The advent of crowdfunded comics has opened a door that has been closed to many for so long. Now, if you wanted to do a comic, you had a chance, a real chance, especially if you had the talent to prove to a potential audience that you deserved the chance.
But having a crowdfunding campaign, be it on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, is not the end of the matter. You have to market the thing so that your potential audience knows that the project exists. This is an arena where the creator risks having another door slammed in their face.
That’s the situation found by Bleeding Fool editor Chris Braly, who is the manager behind Mike Baron, Joe Arnold and Jeff Slemons’ THIN BLUE LINE campaign. The book is about a policewoman who is on duty when her city is in the midst of riots and violence across the country. And while the campaign has been wildly successful (the Kickstarter campaign is over $37,000 and the Indiegogo campaign is over $59,000 at the time of this writing), Braly knows it never hurts to continue marketing.
One of their selected avenues was to take out a Facebook ad. However, after filling out all the forms, the ad was rejected by Facebook, citing a policy on ads about “social, electoral, or political issues.”
Advertisers take note: It’s a bad idea to try to sway public opinion under Facebook’s policies. Braly can (and is) taking the offered route to confirm his identity and obtain the proper permissions to go ahead with his ad, a process Facebook uses that involves postal mail. That’s right, instead of an instant message backed by its own platform that already had identity validation and verification built in, Facebook forces people to use the US Post Office to request these ads, perhaps in an attempt to of discouraging the content or slowing down the message from reaching the public. (Insert your favorite “Why not both?” meme here.)
While Facebook’s method puts a chilling effect on the speech, Reddit’s approach is more insidious: they simply delete the post and block the poster. After posting on a Reddit forum about the book, Braly cross-posted on the dedicated comics subreddit. Shortly after, a forum moderator using the identity SickBurnBro posted the following:
It’s interesting to note that while this has the appearance of a rejection of form, it’s hard to imagine a form that has “disinformation and racism” coexisting in the same vignette.
Since SickBurnBro offered the opportunity to dispute the removal, Braly responded by asking for clarification on the claims of misinformation and racism. He was rewarded with a 28-day suspension, during which time he couldn’t even talk to moderators, let alone subreddit users.
Curious about these claims from the Reddit moderator, Critical Blast entered the subreddit as ‘Even-Sympathy-657’ and posed the question, which got a reply from the moderator.
Obviously, the /r/comics subreddit isn’t for comics fans, just fans the moderator approves of, taking a fascistic approach to insulating themselves from offensive ideas, like a single mom Latina police officer doing her job.
To delve further into the controversy, Critical Blast sat down with Braly for a live video broadcast, discussing both encounters, as well as some of the responses from potential publishers who saw the THIN BLUE LINE script. That video can be viewed below.