I am a person who loves to write. Speech and writing is not just a task for me, but more of a nuanced art; positioning words in new and interesting ways while delving into the obscurities of tone, syntax, and punctuation are what gets me out of bed in the morning, and adjectives are my freaking Wheaties. But even when someone is hard at work at the anvil of wordsmithing, there is one insurmountable obstacle that many writers face: finishing a written work to the point where they’re “okay” with it, and finding a balance in the moral message that a writer wishes to get across.
So here I read about John Campbell, the Wicker Park-based writer of Pictures for Sad Children, with a morbidly wicked sense of humor, a semi-successful webcomic, and a Kickstarter that was being well-funded by the generosity of many. Originally asking for about eight thousand dollars in order to make his webcomic into a traditional book, his supporters donated over fifty thousand to see his project through. So, naturally, Campbell worked tirelessly in order to fill every order of every supporter, and thank them all individually for making a writer’s dream come to life.
That last part is inaccurate. In actuality, he ran out of funds to ship many of his books, and decided to burn the prints that he made, shut down his website, and produce a rant online that stated that people will not be receiving their money back on top of many other inflammatory ideals.
Now, I would like to first state that I saw the video, and I am sincerely worried about what this man’s mental state is as this point. That wasn’t a well-planned rant on the hardships of producing something virtually on your own; this was a tirade of upper-middle-class soundbites that lead me to believe that he is on the cusp of sanity. I think that he may sincerely need mental help, and hopes that he gets that help soon if this is the case.
And if he doesn’t actually require mental assistance, is this just another way to fight against societal norms, or some existential nonsense? Well, I hope he’s ready for the backlash.
From here on out, this piece is going to assume that he is in sound mental condition.
He stated that to him, money is a “huge, terrible joke”. That is an awfully cavalier statement to tell your fans who worked hard for the cash to make your creative dreams come to tangible terms. The sheer audacity to say that to someone who loves your work is insane on any level. He referred to the people who tried to help him as “ blatant capitalists” and “rich white men”, stating that at every point in this project he felt oppressed by what he needed to produce. Does he even understand the hypocrisy in this? If someone asks for monetary value for a product or service provided, I’m pretty sure that that’s the definition of capitalism, or at least the basic principle of
supply and demand in capitalism.
This is another quote from the rant that was posted:
I am not looking for the support of anyone who wants a book, or wants to see me put stick figure comics on the internet. I do not need the support of anyone who thinks that I will deserve to eat and sleep only after I have fulfilled some standard they’ve chosen to hold me to. I am looking for people who believe that if you spend your life in a small room thinking, you deserve to live and breathe the same amount as someone who spends their life doing intense physical or mental labor, or who has money that “makes money."
Where do I even start with this quote? Should I address the the hypocritical nature, since he set up a Kickstarter to specifically ask for financial help? Or should I backtrack and mention the fact that once again he doesn’t understand the the basics concepts of a barter system? I know! I’ll list all of the people that would conform to an ideal of having to support a grown adult while they ponder life with a gritty and unrelenting perspective.
1) Your parents, because they love you while being forced to care about you well being.
2) No one else. Are you a child? Because you absolutely have to be kidding me by expecting someone else to take care of your needs while providing little to no value to their well-being.
I get that Campbell has been prone to stunts like this in the past, but his last act takes the cake. Instead of holding the product for another time to earn money and ship this out to others, he just started burning the books that people paid for. Not only that, but he threatened to burn more of them; for each person who tries to contact him about the product that they purchased, he will burn their copy in retaliation. Yes, you read this right: someone who calls himself an artist resorted to the action of trying to murder creativity physically, visually, and emotionally. Genghis Khan even had reservations about burning the written word, and this was someone who had sexually assaulting women as a high-priority on his to-do list.
It makes me sick that people who supported him are worth less than his creativity in his mind. It makes me angry that these could have been donated to any of over 80 public libraries in the immediate Chicago area or an even larger number of school libraries. But most of all, it makes me sad and disheartened; people truly believed in John Campbell’s work and message, and while trying to support a work of art that they felt was personally important, this guy spat in everyone’s faces and literally told them that they weren’t worth the time or effort. If this is some elaborate hoax, a bout of mental sickness, or an honest reply from a sociopath, the message stays the same: people like John Campbell are never worth their creativity, no matter the cost or message that he is trying to get across.