By Ale Bodden
In one way or another we all have gone through this: whether it is haters or just a constant distraction, the internet has probably ruined all of our lives. As someone who has had issues with being bullied online, I was particularly interested in covering this panel. Not only did it serve to not feel so alone, it also changed my mind on a lot of things… and people.
Moderating the panel we had Bleeding Cool's EIC extraordinaire, Hannah Means-Shannon, and joining her we had: Brendan Wright (Freelance Editor), Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn, New 52), Frank Cho (Artist, Avengers vs. X-Men), and Bleeding Cool's own Rich Johnston (Head Comics Writer and Co-founder of Bleeding Cool).
Discussion kicked off right after the introduction, our moderator asked our panelists: if they believe it is possible to change their minds and people's mind and turn a situation around after making a controversial public statement. Wright explained it is hard, but it has been done before. He stated "the internet is very loud, but very forgetful," adding that people move on to the next issue pretty quickly. Palmiotti then piggy-backed off of that statement, adding that things should be given time and bringing up a very true fact: "we change our minds every day." Palmiotti says that a sign of an intelligent person is being able to see things from a different perspective, whether by being presented by facts or by being able to see a situation from someone else's point of view. He added that it hurts your character when you are being presented with facts, yet still try to stick to what you first said. Cho quickly agreed with that, stating that when you refuse to acknowledge those facts you end up looking like an idiot, "or a republican."
Wright added that the biggest danger he sees is when people's change of mind is mistaken by hypocrisy, "people are allowed to change their minds." Johnston followed stating that "things do fade." He explained it is a bit slow, but it does happen. They clued us in the story of an assault accusation done, but they had the wrong person, and Johnston helped clear that situation. Shannon added that it becomes particularly dangerous when someone's name become attached to certain controversies by tenuous association—which in turn it starts becoming like a telephone game when the facts change more and more as it goes from mouth to mouth. She explained that it can stick to people's careers even if they were never involved, since they have to keep correcting people over and over.
Shannon then went to ask the panelists if they had any similar situations happen to them. Oddly enough Palmiotti talked about the situation when Harley Quinn first came out—Conner and Palmiotti had done a tryout page for artist. After the contest came out they started getting beat-up by the media for "promoting sexy suicide." He stated they thought of it as Looney Toons when they first drew it. Telling us how he wrote a paragraph stating what their original intent was and after a week or so the situation was smoothed over.
I really loved that they touched upon that situation. I remembered when the it blew up and Palmiotti was portrayed in such a horrible light—it was so infuriating to read those articles. Yet then I started following him and his persona ended up being 180 degrees from the person media wanted everyone to believe he was. It was such a breath of fresh air that the writer for one of my favorite comics was not the person those articles painted.
Cho then went on to explain the most recent situation he found himself in regarding a sketch cover he drew that made the internet explode. The cover included fan-favorite Spidergwen in the Milo Manara pose (yes, that one that everyone still talks about… but I will not get into that now—that is a rant for another day). He stated it was so weird to be turned into such a monster online simply because of a drawing after being praised a couple of weeks before for his amazing work. He explained how he found himself in an awkward situation with the artist for Spidergwen. Since he is so full of awesome, he talked about how he kept drawing more, just to raise some sparks. Palmiotti then pushed him to tell us about the gift basket he sent/drew for the artist for making Cho relevant: it included beautiful women, grammar for dummies, and some Preparation H. The room could not stop laughing after that.
Shannon asked the panelists what they think it is about social media that makes people get so angry quickly and act in ways you hope they would not act in person. Wright answered that it might be beause of the anonymity the internet gives, since no one can see the person on the other side it makes them feel safe to say everything because they might believe what they say has no consequences. He added that isolation is also a component.
The panel then moved on to questions from the audience which explored topics about setting the tone, which can help avoid situations. It also included quick anger reactions that should be avoided to not escalate situations. Also, how a character's thoughts or ways are often reflected as the creator's, which is not the case—characters are depicted in some way to expand on the story or character development, it is often wrong to make it seem as if they are straight what the creator believes. They also touched upon how issues between two people must be kept private and should never go public; this really resonated with me, I believe some things must be talked about between the people involved as opposed to involve everyone online in the situation. How situations like these can impact someone's job as well—think before tweeting, my friends.
I was so happy I was able to attend this panel. It involved Palmiotti, who seemed to be at most of the panels I attended, yet I was never able to find him at his table when I had the chance to walk around. It also glossed over subjects I often wonder about like: if there should be a balance between being who you are online or just staying mysterious and just show your work. I loved that it felt like a community where we all understand what the other one is going through—how long do situations like these last? It was quite a light-hearted panel from which everyone left with a smile, yet sadly: no fruit baskets… You owe us, Frank Cho!
Ale Bodden is a freelance artist and writer. It is her third year attending NYCC with Bleeding Cool. You can follow her art-ventures through twitter at: @Nerdy_Faery, or through IG: @NerdyFaery.