Comic book artist and Darkchylde creator Randy Queen admits "response was the wrong one to take" against Escher Girls' art critiques.
Just wanted to clear up a few things that happened this past week. I have been having a very hard time in my personal life with the loss of my mother and my marriage having fallen apart and found myself in a very vulnerable and fragile state of mind. There were posts on the web criticizing my artwork that were brought to my attention and added to my stress. I reacted without thinking it through, but have now stopped, realizing my response was the wrong one to take. I am doing my best, each day, to get myself back on my feet and getting my life in a better place and realize now that I have just try to move on and get back to my art, the thing I find the most joy in these days. I want to thank those professionals, friends and family who have been giving me their support, understanding and love.
Thanks for listening.
In case anyone missed why the Streisand Effect happened in surround sound, basically Queen decided to make some ill-advised moves and click a lot of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) requests, on Escher Girls.
Ami's site is used to highlight the contortionist aspects of drawn women, with a tendency to be "sexualized out of context, often in ridiculous, impossible or disturbing ways that sacrifice storytelling." Some of the many (often reader-submitted) posts on the site were focused on Queen's now-defunct series Darkchylde—often not favorable, but a fair critique.
Once art becomes public, critiques happen. No matter if it's in a museum, art gallery, or a comic book. Art evokes emotion and response, as was discussed here.
Queen did not take kindly to her criticisms, and pushed hard for a lot of DMCAs. Tumblr followed protocol and did not look very deep at first, eliminating the entire post and not just the copyrighted material. That means the criticism was taken down as well.
Victoria McNally over at The Mary Sue pointed out the inherent problem with the abuse of DMCA notifications. The journalist reports the actions were not done "to protect his copyright but to censor the criticism accompanying" and "it’s encouraging to see that criticism still intact." Which is crux of all of this since criticism is valid, whether agreeable or not.
As an artist, it's hard to hear what you make isn't great to someone else--even if you don't personally think so. I very much understand the instant reaction of pain since art teachers have made me cry, multiple times. They didn't see what I did, and instead ripped my vision apart.
No, Randy Queen, you do not get to write off terrorizing a woman because you were feeling stressed out.— Pat Myers (@Artist_Pat) August 6, 2014
To put it bluntly, it sucks to have a crowd of people offering what you consider to be crappy advice. But that reaction is part of being an artist, and part of the risk in showing work to other people. Being an artist doesn't mean instant praise. There's a lot of criticism, even nitpicky, when you release work out into the world. And it's never easy to face what others think.
Ars Technica's Megan Geuss covered the apology and noted Tumblr's response in request for more information. Tumblr admitted to having made a mistake and put the posts back up, sans copyrighted artwork. The Yahoo-owned company needs a counter-notification by the blog owner and claims Ami has not submitted yet.
Ami opened up about the DMCA situation on Tumblr, both personal blog and Escher Girls. Please, go read the full explanation because there's a lot important information, and I don't want to take her words and experience away.
Ami clearly took a very high road, choosing to not post any information online that Queen communicated to her, even as the blogger scrambled to find some kind of help and guidance. At the time, she had no "interest in contesting the DMCA removals." Completely understandable—given the sudden email and social media storm landing plopping into her various accounts.
So the Randy Queen 'apology' - admits he's wrong but no actual 'sorry', and no acknowledgement of the hassle and stress he cause others.— Eddie Monotone (@eddiemonotone) August 6, 2014
From the beginning, a request for people to not "harass him" was made because of "no interest in having a feud with him." In short, the public covered this since Ami was simply looking for help and advice. And, hopefully, the coverage didn't make the situation worse for Ami.
I will highlight that Ken from Popehat offered advice and found legal counsel to help with the spiraling situation. I'm not Ami, but I can only imagine the stress and frustration all this caused. So, er, hat's off to Ken for providing what's needed and keeping an eye out.
For people asking, he has not withdrawn the DMCA takedown requests from Tumblr.— Ami Angelwings (@ami_angelwings) August 6, 2014
There's been a lot of coverage on the apology. That's a good thing, as is the criticism found in how he apologized. If Queen's truly sorry, it's good he know why people responded so quickly; but an apology doesn't make everything better. And an apology doesn't blame the person being treated badly, either. However, an honest apology is a start.
Hopefully, he will learn to communicate with bloggers, to directly connect one-on-one, and not threaten legal action during a vulnerable time without any sort of conversation beforehand.
And in the meantime, hopefully Ami'll be allowed to live without fear of another email slide of requests. Her response has been incredible and amazingly measured. Something, I personally know, I couldn't handle in such a manner.
I vaguely knew about Ami before this, but I'll definitely know more about her now since I intend to follow Escher Girls more closely. Critique is important, as is providing examples of what to do and what not to do.
Art is a skill with a lot of work involved. Ami and Escher Girls offers the chance to make better art and how to illustrate the beauty of the female form without overly exaggerated body parts and positions. Not a bad site, or idea, at all.
Comic artists that the Escher Girls highlighted stood behind her. Rob Liefield stood behind her—a man who has faced a lot of criticism and memeing of his own artwork. People with a lot of weight in the comic industry very clearly said, "That's not okay."
And maybe the community at large will be better for speaking up and discussing the importance of art critique.