This week in Dawn: The Swordmaster's Daughter & Other Stories from Image, Joseph Michael Linsner announced a new Dawn series, Always Darkest, to be published next year.
He also took the time to talk about one of his employees, an art assistant who he accuses of stealing page of his work, exaggerating her role in the book and of trying to sue him for co-ownership of his characters
That would be one Eva Hopkins. Who, on Facebook, posted her reply, citing evidence to defend herself and Linsner's attitude towards her. She asks people to repost her account. As part of that she makes some seriously strong allegations against Linsner that I have received legal advice to redact on Bleeding Cool. She writes;
Yesterday, the attached, scanned editorial page published in JML's latest Dawn comic was Emailed to me – (see the last photo, below). It was sent by a close friend, and I admit it: I was surprised. Surprised not that JML wrote it, but that he printed it, and that Image Comics (with whom I had a long-standing relationship) actually published it.
If you can't read the scan, in short, JML says hiring me & giving me a credit was a mistake; that I was only a flatter & no more; & that I stole original artwork from him, so I "betrayed" him. He calls me a monster, & published that in the preface of a book I used to work with him on, for many years. He doesn't say my name but the comics industry is a small one. Of course everyone knows who he means, as my inbox showed me.
I want to make it clear that this "rebuttal" is more about personal affirmation and my refusal to continue accepting JML's repeated harassment & insinuations. I'm doing this not only for me, but for someone else who can't speak up. I've been quiet since it all came down as I don't like airing personal business. But this is now in print, & questions have begun.
I'm going to have a more to say about this after a consultation with my lawyer, who may be referring me to an additional lawyer, as my guy is an intellectual property/contracts lawyer. But since I'm being inundated with Email about it, I wanted to say these five things in one place & just answer everyone at once.
#1. I'm not "trying" to sue JML, and the last thing I want is to go through the heartache of a lawsuit. There have been several exchanges between our attorneys about the CO-CREATED character, Dark Ivory. Dark Ivory wouldn't have happened without me. JML told me this many times. There are large chunks of my own life story in hers, and the first painting of her (which I own) was based on my retelling to JML of a dream I had. I did both of the publisher meetings for Dark Ivory, solo, and instigated a profitable license deal as well. Look up Dark Ivory's original solicitation info, via Previews & Image. We were listed as co-creators from the beginning, because we were. There are scores of witnesses who knew us during the formative years of Dark Ivory, who know that from the very beginning, it was *our* project. Dawn became my day job; Dark Ivory was our shared child. The situation hasn't moved to the suing stage, and I was hoping we could resolve this the way adults do, with rational discussions and paperwork. Unfortunately, we haven't heard back from his lawyer for over 3 months.
#2. I didn't steal any physical artwork from JML, and as a point of personal pride, I'd like to think no one who knows me would believe such claims. I've repeatedly stated (and am stating it again here) that I'd take a polygraph about this. JML gave me the Claws #2 & #3 art (& some other signed Dawn collectibles), as I was owed thousands of dollars in back pay. When our then shipping manager objected, JML laid a ton of conditions on my being allowed to sell the work; a) like saving a specific page for him and for our coworker; b) telling me that I couldn't sell it to a certain collector he personally disliked; c) that I couldn't sell it in "too many" lots; d) that I had to wait at least 6 months in case I'd been paid back by then; etc….
I met all these conditions, *and* waited for 2 years before selling. I sold them to a single buyer, in Germany, for much less than what I was owed. JML doesn't want to admit he agreed to this, but he did, and I have a witness to my side of this who will back me up (and already has provided a sworn statement),with whom JML discussed my ownership and sale of that art several times.
"But Eva! I heard you told the buyer to not discuss the transaction until you said it was okay? That seems fishy."
Yes, I did. Because –
Since I've parted ways w/ JML – which he spins as a simple downsizing, despite every product we managed to make being profitable, those last few years – he's blamed me for everything that's gone wrong in his life, from his tax woes to his website crashing. He's harassed me via email. He stopped in my hometown and sent *police to my home* over this made-up theft. (BTW, if you've never had detectives show up randomly at your house and wake you up, let me tell you, it's scary.) He threatened me with an injunction if I appeared at a convention I'd been invited to guest at. He's tried (and I fear is beginning to succeed) to trash my reputation in an industry I love and have done good for. I haven't worked with or for him in any capacity for over two years, and this "editorial" comes out now? I feel stalked, harassed & anxious much of the time.
A simple downsizing would have made sense. Print media has taken a huge hit as electronic formats have entered the industry. I wish that's all this had been.
The whole time I've stayed quiet, trying to take the high road and be classy, my smile in place while listening to people tell me he's such a great guy. And he can be. But he believes there are two types of people, talented & untalented, and that there are different rules for each. So he (with the bigger name and more talent) gets to say whatever he wants about me (less big name), despite my 14 years of hard work on his behalf. It is time to stand up for myself and call BS on that.
#4. JML says that anyone could have done my job and that there was zero creative output from me. He knows that's not true. Anyone who worked with both of us or had a meeting with us knows it. I even developed a coloring process to clean and strengthen black linework during my work on DAWN: Three Tiers – which he used to call me up and ask me how to do. (Sure sounds like he thought it was important back then, now it's different, though, huh?) The coloring work wasn't full-on painting but it was way more than a flatter. There were loads of pages where JML only gave me minimal direction as we worked together more. It became a game to see how much of my coloring was what he wanted before he'd have to correct the angle of a gradient, say, or the shade of the sky in an afternoon fade vs. evening. We finished each other's sentences, creatively, and he told me all the time that he didn't want to do it without me, that he couldn't.
I stayed so long hoping to learn something about art. I don't want credit for work I didn't do. I can't draw like him. Instead, I learned a lot about business, the comics biz in particular.
He says my working with him, & getting credit for that work, was a mistake. Really? A 14-year mistake? All the projects we did together, all those printed credits? Font size on the credits growing as my responsibilities grew? Someone as invested as JML is in the work, with control over every detail, wouldn't have given me any credit he knew I hadn't poured weeks of sweat into. I helped put tons of projects together with him. I worked nights and weekends for over a decade doing everything from coloring to soliciting product to scheduling convention appearances to dealing with printers, fans, publishers, etc. I frequently worked on call & whenever there was a project deadline, without breaks. He's a "one man comics studio" *now*, but he wasn't for 14 years.
JML refused to sign any paperwork agreement with me (so he wouldn't have to pay me regularly as an employee, OR yield any rights in a legal partnership). But in the end he called me his partner in front of others, and we both knew that was what I'd been working towards. JML was either being dishonest then, or he is now. I have many more proofs, Emails, royalty statements & links that prove my points. The below photos are just a few.
#5. I'm #3 on a list of people who were once JML's business associates, who are now "his enemy". I'm not JML's enemy, but I'm not going to sit here and let him commit libel (slander is spoken – thank you J. Jonah Jameson). The common denominator in the failure of his professional relationships isn't me.
#6. This whole situation didn't come about in a vacuum. There are other ex-employees, fans, and business partners who saw both how hard I worked for JML, and how poorly he treated both me and those he said he was closest to. Although I don't expect them to speak up now (for various reasons), they know the truth.
Despite all of the destructive behavior, and knowing what was being said about me, I kept it to myself. Because I felt sure that when the lawyers were done lawyering we could move on with our lives, like after any "divorce". (Because of gender & assumptions I should specify I mean work divorce only. We dated about a million years ago, but were much better work friends than mates.) When JML insinuated things about me on his site, Twitter, FB and blog, I let it go. I didn't return fire or cause drama.
Until today I haven't uttered a negative word about him. I've had fans walk up to me at shows and ask about him, why he wasn't there. "Oh, he took the weekend off, he's at a cookout…"etc… "Why don't you guys work together anymore?" I'd answer: "We wanted to work on different things." But now he's put lies into print. To add insult to injury, he did it in the same comic book I worked so hard to make successful.
So, I can't be quiet anymore.
I wish JML luck in his future business endeavors and don't wish him any personal ill will. He's not my enemy: he is "somebody that I used to know". People can change, & this isn't "war" (as he referred to in his comic book). I don't have "wars" with people, how high school is that? But this pattern of blame & harassment needs to end. There aren't two types of people, talented vs. untalented – there's one type, human.
They're all equally important, and the law applies the same to a waitress as to an lawyer as to a contractor as to an artist. But more importantly, they all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
Thank you for your time,
She also includes a series of documents to support her case. They include;
The back and forths continue on the Eva's Facebook comments. It seems the next step are the courts… whether the real ones or those of public opinion.
UPDATE: Joe Michael Linsner has updated his blog, claiming that Eva edited his printed letter, showing the evidence.
What this does is show that Eva's version was not the printed one, the text stays the same but differently paginated and cuts off sooner. As if Eva was sent an earlier version of the article that ran over two pages, rather than editing it herself…
UPDATE x2: It was the digital version which differs in pagination and appearance from the printed version, apparently. There was no editing.
Fanboy Rampage was a website run by Graeme McMillan before he got respectable, collecting the higher profile online conflicts. We use the title here with permission. Bleeding Cool is doing no more than posting public statements, and not verifying the validity of either party.