Malin Pulls Victim Card – C2E2, The Real Story

Peter G

ByPeter G

May 23, 2024

Over the past couple of months there has been controversy in the comics field. I know, I wasn’t expecting it, either. The people of comics are usually a smart and level-headed bunch, but what do you know, here we are. C2E2 is finding itself at the center of a firestorm of critics complaining that it is “woke” and using a “woke agenda” to silence those who espouse “wrong think.” They are alleging that the “woke mob,” with C2E2 leading the charge, is trying to cancel three comic creators and a YouTuber simply because of who they are and that they are friends.

Sez I to myself, Oh, great, what happened this time?

Well, it’s not just an overreaction this time. It is a protest that completely misses the mark. Where we are right now not only isn’t the neighborhood where this all started, it isn’t even the same country.

The assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand which started the whole thing begins with three people – comic creators Jon Malin, Shane Davis, and Ethan Van Sciver. The three of them are longtime comics pros. They wanted to attend the 2024 Chicago Comic And Entertainment Expo, or C2E2 for short. But conventions are expensive, especially if you aren’t a local. Making table gets more and more difficult every year.

So the three of them hit on an idea – they would use Indiegogo to crowdfund special issues of their comics for C2E2. Malin would make one for Godlike: The Romulus Saga, Davis would make one for Inglorious Rex, and EVS would make one for Cyberfrog. The three covers could be put together to make one giant image, suitable for framing and display, regular and logoless versions. And between those funds and the stock they would sell at C2E2, they were expecting it to be a rousing success. They were well on their way, with the Indiegogo campaign ending in January 2024, and the promise of backers getting their books a couple of months later in March.

It’s here the trio learned Guardians Of The Galaxy’s Rule #1 – nothing EVER goes according to the plan. The three of them contacted Reed about a booth. The booth would officially belong to Davis’s publishing arm, and Malin and EVS would be along for the ride. So all three of them would share one booth. That was a tactical error. See, sharing a booth is known in industry circles as “subletting,” and it is frowned on just about everywhere. The reason is two-fold – it costs the convention since that would be multiple booths that they would be getting money for being reduced to one, and the other is the concern about favoritism and being accused of exhibiting bias to certain creators. Those at the booth have to be affiliated with the company directly paying for the booth, like an Image creator signing at an Image booth. Long story short – one company per booth, anything more than that is a no-no.

The trio, however, was unaware of what was about to happen. C2E2 canceled their booth on the grounds that they were subletting. Exact details are unknown, but a logical conclusion reveals itself thanks to the timing of everything. When they filled out the “company bio” section of their application, they mentioned that all three of them would be sharing the one booth. C2E2’s website automatically copies the entered information to the Company Bio section so there is no human oversight. The trio would eventually point to this as proof that C2E2 knew what they were up to and were initially fine with it. However, human oversight did eventually enter the picture. Someone at C2E2 must have seen what was there, swallowed their gum, and told the guys, “No, you can’t share a booth,” and canceled their booth and, hence, them. It’s a guess, but it’s a pretty solid guess.

On March 30, a little under a month before C2E2 was supposed to go down, Malin wrote a Tweet about the situation. By now, the decision had been made and the trio was given the bum’s rush off the convention floor. It’s here that the narrative started to mutate. Malin stated in the Tweet, “2 rules were allegedly broken. 1. Subletting: we tried to get a booth under two company names. C2E2 rep said we had to use one. Didn’t mention any conflict or we would’ve bought 2 10X10. When the error was discovered we were kicked without an opportunity to fix it. 2: harassment: vague non specific accusation against Ethan and myself. They use it against you and any number of people. That’d be your free speech issue.”

Now, this is C2E2, not your local furry convention or the old Wizard World shows. At those shows, if someone was barred from selling merch on the show floor for whatever reason (such as copyright violations, which I have actually seen the cops called in in one case), the seller simply took the stuff back to their hotel room and sold it out of there. The trio didn’t do that, though. They just simply said goodbye to the booth. But as you can tell from the Tweet quoted in the last paragraph, the issue would not die there. Malin embraced the narrative of Freedom Of Speech, saying that the fact that the three of them created material that was leaned hard Right politically was why they got the boot, with Malin even posting this Tweet on the first day of the show:

Deciding to show up at C2E2 anyway, Malin secured a regular pass onto the show floor. He was detained for a short time, but they let him on the floor because they figured he wasn’t a threat to the convention or anyone inside. This was cheered on by ComicsGaters as him fighting the “woke mob” and other predictable talking points. Malin even had the remarkable temerity to compare himself to Rosa Parks —

Malin streamed to YouTube as he was being escorted out of the convention hall and asked security if they knew why he was being escorted out. He pointed out that he was a conservative and a Trump supporter and said that was the action being taken against him. The interaction with security starts at about the 18-minute mark. Here is a link that starts right at that point:

SIDEBAR: I had a lot of friends in the Artist Alley. For reasons I don’t quite understand, most of my comic book friends are political conservatives despite my politics leaning hard Left. Not only are my friends staunch conservatives, but everybody knows they are staunch conservatives, and they got nice prominent spaces at the show. If C2E2 really had a problem with Righties in the comic field, a significant portion of the AA would have been empty. So, sorry, but I don’t buy it.

There’s also the little problem that, whatever the political leanings of the trio, the first reason listed: subletting, would alone would justify the decision to bounce them from the show. As Tweeted by Mindy Wheeler, editor at this fine publication, that same day, “No subletting. Only one company per booth. Makes a connecting cover set with three different companies. Could not be more oblivious of the rules.”

By now, however, the train had been forced onto the “violation of Freedom Of Speech” track. The allegation is that C2E2 has a “woke” bias against them, allegedly because of the stated, “no discrimination against gender, race, etc.” It should be noted that no proof of this has been forthcoming. In fact, Malin doubled down, making a Tweet comparing himself to Ed Piskor, a cartoonist who had committed suicide at 41 over allegations of sexual misconduct.

So, at this point, we have a clear violation of the rules against subletting being the reason for a group of people not getting a booth. You might think that is the end. Nope, that was just the opening act. The real show started when a YouTuber who calls herself That Star Wars Girl entered the spotlight. She had applied for press credentials for C2E2. This is a process I am very familiar with, as I was press for Bleeding Cool for a number of years. One of the things C2E2 specifically says is you need a certain audience size and reach to be considered. This wasn’t always the case – the first C2E2, a friend of mine and his podcast buddies got press credentials into the show even though their audience size was only double digits. But that was the first C2E2 fifteen years ago. Things have changed, and they have become much more strict on audience size and demographics (in fact, towards the end, I was kind of surprised that I still qualified for my own press credentials through BC). Influencers aren’t considered legitimate press by C2E2 and deserving of press credentials. They even explicitly state this on the website.

This became a cause célèbre, as we Chicagoans say, when ThatUmbrellaGuy noticed her saying her credentials were revoked. ThatUmbrellaGuy is a conservative pop culture critic in the vein of Midnight’s Edge, Doomcock, The Critical Drinker, and others along those lines. When he asked for clarification, That Star Wars Girl said there were two reasons. The first was that she was friends with the trio of Malin, Davis, and EVS. But she gave a second, more puzzling explanation – diversity requirements.

This came from the email she received about the revocation. It mentioned an effort for “local and national diversity of news outlets.” Apparently, she took the word “diversity” to refer to racial diversity, even though even a casual read of the above sentence clearly means they want geographical diversity. But that didn’t stop Red Piller websites like Geeks + Gamers from running with it as C2E2 swinging a “woke” agenda around like a sledgehammer.

By now, the #ComicsGaters were fully involved, believing this to be a political issue despite the obvious rule violations going on. Fandom Pulse got involved, saying that what C2E2 was doing was a “violation of federal and Illinois civil rights law, as convention centers are public accommodations under Illinois law.” Although they provide a helpful link, they don’t mention that this applies to making the building accessible to people with disabilities (which it is) and it doesn’t cover private events (which C2E2 is in the eyes of the law). Not only that but TSWG’s race and ethnicity were never the question in the first place.

But wait, there’s more! Malin also made a Tweet comparing drawing comics to being a black slave —

So, yeah, the whole thing is a mess.

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