Earlier this week, Bleeding Cool ran an account by Mark Brooks, who pulled out of attending la Mole Comic Con this past weekend at the last minute, over coronavirus concerns, and the insults he received from the organisers as a result. We also ran an apology post by La Mole Comic Con CEO Elias Ortiz, who tried to put the more offensive comments in context but apologised for them anyway. We also noted that attendee and major comics creator Adi Granov had a story to tell, depending on how his conversations with management went. Well, I don't think they can have gone well. Last night he posted openly;
Here is my account of the events surrounding La Mole Comic Con CEO Elias Ortiz calling Mark Brooks "maricon" over his choice to cancel his appearance and stay with his 12 year old son in light of border closures and the general chaos caused by the current pandemic.
Maricon, if put into Google translates as "f-ggot", "f-g" or "fairy", which was confirmed to me by dozens of Mexican people. While it has been pointed out that it can be used in a less offensive context, it can never be taken as such in a professional manner or with someone you aren't very close to. Mr Ortiz also called him a "not a very smart redneck" (not a direct translation, but has been confirmed again by many Spanish speakers as correct interpretation), so there is no ambiguity about the intent of his crass and homophobic words.
OK, let's rewind…
I want to say that Mexico and the people we met there have been incredible. The convention was great and the crew and translators exemplary. We made friendships there which I hope will last a lifetime. I cannot wait to return and have already started planning both a vacation and a signing appearance, etc. in this wonderful place.
However, people's true character shows in a crisis, and in these very trying times instead of compassion, Mr Ortiz showed a very ugly face and chose a course of action I simply cannot ignore.
During our time at the convention we never met Elias Ortiz and speaking to all of the other guests, neither did they. I saw a man in a chicken costume in the green room on the first day of the con who ignored us and, as it turns out everyone else, only to find out the following day that it was actually the con CEO Mr Ortiz. I would have never met him at all had the following events not happened:
Tamsin and I were very much looking forward to being in Mexico with our close friends Mark and Lisa, but while we were in the air on the way, the US president announced travel bans and threw the whole system into disarray, panic and chaos. They were leaving their 12 year old son behind in the US, and with the incredibly fast moving and unpredictable situation, they decided they couldn't risk being stuck in Mexico or quarantined away from their child. Tamsin and I don't have kids, but even we had a real moment of panic where we considered buying flights back to the UK as soon as we arrived. This is an unprecedented situation putting huge amounts of stress, fear and anxiety on everyone.
By Friday night at the con I kept hearing that Elias Ortiz had made a facebook video in which he was being rude about Mark's cancelation, but many people I spoke too didn't want to tell me the exact content, which I found concerning. I wanted to speak to Elias about it, but as mentioned he wasn't interested. All of us international guests there were under stress and a simple hello from the show organiser would've gone a long way towards making our efforts at this time appreciated. Alas, it never came…
After the show finished on Sunday, I was finally able to see the video and the translated transcript of it. I simply couldn't believe it. I was shocked, offended, appalled, and most of all furious. In this publicly posted video on the La Mole official facebook, Elias Ortiz rants about many things, but keeps coming back to offending Mark and calling him the things I described above.
When I returned to the hotel I spoke to one of the con crew and demanded they call Elias and have him come to speak to me. This crew member seemed to be terrified of Elias and tried to talk me down. I demanded and when they spoke to him, he was 30 minutes away back at the convention centre and refused to come meet me. I demanded again, so the crew member, being visibly scared asked me to speak to him directly and gave me the phone. I told him that he must come speak to me because of calling an artist "f-ggot", to which he replied "Which artist?". I know that he has been rude about many people so he would forget, but using such a disgusting slur I assumed he would remember. He still said he was too busy to come meet me. At this point I had become so angry I let him know that if he didn't come immediately there would be dire consequences.
20 minutes later he appeared with an older man whom he introduced as his business partner. I told him to sit in front of me and explain himself. He at no point seem to understand the severity of his actions. He showed no sympathy for the situation, no concern, and no emotion. He tried to talk over me and tell me that I didn't appreciate "the Mexican way", his position, etc. At this point I was so furious at this complete lack of respect that I told him to shut up (many times) and explained to him that if the words he spoke next didn't satisfy me this would end up very badly for him professionally. I explained that he had used a homophobic slur, among other horrible things, towards a prominent artist working for Marvel and Disney, who is thinking of his family in this crisis, and what he thinks those companies would think of a CEO of a prominent convention doing that. He said he didn't care what Disney might think…
I told him he must make a video in which he publicly apologises to Mark. He said he would write to Mark… I demanded that that was in no way enough and since he made the offences via a public video, the apology would have to be done the same way, public. He agreed.
At this point I asked who the other partner was, and it turned out that was the creator and owner of the con and Elias' boss, who everyone refers to as the Architect, but he didn't speak English. We asked the translator to translate and the Architect only said that he didn't understand why I was upset as they didn't say anything bad about me…
Furthermore, when I questioned Elias about why he never came to introduce himself while he had the time to parade in a chicken costume his response was, and I quote "I didn't say hi to anyone!".
It was entirely clear that he had no remorse over his actions, but because of pure self preservation he agreed to make the video. I told him I would wait and see. He deleted the original video and posted a new one in which he tries to explain that he didn't use the word "maricon" to call Mark a "f-ggot" but the other meaning "pussy/coward". You are all free to watch that video and make your own judgement.
I will finish this by saying that if you choose to support this event in the future with Elias Ortiz at its helm, you are saying you are OK with the kind of behaviour he has exhibited, using homophobic and derogatory language against those he disagrees with. Furthermore, if you choose to support this event knowing either Mark or me, you might as well spit in our faces.
If you are a fan of the show I urge you to contact the organisation and let them know how unacceptable this kind of behaviour is.
As I said at the start, I cannot wait to return to Mexico and will make a huge effort not to punish the wonderful Mexican fans for the actions of Mr Ortiz. Some of the most wonderful people I have ever met. Both Mark and I will be back. As soon as this horrible crisis sweeping the world is over I will make solid plans.
He also posted in reply, regarding the show as a whole,
It was a wonderful show because of everyone we were dealing with, from crew to fans. Sadly the rot is at the top, so the actions of one person are being so damaging to many.
Mark Brooks has also followed up, posting;
Thanks so much for your account, Adi. La Mole and Elias Ortiz have yet to reach out to me whatsoever other than the "apology" video which I find to be halfhearted and inadequate. Would probably be better described as an excuse video.
I'm so sorry you had to go through all that but I can't thank you and Tamsin enough for doing what you did. We will definitely be back to Mexico, hopefully together so we can experience their wonderful country again!
But in recent hours, Brooks has added,
I want to thank everyone who commented recently for all their support. Especially the Mexican fans for lending us their encouragement and understanding. Having been to Mexico before, I can attest to the warm and caring nature of the Mexican people and their love for comics and the artists and writers. You'd have a hard time finding a kinder group of fans.
I've been speaking with Adi today and we've decided to come back to Mexico sometime in the next 12 months and will hopefully be arranging a joint signing somewhere in the city. Looking forward to meeting everyone I missed this past weekend!
Coronavirus-willing, of course…