I know, I know. You’re wondering when I’m going to mention the incredible cluster(word that rhymes with “muck”) surrounding Rick Olney and TightLip Entertainment.
For those who haven’t been paying attention, let’s let Gail Simone set the scene:
Rick’s got a LOOOOOOONG history of meltdowns on the internet. People have some hilarious stories about him, and I doubt none of them. The guy is, to be kind, odd as hell.
He’s one of those guys that talk about honor and integrity as if he were the only one that has those qualities, despite regularly being in the middle of serious ethical problems such as repeatedly not paying people when promised.
He talked me into paying my own way to his ‘convention (which was a nightmare, but I felt bad for him at the time), to be reimbursed before I actually left home.
That was a lie.
Then I was to be paid when I got there.
That was a lie.
Then I was to be paid immediately after (the check would ‘beat me home,’ he said.
That was a lie.
You get the picture. My mom was in the hospital and I needed to be reimbursed. Rick’s defenses got angrier and more bizarre, but I tried to work with him and be polite for a long time. Finally I got the bulk of the payment, months after being promised. But the remainder, a hundred dollars by his account, he continued to lie about, ’til after TWO YEARS (I kid you not), I finally told him to keep it, I didn’t want it anymore and I never wanted to deal with his bizarre excuses again.
Lesson learned, right? Now I get lots of references from people I trust for every small con I attend, and have never had another problem, not one. Every other con I’ve gone to has been well-run and extremely honest in their dealings with me.
Anyway, Rick, who fancies himself a huge wheel in comics (for reasons that are beyond me even though he spent hours talking about himself after the con), decided to start a comics company called Tightlip Entertainment. Predictably, he isn’t paying people when promised. They were supposed to be paid in fifteen days, but haven’t been paid yet and it’s months later. Pros with sterling reputations for honesty and professionalism have not only not been paid, but are being threatened with lawsuits by Rick Olney for having the ‘disloyalty’ to speak out, so other creators won’t be taken in.
A more repulsive display of unprofessionalism I can’t imagine.
Anyway, there’s more, a lot more. I’ve spoken out, and Rick has repeatedly threatened to sue me. Hilariously, I have saved every email he ever sent me (once I realized he wasn’t trustworthy), and in his own words, he lies to me over and over again.
I was willing to let the matter die. It was worth it to be rid of him. But I am furious that he has not only not paid these hard-working professionals whose only crime is trusting Olney, but that he’s threatening them all with lawsuits when HE is the one who broke the agreement and acted in bad faith.
…I keep getting email from other people who have been stiffed by him, and now he’s lost Ronee Burgois, one of the kindest and most generous people I’ve ever met, and Rick’s former PR manager. The reason? Surprise surprise, he hasn’t paid her in seven months.
It’s been the story that just won’t die – Gail’s thread, for example, is now at 267 pages as I write this, and for those who don’t have the time or inclination to read through all of that – me included, because, seriously, 267 pages? – then Rich Johnston has a nice story-so-far at LiTG this week:
For brevity, Mark Waid has offered to pay for anyone owed money by Olney or TightLip to file a suit, if they can’t afford the legal fees. Kurt Busiek has provided a business plan for creators to use the work they provided for Rick. Gail Simone has started posting emails from Rick that promised payment that never arrived. And a number of other industry names have turned up to make disapproving comments in Rick’s direction who has, to every point, batted them back, even stating that he’s now spending more on legal instead of paying back the owed creators. Tim Tobolski has posted one of the infamous NDAs and has drawn the conclusion that there’s nothing there to prevent unpaid creators from talking about it. Other named creators who appear to be owed money include Mike Bullock, Flint Henry, Dave Lanphear and Sergio Cariello. But there seem to be a fair few more unnamed. And now Ronee Bourgeois has expanded on her resignation in her new Mike Netzer-hosted column.
You see, it’s the Ronee Bourgeois column that caught my eye. Ronee, you may remember, was the woman who announced to the world the Taki Soma allegations at WW:Chicago last year, albeit in a way so vague that rumors started flying about the wrong people almost immediately. Anyway, she starts her latest column like this:
I know what you and everyone expected me to do with this particular column. I was to come out full throttle and make the kind of statements and expel the piss and vinegar I am known for. Honestly, I wanted to. I wanted to come out with this huge exposé letting everyone into all the things I know and was made privy to in my time working for you and TightLip.
And come on, honestly, that is what everyone wants to read whether they would agree with my tactic or not. Because this kind of shit is entertaining! And truthfully, watching your very public mental breakdown HAS been amusing while digging you further and further into the hole you have made yourself.
All of which would lead you to think that, well, maybe Ronee has wised up to the game that is internet spectacle, and won’t write an angry column exposing dirty laundry, instead showing restraint and tact in a situation where there hasn’t been any so far.
Only joking! No, Ronee has written a bitter rant:
Just show me one… ONE happily paid person that is or has ever been, employed by you. And yes, I know you say you want to protect them and other such bullshit, so have them write or call me in person. I just want to talk to one. Not too much to ask. I will publicly post any and all statements in your defense and do so happily Rick. Just send them my way.
As for your personal threats to me. Bring it on. In fact, give me the name and number of your lawyer; I really want to discuss some things with him. If you want to get dirty and go personal, well I have no problem with that either. I just doubt you want to go to that level with me now do you??
You say all I have to do is sign the NDA and contract (that you had ME rewrite and last I checked I have NO law experience) and I will get paid. Well, you said months ago that I was being paid. The check got lost in the mail. You sent it two-day air WEEKS ago. Yet it never showed. And now you want me to sign a meaningless contract and NDA that I wrote myself so you can do this properly and legally. You idiot.
Sue me. SUE ME! You won’t get shit. I worked for you. I got nothing. Nothing but truth on my side and the knowledge that comes with learning a hard lesson.
(Of course, it wouldn’t really be a Ronee column without some patronizing commentary slipped in to show how much she cares: “I truly feel sorry for you. Since comparing notes with others it is all so clear now that you have this sick cycle going on. And we can all see that you seriously need to seek professional help. I urge you Rick, to do just that.” Such caring may cause others trouble, but she’s still unrepentant, bless her.)
Now, you may wonder why this column is posted on Mike Netzer’s site, of all places. Well, Mike explained his love for Ronee previously:
Her huge heart became evident in the comics community last year when Ronée stepped out on a limb to expose an incident of sexual assault at the Mid-Ohio Con, in her What A Girl Wants column at PopCultureShock, perpetrated against popular fan personality, Taki Soma. Hinting at the accused without specifically naming him, Beourgeois was taken to task as industry reporters errantly attempted to name the assailant. When his identity was finally revealed as that of director of the CBLDF, the comics press rallied to his defense, watering down the veracity of the assault and criticizing Beourgeois. Though the assailant confessed to a diluted version of the incident and apologized to his victim, Beaurgois continued to absorb criticism for her courageous reporting.
But the real reason may be the role he has chosen in this particular comics Civil War:
In an effort to bring the disputing parties together and avoid an ill fated litigation process, a peace initiative is in the works to bring the two sides to the negotiating table. The planned 346 page document outlining the initiative, lays out the history of the dispute and proposes the following steps to mending bridges and bringing peace again between Tight Lipped Entertainment and the creartors whom they owe funds to… It’s understood that this is a first rough draft of the initiative and that some minor adjustments might be made during the negotiations. The comics community awaits the response of the parties involved and looks forward to putting this fiasco behind us.
There is perhaps only one way for this whole mess to get more entertaining and indicative of the comics industry today – TightLip becomes a Marvel studio, a la Dabel Bros, and suddenly Joe Quesada and Mark Millar get themselves involved. Imagine the Christmas songs we could hear!