Two days ago, G.I. Joe comics writer Aubrey Sitterson tweeted a number of statements regarding people's reactions to the anniversary of 9/11 sixteen years on. Some saw these comments as rather inflammatory — so much so that certain G.I. Joe fan groups started to threaten to boycott coverage or purchase of not only his G.I. Joe comics, but all of publisher IDW's line, unless he was fired. At the time, IDW's responses to concerns from their letters@idwpublishing email address, were supportive of Sitterson, while acknowledging the complainants' feelings:
"Aubrey was living in New York on September 11, 2001 and like many New Yorkers who saw their city attacked and who breathed in the dust of the wreckage and the dying, he at times finds it hard to take when people who didn't have that direct connection, that direct suffering, make statements that imply their suffering was as bad. Yes, the entire country was attacked but we do see how people who were so directly impacted as New Yorkers can take exception to people who want to likewise connect to the event in the same way. The connection for everyone is there—like I say, everyone was attacked on that day—but it obviously hit New York and New Yorkers more directly.
That's his whole point, not to slight anyone. It is a thing you see on social media when any notably sad event happens or hits an anniversary: people who can't just mourn a celebrity but who have to make it seem like they were personally connected and so their suffering matters more. I believe that was Aubrey's while point. I'm not saying I agree with his approach but I also didn't live in NY and so can't put myself in this shoes in that regard. The attack remains a raw, open wound for everyone and everyone deals with it best they can on an ongoing basis. Aubrey as a New Yorker and as someone who feels everything very deeply clearly struggles with the events of that day and other peoples' approach to it as do most all of us. Sorry you found what he said offensive but we've talked to him in person about that day and know that he didn't mean it to sound the way some have taken it."
But in the last couple of hours, Steven Scott, PR Manager of IDW Entertainment has sent out this official statement, which differs in tone considerably, and was set by a committee meeting. I have been told to consider this as official and to disregard the previous message.
"It has come to our attention that a freelance comic book writer, whose work includes IDW titles, has expressed opinions on his personal social media account that many find insensitive, divisive, and inflammatory.
IDW in no way condones or supports these personal opinions whatsoever, and recognizes the pain they may cause our readers.
Discussions regarding next steps are underway. We appreciate the patience and understanding of our many fans while these concerns are being addressed."
Next week, IDW Entertainment is due to publish solicitations for a new G.I. Joe relaunched ongoing comic book, Scarlett's Strike Force that crosses over with Transformers and MASK, out in December written by Aubrey Sitterson with art by Nelson Daniel:
"They've fought back invasions from home and afar-now, they're back on Earth, and ready to take on the wildest, weirdest threats out there! It's Scarlett's G.I. Joe team, the Strike Force, against a brand-new Cobra Commander, a revitalized Cobra, and everyone else trying to conquer Earth… or destroy it! Aubrey Sitterson (G.I. Joe, Street Fighter x G.I. Joe) is joined by superstar artist Nelson Daniel (Clue, Dungeons & Dragons) in The Best Action Comic Ever!
Featuring all-stars of the Hasbro line as M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand and the Transformers join G.I. Joe in the fight against Cobra! In Shops: Dec 20, 2017"
"I grew up In Flushing, Queens and lived there for 28 years. My brother's work crew were in the Towers, I had friends who worked for a financial firm in the Towers and I knew 3 of the persons who died, one indirectly as the father of a schoolmate. All my friends still react as differently as you can imagine when the memorial comes around. Most view it as a time to come together and heal a bit more but one of my friends gets pissed off when they see "out of towners" come to any ceremony honoring the 9/11 victims. She views it as very personal and if you were not there then you shouldn't be there now. She was in the Tower, she got out but a lot of her co-workers did not. Sixteen years later and she is still emotionally scarred and I don't think she will ever heal at this point.
I read this article and thought ,That's exactly how my friend feels. I don't agree with it but I have tried, over the years, to try to understand a little why she feels like that and do my best to respect her feelings. It's still raw for her and the anniversary just brings up all those emotions again.
Until I hear more, I will give the GI Joe writer the benefit of the doubt and assume he is like my friend and he just saw something that set him off…maybe someone selling 9-11 rememberance shirts? That set my friend off once and it was not a pretty sight. If it turns out that the guy is just being an ass or trying to get his twitter feed more hits..well that's a different story but I'm not going to be quick to judge someone who went through an emotional trauma and is still obviously scarred by it. Everyone reacts to trauma in their own way, some people need more time to heal and unfortunately some people will never heal. I wish I had my old friend back but she will never be the same and while I try my best to accept that I also, rather foolishly, still hope that one day she will be the person she was."
Perspective is always a valuable thing — especially in comics.