July 3rd, I heard the ramblings of what was to become the beginnings of what is refuted to on the Internet as “Tablegate.” From the events which transpired at Montreal Comic Con MCC… from my point of view (and I read everything) things were so taken out of context it led to a massive snowball effect that has made me look at individuals I respected in this industry in a whole new light.
I was not there and nor were MANY of the people who had plenty to say on the Internet. I was reading the same tweets and “click-bait” articles that loved to post funny burn-tweets rather than do some real reporting. As much as I wanted to write an article for PopcultHQ of my personal dealings with Arthur Suydam and give my two cents on the matter…….it is not my, nor my site’s, place to do so (even as much as I have an opinion like everyone else). I also pride in being a news media writer, so I have to, in the end, do the right thing. Comics is my passion and that is how I feel. So on that very same night I read those first tweets, I personally reached out to Arthur Suydam for an interview on his side of events.
Here are the tweets that started the whole mess by Jim Zub, Rachel Richey and Francis Manapul as other creators were drawn and dragged into it with a fury.
Jim Zub’s view:
“to the “big” name creator who took 4 (!) artist alley table spaces, forcing other people from their assigned spots, you are human garbage. He just shows up early, sets up his gargantuan booth and takes down the signage for the people next to him. no regard for anyone else. the show wedges tables in elsewhere for them and their fans can’t find them because their location has changed. It’s not me. I’m fine. I watch it happen to other creators it makes me furious. if it was me I would NOT let it stand”
Rachel Richey’s view:
“As of about an hour ago I was actually starting to feel a little bad for Arthur until he came over with his agent and had her ‘speak to [Francis Manapul] and (earlier) [Dan Parent] about the miscommunication. He would have had to go past my table to get back to his, but he disappeared. Apparently I, for reasons I can probably guess right, don’t deserve the non apology that Francis and Dan got. What makes me even more angry is that he had his agent blame the organizers who are honestly the kindest people ever. I’m actually amazed that he’s managed to show how crappy he is. I was more than willing to look past it but honestly, his response is exhausting and disappointing. There was no miscommunication, he bullied the convention, took what he wanted, lied about it, hid behind his agent and tried to pass the blame. At least I can say I stood up for myself and hopefully changed the outcome of future shows.”
Francis Manapul’s view:
“Throughout the day I got a lot of confused/relieved people who approached my table and told me tales of their long journey. I just replied my location should be in the back. Unbeknownst to me was that I was actually in the wrong spot because I had been displaced by Arthur. I just thought, “weird”. Rachel and some other creators made me aware that the previous night, Arthur had taken down my name along with her own and Dan Parent’s and moved us to another location in order to set up on ours.”
Geof Isherwood’s View: (Given exclusively to PopcultHQ)
“I arrived to find I had been relocated. Not far, three tables away. No big deal, it happens often. I’m not sure about the artists on either side. Made no difference to the fans. I heard about Art stealing tables , etc. But I highly doubted it because he has the same set-up I’ve seen at half a dozen other cons. So, when I asked the artists liaison for the show later he said it was because the planners didn’t put Renee’s artist group together,which they were supposed to be, in a row, and that no extra tables were taken. All had the tables assigned to them. The other thing is it brought plenty of haters out if the woodwork. And plenty of “media” ready to make a mountain out of a molehill”
Renee Witterstaetter’s view:
Here are excerpts from Renee’s Witterstaetter’s eye witness accounts of the event on her own blog, which has been supported by other creators in her group that were there for set up
“When we arrived for set up on Thursday, there was a snafu with the table lineups for all the artists. None of the agreed table amounts were accounted for. In order to correct the problem, everyone had to be moved.
Later, when Arthur became aware that there was some discontent, he volunteered to do what he could with the show promoters, to make the other artists happy, when it became evident that they were not aware of the logistical moves that were made on Thursday. Several people are witness to that conversation. He even said he’d move for them.
At that point he had paid for electricity in the new approved spot and the other artists seemed happy in their spots with added tables etc. Dan said he didn’t want to move and Francis seemed fine with more tables. At least that’s what they said when Arthur, myself and several other people met to discuss it with them in person. (Isn’t that a novel idea.) Rachel was not at her table, so I didn’t meet her until later in the weekend, but spoke with her as well.
In Short: No changes were made without the shows knowledge and no artist made any arbitrary changes on their own. Any artist there for set up was informed of the changes, and I’m sure others, who weren’t there for set up, were told as soon as they could be told.
As Yanick suggested to me, perhaps we all should have considered a simple statement saying there were “Last minute Floor Changes necessary after the printing of the program” and that would have sufficed! It’s not the first show where placements have been off, afterall!
So, in the end, NONE of us were where we were originally supposed to be on the map. But it appears that all the fans found us anyway and everyone had a great time at the event. The fans were tremendous, actually!”
Arthur Suydam Exclusively Speaks To PopcultHQ
Yesterday, July 7th, I heard back from Arthur Suydam who responded back to my interview request with his side of the events:
Ok Arthur , what was your point of view of the events at MCC?
Arthur Suydam: “When we arrived from to the United States to Canada to set up on Thursday night , Mike Zeck , Mike Golden , R Wittersteatter , myself, assistants and another artist, noticed there was a snafu with the Montreal tables floor-plan –table placements were wrong and had to be addressed. To fix the problem we essentially all moved over 10 feet to make room for everyone’s tables so all the artists could get their contracted tables and the show could meet its commitment to the artists. A relatively simple fix. The Montreal CC artist-alley-floor manager oversaw the adjustment and approved of any changes. They could have said “no” at any time. Not a big deal . All the show had to do was send out a message that the floor plan had to be adjusted and there would have been no misunderstanding .
On the following day the four artists moved from the end, who like all of us had to move, had not been made aware of any changes
The show promoters have since come out and corroborated these facts , however, the damage has been done, and their statement claiming “partial responsibility” isn’t very clear . There are only a handful of individuals who were there at set up, and they are the only ones that know what happened”
PopcultHQ: One simple question that will explain away all of this? Does Arthur Suydam have a contract rider always requesting four table at all shows.
Here’s what Renee posted:
Renee: “Each show any artist I know contracts the number of tables we need. Arthur acts as his own agent, with me occasionally as his booking agent–so he generally works his own contracts, but I can say that at this show he was contracted for 4 tables. Other artists I work with were contracted for other amounts. Everyone has their own deal.
When we got there, Arthur was wedged between Golden and Zeck, and we were short 7 tables for the group – and Golden and Zeck were shorted 4 tables by themselves. I had been placed on the other side of the room and needed to sit with Michael and Mike. So my table had to be moved to be with them. One of my other artists was also moved to be with my group. So, Arthur was moved to help everyone out. This scenario has never varied. The show managers oversaw and implemented these changes. The spot that we tried first was an L shape that didn’t work because his booth wouldn’t fit and We were also told we couldn’t go further into the room due to codes. So Arthur was moved, with the shows knowledge, to an end where there was space.
We assumed everyone would be told. When we found out they weren’t, with the shows permission, Michael Golden (since it was our tables that originally necessitated to be moved), myself and Suydam, went over to talk to Francis and Dan and told them what happened and Michael and I are witness to Arthur offering to move for them if that’s what they wanted. Something that would have taken over 3 hours with his set up. Francis said he liked having extra space where he was and didn’t want to move (somehow they had ignored the fire code and added some tables). Dan said he didn’t want to break down and move either.
In total that day on Thursday, I witnessed the staff move around for various reasons, not just myself, Arthur, Dan, Rachel and Francis, but also SIX other artist tables. So at least 11 creators that I know of were moved to something other than where they were on the original map.
It’s rather disappointing that some individuals who weren’t present at set-up and were not aware of the floor plan changes thought the best idea was to bash another creator on-line, when they knew nothing of the situation.
It was all an unfortunate incident that could have been avoided with good communication, OR seeing a floor map before the show. But I do sincerely appreciate the help that the Montreal show gave on Thursday to help with the set up. it was a bear “
MCC Official Public Statement:
After doing all my reporting I come up with this very simple explanation: THERE WAS NO TABLEGATE!!
Updated Note: July, 10 2015; As the writer of this article I just want to make it clear. The information is there for the public to make their own judgments and every other creator and fan has their own personal interactions with each individual creator of their own. MCC will not release anymore information on this matter. No one else will go on record including Jim Zub or other creators claiming to be witness to any wrong dongs of Suydam at MCC. My conclusion and final thoughts are MY OWN CONCLUSION and Final Thoughts. They are in no way being forced on anyone to accept.
– My main question is…..did Jim Zub, Rachel Richey, Francis Manapul and these “other creators” know the actual logistics behind the shows table set up and evident floor managers mess up or not.
– A person whose work in the industry I respect a lot Renee Witterstaetter. She is a person who not only do I highly respect her work, I most importantly respect her integrity over some poor tweets. I’ve worked with Renee also, as well, for she has set up many of the interviews I’ve done at Wizard World Cons in my surrounding states. This is a source I can fully endorse with an article on my site.
– Whomever decided the floor layout either screwed up, or was not made aware of certain table needs.
– It appears that someone behind the scenes was perhaps saying two different things to two different groups of artists, putting Arthur under the bus.
– There is an original floor plan that was on the MCC website that showed the layout before the show and how it was originally……that map has since been taken down from the website. But it is printed in the program book if anyone has a copy.
– Jim Zub was not there for set up, but has now made a lot of new friends and “supporters” over an event he did not witness. In the end It was over nothing and looks like his own misplacled “feelings” got him a lot of followers he didn’t have before and never asked those involved what happened. The question is why? To get his name in print? He’s certainly done that! And to date, he has issued no apology. Although he did tweet at one point “Let’s let the show organizers work this out” in an attempt to undo some of the damage perhaps. Too little too late….
My Final Thoughts
I did write one thing on July 3rd about Tablegate: I will leave this one thought. A quote I have to live by to stay unbiased in my line of work.
“You shouldn’t tear down a person in public….when you do that…..you could be tearing down someone else’s hero”
Not calling Suydam my hero at all…..just saying, you should be careful when criticizing another person of their work in public. Most comic book creators in the industry I have to say I’m pretty ashamed of lately. I wonder what would happen when their time comes to slip and stumble in a court of public opinions and they can’t do nothing about it………..
– Rachel, Frances, Mark (Especially Mark Waid), Erik, Ron and every other creator and fan that are all jumping the bash bandwagon not knowing the full details of the show and how the table switches was even developed has been a shame to see. I feel a lot of people on the Internet gave this unsubstantiated story way too much validation by jumping in with their jokes and scenarios of “if it was me I would have done…”.
A lot of people owe Arthur Suydam who’s mother was born in Montreal by the way — an apology for In the end, there was NO REAL TABLEGATE!!
– Jim Zub has made a lot of new friends and “supporters”, but in the end it was over nothing and he’s just kept on rolling with it. No apology has been made even after the floor plan mess-up had been uncovered.
Wrong or right…….events that transpired the way they did on Twitter will always come down to views of options of the people who were actually there. I do know of the other “table stories” going around and I need to talk to to those people before I report or say anything more on that. I will have to do a sit down interview in the near future with Suydam to get those other stories their time to be busted or proven.
– Manny Popoca – Owner @PopcultHQ.Com