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James Stokoe, Mark Andrew Smith clash over ‘Sullivan’s Sluggers’

by  in Comic News Comment

As a second Kickstarter campaign winds down for Sullivan’s Sluggers, this time to help cover international shipping costs for the oversized hardcover, artist James Stokoe has spoken out against the effort and requested that his name be removed from the graphic novel. Writer Mark Andrew Smith quickly responded with a statement to ROBOT 6.

Although the baseball-horror comic was originally solicited through Image, Smith turned to Kickstarter in May 2012 and surpassed his original $6,000 goal by a staggering $91,626, leading to the book’s metamorphosis into a “200-page Deluxe Omnibus-Sized Hardcover.” That success brought with it a little controversy, however, as Smith drew criticism for his decision to also offer the “Kickstarter-exclusive” Sullivan’s Sluggers through Amazon.com and other outlets. The growth of the graphic novel to 3.5 pounds also led to a miscalculation in shipping rates, sending Smith back to the Kickstarter well last month (that effort has generated $5,265 in pledges to date).

But on Wednesday, Stokoe took to his blog to distance himself from both Kickstarter campaigns, saying, “the writer and myself had briefly talked about working together on the KS, but due to some disagreements, I decided to remove myself from it completely.”

“There’s been talk on my behalf about fair compensation from the KS earnings, but I have to say that it personally doesn’t bother me,” he continued. “I have been paid what I was contracted for, and I’ve been very content to keep my nose out of anything involving the book post-Kickstarter. In other words, there’s really no reason to be offended on my behalf. I’m doing fine. I understand that some backers may feel mislead in that they were supporting me financially by backing the book, and for that I apologize. There was very little I could do once the ball started rolling in that regard, shy of shitting on the whole parade.”

He said he’s also asked Smith to remove his name from Sullivan’s Sluggers, explaining, “It’s not a book that I feel good about endorsing, and I’d prefer not to be associated with it any longer.”

Contacted this morning by ROBOT 6, Smith issued a statement saying, “I hired James Stokoe for Sullivan’s years ago starting in 2009, and then he’d go missing for months and months at a time, one year turning in about 8 pages total. 8 pages in one year! That said, I was foolish enough to bet the house on Sullivan’s Sluggers with Stokoe and things didn’t go at all to plan with the schedule. […] Stokoe was a grown man, he agreed to do a job for a certain amount like many of you do every day, and took three years to finish that job which was only to deliver art for the book. He was paid for the job in full. I offered to pay more but he declined. I don’t look at him like a brilliant artist but more as someone that built a house for me, finished, and moved on to what’s next. If things went smoother on the book that wouldn’t be the case but they didn’t.”

“Any project that takes three years to get turned in is going to have its amount of bad blood,” he continued. “It was absolute hell for me on my end, and it’s a shame that people continue to make it a hell for me saying that I ripped him off and by spreading the story and other stories that aren’t true. I paid on the front end for two years of hell, and now his camp has been stirring the pot and causing so much commotion and trouble posting every story of story, most of which aren’t true or have been warped again and again. Really, it’s like having an ex and they’re not happy and are going to say all of the worst things about you, and get people worked up to try to take sides.”

Smith also included a detail of their original contracted, signed by Stokoe and dated Sept. 17, 2009. Read his full statement below:

I hired James Stokoe for Sullivan’s years ago starting in 2009, and then he’d go missing for months and months at a time, one year turning in about 8 pages total. 8 pages in one year! That said, I was foolish enough to bet the house on Sullivan’s Sluggers with Stokoe and things didn’t go at all to plan with the schedule. That said, I’ve been trying to make the tastiest lemonade from three years of James Stokoe lemons.

My life fell apart and took all kinds of turns because of Stokoe’s pace with the book. It was fuel for the fire of me getting divorced in Korea because of money and trying to turn comics into a career and having prospects other than being an English teacher forever in South Korea. So I’ve suffered enough.

Stokoe was a grown man, he agreed to do a job for a certain amount like many of you do every day, and took three years to finish that job which was only to deliver art for the book. He was paid for the job in full. I offered to pay more but he declined. I don’t look at him like a brilliant artist but more as someone that built a house for me, finished, and moved on to what’s next. If things went smoother on the book that wouldn’t be the case but they didn’t.

I can understand the sting on his end from the perception that this Kickstarter made a billion dollars and that people think I should write him a check for half of it but this guy ruined my life. No one cares when books don’t make any money which most of mine haven’t for the past ten years under Image.

Any project that takes three years to get turned in is going to have it’s amount of bad blood. It was absolute hell for me on my end, and it’s a shame that people continue to make it a hell for me saying that I ripped him off and by spreading the story and other stories that aren’t true. I paid on the front end for two years of hell, and now his camp has been stirring the pot and causing so much commotion and trouble posting every story of story, most of which aren’t true or have been warped again and again.

Really, it’s like having an ex and they’re not happy and are going to say all of the worst things about you, and get people worked up to try to take sides.

It’s a shame that this laundry had to be aired, because it’s really no one’s business but they’ve done a good job of doing that. Personally, I want the book to be wrapped and over with.

In the past few months have just been nonstop bullying, targeted harassment from his camp, comics alliance doing hit articles (And I’m the only one they’ve done for their Kickstarted reviews to date, 3 of them), and people anonymously on 4Chan posting the worst things that aren’t true and reposting and re spreading misinformation.