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Controversy Surrounds Suydam at Montreal Comiccon's Artist Alley

Fireworks happened more than just in the sky this Fourth of July weekend, as an alleged stealing of table space on the part of "Marvel Zombies" cover artist Arthur Suydam in Artist Alley at Montreal Comiccon led to outrage, indignation and calls to action by the comics community on Twitter.

The controversy began Friday morning with creator Jim Zub bringing to attention via Twitter the questionable actions of a then-unnamed creator. "To the 'big' name creator who took 4 (!) artist alley table spaces, forcing other people from their assigned spot, you are human garbage."

In a subsequent series of tweets, Zub further explained the situation:

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He just shows up early, sets up his gargantuan booth and takes down the signage for the people next to him. No regard for anyone else.

- Jim Zub Montreal3305 (@JimZub) July 3, 2015

The shows don't stop him so he just continues his ego-fueled awfulness year after year.

- Jim Zub Montreal3305 (@JimZub) July 3, 2015

I am very, very easy going. I don't anger/insult easily. This guy makes my blood BOIL.

- Jim Zub Montreal3305 (@JimZub) July 3, 2015

Zub further went on to say that the displaced artists then receive tables elsewhere on the show floor, and that fans can't find them because their locations changed. He also clarified that he personally was not one of the displaced artists, who were later identified as Francis Manapul, Rachel Richey and Dan Parent. The identity of the accused artist soon became apparent both through a reply tweet from Ray Fawkes and an image of the artist's booth by Zub.

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@zdarsky @JimZub I'm not in Montreal so I don't know for sure, but last year I saw Arthur Suydam do it twice.

- Ray Fawkes (@rayfawkes) July 3, 2015

Hey everyone-Look at this massive booth at the show I'm at. It's much bigger than other booths in Artist Alley. pic.twitter.com/nYxeSLTzvW

- Jim Zub Montreal3305 (@JimZub) July 3, 2015

From there, the rest of the comic community responded fast and hard.

Ron Marz posted a series of tweets asking for a call to action:

2) Sorry that fans and creators have to deal with people like Arthur Suydam. But we have a responsibility to call out such awful behavior.

- Ron Marz (@ronmarz) July 3, 2015

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3) If you see Douche King Arthur Suydam, or any other pro, attempt this, DO NOT let them get away with it. Get help, demand the con fix it.

- Ron Marz (@ronmarz) July 3, 2015

Marz also stressed that he did not blame the organizers of Montreal Comiccon for the artists' actions, and urged fans to show their supposed for the displaced Richey, Manapul and Parent.

Also hope people are not blaming @Mtlcomiccon because an unscrupulous creator did something lousy. The deed puts a con in a very bad spot.

- Ron Marz (@ronmarz) July 4, 2015

Meanwhile, other creators, including Image founder Erik Larsen, called into question the verisimilitude of publicity stills of Suydam's lines at conventions.

So many fans--yet clearly different lighting--something looks very wrong here. pic.twitter.com/5F8W0IdVsh

- Erik Larsen (@ErikJLarsen) July 3, 2015

However, the biggest reaction came from Mark Waid, who made it his personal goal to prevent this type of behavior from occurring in the future. In a series of tweets, Waid said he looks forward to his next show with Suydam and plans on making sure the con organizers are aware of the artist's alleged actions and ready to do something about it.

My biggest regret this weekend is not being at @Mtlcomiccon to personally and forcibly move Arthur Sudyam's shit off other artists' tables.

- Mark Waid (@MarkWaid) July 3, 2015

.@erikburnham @Mtlcomiccon I LONG for it. All I can see when I close my eyes is me literally turning over tables.

- Mark Waid (@MarkWaid) July 3, 2015

Just checked. Sudyam's at an island to himself at Tampa, my next post-SDCC show. He can't pull shit there. And he will be watched, trust me.

- Mark Waid (@MarkWaid) July 3, 2015

Busy contacting every show I'm doing the rest of this year to warn them that if Sudyam pulls this shit there, I'll make it LOUD and UGLY.

- Mark Waid (@MarkWaid) July 3, 2015

As for the parties directly involved, Bleeding Cool reached out and received responses from Manapul and Richey, and eventually one from Suydam's representative Renee Witterstaetter.

From Richey:

"I learned about what happened from another creator who had been sitting across from where we were supposed to be and who watched the signage change overnight as Arthur replaced it for his own. It wasn't until I realized the implications of this change that I became a bit frustrated. As a smaller creator/press I rely on being found in the program as accessibility drives most of my sales. And it's a pretty selfish move to think you are above the convention that invited you and that you are more deserving than your colleagues. Having said that, it was not my intention to have him ostracized. After all, if this is Arthur's habitual behavior, it's our collective responsibility to make others aware of it. Judging by the wave of support from creators and friends on Twitter, that's exactly what is happening now. Also, Montreal Comic Con is a FANTASTIC convention, and I firmly believe they were not aware he was this kind of creator until it was too late. They've also been very present in trying to help sort out the situation. All in all, I'm not angry at Arthur and especially not the convention. I'm just glad Arthur's practices are becoming more common knowledge so that he might be prevented from negatively influencing or effecting other's sales or experiences in the future."

From Manapul:

"To be honest I wasn't aware of the situation until more than half way through the first day. I was shown to 'my' table by one of the organizers who I know to be a really great guy. I asked how his day was, and he let on about a disastrous situation. He seemed stressed out so I didn't press him, and just pointed out that there's nowhere to go but upward. When I got to my spot I saw my nameplate on the table, rather than hanging behind like all the other creators' nameplates. I didn't think much of it and since there wasn't a line I took the opportunity to say hello to fellow creators. During that time Rachel put up my banner and a line had formed so I sat down and proceeded to sign books.

Throughout the day I got a lot of confused/relieved people who approached my table and told me tales of their long journey. I just replied my location should be in the book. Unbeknownst to me was that I was actually in the wrong spot because I had been displaced by Arthur. I just thought, "weird". Rachel and some other creators made me aware that the previous night, Arthur had taken down my name along with her own and Dan Parent's and moved us to another location in order to set up on ours.

My reaction was honestly mixed as I thought the whole thing was just so bizarre. Seriously, who does that? It's like coming home to find your neighbour parked in your driveway. So I told Rachel I was going to talk to him, but she didn't want me to ruffle any feathers so decided not to...

Less than a minute later I was on my way to his table. I just couldn't let it stand, even though Dan and Rachel were already set up and didn't want to rebuild again. However it's the principle of the matter, and I wanted him to know that it wasn't cool. I was still confused whether I felt angry or, much like the guy who finds his neighbour parked in his driveway, generally perplexed. I was thinking "something's just not right about this guy." His behavior didn't make sense.

I got up to the table and simply said 'Hello' to which he very politely and quite cheerfully greeted me. I was caught off guard as this nice, older man spoke to me in a polite and respectful way. Now anything I said that wasn't as polite in return would make me look like a total asshole. So I just said "Hey dude, this is actually my table you're sitting at. You look pretty set up here so that's fine. However I've had a lot of people telling me they've had a very hard time finding me. So if you see confused bystanders around your booth would you be able to tell them my location?" which he agreed to do. The whole thing just felt weird, because he neither apologized nor broke character of his polite demeanor. He didn't seem to be aware of any wrong doing he had done and at this point I just wanted solutions rather than an argument that went nowhere.

The con organizers have been nothing but accommodating in addressing the situation and making us very comfortable in our new location. At the end of the day, it sucks that he did it, and I can see how this type of behavior can very negatively affect the business of those he displaced. On the other hand, it's a good anecdote to tell over some beers at the bar. And apparently Twitter. I also wanted to take this opportunity, Rich, to announce that Arthur and I are launching a creator owned book together. It's a buddy cop comic. Just kidding. :)"

And finally, from Witterstaetter:

"In response to the posts about the Montreal Comic Con this weekend and the table placement for artists at the show:

Let me state that I am the booking agent for a group of artists including Michael Golden, Arthur Suydam, Mike Zeck, and others at the convention.

When we arrived for set up on Thursday, there was a snafu with the table setups for ALL the artists. In order to correct the problem, everyone was moved.

The Montreal Comic Con, much to their credit, stepped in and found solutions for all the table placements, so that all artists had their agreed upon table amounts!

No changes were made without the shows knowledge and no artist made any arbitrary changes on their own. Any artist there for set up was informed of the changes, and we assume others were told as soon as they could be told.

In the end, none of us were where we were originally supposed to be on the map. But it appears that all the fans found us anyway and everyone has had a great time at the event. So anything else being said about the situation by third parties is simply spreading untruths.

We'd like to thank the Montreal Comic Con for their support and willingness to fix the situation. And most of all thank the fans that come to see us at the show."

Even prior to the message to Bleeding Cool, it seemed Suydam and his agent and reps placed the blame on a miscommunication on the part of Montreal Comiccon. After the Twitter explosion, a report form Richey stated that Suydam and his agent went to apologize to the affected -- but only to two of them.

In a series of tweets, Richey explained that, "As of about an hour ago I was actually starting to feel a little bad for Arthur until he came over with his agent and had her 'speak to [Francis Manapul] and (earlier) [Dan Parent] about the miscommunication. He would have had to go past my table to get back to his, but he disappeared. Apparently I, for reasons I can probably guess right, don't deserve the non apology that Francis and Dan got. What makes me even more angry is that he had his agent blame the organizers who are honestly the kindest people ever. I'm actually amazed that he's managed to show how crappy he is. I was more than willing to look past it but honestly, his response is exhausting and disappointing. There was no miscommunication, he bullied the convention, took what he wanted, lied about it, hid behind his agent and tried to pass the blame. At least I can say I stood up for myself and hopefully changed the outcome of future shows."

Certainly the entire ordeal has brought about an awareness of this situation -- which has allegedly happened a number of times -- and both creators and convention organizers are taking steps to try and curb this behavior.

Montreal Comiccon also addressed the issue with a post on Facebook, taking at least some of the blame and promising to make sure these types of actions don't happen again in the future.

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