Alterna Comics posted their social media guidelines for freelancers and employees to their Twitter account and were immediately attacked for it.
— Newsprint is BACK at Alterna Comics! (@ALTERNACOMICS) August 30, 2018
The policy recommends their creators “not use block bots/blind blocking/block chains or any other of kind of program or practice that is used to block thousands of people, blindly en masse.”
But they also note that creators can block and mute individuals if they have an unpleasant experience on social media. They make it clear they are about selling comics to anyone.
“But due to the fact that you would be part of a creative team at Alterna and a ateam of retailers would need to be able to confidently sell your comics to as many people as possible, we have adopted a policy that discourages the use of anything that would directly affect our stance of full inclusion for readers and creators. We have readers of all walks of life and it is paramount to us, that we encourage, promote, and stand by our stance, that comics are for everyone.”
They also not that they will help their creators who might be having a poor experience in relation to their work or feel threatened.
They would specifically highlight the section where creators can block or mute individuals who are creating an unpleasant experience for them.
To reiterate and isolate a part of our policy: we acknowledge that unpleasant experiences through social media, sadly do occur, and creators *can* block/mute individuals if they have had those unwanted and poor experiences with them.
— Newsprint is BACK at Alterna Comics! (@ALTERNACOMICS) August 30, 2018
It wouldn’t take long for a number of people to begin condemning Alterna Comics for their stance, which came just a day after a number of comic book professionals pronounced comics are for everyone. Some people would even go so far as to say Alterna Comics’ social media policy could cause them actual harm. Others who have worked with Alterna in the past noted they would be severing ties.
I'm aware of multiple instances where publicly criticising D&C/CG or running a Twitter blockchain on their followers has got people fired from projects for Alterna Comics. Your actions speak louder than any words, Simeti, and you choose to stand with bigots and hatemongers.
— Jim Campbell (@CampbellLetters) August 30, 2018
As a creator who has been published by Alterna, I can’t say I condone this stance. Twitter is a broken hellscape due to harassment, prejudice and hate. *Anyone* targeted should be free to block whoever they like to feel safe and protected. https://t.co/8G4yiCkRZk
— Dan Hill (@dan_hill) August 30, 2018
Sorry, what? This policy isn't about *staff* but back-end-deal freelancers. How does this code of conduct actually mean *anything*? Alterna here thinking that they're gonna tell creators how to use social media? https://t.co/yK1vEInhJv
— grymλc (@garrymacl) August 31, 2018
I posted this earlier, but like…can someone explain to me what's the point of Alterna if they don't pay you, mass-follow people and DM them begging to pledge to their kickstarters, and now want to control their creators' social media presense? Why would anyone need them?… pic.twitter.com/tnzBfg25rU
— Mary Safro @ TBubs Origin38 (@cryoclaire242) August 31, 2018
Alterna's new policies are a load of steaming horseshit. Everyone is entitled to curate their social media and promote themselves as they see fit, especially with how volatile things are right now.
DO NOT work for a publisher that puts sales ahead of your comfort and well-being.
— Eoin Marron (@eoinmarron) August 30, 2018
That was a really, really dumb move, Alterna.
— Matthew Southworth (@mattsouthworth) August 30, 2018
Alterna is free to do whatever it can to stave off bankruptcy. pic.twitter.com/PqMDItAfWT
— Richard Pace (@rpace) August 31, 2018
Just catching up on last night’s comics news, and yikes. Don’t work for Alterna; a company that wants to dictate your social media usage is not your friend, and one that insists you be open to harassers may be actively your enemy. Jeeez.
— Ted Brandt (@ten_bandits) August 31, 2018
Unfollowed. Disappointing that an employer is trying to dictate the private life of a writer. Will twitter be mandatory too?
— Malin Rydén (@malin_ryden) August 31, 2018
Alterna's issued social media policy
Never worked w Alterna before, but I have been targeted by comics gate trolls, and block chaining D&C was the only thing that stopped me waking up to HUNDREDS of abusive messages daily. They're basically requiring their creators to endure this pic.twitter.com/CNa8WfyjF0
— Tamra Bonvillain (@TBonvillain) August 31, 2018
I will be chainblocking everyone who follows @ALTERNACOMICS and then blocking Alterna Comics, so careful friends who do follow them, you have been warned ??
— Taneka Stotts [??????] @ XOXO then SPX I1A (@TanekaStotts) August 30, 2018
No employer has the right to tell you what you can & cannot do to protect yourself on social media. Blockchains are a valid & useful way to preemptively protect yourself from hate campaigns. Alterna Comics' social media policy against them needs to be widely condemned by pros.
— Nick Hanover (@Nick_Hanover) August 30, 2018
If you have suddenly found yourself blocked, I apologize but the risk Alterna presents to my friends, myself, and all marginalized comics creators is far too high to simply unfollow.
— shivana @ NYCC + MICE (@toastasaurus) August 30, 2018
Good morning. I have made the decision to sever ties with Alterna Comics. I will release a more formal statement later today. Thank you.
— Charles C Dowd✏️? (@CharlesCDowd) August 31, 2018
If you're a comic creator, please do not work with Alterna Comics. https://t.co/aZOXN9VUZc
— John Cullen (@nellucnhoj) August 30, 2018
But this was just the tip of the iceberg. YouTuber That Umbrella Guy documented the harassment of Alterna Comics as a number of known suspects like Kieran Shiach, Darryl Ayo, and Jennifer De Guzman began trying to paint the publisher as supporting a “hate movement.”
ALTERNA COMICS IS COMICSGATE STAY WOKE
— darrylayo (@darrylayo) August 30, 2018
— Kieran Shiach (@KingImpulse) August 30, 2018
There were a number of folks that applauded Alterna’s social media policy.
Once again, Alterna setting the standard, protecting their brand. No different than the vast majority of companies. If you publicly represent a company, you need to act in a professional manner. That includes not indiscriminately blocking customers or potential customers.
— John Powell (@POW2112) August 30, 2018
Alright folks, with all the bull that @petersimeti is receiving I say we do our best to make his day tomorrow, so let's sell out every retailer that carries Alterna Comics over the weekend. Lets order every book in stock, as I'm bummed out by this bs. So he must be mortified.
— Bob Jones (@Brainiac420) August 31, 2018
I always thought that Alterna comics and peter were neutral. Supporting good comics,creating comics have always been what Alterna has been about. Doesn’t matter if @petersimeti is comicsgates or not I’ll keep supporting him and @ALTERNACOMICS
— Rebirth mortal comic (@ComicRebirth) August 28, 2018
Alterna @ALTERNACOMICS and Peter Simeti @petersimeti are the greatest thing to happen to comics and anyone that goes after him is going to have to deal with ME!!! ???? MOTHER TRUCKERS NEED TO BACK OFF https://t.co/LVZpZBTFx2
— Thegirlfromipanema (@Lolameatz) August 31, 2018
Look, I've read through @ALTERNACOMICS social media policy on their site. It's not only reasonable, it's needed. There's plenty of reasons Alterna's sales are climbing. This is one of them. If you are a creator that says you can't work under this, you're –https://t.co/UnCpEbBlRX
— ☢️???? ??????????? (@theleakymind) August 31, 2018
Bravo. Now this is how a successful business is run! ??
— Marsupial Gamer ? (@AvatarJohn) August 31, 2018
Very professional of you, as always, Peter. There is so much the likes of DC and Marvel could learn from you guys. I hope Alterna goes from strength to strength.
— DAJB (@DavidAJBerner) August 31, 2018
What’s really interesting about the negative responses is that people seem to believe this social media policy is out of the ordinary. However, DC Comics issued extremely similar guidelines in an email to their freelancers back in February. In fact, DC Comics’ policy was much more thorough going so far as to “recommend that you avoid negative comments in this very public forum.” DC Comics evens recommends to their freelancers that they “refrain from engaging with individuals who may be speaking negatively about you, other talent, DC, our fans, and the comics industry as this is a no-win situation.”
But maybe the biggest piece about DC Comics’ social media policy is where it states, “Comments that may be considered defamatory, libelous, discriminatory, harassing, hateful, or that incite violence are unacceptable and may result in civil or criminal action. In addition, comments that may be considered insulting, cruel, rude, crass, and mean spirited are against company policy guidelines. We ask, and expect, that you will help to create an online environment that is inclusive, supportive and safe.”
That sounds extremely similar to Alterna’s newly released guidelines, but no one was throwing a fit when DC released their guidelines. In fact, a number of DC Comics and Vertigo Comics freelancers have repeatedly broken the DC Comics guidelines including Richard Pace, Zoe Quinn, Robbi Rodriguez, and Ramon Villalobos. However, DC Comics hasn’t taken any action whatsoever. So, their guidelines might be similar to Alterna’s but they sure don’t enforce them. It will be interesting to see if Alterna enforces these guidelines.
Lonestar creator Mike S. Miller would point out the hypocrisy.
The Social Marxists have their panties in a bunch about #AlternaComics having Social Media guidelines, but these same people were glowing with joy when #DCcomics created theirs in order to muzzle @EthanVanSciver
You're truly a sick bunch of hypocrites. pic.twitter.com/Oz7CVo7Uzh
— Mike S. Miller (@AbacusMike) August 31, 2018
What do you make of Alterna’s guidelines and the response a number of “professionals” had to it?