antarctic Press that may not have helped.
Would any of these “industry” supporters really support us if we called for help? If I asked Lea Hernandez to do some art for us or Mark Waid to write us a story to help us out do you think she or he would do it for free? How many of these people on the internet telling us what to do actually bought and Antarctic Press book both fans and retailers.. .How many copies of the 300 sales on Rochelle or the 600 sales on Adventure Finders or even worse-thet 1400 copies of Gold Digger? While Richard may be the most offensive f-ck in the whole world he came to us with fans and financial support where no other professional did so. Even though I do not agree with Tim’s political opinions when I talked to him all he wanted to do is make sure Antarctic Press was viable and financially supported and he followed up with his fans coming to us and buying his book. And for all the posers who are telling our ALL INCLUSIVE Company what to do and how to do it and never buy an Antarctic Press book. . .F-CK YOU!
He also stated that if Antarctic Press were to have published the comic, he would likely have removed editorial and production credits from the book, but was angered by the prospect of receiving guilt by association. Describing Meyer as a bully, he said that the response to Antarctic Press was also bullying.
Richard made some very offensive inflammatory comments about many people in the industry and now because of that could that come back to harm some of you individually. You would hope any personal attack on someone by Richard would not translate into because we published him we must be like him.. .but I f-cking know life is f-cking unfair.. GUILT BY ASSOCIATION. People are now taking us to task on Jawbreakers now they may take it out on the innocent people (us) just because of f-cking GUILT BY ASSOCIATION. AND THOSE F-CKING PEOPLE DO NOT SEES THE F-CKING DOUBLE STANDARD IRONY of those types of actions. Richard’s actions are bullying but the reaction to this is MORE BULLYING by people who are against Richard… f-cking double standard irony.
But also, for Joeming…
It’s because of that I may lose a friend (close to family) to his f-cking action and that ROYALLY PISSES ME OFF.
In deposition, he states that this would refer to then-Antarctic EIC Jochen Weltjens.
Also, in a game or textual whispers, it transpires that Mark Waid thought he was speaking and texting with Benn Dunn, rather than JoemingDunn. And that Joeming Dunn thought he was texting with someone else and stopped when he realised it was Mark Waid. These messages appear to be from Mark Waid’s phone.
You can read the redacted court papers below: