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Tim Cook/Apple = Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook

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“It doesn’t mean that you can’t use an iPhone to go to your browser and go to some porno site, if you want to do that, but…” But he’s still imposing rules against apps doing that.

Tim Cook is trying to contrast his company with Mark Zuckerberg’s in terms of its dedication to privacy, and he has a point there: Apple is better at privacy than the data whore. But in the same interview, where he’s supposedly showing how he isn’t as up-tight as Steve Jobs was, he demonstrates that Apple’s approach to censoring porn is just as bad as Facebook’s, and just as stone-headed.

What’s absurd is that right after justifying his “we don’t sell porn” position, he goes on to explain why his own argument doesn’t make sense. He brags about how they’ve rated and tagged music and movies to accomplish the same objective: helping individuals and parents make choices about what to avoid. They could so the same for the App Store.

Tumblr, Twitter, and Ello all give me the option to check a box indicating “I make porn”, and other users of those services need to check a box indicating “OK with me” to see what I post. Facebook and Apple could do the same thing. They don’t. Ello had to specifically engineer their iPhone app to weld the “OK with me” setting in the OFF position so that Apple would allow it. Cook says he doesn’t care if I look at porn on my iPhone, but he’s still crippling the Ello app to deny me the option of doing that.

Hey, Tim: you’ve got some great parental-control features in iOS. If you’re so proud of them, why not enable them for Ello, Comixology, and other app developers?



FarceboxI’m not quite ready to #DeleteFacebook. But recent events have me thinking that I need to move it away from the center of my online life.

Most people these days are concerned about how Falsebook is 1) mismanaging our personal information, and 2) helping Russia/Trump/etc use it against the people of the United States. And that’s a factor for me. But I’m also thinking about how Farcebook’s censorship system – with no clear guidelines and no appeals – is actively threatening to lock me out.

The overall problem is that I – along with so much of our society – have bought in too heavily into the use of Fuckedbook. They want us to use it for everything… and we’re doing that for them.

Back in olden days there was a service called AOL, and they tried to do the same thing. And it worked for a while, because there was so little else on the internet to use. But then the World Wide Web came along, and suddenly there were unlimited alternatives. You could get e-mail from one place, find web sites with forums on different topics, buy stuff online directly from retailers, and so on. There was also porn. We saw that the walled garden of AOL was putting limits on us. But Facebox has been luring us back into their own garden. They’re AOL 2.0.

So… moving away from that. What does that involve?

To start, I’m going to get this blog of mine active. I set it up a few years ago, and I’ve occasionally posted to it, but not much. Instead I’ve been posting on FB every day. Going forward, I’m going to post more things here – on my site – and let that get echoed to FB. So the folks there will still “see” me, but every post will be an invitation to come here. And as a side benefit anybody who wants to stay off Fascistbook won’t have to go there to keep up with me.

Shawn Kerri’s “Skank Kid”

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You probably don’t know the name “Shawn Kerri”, but if you read CARtoons magazine back in the day, or were a fan of the LA punk scene, you’ve seen her art, which was found in countless concert leaflets, tour posters, liner notes, zines, etc. Her best-known piece is one that the Circle Jerks appropriated for their logo/mascot, featuring a character she’d created as a composite of all the white punk boys she knew, generally known as “Skank Kid”. The other day I got inspired to do a version of that piece.

She’s commonly rumored to have died, but those reports appear to have been exaggerated. See her Wikipedia article for more info about her.


Locker Mocker

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“Locker Mocker” is an all-ages (well, teens-and-up) adaptation of a story I did for JAQrabbit Tales, called “Bully”. It was included in You Are Not Alone volume 2, published by Grayhaven as a collection of stories about bullying. My focus, of course, was on the kind of hazing that gay and bi boys get in middle and high school.




Code 288

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Police misconduct is a problem that’s finally getting serious attention, most commonly focusing on the treatment of African-Americans by white cops. This can take an even worse turn when the suspect is not only black but gay. “Code 288″ is police code for “public indecency”, and this story is about the different ways that’s often treated, depending on who’s being “indecent”. This story was done for APB: Artists against Police Brutality published by Rosarium Publishing.





For Those About to Rock

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The title of this is a little joke. “For Those About to Rock” is a famous album by the band AC/DC. Which is an old slang term for a bisexual person. This story was done for an anthology published by Geeks Out, a social/advocacy group focusing on comics and LGBT folks. I don’t do much with superheroes, but the theme of the book was “Power” and I decided to combine a few different senses of the word into a short story: electrical power, super powers, and the personal empowerment of being open and honest about being bisexual. I didn’t have a lot of time, so I kept the story down to two pages, so I could crank it out quickly.


“Faggot”s in Comics


I was frustrated to read online that one of the owners of Whatever, reportedly a very good comics shop in San Francisco, was threatening a boycott of Brian K. Vaughan, over the use of the word “faggot” in the first issue of his and Cliff Chiang’s new series Paper Girls. And speaking “as a gay man who owns a comic book store” he called out Image for allowing the creators to use that word.

As a gay man who makes comics, I am troubled by this reactionary outburst.

Cougarich* seems to take his inspiration from the old Comics Code, which categorically banned certain words and subjects from comics in a misguided effort to protect children from them. “Zombie” was banned.  “Crime” couldn’t be in the title. Etc.  “There is NO place for this word especially in comics,” Cougarich declares. But this draconian standard overlooks the important matter of context: immediately after one of the characters calls someone a “faggot”, another character says that you shouldn’t do that.

Under the original terms of Code, it wasn’t permitted to depict drug use, even to condemn it. In order to tell a story showing the dangers of illicit narcotics, Marvel was forced to publish an issue without Code approval. It was actively counter-productive, and the Cougarich Code, with it’s appeal to the Word Police, would do the same thing, disallowing this “teachable moment”.

In a less heated mood, perhaps Cougarich might permit this usage, in the same spirit that the Code would permit the depiction of robberies as long as the perpetrator was properly punished. But even that rule was wrong-headed, and harmful as a universal requirement.

APB_004I’m a bit baffled that one still has to say this in 2015, but: comics aren’t all for children. As an adult, I don’t need a publisher to teach me these life lessons, nor do I need a retailer to protect me from stories that don’t meet his standards of moral obviousness. I recently made a short comic about police brutality, which includes an officer calling characters both “cocksucker” and “faggot”. No one corrects him. He doesn’t get punished for it. Because it’s not that kind of comic. It’s a comic about harsh facts of real life, and it’s intended for readers who are prepared to read about that and to reach their own conclusions about it.

If I was writing for children, I’d avoid those words, because children may not fully understand that context. And if I was writing something for adults that was intended to inoffensive, I’d do the same. But when I’m writing a story for adults about serious matters, I’m going to dialog it with the vocabulary that serious adults use. If someone doesn’t like that, then they are not my audience, and they are invited not to read it… whether they are a puritan from my hometown in the Midwest, or a gay couple from San Francisco.

I am a fierce defender of free speech, but I’m not saying that anyone can write what they want with no consequences. If a retailer feels that someone’s work is offensive, they have a right to say so, and even not to sell it. But I would hope they would apply a more insightful standard than this. And I also have the right to speak up and say when I disagree, and in this case I do emphatically.

And I do this because I am a gay man, one who labors under burdensome rules saying that I can’t post (this), and I can’t sell comics containing (that). I would very much like to sell my comics in stores, but because of the explicitly homosexual content, the number who would carry them is very small. And it’s sadly ironic that, because I use the word “faggot” in dialog – because people do – a store owned by a gay couple would be on the side of those who would not.

* Since the statement was posted under an account shared by the owners I don’t know which of the two was the author, so I’ll refer to them by the name used on the account.

JAQrabbit Tales

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The JAQrabbit Tales web site has gone live, and the first episode – all 6 pages of it – have been posted. This has been literally years in the making, so I’m pretty damn excited about it!

New pages (usually two at a time) will be posted every Monday, which will continue for the foreseeable future. Seriously: I have well over a year’s material ready, and I’m busy working on more.