Tony Harris Returns To Talk Cosplay

Tony Harris, at the centre of a controversy last month over the motivation of certain cosplayers and how this reflected upon the rest of the comics industry.

He's now addressed the matter again, though in a more private fashion, and without asking people to retweet it. He writes on Facebook;

Well I had hoped to NOT address this again, but it seems I am being forced to. I would have been fine to take my lumps like always. Thats the price of being opinionated, and a quasi public figure, I guess. But this has taken a turn that is disturbing. First of all being attacked SO viciously and repeatedly, with exactly the same kind of name calling and insults that I was being accused of? That was just weird. But then, People started threatening physical violence, like putting a brick to my skull, and asking what my Con schedule was so they could beat me up or throw paint and blood all over me and my Art displayed on the table. As if that were not enough? Now its gone really to the back of beyond. People are asking that I be drummed out of the Comics Industry all together, encouraging others to boycott my work, and then today, sending personal emails to me announcing that petitions have been started, and letter writing campaigns begun to Comic Book Conventions to Ban me for life and NEVER invite me again. " Taking the bread OFF your table." is how they put it. Also, saying that they would create endless "Dummy" accounts so that I could never get rid of them by blocking, or the like. So I have asked all of my detractors MORE than once to not gloss over the opening of that original statement to just focus on my scathing language, etc… but NO, they will not. Then I reposted the "Rant" ( see below ) dialed back, without a single use of foul language, but still holding firm to MY OPINION, that there are SOME people that are attention seekers and nothing more. I even state below that I have heard it. I have seen it. Its not something I dreamt up. It simply cannot be refuted. My Dad always said, " The bit Dog Barks first." There seems to be a Lot of truth to that. I will not, nor will I EVER apologize. My opinion on the matter stands. But I will apologize for my delivery ( in regards to my language ). I need to be reminded that a LOT of people read this stuff, and not all of them wanna read those kinds of words. But if you still choose to say that I am lumping in ALL Cosplayers together in my statement below, then knock yerself out. But you will be a liar.

"Something has been eating at me for a while now, so I felt compelled to speak up. I appreciate a pretty Gal as much as the next Hetero Male. Sometimes I even go in for racier material ( keeping the comments PG for my Ladies sake) but darn it all to heck, there seems to have been a growing cross section of the Cosplay community that seem to me, to be, well, less than genuine. But, I know a few of these fine upstanding members of that community, that are indeed bonifide fans of the Comic book medium, and express that through the careful construction of fine haberdashery, and oh so entertaining reality plays for all to enjoy. So heres something I'll put to you candidly: " Excuse me Sir/Madame, I am sorry to inform you that Some of us, in growing numbers , give pause when it comes to the sincerity of your current efforts to "Entertain" your fellow con goers. It occurs to me, that maybe, just maybe, you are not what you seem. You seem an attractive individual, but my years of experience, Travel and intuition ( from behind the table , seeing and hearing so much that I am sure was not intented to be discovered )is telling me something is "off". Your willingness to almost completely disrobe in public can be commended on some level( confidence, perhaps lack of inhibition), but I fear your true nature to be duplicitous at best. You see, I have seen the mockery you engage in of the very patrons that seek your attention, and have heard the stinging commentary fall from your lips concerning the very same people. I fear they would be emotionally destroyed at the news, if it were put to them. If indeed you are acting out in an attempt at garnering attention and have been consumed by that notion, I feel sorry for you. Surely you have more respect for the modest gifts that God bestowed upon you, and you don't really need to exploit that. Ample as your bossom may seem to be, they are in fact quite pedestrian, in my opinion. One must be ready to receive criticism, sometimes harsh, if you put yourself "OUT THERE". Im sure it can be very difficult for some Comic Book Fans who might be shy, or intraverted to approach someone who seems so far out of the realm of possibilty, concerning returned affection. Sadly I fear that they wouldnt warrant a passing glance from you outside of this Arena. Let alone a few kind words. You and your efforts to Garner Attention are not the face of comics, and honestly a discredit to those you aspire to be: True Comic Book fans/Cosplayers, like the creative individuals who craft the stories, and design the characters and worlds that we all hold so dear. But thats just this mans opinion, and I certainly could be mistaken. Good day"

When Bleeding Cool re-reported his original comments, as he was asking people to do, Harris claimed that Bleeding Cool had a history of gunning for him and he was rather abusive towards us, and me in particular, as a result. I refuted that then, and I refute it now.

In this instance though I'd like to reiterate that the objection I had, aside from the choice of language, was that we should enjoy the effect comics culture has had on people, we should not demand that people be dyed-in-the-wool fans of the comic to dress up as the character and there is nothing wrong with those who simply celebrate the aesthetic and it's the kind of grassroots marketing that some industries wouyld pay millions for.

But boycotting Tony Harris for his opinions? If you go down that road where do you stop? Everyone who's work you enjoy will have at least one opinion that radically differs from your own. Dave Sim, Chuck Dixon, Bill Willingham and the like have suffered this – and its a crying shame, given their talents.

Tony Harris' body of work is inventive, expressive and enjoyable in its own right. Some, like me, want to discover more about the people who create our favourite work, and how it informs its creation.

But if you want to boycott Tony Harris because of his words, then you must also boycott 99% of published comics today over the creators and publishers' racism, sexism, abuse, Tony Harris Returns To Talk Cosplayharassment, adultery, violence and death threats. Object, sure, why not. Argue the point, absolutely. But threaten harm, organise a boycott, strive to get him fired or booted from shows simply because of his expressed opinion?

No. Absolutely not.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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