This weekend, the Facebook page of El Paso comic store Mayhem Toyz & Games came under attack as a number of on-line artists discovered their private artwork was being sold as prints in the store. And some of their customers discovered it too…
There's a picture of me on BleedingCool unknowingly buying stolen artwork. Awkward.
— Lindsey. (@AbsoluteHatred_) August 26, 2014
I covered the furore, after finding our my requests for comment deleted and that I was banned from commenting further, along with everyone else. After repeated attempts to contact the store, after publication owner Yvette Lomeli contacted us to give her say, and we updated the original piece.
Jamie Fay, the first artist who noticed his work being sold in this fashion wrote in response.
"So, Bleeding Cool News was told that Mayhem Toyz and Comics bought these prints from a wholesaler, without providing the name. If so, this is unfortunate. But that doesn't answer for why they hung up on me twice and the third time, answered the phone and when they heard it was me again, just put the phone down. Why would they not reach out to me after seeing the post on their website? They deleted it instead and blocked me. I know I would reached out to someone saying that their art was in my store without consent and unauthorized. But that is me. I'm still willing to apologize and change my tune and offer a public apology but I need the name of the people who are selling my art and the art of several others. They did say in comments on their pictures they had them made up (I did not see these statements myself). I'll try to call back again. Hopefully, they will chat with me and give me the name of the wholesaler. And I will make a public apology, as will all the other artists whose art was being sold. We aren't monsters. We just don't want our art stolen and a profit made on our behalf and hard work. We'll see."
I passed this note onto Yvette and encouraged her to get in touch with Jamie, and other artists, the thing she should have done initially, as opposed to deleting his messages, and all the ones that followed, from Facebook.
After much back and forth with Bleeding Cool, Yvette finally admitted that she had bought the prints from Frank & Son Collectible Show, a bi-weekly event in Los Angeles, where lots of vendors sell their work, toys, comics, whatever they have on them. She told me, however, that she had bought the work directly from the show, rather than one of the vendors, and they had agreed to ship more in.
And indeed, there is evidence that such work is on display at Frank & Son though not who was selling it.
Yo can see the video these pics were taken from here to get a better idea of the nature of the show.
And certainly some of those images look familiar. Yvette provided the following documentation regarding the sale, but saying that other proof had been thrown away.
This explanation didn't explain the wording from the store made in an earlier, now deleted, post on Facebook.
About "having them made" rather than simply buying them, it implies a more involved, bespoke relationship. Yvette tells me that this was an error, based on other people having access to the company Facebook account.
As to Frank & Son, their next show is on Wednesday. I contacted them yesterday but was told that no one was available to address these points until later in the week. I will endeavour to contact them again later.
And Yvette did get in touch with Jamie, who then posted,
So, I had a long phone conversation with Yvette Lomeli from Mayhem Toyz and Comics. She too is a victim in all of this. She said she bought the prints from a wholesaler in California and provided me with their name. I will be reaching out to them about this matter. Our talk was long and we really got to the bottom of this situation that is plaguing us both.
I ask that anyone who made posts about them to please delete them. Yvette and her crew are as much the victims as me and the other artists are. She bought a product in good faith that it was legit and it wasn't.
I'll be reaching out to Bleeding Cool/Rich Johnston and the other artists so they can get in touch with her to and talk to her about what happened. She seems quite sincere about the whole situation. I have been told that all the prints have been removed from the store and they will no longer be on sale. She seems to really be standing up and supporting the artists wronged in this situation.
I'd also like to put it out there that she said they received threats. It's one thing to say that they were selling unauthorized prints. That was a truth. But threatening someone is not cool at all. Violence should never be used on ANYONE unless you are in a life or death situation. There is always another way. If you were one of the people threatening them, you should reach out apologize. That isn't cool.
I have deleted the posts I made, hopefully deleting all the posts where people had shared my posts. Again, Yvette and her crew are victims in this situation too. If you are in the El Paso area, stop by. Her plans for the store actually sound very artist centric and fanboy centric.
Bleeding Cool won't be deleting the original piece, though I will update it and link to here from there. Mayhem Toyz & Games may be innocent of producing the prints themselves, but did they really believe these prints they were buying were were officially licensed work? And suitable for a comic store to sell and promote as they did? Unwittingly or not, they were selling stolen work.
Yvette tells me that work will no longer be sold and that she is in touch with the affected artists. Mayhem may not have realised the impact of what they were doing but publicised heavily and with glee. Then when confronted with the problem, their response was to ignore it, then try and cover it up.
There are lessons to be learnt, by Mayhem, and other folk as well. Who didn't learn them from Richard Nixon.
Today, Yvette posted on the recently revived Facebook page saying,
This weekend I experienced one of the happiest moments of my life – the Grand Opening of Mayhem Toyz and Comics. It was the realization of a life-long dream, and the culmination of years of effort by my family, friends, and our supporters.
Unfortunately, this weekend was marred by charges that Mayhem misappropriated and/or copied original artwork, and in turn, sold that artwork to our customers. These charges were published on Bleeding Cool. Com, and the story took on a life of its own before I was able to address either the article, or the accusations.
Just so you recall, I emailed the store and posted on their Facebook page asking for comment, to find my comments deleted and myself banned from posting on the site. I am still unable to post there. No attempt was made to address the concerns, merely cover them up.
Let me be clear: neither I, nor David or anyone at Mayhem, knowingly bought or sold any illegal artwork, nor did we "copy" such artwork for printing and sale. Everything in our store was purchased through reputable suppliers and distributors, with complete bill of sales, records, and receipts. We would never purposefully hurt any of the artists we so proudly support, and who are the lifeblood of the very community we've been so eager to join.
All the records Yvette has sent over, have been posted above. You can decide how complete they are. And the first response to concerns from artists, days before I contacted the store, were equally dismissed.
I've provided any and all information about this matter to Rich Johnston with Bleeding Cool, and requested that they amend their original story. But more importantly, I've reached out to the affected artist Jamie Fay, to both personally apologize, and to assure him that we will only legally support his and every artist's work. I hope to continue promoting their fantastic art – after all, they're the whole reason I opened Mayhem to begin with.
They actually requested we delete the story, if you remember. And there are many more affected artists other than Jamie Fay.
We do hope everything works out for the best for all affected.