In the wake of a hateful rant directed towards a Comicsgate associated creator by a prominent Image Comics professional, fellow professionals remain silent, exposing the double standard applied to those who disagree with comic book industry insiders.

On Friday, Image Comics writer John Layman (co-creator of Chew), launched into a lengthy and insult laced tirade against independent creator Nasser Rabadi:

Nasser Rabadi is the writer on the upcoming graphic novel, Brutas The Badass #1 with artist Donal DeLay. DeLay and Rabadi have been longtime proponents of the Comicsgate movement, drawing them the ire of many industry professionals. Though it is unknown what the exact catalyst or reasoning for his tirade, Layman does present the following two tweets from Rabadi’s Twitter feed in the course of his thread:

These tweets, posted by Layman in reference to the alleged numerous attempts Rabadi has made to reach out and discuss alleged harassment directed at him from Layman with the Editorial Head of Image Comics, Eric Stephenson. These tweets may have been the catalyst for Layman’s thread.

Rabadi’s allegations that Layman is a racist appear to stem from the fact that Layman’s combative tweets were targeted at people of color, such as fans and Rabadi himself. A search of Layman’s twitter feed does not show the use of any explicit racial slurs nor is there a citation of Rabadi’s race as the reason for Layman’s disdain.

As soon as Layman cites that the target of his ire is Rabadi, the attacks become personal. Layman summarizes why he is not a fan of Rabadi:

However, according to a search of both Nasser and Layman’s feeds and their tagged interactions with each other, this never happened. In fact, Nasser’s first interaction with Layman was earlier this year, where Nasser tells Layman that he had desired to pick up Chew, but expressed disappointment that Layman would alienate fans. Layman met this tweet, and the subsequent tweets from Nasser explaining his rationale and attempting to engage in discussion, with insults. Some of these interactions include:

John Layman

Twitter searches also reveal that, until the recent rant by Layman, he and Nasser had a limited amount of interactions. After the May 20th back-and-forth, Nasser and Layman never directly interacted until the recent rant, aside from being tagged in various Comicsgate-related discourses. However, this does not imply they were actively engaging each other, but rather that their accounts were tagged by others to raise the visibility of a respective discussion.

His rant continues, with childish insults directed at Nasser becoming more frequent:

John Layman

While Nasser did in fact tag creators and professionals associated with Image while discussing Layman, the tweets were not “tattling,” but rather asking for clarification as to the acceptability of Layman’s public behavior while representing Image:

The use of the insult “human cum rag” in reference to Nasser is highly surprising. Not only is it explicit and unwarrantedly vulgar, but many comic pros and opponents of Comicsgate condemned the use of a similar term, “cum dumpster,” when used by Richard C Meyer in reference to Marvel editor Heather Antos:

Rus Wooton

Even Layman himself had previously tweeted his disapproval of the use of the term:

Layman’s rant continues further, devolving into tired strawman arguments against Comicsgate (all of which have been regularly and definitively disproven) and more personal insults:

John Layman

This was not the final tweet on the subject. A few hours after the initial thread, Layman responded to the criticism and condemnation he was receiving from fans:

Nasser would state that he doesn’t believe John Layman is racist, and explains why he described Layman as racist.

Layman is referencing both a previous tweet by Magdalene Visaggio (Eternity Girl) expressing her desire to assault ‘CIS’ people, as well as a previous tweet by Michelle Perez (The Pervert) expressing her wish to see an IED injure Richard C Meyer (Meyer is an armed forces veteran).

Following this attack, Nasser reached out again to Image partners asking for response to the tweet storm:

While most Image partners have not issued a statement regarding Layman’s rant, Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon) engaged directly with Nasser:

This tweet by Larsen reveals a shocking double standard on the subject of conduct and interaction. According to Larsen, it is acceptable to harass Comicsgate affiliated creators and fans, but if an industry professional exhibits the same behavior, then it is out of self-protection and is explicitly not harassment.

This disclaimer, currently the pinned tweet on the Image Comics twitter page (@ImageComics), absolves Image of the views expressed by their creators. As such, while Image may issue a statement in the future, they are under no obligation to do so, as creators are contracted and thus do not represent Image. It is unknown if this distinction also applies to co-founder and partner Erik J Larsen.

This, unfortunately, is not the first time audiences have seen a hypocritical double standard expressed in the actions and words of professionals.  Recent months have seen Vertigo Comics artist and former Marvel artist Robbi Rodriguez tweet a sexually explicit image towards Ethan Van Sciver, Richard Pace insinuated that Mitch and Bettie Brewster deserved to face threats of violence, and Jeremy Hambly was physically assaulted for his personal opinions, among many other instances of harassment and libel from Comicsgate opponents. The hypocrisy is even more blatant when taking into consideration Rabadi’s Brutas The Badass collaborator Donald DeLay received a suspension from Twitter, allegedly due to his use of a singular vulgar adjective towards Magdelene Vissagio. It is curious that the use of an adjective (albeit an unnecessarily vulgar one) warrants a suspension, while a vulgar, multi-tweet thread directed at another creator warrants no action or condemnation.

Professionals have been quick to condemn Comicsgate at every turn yet stay suspiciously silent in condemning their fellow professionals when they engage in the very behavior they claim to be opposed to. Some, such as Larsen, jump to defend their associates and excuse their behavior, seemingly on the basis of holding an imagined ‘moral high ground’ over their opponents. Behavior like this is unacceptable on either side of a civilized debate and discussion. It is a massive hypocrisy for one to condemn such behavior and in the same breath then engage in and excuse the said behavior merely because it is being perpetrated by someone ‘on their side’.

The divides and animosity between creators/professionals and their audiences grows wider every day, thanks in part to increasing frequency in personal attacks from both sides of the debate such as this. Until disingenuous personal attacks and falsehoods are equally condemned by professionals across the board, based on actions rather than the alliances of the perpetrator, the comic book community will continue to fraction and splinter as fans and aspiring creators turn away from a once beloved medium out of fear of their own mental and physical well being.

**Editor’s Note** This article has been updated indicating that after the article was published Nasser Rabadi notes that he does not believe John Layman is racist.

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