It started with a tweet, from comic book creator Jim Zub at this weekend's Montreal Comic Con.
It soon transpired that the accused person was Arthur Suydam, comic book illustrator of the school of Frank Frazetta, and well known for comics like Cholly & Flytrap and his Marvel Zombies covers over the years. And, at Montreal Comic Con, the displaced peole were comic book creators Francis Manapul, Dan Parent and Rachel Richey. And this is what his table looked like.
Bleeding Cool reached out to Suydam's representatives yesterday, but with no response. Equally, we received no response from the Montreal Comiccon either. However, both Francis and Rachel were able to give their account of events. Rachel told me,
I learned about what happened from another creator who had been sitting across from where we were supposed to be and who watched the signage change overnight as Arthur replaced it for his own. It wasn't until I realized the implications of this change that I became a bit frustrated. As a smaller creator/press I rely on being found in the program as accessibility drives most of my sales. And it's a pretty selfish move to think you are above the convention that invited you and that you are more deserving than your colleagues. Having said that, it was not my intention to have him ostracized. After all, if this is Arthur's habitual behaviour, it's our collective responsibility to make others aware of it. Judging by the wave of support from creators and friends on Twitter, that's exactly what is happening now. Also, Montreal Comic Con is a FANTASTIC convention, and I firmly believe they were not aware he was this kind of creator until it was too late. They've also been very present in trying to help sort out the situation. All in all, I'm not angry at Arthur and especially not the convention. I'm just glad Arthur's practices are becoming more common knowledge so that he might be prevented from negatively influencing or effecting other's sales or experiences in the future
While Francis wrote,
To be honest I wasn't aware of the situation until more than half way through the first day. I was shown to "my" table by one of the organizers who I know to be a really great guy. I asked how his day was, and he let on about a disastrous situation. He seemed stressed out so I didn't press him, and just pointed out that there's nowhere to go but upward. When I got to my spot I saw my nameplate on the table, rather than hanging behind like all the other creators' nameplates. I didn't think much of it and since there wasn't a line I took the opportunity to say hello to fellow creators. During that time Rachel put up my banner and a line had formed so I sat down and proceeded to sign books.
Throughout the day I got a lot of confused/relieved people who approached my table and told me tales of their long journey. I just replied my location should be in the book. Unbeknownst to me was that I was actually in the wrong spot because I had been displaced by Arthur. I just thought, "weird". Rachel and some other creators made me aware that the previous night, Arthur had taken down my name along with her own and Dan Parent's and moved us to another location in order to set up on ours.
My reaction was honestly mixed as I thought the whole thing was just so bizarre. Seriously, who does that? It's like coming home to find your neighbour parked in your driveway. So I told Rachel I was going to talk to him, but she didn't want me to ruffle any feathers so decided not to…
Less than a minute later I was on my way to his table. I just couldn't let it stand, even though Dan and Rachel were already set up and didn't want to rebuild again. However it's the principle of the matter, and I wanted him to know that it wasn't cool. I was still confused whether I felt angry or, much like the guy who finds his neighbour parked in his driveway, generally perplexed. I was thinking "something's just not right about this guy." His behavior didn't make sense.
I got up to the table and simply said "Hello" to which he very politely and quite cheerfully greeted me. I was caught off guard as this nice, older man spoke to me in a polite and respectful way. Now anything I said that wasn't as polite in return would make me look like a total asshole. So I just said "Hey dude, this is actually my table you're sitting at. You look pretty set up here so that's fine. However I've had a lot of people telling me they've had a very hard time finding me. So if you see confused bystanders around your booth would you be able to tell them my location?" which he agreed to do. The whole thing just felt weird, because he neither apologized nor broke character of his polite demeanor. He didn't seem to be aware of any wrong doing he had done and at this point I just wanted solutions rather than an argument that went nowhere.
The con organizers have been nothing but accommodating in addressing the situation and making us very comfortable in our new location. At the end of the day, it sucks that he did it, and I can see how this type of behavior can very negatively affect the business of those he displaced. On the other hand, it's a good anecdote to tell over some beers at the bar. And apparently Twitter. I also wanted to take this opportunity, Rich, to announce that Arthur and I are launching a creator owned book together. It's a buddy cop comic. Just kidding. :)
Meanwhile much of the internet turned to pure mockery with Erik Larsen casting doubt on the veracity of this publicity still of Suydam's line at a show,
And the internet came into its own…
But on a more serious note,
And Suydam's promotional efforts on his behalf also were subject to mockery.
Today is another day at Montreal Comiccon. Anything could happen!
UPDATE: Arthur Suydam's representative Renee Witterstaetter has now responded to Bleeding Cool saying,
In response to the posts about the Montreal Comic Con this weekend and the table placement for artists at the show:
Let me state that I am the booking agent for a group of artists including Michael Golden, Arthur Suydam, Mike Zeck, and others at the convention.
When we arrived for set up on Thursday, there was a snafu with the table setups for ALL the artists. In order to correct the problem, everyone was moved.
The Montreal Comic Con, much to their credit, stepped in and found solutions for all the table placements, so that all artists had their agreed upon table amounts!
No changes were made without the shows knowledge and no artist made any arbitrary changes on their own. Any artist there for set up was informed of the changes, and we assume others were told as soon as they could be told.
In the end, none of us were where we were originally supposed to be on the map. But it appears that all the fans found us anyway and everyone has had a great time at the event. So anything else being said about the situation by third parties is simply spreading untruths.
We'd like to thank the Montreal Comic Con for their support and willingness to fix the situation. And most of all thank the fans that come to see us at the show.
Best, Renee Witterstaetter