I really wanted to set up a new blog to give myself a project and something to focus on for 2021, but there’s something I think it’s important that anyone who reads this knows. A few years ago, my careless actions hurt someone close to me in a way that I’ll never truly atone for and I feel like presenting any version of myself without this knowledge is like lying by omission.
In 2017, I ran a Kickstarter for a comic called Mossy which I co-created with my friend Tracy Shepard. The Kickstarter was successfully funded and I began working on printing comics and fulfilling orders. I used about half of the total funds on the rewards which were ordered, received and the majority of them were shipped out successfully.
Not long after the campaign, I was the victim of a crime which saw me robbed of all the money in my bank account, including the Kickstarter funds. I don’t say this to excuse what happened next, I’m just trying to create a timeline of what happened. As a result, I was unable to pay Traci her share of the profits from the Kickstarter and a small percentage of the rewards went unfulfilled.
I was unsuccessful in recovering the money stolen from me and as such, was faced with fulfilling my obligations out of pocket, which I promised to do. However, for a variety of reasons, that didn’t happen. I don’t want to get into the reasons why too heavily because I think it deflects from the responsibility I need to take for my actions but the main causes were mounting depression and anxiety as well as financial stressors unrelated to the campaign.
Traci was incredibly accomidating and patient with me as I continued to promise to resolve the issue, but all I did was kick the can down the road until it needed addressing again. There is no excuse for this and it was the most cowardly and irresponsible thing I could have done. I take great shame in the fact that I couldn’t face this situation like an adult, so instead I hid from it and hoped it would go away.
After over a year of waiting, Traci went public with the events in an update on Kickstarter, which you can read here. The truth about what happened was out and I, quite rightly, bore the brunt of a lot of anger regarding it. I took a lot of shit and lost a lot of friends and I deserved every bit of it. I don’t say that because I want you to feel sorry for me because I am not the victim here, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Last year, I came to a realisation that I had not sufficiently taken responsibility for my actions and focused on devoting myself to doing whatever I could, not to make up for what I did but to take responsibility for it and address the core issues which led to it. Again, there is absolutely no excuse as to why it took so long to come to this realisation. I was and remain an idiot who is trying to make things right way too late.
The first thing I did in June of last year was leave the online comics community, as I felt like I did not deserve to be a part of that larger conversation after what I had done. I closed down my podcasts and removed all of my followers from Twitter except for those I’m especially close with. I had accrued an audience and a following based on false pretences and I didn’t deserve it, so it had to go. I’m sorry if we were friends online and I removed you from my account; please understand that it wasn’t personal.
Then, I promised myself that I would pay Traci every last penny that I owed her and, while it took several months and several payments, Traci has now been fully paid for her work on Mossy. I’m very aware that this is too little and too late and I don’t want to frame it as a victory or something to celebrate. It’s very much the least I could have done and it should have been done years ago.
In addition to that, I reached out to every backer of the project and offered them a full, no-questions-asked refund for their contribution to the campaign. I believe that in failing in my duty to pay Traci, that I failed my backers who trusted that their money would go to the right place. As of writing, I have refunded everyone who has asked for one and the offer remains open in perpetuity.
In reaching out to backers, I came to realise that there are people who see what I did as an understandable but dreadful mistake and believe that I’m trying to do the right thing. I received more messages of support than I did refund requests, which went a long way to bolster my spirits and reinforce that I was doing the right thing. I don’t know if I believe them that I deserve forgiveness, but I appreciated their kind words more than I can say.
In writing this, I’ve found that there’s no right way to apologise. I’ve agonised over every sentence in this post to try and strike the right balance and I run through possibilities of every possible reaction to it to try and anticipate them, but some people — you might be among them — may end up writing this off as too vague, or too full of excuses, or too insincere. Even this paragraph itself is a risky inclusion, but I need to accept that there’s no way absolutely everyone will forgive me and I need to be okay with it.
I miss writing about comics, so I’m going back to writing about comics. I’m going to open up my Twitter account and I’m going to make podcasts with my fiancee again. I didn’t take the steps I took in order to “come back” like nothing happened, but once I took those steps and had conversations with backers who forgave me for what happened, I started to think that maybe I could go back to doing something I enjoy.
Like I said at the start, I feel like doing that without addressing what happened and making it a publicly visible, easy-to-find thing would be the most insincere thing I can do. This post is clear and visible at the top of every page of the blog and I’ll be making it my pinned tweet too. I’m not trying to hide or pretend it didn’t happen; I want people to know.
In closing, I don’t necessarily want you to read all of this and think “all is forgiven” but I hope you at least come away from it thinking “I still don’t like him, but it seems like he’s trying.” I don’t know if I deserve a second chance; I just want to write about comics in my own little corner of the internet to distract myself from the world being on fire and along the way, I hope I can make strides to showcase that I’m not a bad person; I’m just a dude who fucked up.