G.I. Joe comics from IDW Publishing are at a crossroads

I’ve been going back and forth on this for a long time now, but after the events of the last twenty-four hours, I think it’s time that I make a decision.

GeneralsJoes will no longer be covering or providing coverage of IDW Publishing’s G.I. Joe comics until something can be done about writer Aubrey Sitterson.

From a personal perspective, I can respect his devotion to his political beliefs.  Hell, to be totally honest, I share some of those beliefs.  But over the past several months, Mr. Sitterson has systematically worked through social media to generate a sense of ill-will for the majority of the G.I. Joe fan base, and I’ve reached a point where I just don’t want to discuss it or give it any exposure any more.

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It started in the G.I. Joe: Discussion Facebook group where some members were talking about a particular G.I. Joe cover, which caused Mr. Sitterson to get exceptionally hostile towards the fans to the point where he posted an image of himself giving the middle finger with a blatant image of the president blowing his own brains out on a t-shirt.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of Donald Trump (an issue I will NOT be discussing further so don’t bother asking) but the gesture struck me as being completely out of line for a creator who is attempting to engage with the fan base.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, when one of the admins stepped in, Mr. Sitterson fell back to his personal social media platform and proceeded to accuse the entire group of being homophobes and racists, a complete and total misrepresentation of the facts.  He has used this same tactic with a recent exchange regarding folks expressing sympathy and emotion for the events of September 11th.

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Since then he has continuously posted virulent and aggressive posts through social media while at the same time promoting G.I. Joe, and over the past several weeks I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with how closely linked the G.I. Joe brand has become with his own mode of online commentary.  Mr. Sitterson has spent a lot of time in the wrestling world, and he certainly seems to be working to generate heat, hoping that this heat will spill over into sales and attention for the G.I. Joe comics.  Unfortunately, sales continue to falter and I see disgusted fans by the dozens unsubscribing or expressing their distaste for the way the current writer is handling himself.

G.I. Joe, at this moment, strikes me as a brand in crisis.  I strongly believe any curator of that brand in a professional capacity needs to express himself in a professional manner.  Mr. Sitterson has not been doing that for a very, very long time, and eventually his agenda is going to drive away what few hardcore fans the G.I. Joe brand has left.

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Believe me, I am about as far from the “hardcore G.I. Joe military RULEZ” crowd as you can get.  I have plenty of room in my love for the brand to accept the more eccentric and outlandish stories.  That’s a huge part of what has made G.I. Joe what it is today.  In another life I would enjoy and appreciate the outlandish nature of what Sitterson is trying to accomplish, but his aggressive belligerence makes it impossible to do so.

What I cannot do is accept the fact that one of the brand’s creative members seems to feel a need to work so hard to ostracize the fans who have supported this brand for decades.  His recent tweet about September 11th was poorly worded and borderline offensive, and when folks have called him on it, his response was (and I quote):

“But as a guy who stood in the streets of lower Manhattan, where he lived, and watched it all unfold: F*ck you.”

Is that really the brand ambassador that we all want at the head of the ship?  Also, did he forget that the events of 9/11 not only impacted New York, but Washington, DC, Pennsylvania and thousands of people who lost family members aboard the aircraft that crashed into the two towers?

From a personal perspective I will no longer be buying IDW Publishing’s main G.I. Joe title.  I’ve been purchasing every single G.I. Joe comic since 1984.  It took until 2017 to get me to stop, but I have finally been worn down to the point of just not being able to support it anymore.

Mr. Sitterson has complete and total freedom of speech and as I’ve already said, I fully respect his opinion and his intense desire to share that opinion regardless of what others may think.  It’s an admirable trait.

However, in this case, I think he is actively damaging a brand that cannot withstand the continued punishment, and the best interests of IDW Publishing’s G.I. Joe universe do not necessarily align with his.  For that reason, I’m expressing my own freedom in not promoting or commercially supporting IDW Publishing’s endeavors with the G.I. Joe universe.  It’s unfortunate, and honestly I’m sure my little voice in this big, huge world doesn’t mean much, but I’ve gotta do what I feel is right.

  • LookBOTHWays

    All this is true, and as someone who has everything since Marvel’s #1 – I just had to let this series pass by. Truthfully, I never let the person get in the way of the art – but it’s too much here. It’s weird because I was encouraging him when he began with StreetFighter vs. GI Joe and felt he might be a good fit. But the whole social media scene pulled back the curtain too much, I fear, and left a bad taste with me. I won’t go into details but there was a tweet where – painting with a broad stroke – he indirectly insulted me and 65,844,609 other people. There are just waaaay too many things to spend money on these days.
    He has more in common with Vince Russo (google him if you don’t know him) than Larry Hama.

    To be fair ARAH is getting a bit long in the teeth too and could probably do itself a favor and wrap up soon, but there’s no denying their “Crown Jewel” is really just a polished turd that needs to be flushed.

  • Nick

    I have disliked his writing since he came on the title but when I saw the stuff he was tweeting it made me dislike him as well. He’s definitely entitled to his opinions but his behavior is unprofessional and IDW shouldn’t tolerate someone who actively antagonizes their fan base.

  • poddie

    Incredibly well written Justin. I completely agree.

  • Jesse Baker

    Given how badly they defiled MASK, it’s been clear that IDW doesnt give a crap about the fan bases of their properties, only the lunatic fringe SJW bigots on Tumblr that think anyone who disagrees with them are card carrying Nazis

  • Rob Osborne

    Amen, Justin. Thanks for standing up! It was ALMOST reason enough for me to get a Twitter account…but not quite, lol. ;)

  • Things like this are why I stay away from knowing who does the work behind the things I like

  • Michael Cameron

    I respect this decision. Yojoe.com did the same thing.

  • Diego Borges

    Someone like him shouldn,t be ahead of a GI Joe comic book.

  • Larry Wowboy

    I signed up for facebook, the only social media I use, for one reason only: to communicate with people at the Orlando con.

    I’ve kept it because the joe community is as vibrant there as it was in forums 15 years ago.

    It has been disappointing to find out that so many creators I’ve admired for so long would have severe hatred for me in real life.

  • Surreal Cereal

    This was well said, and I appreciate your perspective. Thanks.

  • Gerald Moniz

    From the point I first was exposed to this story yesterday morning an honestly ludicrous amount of time on my part has been spent the past 24 hours centered around this. At this point in time I can honestly say I posess a full and complete awareness of all aspects in context, have considered everything, and arrived at an absolute conclusion and understanding I feel is rock solid accurate and supportable beyond reason.

    My conclusions are as follows:
    1) I have to admit upfront I automatically assume an element of unreasonable or irrational emotional outburst whenever a collective group are outraged, no exception this time, however it was the one time that isnt the case. I think everyones reactions have been absolutely appropriate and warranted. Additionally, I would really like to commend you Justin on this post. It is beautifully composed, impeccably worded, and truly of the highest calibre of expressing these sentiments. I have an amazing respect for you and this piece.

    2) After carefully reading the entirety of discussion 3 times on twitter and considering everything objectively, I pinpointed the precise point his entire reasoning flaws critically, how, and why.

    Sittersons’ begins with the assertion that nobody outside NYC that day could ever possibly comprehend the experience entirely. Nothing in history comes close or equates to that singular event.

    We all agree, nobody is arguing that.
    It was a unique event beyond anything else in history.

    However….that also precludes anyone in the city from fully comprehending the experience outside of NYC. Nothing in history comes close or equates to that singular event. either.

    In your dialog on Twitter Sitterson reveals his misconception emphatically, clearly defining the outside NYC experience that day as “Just something that happened in another city” suggesting an emotional detachment from the disaster to boot. This magnitude disaster occurred one time only, when he had no vantage point from in the city to have ANY POSSIBLE IDEA the experience outside, and then has the gall to arbitrarily assign his closest reference point, seeing a hurricane hit a state cross country from you.

    I confess it is certainly understandable how someone who was in the city could easily form these flawed opinions. But a Writer?! Almost 20 years later and he is more sure than ever his view is accurate?!!

    You have all expressed far better than I could the many levels of appalling this is and I am absolutely committed ethically to also keep any business of mine from IDW. I am composing a specific letter to them that raises the purely business oriented issues involved and will share it later.

    For now I am unified with everyone else and very proud to see my fellow collectors stand against this with utmost integrity.

  • Will pest

    Tragedy should effect and affect us all.
    Trying to take ownership of other peoples suffering is a heinous act.

    I am in New Orleans, I was here physically when Katrina hit. So many people suffered and it has been a constant state of PTSD to watch the recent devastation.

    I don’t feel my experience makes me a gate keeper allowing or preventing others the right to grieve. What a childish and bullying stance for someone to take.

  • Will pest

    So true. I used to love a particular band, who was on air once doing an interview and answering call-ins, and some one called and they ripped the poor guy a part. As much as I wanted to keep my feelings separate from the music it was hard to after that.

  • TheGigaMach

    Just seeing this. Well stated, Justin. Clear, and reasonable. Well done.

  • Jm5150

    The more we argue and fight with each other, the more we cant see whats really going on and whos to blame

  • fluffy doge

    Hated him since he was working for THQ/2K for WWE Games. Always came off as a stooge. Nice to see he hasn’t changed quite a bit.

  • Ron Storey

    Wow, I had no idea all this was going on. I don’t visit the IDW boards much at all and haven’t logged in for a few years. Personally I haven’t been enjoying the current iteration of G.I.Joe and I can’t stand the art. I get that Hasbro wants to have a cohesive universe now but it’s too much for me. Marvel and DC have…somewhat of a cohesive universe, they all exist together but don’t have to make an appearance in every book. They have stories that stand on their own while still being in their universe. It feels like it is missing something, for me. After reading this article and the childish behaviour of the writer I might just do what I’ve been thinking of doing and drop this G.I.Joe title and stick with ARAH one. It’s been much more enjoyable despite the over used blue ninja and snake eyes/dawn stuff. Isn’t he writing the Scarlett book? Seems IDW doesn’t care about how he treats their readers.

  • Wordburglar

    You summed it up very well, thanks Justin and I echo pretty much everything you said. This current “IDW-verse GIJOE” was also the first GI JOE series I have ever stopped reading (made it to #3 and felt constantly insulted both as a comic book reader and a lifelong fan of GI JOE). I will however continue to read and support Hama’s ARAH and other IDW titles as I still enjoy them and don’t want hard working artists’ work to suffer due to the actions of one person. I also think IDW are generally a pretty great comic book publisher on the whole and produce a lot of excellent titles by hard-working, talented folks. Here’s hoping this situation can be resolved.

  • danny sweet

    Someone should share this link to IDW , I feel this is a big message that IDW publisher needs to see General Joe’s is a established long time support of Joe’s, honestly I hadn’t collect ARAH in 2 years but before that have every issue going back ton’84 this man should not be part of the flagship title of Joe brand comics and Hasbro should be made aware of this too!

  • Michael Payton

    Hasbro brass knows what is going on and have addressed the issue to the management at IDW.

  • danny sweet

    Really!! Good to hear this! Do you happen to have a link or a response from Hasbro about this??

  • Hossi Blumengaarten

    4chan forever

  • BCYa

    To me, it feels a little childish. What he said was stupid and inflammatory, but he is allowed to feel how he feels. He maybe shouldn’t have said it or said it differently. But to turn your back on the comic and pout seems silly to me.

  • stoli5

    Someone needs to hold Aubrey Sitterson upside down by the ankles until the red falls out. Socialism and antifa type nonsense has no place around G.I. Joe (unless you’re talking about Cobra: The Enemy).

    To wit, there’s a very popular vintage toy retailer in the Midwest who used to post socialist hammer and sickle b.s., essays etc. all over his MySpace (yeah, awhile ago) that would make your stomachs churn, but he changed his tune REEEAL QUICK when he started turning a profit and discovered that Marxist theory was really just equal poverty for all. Steak tastes better than hardtack.

  • Anon.

    Does your boycott include Hama’s title. He condemned Sitterson’s remarks and really is the only “true” GI Joe comic writer.

  • Inoffensive Generic User Name

    IDW had a huge loss recently. I fear they are trying to copy Marvel’s rapid decline, without the benefit of a sugar daddy like Disney to keep them afloat.

  • Kacper Przysiężny

    I may not support The ways how he said, but I saw this and Is and he has right show how much is 9/11 is misussed like in this image https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DJuNnQ-WsAIKg7p?format=jpg

  • Dr. No Good

    I just wanted to post this from Spacebattles posted by IRUn here before post my own words.

    (I second this.

    Still, with the way he presented his tweets, it’s not surprising that some people are up in arms. 9/11’s a sensitive subject here in the States, and out of context those tweets do look pretty damning.

    Also, those idiots running that fan site appear are fucking idiots. GI Joe was the most inclusive team ever. News flash, Larry Hama, the undisputed father of GI Joe, is Japanese American. )

    You have put this in the right view and I hope that the right thing is done. I don’t see the fan site as idiots but they may have jumped the gun since they are adding fuel to the fire. To them I ask of this be careful and use wisdom to handle this.

  • Surreal Cereal

    What loss did IDW recently have? Please fill me in.
    Possibly related — IDW stopped printing the Hama hardcover Complete GI Joe and I’m wondering what’s going on with that company.

  • Inoffensive Generic User Name

    They lost $1.8 million in the first quarter, which I guess would not necessarily qualify as huge, but slumping sales would definitely indicate they are going in the wrong direction. A lot of that is probably Hasbro’s fault, with their push for a combined universe.

    As for the Hasbro property writers, maybe the SJW freaks just work for less than everyone else and IDW is just coasting off of the name recognition and loyalty until it eventually falls off the cliff.