G.I. JOE writer Aubrey Sitterson is tasting the sting of karma after a number of disgusting Tweets he launched during the anniversary of September 11. Not only has Sitterson faced a huge social backlash from the Tweets, but now IDW and Hasbro cancelled his upcoming G.I. JOE series Scarlett’s Strike Force before the first issue even hit shelves. Here’s how it unfolded.

What Happened?

Back on September 11th, IDW and G.I. JOE writer Aubrey Sitterson went to Twitter of all places to make his voice heard about what bothered him about 9/11 remembrances. He tweeted out this absolutely disgusting message.

Who in their right mind thinks this is okay? Not to mention it’s factually inaccurate. Sitterson  must have forgotten the attack on the Pentagon right outside Washington, D.C. as well as the people on United Airlines Flight 93 who brought the plane down in Pennsylvania. There were also over 3,000 people who were killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Does he think they don’t have family outside of New York City? This behavior is both ignorant and narcissistic on a number of levels.

Personally, I remember where I was. I was in my high school English class right outside of Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. I remember seeing the base go on lockdown, I remember that day in a finer detail than I would like to admit.

Needless to say I wasn’t in New York City and I remember the people who were attacked by the evil terrorists. I remember because I might not have known them, but their lives meant something to their family members and friends. Their lives are worth remembering.

Unsatisfied with his first sickening Tweet, Aubrey Sitterson decided he wanted to take it to another level. He doubled down in a new Tweet.

Fans Strike Back

It wasn’t very long afterward that fans of G.I. JOE took note of Aubrey Sitterson’s Tweet and brought it to the attention of IDW Publishing as well as Hasbro who control the G.I. JOE franchise.

Even G.I. JOE fan sites got involved and began to stop advertising new products until Aubrey Sitterson was removed from the franchise.

With all of that coming to him, he still didn’t back down or at least offer a real explanation for his comments.

IDW tried to put out some damage control. They responded to complaints about Sitterson with the following:

Aubrey was living in New York on September 11, 2001 and like many New Yorkers who saw their city attacked and who breathed in the dust of the wreckage and the dying, he at times finds it hard to take when people who didn’t have that direct connection, that direct suffering, make statements that imply their suffering was as bad. Yes, the entire country was attacked but we do see how people who were so directly impacted as New Yorkers can take exception to people who want to likewise connect to the event in the same way. The connection for everyone is there—like I say, everyone was attacked on that day—but it obviously hit New York and New Yorkers more directly.

That’s his whole point, not to slight anyone. It is a thing you see on social media when any notably sad event happens or hits an anniversary: people who can’t just mourn a celebrity but who have to make it seem like they were personally connected and so their suffering matters more. I believe that was Aubrey’s while point. I’m not saying I agree with his approach but I also didn’t live in NY and so can’t put myself in this shoes in that regard. The attack remains a raw, open wound for everyone and everyone deals with it best they can on an ongoing basis. Aubrey as a New Yorker and as someone who feels everything very deeply clearly struggles with the events of that day and other peoples’ approach to it as do most all of us. Sorry you found what he said offensive but we’ve talked to him in person about that day and know that he didn’t mean it to sound the way some have taken it.

While IDW originally seemed to support Sitterson, IDW PR Manager Steven Scott released a drastically different statement:

It has come to our attention that a freelance comic book writer, whose work includes IDW titles, has expressed opinions on his personal social media account that many find insensitive, divisive, and inflammatory.

IDW in no way condones or supports these personal opinions whatsoever, and recognizes the pain they may cause our readers.

Discussions regarding next steps are underway. We appreciate the patience and understanding of our many fans while these concerns are being addressed.

 

Playing the Victim

With IDW potentially putting Sitterson’s career on the line he decided to play the victim of a political witch hunt and got backing from Bleeding Cool’s Jude Terror. Terror claims Sitterson is the victim of “a widespread and long running harassment campaign conducted by trolls and targeting any comics pro deemed part of the “SJW” menace.” His only evidence of this supposed harassment campaign is YouTuber Diversity & Comics. Terror sites two videos he made regarding Sitterson, but then goes on a tangent about other creators Diversity & Comics has featured in his videos. He even alludes to the idea that Diversity & Comics “disingenuously present[ed] what [Sitterson] said out of context to rally a troll army in service of a bigoted political agenda that has nothing to do with 9/11 or G.I. Joe.” Terror doesn’t quote Diversity & Comics at all. It’s ironic he’s doing to Diversity & Comics what he claims Diversity & Comics is doing to Sitterson. Maybe get some evidence before making sweeping generalizations.

But Terror doesn’t stop there, he takes it upon himself to declare, “these trolls are being more disrespectful about a national tragedy than anything Sitterson tweeted.” What?!? Apparently, expecting comic book writers and artists to be responsible to the fans is more disrespectful than calling remembering September 11 “Self-Centered National Tragedy Remembrance from People Who Weren’t Even Anywhere Near New York City Day.” Talk about living in a fantasy land.

This deflection is another classic tactic used in order to both delegitimize your opponents’ arguments and attempt to end the conversation.

But Terror didn’t need to paint Sitterson as the victim. He did it himself in an interview with Bleeding Cool. He claims “IDW told me that if I wanted to stay on the book, I couldn’t do interviews or anything to promote it, and IDW PR even shut down a podcast interview I lined up.” Then Sitterson goes on to claim he received “death threats.” “Folks were really mad – I mentioned the death threats earlier – and IDW said they didn’t want me rubbing it in people’s faces that I still had a job, so there were weeks where I wasn’t allowed to even mention Scarlett’s Strike Force or the First Strike issues that were coming out at the time.”

Scarlett Strike Force #1

The End Result

IDW cancelled Aubrey Sitterson’s upcoming G.I. JOE comic Scarlett’s Strike Force almost a week before its December 5th final order cutoff date. When questioned about the early cancellation by one reader, IDW responded.

Our cancellation of the series is related solely to the book’s sales not being at a level we needed for it to continue and nothing else.

However, the reader still wasn’t buying it. But IDW further explained:

You choosing to disbelieve us does not change the facts of the sales not allowing this series to continue. Books that lose money from the first issue are not viable, especially when we would also owe licensing money to Hasbro for those losing issues. We haven’t printed the series but we do have orders for it, we know how much money each issue will lose. Everyone who did anything for any issues we will publish and any we won’t publish will be fully paid.

We kept Aubrey on the previous series and awarded him with a new series, too. Those facts run counter to the false narrative that we bowed to any pressure. We wish it had worked out. We wish enough fans who wanted the book had pre-ordered it so retailers would order it higher. And despite what anyone tries to say, we promoted the comic as we do any other. Do not let loud voices saying false things online convince you otherwise.

The fans which both Bleeding Cool and Sitterson disrespected made their wallets heard loud and clear. They did not order Sitterson’s new G.I. JOE book and IDW responded as any profit motivated company would do. They cancelled the book because it was going to lose money.

Now What?

That’s a damn good question. Do I feel that writers should be at the beck and call of fans at all times? Of course, they should. Retailers and ultimately fans are the ones who are buying your product. However, that’s not to say they should do everything fans want. Obviously creators should be able to express themselves and create.  Aubrey Sitterson learned the hard lesson that you don’t insult your fans especially on social media and you don’t disrespect those honoring the lives we lost on 9/11. There are consequences to bad decisions and Aubrey Sitterson is paying them.

Hopefully, Aubrey Sitterson and the comics industry learns a lesson from his bad decision. Instead of talking down to the fans, those whose hard earned money you depend on for your own living, maybe, just maybe have a tad more respect for us and how we feel.

I hope that this might be the first of many positive trends in the industry. One that is currently in need of a major shakeup.

Was Aubrey right? Do you think his Tweets were taken too much at face value? Or do you side with IDW and the fans?  What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

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About The Author

Jorge Arenas
Resident Star Trek Specialist/ Writer

Jorge Arenas is a Governmental Affairs Director working in the Southwest. If Starfleet were real his career would be in a much different place. Currently, he specializes in all things Star Trek. He loves DC but has a soft spot for Deadpool. When not writing you can find him on World of Warcraft. Battle.net, ID-PassStage6#1707

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