A local comic book shop stands by its decision to not stock a book by a controversial author, even though it’s meant a barrage of abuse online.
On Thursday morning, Variant Edition tweeted it would not carry a title from Richard Meyer in its store, but would order it on customer request.
We will not be stocking the upcoming @AntarcticPress comic JAWBREAKERS on shelf.
It does not appeal to our demographic, and we will not actively support creators who have promoted harm to friends, collegues and strangers.
Pre-paid orders will be accepted for those interested.
— Variant Edition (@VariantEDmonton) May 10, 2018
Meyer, under the profile Diversity & Comics, is a polarizing figure online, known for his criticism of diversity initiatives and titles in his associated YouTube channel and Twitter feed.
But Variant Edition co-owner Brandon Schatz says the big problem is some of Meyers’ online followers, who have been known to go after his critics.
He said they began bombarding the store with tweets after Meyer re-tweeted Varient Edition’s post and mentioned the business in a YouTube video.
“We’ve had tweets that have suggested we are a front for a prostitution ring, that we are pedophiles and all sorts of vile things.”
@edmontonpolice I heard a rumor that this store is the headquarters of a pedophile ring. Can I DM you with more information? They lure children in with comics and candy.
— ToMarvelHR (@ToMarvelHR) May 11, 2018
Um. No. You are a comics retailer and outlet. Your job is to serve the customer. Your job is not to be involved in any kind of politics, because that makes your store feel hostile and uninviting to your clientele, which will cost you money. Don’t make that mistake.
— a good kitty (@Lady_Fluffbutt0) May 11, 2018
Nice if you to broadcast that anyone who cares about intellectual diversity and actual quality product should avoid your establishment. But hey I’m sure hipsters are a great demographic 🙄
— Christopher Bataluk (@ChrisBataluk) May 11, 2018
Schatz added that his store is not the only one taking this stance — and taking abuse for it.
“A lot of places are having their employees names and addresses released,” Schatz said. “There’s a level of fear that’s going around for sure.”
Those fears were front of mind Friday morning, when Schatz said the store found someone had smashed a window to get inside and stole all the cash.
“Nothing can be proven one way or another,” said Schatz, “but we’re very distressed that the timing of this is coming during all this abuse.”
He’s hoping it’s just a coincidence and not an escalation.
In the meantime, Antarctic Press has since announced it would not be publishing Meyer’s book after all.
“We do not take this decision lightly,” reads a statement on the publisher’s Facebook page, “as we do believe that there should be separation between ‘ART’ and the ‘ARTIST’ and that separation has been blurred in our decision.”
As for Variant Edition, Schatz says he and the other owner, Danica LeBlanc, don’t regret taking their public stance, since stocking Meyer’s book would have undermined the welcoming atmosphere Variant Edition wants to create for its customers.
Schatz said they fundamentally disagree with Meyer and his followers who think diversity is about imposing ideology rather than catering to fans, who don’t want it.
“And they tell us that they know this for a fact. And they really don’t,” said Schatz. “They know nothing about my business and they know nothing about the larger comics business.”
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.