When YouTuber Richard C. Meyer launched his crowdfunding effort for his new comic, “Jawbreakers: Lost Souls,” he had no idea it would make more than $250,000 and sell more than 6,300 copies. These numbers place his independent book at the very top of the graphic novel market, something only the biggest Marvel or DC branded books have achieved.
Meyer hired industry veterans Jon Malin and Brett R. Smith, both former Marvel Comics professionals, to draw and color the project, but even with top-tier artistic talent, Jawbreakers sold at these levels more, perhaps because fans wanted to send a message to the comics industry: It’s time to stop force-feeding extreme left-wing politics to customers.
Even with its tremendous success, Jawbreakers’ distributor Antarctic Press said they won’t distribute the series in an ominous post on their Facebook page Friday: “It is the decision of Antarctic Press not to release the comic series Jawbreakers.”
Their backtracking had big implications for Meyer and his team, as the book would no longer be distributed to comic book stores. But there was little they could do about it. Antarctic Press was hit by a storm of industry professionals colluding to try to force conservative-authored competition out of the business, which was followed by several retailers threatening to drop all Antarctic Press books from their shelves if the publisher produced Meyer’s book.
The precedent set is disturbing, but this kind of anti-conservative discrimination has been festering in the comics world for a long time.
Villains Rule The Comic Industry
The comic industry has been embattled over the last several years, with Marvel Comics sinking to new lows in sales. Marvel went to extreme measures in their business to signal their political correctness, with every one of their books being penned by vocal anti-Trump and anti-conservative writers. DC Comics has followed suit, with multiple books pushing pro-transgender narratives in recent issues, along with launching a line of new young adult books which the company claims is aimed at capturing a more diverse market.
Even books like “G.I. Joe” became mired by politics, with its writer, Aubrey Sitterson replacing several characters with “more diverse” counterparts. He went a step further on Twitter, going on a tirade about 9/11, calling it “Self-Centered National Tragedy Remembrance from People Who Weren’t Even Anywhere Near New York City Day.” He went on to post a photo mocking those grieving over the losses endured by the nation.
These attitudes are not uncommon or even extreme among comic creators at the top companies. Most might agree with Sitterson, even if they wouldn’t make an error in stating it so crudely. It’s caused a backlash with a large group of fans who post with the hashtag, #ComicsGate, using Twitter to speak out on problems caused by social justice warriors in the industry. Jawbreakers creator Richard Meyer is best known for his advocacy within this community.
A YouTube Star Is Born
In early 2017, Richard Meyer started a YouTube channel called Diversity & Comics. The channel’s purpose is to review comic books — mainly in the form of roasts where he pokes fun at what he considers to be sub-par efforts by Marvel and DC. He often mocks the big companies in a livestream where thousands of viewers tune in for his witty humor and poignant commentary. Meyer made his YouTube channel name as a joke, since what he saw in the industry was anything but diverse.
At one time, comics were fun and pro-America, upholding objective standards of good vs. evil. Supergirl used to fight tyrants hellbent on world domination. Now she worries if she’s offended her non-binary friend by calling it by the wrong pronoun.
This kind of messaging in books aimed primarily at children and young teens is absurd, having the effect of killing sales because parents don’t take their children into comic book stores anymore. The writing has been on the wall for years, as book sales have gone from millions to mere thousands, but the industry continues to try to cater to an extreme minority, in the process, telling their fans they wanted a different demographic to read their books.
Comic Professionals Threaten Meyer
Megan Fox of PJ Media broke a story last year in which several comic creators threatened Richard Meyer. It began with Meyer announcing he was going to Baltimore Comic-Con. Mark Waid, one of the most popular and prolific comic writers of the last two decades, stated on his Facebook page, “If anyone sees this gentleman or any of his friends, I need you to come find me and tell me immediately. Even if I’m on a panel, come up and interrupt.” His threat was implicit in the post that he would deal with Meyer’s presence somehow, though the specifics of how he would was not made clear.
But that wasn’t the worst of the harassment Meyer faced from the industry. Several comic creators conspired in a secret Facebook group to stalk him at New York Comic Con and “goad him into throwing a punch,” hoping to get him arrested for assault and get him permanently banned from attending conventions. As a comic YouTuber, this would have been destructive to Meyer’s career. The threat was made by artist B. Clay Moore, who is embroiled in controversy himself, having not fulfilled orders on a very successful Kickstarter after several years. Several Marvel and DC employees were involved in the conspiring, including Spiderman and Star Wars writer Jody Houser.
The attacks from the industry brought Meyer to national prominence, pushing his YouTube subscriber count to nearly seventy thousand people — a much higher number than most top selling comic books. Meyer and the #ComicsGate movement became a threat to the left-wing controlled industry overnight. Most of the industry, however, mocked the movement, typically with commentary asking why conservatives don’t just make their own books if they hate the current market so much.
The industry should have been careful what they wished for.
Alt-Hero Changes The Game
In September of 2017, political commentator, author, and publisher Vox Day decided to get involved in the comic industry after his fans begged him to do something about the state of Marvel and DC Comics. Day launched a crowdfund effort for a book titled “Alt-Hero.”
Even with no track record in comics, the book launched to incredible success. It enabled Day to bring in veteran comic writer Chuck Dixon, as well as to work with some higher calibre artists than were originally available to him. Alt-Hero’s campaign began with a controversial drawing of a character named “Rebel,” who wore a costume designed after the confederate flag.
The social justice crowd lost their minds, calling everyone involved with the project racist and white supremacist, including artist Timothy Lim, who is of Asian descent. The mainstream comic media didn’t mention the project once, going radio silent in an effort to not give it any more attention than it was already getting. Even with the lack of media, the book raised a staggering $235,000. The message fans sent by contributing at this level shook the industry.
How Jawbreakers Became a Thing
Several months prior to alt-hero, and before his meteoric rise in the comics world, Meyer launched a successful Kickstarter for his first Jawbreakers book. He had been waiting to produce a second, as he wanted to make the follow up book something special. His newfound fame allowed him to team up with Jon Malin, who recently came out of the closet as a moderate conservative-libertarian, announcing the fact when he was at the end of his run of Cable for Marvel Comics.
Malin knew he would never get hired again, but couldn’t in good conscience stay quiet about his beliefs with the toxicity in the industry. The two paired with colorist Brett R. Smith, who is well known for his project management and colors on the graphic novel of Clinton Cash, as well as his work on the children’s book, “Thump: The First Bundred Days,” which marked some of the first pro-Trump pop culture, selling thousands of copies.
With a high-profile team of conservatives who had been targeted and blacklisted by the industry, “Jawbreakers: Lost Souls” became a political statement, more than just a book. It has high quality art, a very fun theme, and looks to be one of the top tier books on its own merit, but comic fans had good reason to make sure this book was a mega-success. Consumers wanted to unequivocally tell the industry that the success of Alt-Hero was not just a one-time event. There is a big market ready and waiting for quality content without the social justice narrative.
Jawbreakers made history with one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns ever. The industry professionals who worked so hard to create a left-wing echo chamber, however, would not let this stand.
A Harassment Campaign Against Meyer
Once the project funded, Mark Waid opened fire on Meyer again, posting several rambling Facebook messages. “I have a call in to Antarctic Press,” Waid said. “Curious as to how they feel about publishing creators whose marketing strategy is to allegedly (*koff*) encourage their fans to threaten the employees of stores, and/or harass and one-star-review-bomb stores, that don’t offer their product.” There is nothing written on Meyer’s public social media profiles that come anywhere near the accusations Waid made. Waid did, however, encourage the industry to attack Meyer.
“Gee, I can’t imagine why publishers wouldn’t want to affiliate with this audience,” tweeted Gail Simone, a feminist icon in the industry.
“Is that the thing where those twits started bullying female Marvel editors after Flo’s memorial? Yup, that was creepy,” said Neil Gaiman, speaking of #ComicsGate and citing left wing op-eds as his source for his alleged facts.
“The game plan of targeting, attacking, labeling, threatening, and harassing people followed by ‘if you don’t buy MY book I’m going to attack, label, threaten and harass YOU!’ Seems a problematic one,” commented Erik Larsen, founder of Image Comics, who published a book by Michelle Perez, earlier in 2018, mocked Richard Meyer’s prior military service and publicly wished he had been killed in combat.
These creators inspired retailers to make tweets about refusing to carry Jawbreakers. Left-wing activists then became involved, sending a flurry of hatred against Meyer and his team. “Hate speech is not free speech & fascists like [Meyer] have no place in this diverse, inclusive industry,” posted one woman, who claims in her Facebook profile that she works for Planned Parenthood.
Conservative Creators Speak Out
The industry stood firm against conservative creators because they are outspoken against the extreme politics in comics, and as the left is wont to do, mischaracterized them in an effort to delegitimize their product. It worked to some extent, as Antarctic Press was pressured into backing out of publishing their book for comic store distribution.
Meyer, however, urged his fans not to blame Antarctic Press, citing they are good people, facing extreme harassment over their association with Jawbreakers. “Mark Waid acted maliciously knowing that he and his cohorts in the industry could bear incredible pressure on this tiny mom-and-pop operation down in San Antonio,” Meyer said. Colorist Brett R. Smith went further, saying, “Defamation of character, slander, libel. Marvel must be so proud to have this man on their roster.” Mark Waid has since deleted his public social media profiles.
Despite the pressure, Meyer and his crew won’t back down, and his fans are holding firm in support of both him and his book. Since the campaign closed, the book has earned more than $60,000 in late backing. Meyer says the funds will be used to start a new publishing company, Splatto Comics, which will stand firm against the blacklisting industry.
There is a market for conservatives in media. Audiences are starved for sensible content without left-wing extremist messaging. With more creators bravely coming out of the closet in the industry, these next few years could see sweeping change, and that is the main reason the establishment is so fearful of creators like Meyer. One day, we may be asking each other, “Where were you when Jawbreakers broke the barrier for conservatives in the arts?”