UPDATE: Alterna Comics founder and publisher Peter Simeti has issued a statement in response to Micah Myers’ claims.
Letterer Micah Myers claims he was forced off a title published by Alterna Comics because he didn’t agree to the terms of the company’s updated social media policy.
As reported last week, the independent publisher’s social media conduct, as detailed in its submissions guidelines, prohibits creators from using block chains, or block bots, to bar users en masse from following their social media feeds. Myers said that, because he uses such tools, he was “forced off” a book he was lettering.
Myers wrote about the incident on Facebook after Alterna’s policy began to come under fire online. According to Myers, the company’s founder, Peter Simeti, informed the writer of the unnamed book Myers was working on that the title “may be in danger” of cancellation if Myers continued blocking a potential audience:
“Now in the last few days, a lot of things have been happening with Alterna, and I remained silent,” Myers wrote in the post above. “Even when Peter was subtweeting about my story a few days back and making me out to be the bad guy. So for my own mental health, I want to get this out there and move on. Also to help my mental health, I am adding a few more blocks.”
We have a blockbot policy. Creators can block on an individual case by case basis but "blind blocking" often catches unknowing people in the cross-fire. Our goal is to get our comics to as many people as possible. Blockbots are not a part of that goal. One letterer violated that.
— peter simeti loves comics (@petersimeti) August 28, 2018
Block chains or bots are a function of Twitter and other social media services that allow users to block accounts en masse with minimal effort and based on related followers, relevant hashtags or keywords. Social media users typically employ them to curb targeted harassment from online agitators, but the new code of conduct from Alterna strictly prohibits their use, specifying instead that creators only “block/mute individuals.” Many creators have employed the tools as of late to block members of the Comicsgate movement.
Alterna’s policy has been criticized by industry officials such as Mark Waid, who argued that such a prohibition against block chains leaves creators with few options when confronted by targeted harassment. “[T]he creator’s only choice is to (a) sort through vicious, ugly personal comments all day long, every day, and then block accounts one by one, rinse, repeat, (b) resort to the imperfect solution of a block chain,” he wrote, “or (c) (my own choice, I’m sad to say) largely remove themselves from social media (something forbidden by Alterna Comics, btw).”
Others, such as colorist Tamra Bonvillain, said that using block chain for followers of Diversity & Comics, arguably the most vocal proponent of Comicsgate, “was the only thing that stopped me waking up to HUNDREDS of abusive messages daily.” “They’re [Alterna] basically requiring their creators to endure this,” she wrote. Author Iain Gibson responded, “This is a huge red flag for me. It tells me that creators aren’t valued or understood by Alterna, which in turn makes me wonder if they care about the quality of their output.. Aside from a crappy moral position, it looks like bad marketing to me.”
Founded in 2008, Alterna is known for such miniseries as Lillith Dark, The Chair and Mr. Crypt. Myers has already worked with the publisher on IF Anthology 2017 and 2015’s Jorund #1, adding to his work with companies like Image Comics and Dark Horse.
This article was been edited and updated for clarity.
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