Still, news of the cancellation led to speculation on correlation between Sitterson’s 9/11 tweet and the subsequent response, and those who had targeted the writer before and after the comment. An editorial on The Mary Sue surmised that IDW’s decision may “paint the picture of a company catering to a very small but vocal contingent of fans of this franchise who stoop to long-term harassment in order to get what they want.”
Writer and artist Brandon Graham questioned the timing of the move, tweeting, “If it was about the sales @IDWPublishing really needed to convey that in a better way to Aubrey (at maybe a time not so close to right-wing outrage-over his twitter).” This week, after comedian and talk radio host Sam Seder was fired as an MSNBC contributor due to a crusade against him led in part by alt-right figure Mike Cernovich, surrounding a 2009 tweet Seder said was meant to jokingly criticize Roman Polanski apologists, comics artist Chris Burnham wrote on Twitter, “Reminder that what happened to Sam Seder is alllllmost exactly what happened to @aubreysitterson.” Magdalene Visaggio, the writer of IDW’s Transformers Vs. The Visionaries, wrote on Twitter in the midst of the 9/11 tweet controversy, “I think it’s genuinely fucked up that @aubreysitterson is being hounded out of comics for speaking his mind in a non-hateful way.”
Sitterson also claimed in the Bleeding Cool interview that, following the 9/11 tweet uproar, he was forbidden by IDW to promote the book (a direction that potentially could have come from Hasbro, which licenses G.I. Joe and many of its other popular franchises to IDW). Ryall disputed the claim that Scarlett’s Strike Force received any less of a promotional push than other new series, telling CBR that the notion is “easily disproven by a look at various IDW social media accounts, including IDW staff.”
A quick look at the last two months of IDW’s main Twitter account shows two tweets promoting Scarlett’s Strike Force (including a retweet from editor David Mariotte). That alone doesn’t say much towards whether it’s received more or less promotion than a typical book — since December 2017 solicitations were released in September, there have been four tweets on IDW’s account on Transformers Vs. The Visionaries #1 (another Hasbro series launching in December), but zero on the December-debuting Rom & The Micronauts #1. Scarlett’s Strike Force was announced on Sept. 9, via an interview with Sitterson on Paste.
“Cancelling a book for any reason other than numbers would be the height of irresponsibility,” Ryall said. “We just launched a new series with Aubrey because we like his work. Nelson Daniel, the artist on Scarlett’s Strike Force, is a beloved part of the IDW team, and has been for years. Cancelling the series early affects Nelson, it affects the coloring and the lettering and other people as well. So it’s never something we enter into lightly and if we thought a bump at FOC had any chance of saving a book, we would wait it out.”
Of course, it’s just about impossible to determine how the initial orders on Scarlett’s Strike Force #1 may have been affected by Sitterson’s controversial tweet or the reception he’s received from some corners of the G.I. Joe fanbase. Sitterson commented via Twitter as recently as Dec. 4 on the reaction his G.I. Joe work has received, writing, “Instead of ‘THE BEST ACTION COMIC EVER’ on the cover of Scarlett’s Strike Force, I wish we’d gone with ‘THE BOOK THE ALT RIGHT DOESN’T WANT YOU TO READ.’ Both are accurate.”
As of now, Sitterson does not have anything in the works at IDW after Scarlett’s Strike Force #3, and the future of the publisher’s G.I. Joe comics is uncertain beyond the ongoing G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero series, which continues writer Larry Hama’s run from the 1980s Marvel series, and the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero vs. the Six Million Dollar Man miniseries set to debut in February.
The final issue of Scarlett’s Strike Force is scheduled for release in February, with the solicitation text including the now-ironic words “the fun’s just getting started.”
[Full disclosure: The author of this article has appeared multiple times on Aubrey Sitterson’s “Straight Shoot” podcast.]
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