Indie comic creator and Left-wing Twitter activist, Christopher Sebela, created a comic called Crowded. It’s a typical anti-capitalist satire that involves social media and hitmen, written with a healthy dose of Liberal propaganda. Well, the comic failed miserably on the marketplace and has joined the illustrious and ever-growing pantheon of profoundly special groups, individuals, products, and corporations called the Get Woke, Go Broke Master List.
It started with a diatribe from Crowded’s inker, Ted Brandt, who took to Twitter to air his grievances about the comic being pirated nearly 100,000 times, while no one bothered to actually buy the comic from Comixology or Amazon.
The thread was posted on November 24th, 2019, where Brandt wrote…
“How do you get your stuff taken off of a pirate site? CROWDED’s up to 95,000 reads on one I just looked at, while I’m completely broke.
“Seriously. 95000 READS over the 10 issues. What the everloving fuck. We’ve already had to shorten the book due to a lack of money.
“This royally pisses me off. People like that think they’re stealing from a big company, but on an indie book they’re just stealing from the team.
“I wish I hadn’t looked. I always knew we would be pirated, and figured it would be a few thousand. Just shy of 6 figures is obscene, though. Especially for a book having to go to trade because it’s not profitable.”
Brandt rounded out the tweet by doing himself no favors, reminding everyone that Crowded was a “queer” buddy-up comic starring two highly unattractive female characters, one of which looks like a fragile black man.
Just in case anyone is still reading this thread: the first volume of our queer buddy thriller series, CROWDED, is available for purchase at your local comics store as well as:
and Amazon https://t.co/2WaootRaLI…
— Aw beans, it’s Ted “Nibs” Brandt (@ten_bandits) November 24, 2019
Never coy to capitalize on a moment to build virtue signal clout, Jen Bartel, an illustrator and artist, was quick to jump in and signal boost Brandt’s thread.
Later that morning on November 24th, 2019, Bartel had an even lengthier thread to moralize unto others the benefits of virtue signaling and dipping into the capitalist market the Left-wing ilk are so keen on criticizing in a negative way.
Why is it so common for so many creators in comics to either be working on multiple projects at a time or be doing additional work in other industries? Because usually their creator owned passion project is not enough to pay all their bills.
— Jen Bartel (@heyjenbartel) November 24, 2019
The rest of the thread reads as follows…
“And in a Big Picture sense, when you pirate rather than purchase, it tells publishers and retailers that creators don’t have longterm viability because they don’t move enough books, whether they’re licensed OR creator owned—and that reputation can be a career killer altogether.
“Piracy is a very depressing reality in any media industry but it’s especially sad in comics because in the grand scheme of things, most comics are created by small teams with fairly low overhead and don’t require the same kinds of returns as other forms of media to be profitable.
“And like all things in this capitalist hellscape, the end consumer can only vote with their dollars, so if you don’t support the kinds of stories you want to see more of in comics/media, they will die on the vine. The executive looking at the spreadsheet only knows hard numbers.
“Anyway Crowded is one of my favorite creator owned books to come out in recent years and it really sucks to think that we could have had more but it had to be shortened due to the financial burden the team had to take on to create it. Support the stories and creators you love.”
Let’s take a break for a moment to really savor the antipodes irony of what Bartel is saying here. She’s deriding capitalism as a “hellscape” while lamenting that more people didn’t utilize the capitalistic infrastructure of a free market to buy Crowded…
I suppose we shouldn’t expect much logic from someone who can’t tell fiction from reality, as highlighted by Just Some Guy.
It’s even sillier when you consider that the book is criticizing the capitalism marketplace of freelancing, even to the effect of becoming killers and bodyguards due to unregulated services becoming marketable, yet they’re writing lengthy threads on Twitter complaining that people aren’t using the same free-trade conduits they’re criticizing to buy the book that is criticizing the very conduit that would allow the authors and artists to profit.
Oh boy, one could write an entire dissertation about the logical dissonance on display here, but I need to wrap this up.
Anyway, Bartel goes on to write…
“Sorry to add on to this already long thread but I feel like I need to expand on the Big Picture thing I mentioned earlier—When books are pirated, obviously it hurts the creators’ bottom line, but it ALSO hurts RETAILERS. Retailers often operate on a monthly shoestring budget; The relationship between creators and retailers in comics is very much symbiotic because of the way the direct market is structured. They are our best advocates on the front lines, they are the people who will hand sell our books for us and gain us a readership on our projects—But no matter how much passionate hand selling a retailer does for a creator-owned book, there is a point where they simply can’t compete with piracy and they HAVE to shift their focus to properties that are guaranteed to sell at their shops.”
“I know that some of you who pirate comics also believe that the general landscape of comics would be better if it featured more diverse and inclusive stories, but those books are often the biggest risk to order big on at traditional comic shops—even if the retailers WANT to.
“I know how inconvenient the direct market ordering system can feel, believe me, but if you don’t put your money where your mouth is, the message you’re sending to retailers and ultimately to publishers is that the book you love (but read via pirating) is not worth the risk.
“The best thing you can do for creators and for the industry as a whole if you can’t buy a hard copy or digital version of the comics you love is to request them at your local library and check them out that way. Librarians contribute to the comics landscape SO MUCH.”
If you want to get an idea of just how bad Crowded is, “Ya Boi Zack” has a review on the Comics Matter channel that you can check out below.
The whole thing is definitely quite funny, especially since Christopher Sebela was just caught two months ago using licensed property from 2000 AD in an attempt to make some quick cash by selling Judge Dredd badges.
So let’s just quickly recap all of this in a TL;DR: Chris Sebela, et al, release a woke comic book in the summer of 2018 to sparkling reviews from Left-leaning outlets like Bleeding Cool. SJWs praise the comic for its critique on capitalism and for starring “queer” characters who look like rejected Tumblr archetypes. A year later it turns out no one is buying the comic but nearly 100,000 people have pirated it, and the people working on the comic have gone broke.
Maybe instead of spending so much time complaining about capitalism and the consumers who consume through that principle, perhaps they should work on making a comic book that consumers actually want to buy instead of one that they feel is only worth pirating?
(Thanks for the news tip Guardian EvaUnit02)