Now, there may have been some scoffing when Heidi MacDonald put forward the idea of message boards and comment sections acting as real-time wikis and editors for online journalism, but here’s something that makes me think that there may be something to the idea… When Rich Johnston’s Lying In The Gutters originally went up this week, it contained a story that isn’t there anymore. Here’s a Google cached version of the page, which contained the following:
Juan Barranco is a Spanish artist who recently pencilled an issue of “GI Joe” and is now working with Axel Alonso at Marvel. He pencilled “Squadron Supreme” #6, soon to be published, and has other projects in the works.
All well and good, except he doesn’t actually exist. Juan’s real name is Oscar Jimenez Garrido, who as “Oscar Jiminez” worked for both Marvel and DC a few years ago. He built up problems with deadlines and found himself in conflict with a number of editors before discovering that work dried up.
So he decided to turn over a new leaf, meet deadlines and become more accommodating. And also change his name in order to get work again, using an agent so he wouldn’t have any direct contact.
Is that the sound of a number of other creators rushing to their deed poll office?
So, why isn’t that story there anymore? Because it’s not true. And we know that because Millarworld got on the case.
The issue was first raised by MW regular, Bruno:
“Rich, i’m curious, did you talk to Oscar before you printed this tidbit? We are talking about something that might destroy his career and means of support, after all.”
Not that everyone agreed with such an altruistic, caring, attitude:
“I kind of have to side with Rich on this one. If in fact this artist has changed his ways and is trying to make a fresh start then he should do it under his real name. Changing your name to get more work bc the name you used before has become tainted I think is a little dishonest and a bit of a cop out. How is that any different than what Pat Lee did with his company?”
“It is my understanding that Lee owed a bundle of money to people. I was enquiring if Oscar had a chance to defend himself, because usually Rich would add something like ‘Oscar didn’t answer my emails on this subject’ or something if he had aproached him. Which, obviously he should have, and i hope he did.”
The plot thickens, first when Rich replies…:
“Didn’t have a direct contact – but let’s say I talked to… a representative.”
…and then when Carlos Fraile, another MW regular who has apparently has some form of contact with Oscar Jimenez, posts the following:
“I have confirmation that Jimenez calls bullshit on the story [...] more news to follow”
“Now that is interesting. And indeed worrying. firstname.lastname@example.org always, or [No, I'm not going to post his phone number here, even though he left it at Millarworld...].”
“I’m sure that Oscar’s work will speak for himself and people will wellcome his return to comics, no matter the name. I had to raise the flag on this issue because the story in LITG seriously contradicts what for a long time I’ve heard/known from people close to Oscar about ‘what really happened’”
“Indeed. And if he chose to change a name to smooth that for whatever reason, more power to him. And raise away. If there’s an error, I’ve always been one to try and rectify it – mostly before, but if something slips through then immediately afterwards. And Millarworld has been key in pointing out a number of my foolishnesses over the years. Consider LITG to be your WikiLITG. Though I’m still slightly smarting that the last major revision, was due to a wacky crazy story I posted that Adam Hughes was doing All Star Wonder-Woman that was totally denied…”
“Just in [...] Juan Barranco IS NOT Oscar Jimenez [...] Oscar is not back in comics right now”
The reaction… pretty much what you’d expect:
“So the big scoop of the week is not even actually a scoop? That’s hilarious.”
“Natural mistake, all spaniards look the same anyway.”
“So he may have just destroyed the career of a completly innocent party?”
To Rich’s credit, he quickly updates with the following:
“Thing [is], it is was double checked without contradiction. Which makes it curioser and curioser. Story has been pulled, apology posted in its place.”
And the column now runs this piece in place of the original story:
Earlier today, the column reported than new Marvel artist Juan Barranco was a pseudonym for Oscar Jimenez Garrido. It appears that this is totally and utterly false.
Looks like this column has been thoroughly pwned, punked, snacked, or whatever the cool kids are saying these days by an ingenious misrepresentation, which was then corroborated by other sources. Arses.
Apologies to all. Especially Juan and Oscar.
My thanks to Carlos Fraille for his assistance in this matter.
Not that this stops the, if you will, “rock” at Millarworld:
“So you pulled the story that you stood by?”
“Lets See, Rich got information, double checked it, ran it, defended it because his sources checked out. When confronted by new information that is verifiable and totally contradicts the previous information, he pulls the story and apologizes, and YOUR STILL GIVING HIM GRIEF!?! Hell their are still mainstream reporters that are standing by their stories when they have been proven false. Rich did the right thing here. He made an error and corrected it. Pretty amazing for a dead guy, right?”
“Did they spell Carlos’ name wrong?”
“Yep. He should have double checked his sources.”
“I see a problem here. You’re making an assumption that people would take anything in a Rich Johnston column seriously.
be careful now… I know it’s all proven to be false now (thank god) but isn’t a four page thread on the matter really just encouraging Mr. Johnston that is he is, in fact, doing a good job? (and now it’s five pages thanks to my incluson – awesome [...] Time and time again, (and twice in this very column) Lying in the Gutters has proven to be filled with just empty gossip and half truths rather than actual journalism. Surely we can just rise above all this, and simply ignore LiTG until it goes away?? simply a thought.”
“LITG is a LITG, you have to take it as it his, Me i say gossip column, sometimes right, sometime wrong. You just wish it does not hurt people but hey people got to take responsability.”
“[I]t’s a self-fulfilling prophesy – the more people read the column (and then post over it), the more credibility possibly damaging rumours are lent. So, say, if the column goes up and hardly anyone reads it, and nobody discusses the consequences, it becomes ‘something someone said on the internet’. If there’s a large readership (particuarly compared to the sales figures of the books being discussed), and lots of discussion on message-boards about it, suddenly editors and creators have to take notice of it, because it’s ‘posted on that famous column’. It’s this kind of snowball effect that led to the power Harry Knowles gained for a while. If someone posts something like this on newsarama, there’s a big flamewar and nobody treats it seriously. LitG is treated seriously. So the condemnation is really fuel for the fire. I’m not advocating anything here, and I’m aware that ‘doing nothing’ isn’t a solution. But it’s a complex problem, and while actions here are laudable, in the broader sense *everyone* is making this worse. Me too.”
“I think the people who make career altering decisions based on LiTG are the same people who believe Britney Spears f*cked Bigfoot and is carrying his child. I like LiTG and click on it for entertainment. Some people click on LiTG like the christian right watch pornography. They claim they hate it so but they feel a duty to civilization to endure the smut. Those brave, brave souls.”
“The sad/funny part is that some people believe that editors/execs at Marvel/DC actually give a shred of credence to anything that Rich prints. Of course, it would be so much sadder if that were TRUE, but even I don’t think the editors of the Big Two are THAT dumb… Nearly, but not quite. After all, as has been pointed out, it’s a column about a man who lies in the GUTTERS. He doesn’t hide that fact, and actually promotes it. I refuse to believe that anyone’s reputation can be damaged by Rich Johnston, except among the internet-comic-fanboy crowd, and we all know how much esteem the suits at the Big Two have for *that* crowd…”