This is your cut-out-and-keep guide to my attempts to alert the comics industry of a major scam going on in its midst.
Right from the beginning, we knew Josh Hoopes had a… legally-challenged record and was accepting commissions from publishers, outsourcing the work and then not paying the artist. But we never knew just how persistent he'd be at this.
I printed some pages he'd provided to an inker he scammed. And went in search of the original penciller. The next week I tracked the victim down as well as the tricked publisher, and a still-unidentified new series of pages provided by Hoopes to another writer.
And for a while that was that, Hoopes went dark. Until November.
That's when the Fake Art Adams scam emerged, with someone pretending to be Art Adams and his fictitious agent Jeff Jenzel, scamming established publishers such as Tokyo Pop. After some investigation I identified this as another Josh Hoopes scam by running a sting operation and extracting information that confirmed his identity.
He then used the Jeff Henzel name as a penciller, misrepresenting the work of the likes of Mike Choi amongst others.
Again a pause, until April when the Art Adams con started circulating again – before again going dark.
In the last few weeks though, he's been back and Bleeding Cool has been on his case day by day. First tracking down his attempts to use Tek Jensen artwork to get work, then showing some of the artwork he'd been providing, unfinished to publishers using the name "Ron Runstrom."
Indeed, poor Federico, it emerged in further discussion that only was he a victim of "Ron Runstom" this month, but last month fell victim to "Jeff Hanzel". Josh Hoopes is double dipping, folks.
Last week I phoned Josh Hoopes on the off chance. He picked up, confirmed he was "Ron Ronstrom". When I explained who I was, he hung up very quickly.
At least, however, it seem the word is beginning to spread. I understand that federal and local law enforcement have been contacted. Hopefully something will happen this time. He has so far conned publishers and creators out of hundred of thousands of dollars in both cash and work.
I have his email addresses, aliases, street addresses, phone numbers, date of birth and have made these available to all involved parties.
Because enough is enough is enough. And I've gone through too many hoops as it is.