For comic and film writer Preston Poulter, he thought it would be another day setting up at a convention to sell his wildly successful comic books, which Poulter says he does nearly every weekend around the country.
But he didn’t realize that he’d be harassed by an online twitter troll who has bullied him and other indie comic creators for months to try to harass them out of the industry. The alleged stalker is Mat Hansen, who goes by the pseudonym “Panboy” on Twitter and Youtube, a member of a group called War Campaign who dedicate their entire lives to harassing independent comic creators. Much of the War Campaign’s tactics include relentless berating of creators and photoshopping their faces onto sexually explicit images with dildos and in homoerotic situations– which I will not post here because of their extreme graphic nature.
Pan often goads creators, daring one to meet him in a local park, presumably to instigate some sort of fist fight or other form of physical violence.
This weekend, the threats online trolls have made to Preston Poulter were made very real, as a man in a mask showed up at Poulter’s table to harass him in person with the following bizarre and creepy exchange according to Poulter:
“On Friday a man dressed in a blue Captain America hoodie and an Iron Man mask approached my table with one of the show’s programs and asked me to sign it. He has his phone out and war recording it.
I told him there was no place to sign the program, and he irritably said, “Just sign it anywhere.’
I found a blank spot and said, “OK. What do you want it to say?”
His reply was, “To Ethan.”
“And what are we saying to Ethan?”
“From Pocket Pussy.”
“Not gonna write that.”
“Why not? It’s what you are!”
“I take it you watched the Wenger stream?”
“Where you ran away from Ethan because you were too big a coward to face him?”
“Where I explained that people can call me names, but that doesn’t mean I have to participate with their conduct.”
“From Pocket Pussy!”
“Fine. From Preston then.”
I signed it.
“From this angle I can see your bald spot! I’ve got it on camera.”
“Neat. I got a picture of it too.”
“Haha. You’re going bald. But somehow you’re the leader of those against #Comicsgate.”
“I kind of am. Crazy, right?”
“You’re a coward and a pussy!”
“OK. Enough with you, get out of here.” He called me some more names and left.”
The unstable action was followed by Panboy posting a picture to his Twitter account several hours later which showed he was at the same restaurant as Poulter– The Yardhouse, which is two full miles from the convention center. Another act which appears to have been intended to intimidate Poulter from selling his books at the convention.
Poulter didn’t let the incident get him down, but rather posted his sales figures for the weekend where he went on to sell thousands of his popular books White Lily and Guinevere and the Divinity Factory.
This incident is a further escalation in a string of incidents where the group identifying as War Campaign has targeted and harassed several indie creators, including myself, as I received threats of beheading from one of their leaders in September 2018. The group tried to gaslight me on the incident claiming the tweets were fake until it was finally admitted they were real on Ethan Van Sciver’s livestream. Despite the admission, none of those involved ever apologized to me for claiming they were fake.
There have been dozens of other incidents, but this marks the first time we know of a physical action taken to stalk a creator. It makes going to conventions, public appearances, and the act of selling independent books a dangerous act, something convention organizers should be well-aware of and hopefully provide security to handle such incidents.
As fans and creators we must all stand to condemn actions like this. No one should be bullied from selling their books. No one should be harassed like this. Comic books are supposed to be fun and for everyone, not just for a few part of an “approved fandom” club who now make physical threats to try to keep others from enjoying the medium they claim to promote.
You can support Poulter’s books here. Please share this and make other creators and fans aware of this horrific situation in hopes we can avoid this ever happening again.
Check out my #1 Bestselling Comic that also has the harassers in a fit. They did a 5-hour livestream on YouTube Saturday berating me and claiming I “don’t care about comics”. Funny, as I’ve produced 22 issues in less than 2 years. The angry, bitter trolls don’t want you to read great stories because it shines a light on the fact that they’re about suppressing comics from readers, not promoting them. Read today, no crowdfund, no wait: