I was happy with a job for the first time in my life. When I was in college, I studied computers because they interested me, but I wasn’t sure what aspect. I picked one and ended up hating the profession it led me into. I don’t feel like college was a waste, though, because I also gained business degrees and found my love for writing while there. Still, I held crappy jobs that I hated until I started working for Silver Bullet Comics.
Doing comic news, like lettering, was something I fell into. It was in the industry I loved, somehow connected to those comics I always hoped to write or draw as a kid and an adult. So it felt like a foot in the door, but at the same time, I genuinely loved doing it. I loved following the news stories, getting the scoops from publishers and creators, and having access to inside knowledge before the public. It was, for me, kind of what this column is about: looking behind the curtain. Sure, it was from a distance, but I still felt part of the comics industry in whatever small part that might be.
I mentioned last week the various responsibilities and tasks I had on a daily basis. I also mentioned I often worked what I considered overtime. There were days I spent upwards of 12-16 hours working on the site, building features, editing columns, posting stories, creating graphics and so forth. Yeah, I probably deserved a raise, but after a while, checks started coming slower and slower. I’d unfortunately have to hassle my employer to remind him to send my check that I worked so very hard for.
At the time, I was an employee with a paycheck, and as I said, I worked hard for that pay. So obviously I expected payment to be reasonably on time, not two weeks late here and there. Little did I know that this was a small part of a larger problem at the time.
I mentioned last week that other editors on the site were going MIA on me, leaving me with their work, and that I wasn’t aware of other issues at play. Turns out that while I was eventually receiving payment, probably because I practically ran the site myself more times than not, the other editors – also paid employees – were not. And one-by-one, they left, disgruntled, and sure they’d never see their final payment. And in a couple of instances, I had the distinct displeasure to play their advocate with our employer, who assured me their payments would be sent out promptly.
What’s important to note is that SBC was also the name of a physical and online comic shop located in North Carolina. It was the means behind the news site, and the means by which all of us got paid. What I would come to find out is that the shop started to do poorly. There was local competition and bad blood between the two. There were a lot of things said and done in person and online that began to tarnish the SBC name and image, which began also reflecting on the news site, and by proxy, me.
See, I had become the voice of SBC. Whenever there was press about the site, it was my voice defending my livelihood, hoping more than anything to diffuse the situation. I had absolutely NOTHING to do with the store side of the business – a fact that I mentioned every time a question about its problems came up – but because I was affiliated with the site and representing it as that voice, I got a LOT of backlash for it. I got countless emails and private messages via the SBC forums demanding money back for books that never arrived, or condemning me for running a scam business and the like. Obviously, none of this was my fault, nor could I do anything about it. I wasn’t even in North Carolina where the store was based, and half the time, I couldn’t even get in touch with my employer. And all the while, he assured me things were being taken care of. Meanwhile, he had begun liquidating his store and would eventually close it all together, leaving many, many disgruntled customers and employees that would never receive their product or their pay, respectively.
But before things would get to that point, there was another issue at play as well. One that just added fuel to the flames that were burning SBC’s reputation down. And due to time constraints this week, we’ll postpone that part of the story until next time.
Next Week: Silver Bullet Comic Books (SBCB) starts a flame war that gets major press and threatens to ruin SBC once and for all.