comScore

Alt-Right Fandom Circles Have Been Attacking and Doxxing People for Disagreeing With Them

A threatening tweet and an angry emoji on a phone.

The alt-right has taken root in fandom. Like any parasitic plant, once it takes hold, it attempts to strangle the life out of everything around it, drain them of energy until they perish. There are factions on the internet—be they GamerGate, the Sad/Rabid Puppies, ComicsGate, #IStandWithVic/Weeb Wars—who wish to fight a culture war against what they see as a liberal agenda to dominate media.

There are a multitude of individuals who have spoken against these alt-right groups.

And these individuals have been targeted in ways that put their personal safety in jeopardy.

In writing this article, I reached out to several individuals I knew had personally been targeted. In doing so, I talked to online media critic Kaylyn Saucedo (more famously, MarzGurl), artist Tim Doyle, comic writer Kwanza Osajyefo, and cosplayer/comic writer Renfamous about their experiences with online harassment. What they told me needs to be heard.

Trigger warning: The following article contains detailed accounts of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, threats of violence and sexual assault, racism, and a lot of harassment. Screenshots of harassment will be provided to supplement the information provided.

What Are ComicsGate and IStandWithVic?

A lot of what follows will be difficult to understand without a little context. What is ComicsGate? Who “stands with Vic?” Hell, who even is Vic?

ComicsGate is a movement started by Richard C. Meyer and later co-opted by former DC-artist Ethan van Scriver. The movement stands in opposition to the “social justice-driven agenda” of mainstream comics. On the surface, the group appears to be promoting politically conservative indie comics.

But most people who have interacted with members of ComicsGate know better.

I honestly can’t say it better than Osajyefo did: “Everything about ComicsHate is based on bigotry and politics using targeted harassment. Period.”

When asked, Tim Doyle explained ComicsGate in the following terms: “ComicsGate is a hate group—it’s always been a hate group. The founding principle of ComicsGate is hate—hate of women and minorities in what was previously perceived as exclusively a straight/white/male space. And, since the people that started that movement come from the alt-right, they had a blueprint on how that hate—that false sense of victimization they feel as white men—that can be monetized very, very easily.”

The hashtag IStandWithVic has a very different origin. When popular voice actor Vic Mignogna was accused of sexual harassment/assault and fired from both Funimation and Rooster Teeth, many of his diehard fans defended him online, arguing that, until proof was provided of any wrongdoing, he could not be fired.

Rumors surrounding Mignogna’s misconduct have circulated for years. The campaign to hold him accountable started both within the voice acting community, with actresses like Monica Rial standing at the forefront, and within the anime fandom. One vocal critic of Mignogna was Kaylyn Saucedo herself, who started the hashtag #KickVic after several fans came forward with their experiences with Mignogna. Saucedo told me,

I had witnessed strange and psychically sexual behavior out of Vic 13 years ago that directly conflicted with the Christian image he was trying to create for himself publicly…Not only that, but it seemed like at least once a year if not more than, I’d have conversations with other people in the anime convention circuit about Vic and a wide variety of his behaviors, not just in how physical he would get with his fans but in how much of a diva he apparently was to work with.

So, after people were already talking about it and bringing it back into the spotlight (seemingly now more than ever), I went ahead and suggested that hashtag, back on I believe January 16th. And I did it sort of lazily, not really knowing whether or not it would even matter. My hope was that people could start to keep track of stories that way, so they wouldn’t all get lost. But if I had to be honest with myself, I was fully expecting it to flop, because people had kept bringing up concerns about Vic for years, and none of those concerns had ever been taken seriously. I really thought it would be the same again this time. For whatever reason, this time people were listening. And even though it also brought a lot of angry fans, it meant that the stories were finally being heard, and for that I was shocked and somewhat relieved, even through the intense harassment.

Regardless, though, of whether they fight in the battlefield of anime or comics, the core ideologies remain the same, with many players transitioning from one group to the next without much difficulty.

All of this has much in common with the older GamerGate movement, where large populations of people harassed video game creators and journalists over perceived issues with “ethics in journalism.” Of course, as the movement continued, it became clear that this core argument was a mere front, and that tactic has carried over to these like-minded movements.

As put perfectly by Ren,

There is a large amount of overlap in the membership of these two groups; while they each contain a small number of individuals with a true interest in what they are “protecting” (comics/Vic Mignogna, respectively), the vast majority of each group consists of individuals who are interested only in the potential ground to be gained in what they call the “culture war.”

The “culture war” is of course their all-encompassing struggle against PoC, queer folks and women who have attempted assert their right to be seen in pop culture media and hold jobs in the related industries without being harassed or discriminated against.

How It Starts

Many people don’t understand how easy it is to become targeted by groups like ComicsGate. In my personal experience, I once replied to a Twitter thread with an innocuous enough comment that must’ve pissed off the wrong people, because I soon had two big names in the alt-right ComicsGate movement in my mentions: Richard C. Meyer and Ethan van Scriver.

It turns out my experience is far from unusual.

When I was talking to Osajyefo, he informed me that, for him, his harassment started when he was “defending a stranger (Heather Antos) from an antagonistic asshole (Richard C Meyer). I became the target because I clowned him.”

For Tim Doyle, the situation was very similar: “Over two years ago, I had seen several comic book pros talking about Ethan being a boot licking online troll, did some digging, and had all that confirmed, and more. So I put together a post on twitter that included screenshots—and after that, shit hit the fan. Shortly after that, Richard Meyer and Ethan started ComicsGate and began targeting me for harassment. That’s continued through to the present day.”

For both Osajyefo and Doyle, it started because they had a direct confrontation with key figures in the ComicsGate community. Ren, however, didn’t have a real direct confrontation with the two key figures. For her, her general role in the fandom community put her in the crosshairs. “As a woman and an ally, I’m a vocal advocate for this representation and have thus become ‘fair game’ for the abusive tactics employed by those who oppose it.”

For Saucedo, after starting the #KicVic hashtag, only the most hardcore of Mignogna fans attacked her. “That was mostly manageable enough, as it seemed these people were just so enamored by the person they were such a big fan of that they could not see the possibility that their idol may have actually harmed people.”

But this changed when ComicsGate YouTuber YellowFlash (followed by another ComicsGate alumn, That Umbrella Guy) saw a chance for their fifteen minutes of fame. As Saucedo put it, “People like YellowFlash specifically then come along and make YouTube videos about the situation, and accuse [a] young woman of trying to fake evidence. Again, the woman has no idea what’s going on or who Vic even is or that there was any drama happening in the first place.”

The woman in question had been impersonated on Facebook. The impersonator argued that fans campaigning against Vic photoshop pictures of Vic groping people to “further the cause” of the #KickVic agenda. No photoshopping ever happened.

Saucedo continues,

When I learned about this happening, I made these tweets to denounce it, and to flag YellowFlash’s video for spreading misinformation (which, yes, is a thing you can flag a video for, and not for false copyright flagging, like many outsiders seemed to believe was happening).

It seems that by trying to defend an innocent person, I poked the wrong bear, not realizing that YellowFlash was a fairly major bad-faith player in ComicsGate, or how rabid his fans were, telling him that I was instructing people to copyright flag his video (which I didn’t say to do). Prior to this, people were not identifying me as much of a big issue. But YellowFlash decided to make himself out to be a victim.

In every case, these individuals opposed or disagreed with the alt-right. Briefly. But what followed proved to be a nightmare.

“Honest Debate”

If you’ve been on the internet for awhile, you have encountered right-wing e-celebrities who desire to engage in “intellectual debate.” These debaters traffic in poorly made, bad faith arguments to prove their points, often without any substantial evidence. They talk so loud and fast that they’re able to physically drown out what their opposition says. If the target of debate offers a counter, they then gaslight them by either exploiting some moralistic faux-comparision or just condescending to them to make them feel stupid.

Both ComicsGate and IStandWithVic seem to have learned from this tactic.

Osajyefo had several interactions with ComicsGate where he tried to engage in an honest discussion, but soon learned this was a fruitless effort:

What sadly took me a while to realize is how they take advantage of people’s good nature with bad faith arguments. It should be obvious from their unprovoked and absurd attacks of which are always from a position of political grievance; e.g. something a woman, person-of-color, and or LGBTQ is doing or has absent of their valueless approval. Which if solely by process of elimination, affirms they are mostly straight white nationalist men, some with contradictory affiliations to Christianity.

Despite their “debate me” call-to-action, you’re never having a conversation in good faith with them. Engaging directly with them always turns to schoolyard dehumanizing taunts, transparent projections, and if you get them better of them rhetorically—doxxing.

We will get to doxxing in a bit.

Harassment

Many members of both ComicsGate and IStandWithVic use Twitter and YouTube as platforms for their agendas. livestreams are often provided as a means to communicate.

In many cases, these livestreams are used to spread complete misinformation in order to justify the continued harassment of individuals, as Ren saw firsthand:

The previously-mentioned streamer That Umbrella Guy, with assistance from Ethan Van Sciver and other streamers, have taken to fabricating elaborate lies about me hoping to incite their followers to threaten me. To date, I have been accused of three doxxings, two swattings, one call to someone’s workplace, one call to CPS and the destruction of a mailbox three states away. All lies, obvious ones at that, but they served the intended purpose of giving comicsgate/Vic supporters an excuse physically threaten me, claiming it to be payback for a totally fabricated offense.

Saucedo backed this up: “There’s a lot of really incredibly stupid made up theories about me, including that I’ve spent all of my money on drugs (which I haven’t), but then there’s hurtful things like saying incredibly racially charged things about my Hispanic husband.”

But beyond just lies spread about her, crude photoshopped images have been created of Ren: “Personal photos from my social media accounts have been used to make grotesque photoshopped images, including ones where my face has been pasted into pornographic screenshots. Even my wedding photos weren’t safe—comicsgate supporters photoshopped themselves into photos of my bridal party and tagged Comicsgate creator/former comic pro Ethan Van Sciver into the Twitter thread where he immediately ‘liked’ the photos.”

Saucedo also ended up having lots of misinformation spread about her, most often in now-deleted YouTube streams that, thankfully, have been saved. She sent me one such video:

He titled this video, “MarzGurl wants to flag me for defending Vic Mignogna.” The title in and of itself is inaccurate, as me suggesting people flag his video for misinformation had nothing to do with Vic himself, but because his previous video was the direct source of death threats and harassment of an innocent bystander who had no skin in the game at all prior to him involving her. The video does not at all address that he made a mistake. It completely leaves out my first tweet of the two tweets addressing this video or why it is I told people about his video specifically.

From that point on, I became YellowFlash’s direct target and punching bag, and he continually incited anger in his audience, oftentimes outright fabricating or completely misattributing things I have said or done. He was the first (certainly of the big ComicsGater YouTubers) to dig back and figure out that I was the one who suggested the #KickVic hashtag, and then used that as ammunition to brand me as Enemy Number One.

Another common tactic is through body shaming. Ren is often mocked by being called either a “whale” or fat. “Vic Mignogna fans calling me fat on a daily basis, going as far as selling shirts depicting me as a whale. (I bought one and wear it proudly.)”

Their body shaming is not gender-specific. Tim Doyle informed me, “They went through all my personal photos on Facebook and Flickr, mocked me, made memes—all in an effort to silence me. The difference between what I did by highlighting Ethan’s actual bigotry—and the fat-shaming and lying they have done—is, well, pretty obvious. Their attempts at false equivalence is a tactic of the alt-right and other bad-faith debate tactics.”

They even went as far as to try to buy a website domain just in order to mock Renfamous, but Ren beat them to it.

Deplatforming and Doxxing

The two biggest tactics of these groups, however, appear to be doxxing and deplatforming. I myself have been targeted by The Umbrella Guy before for disagreeing with him, with him sending his followers to flag my posts. It wasn’t very effective with me, but others, such as Ren, were not so lucky:

As of the time of this e-mail my twitter account @Renfamous has been permanently suspended four times—the suspension was reversed upon appeal each time once twitter EVENTUALLY realized they were the result of targeted reporting campaigns by comicsgate/Vic supporters. The third and fourth suspensions specifically were an egregious abuse of twitter’s report function and their recently implemented rules against misgendering trans users.

To clarify, many individuals of the alt-right put gender-neutral pronouns in their Twitter profiles, then started flagging all users who had used male pronouns responding to them. This died away, however, when this convinced people to stop engaging with them online.

The most diabolical tactic these groups employ is doxxing. As Osajyefo puts it, “As most of them are anonymous, spreading false information comes with little repercussions, but finding and publicizing personal details (pictures, family, address, employment, etc) is their greatest fear and weapon. They have dedicated online forums for collecting and sharing their targets’ information—publicly decrying such tactics until it suits their purposes.”

Ren told me, “My home address has been posted in a Kiwi Farms thread frequented by comicsgate supporters, as well as an entirely separate thread for Vic Mignogna supporters. Also posted were names, photos and home addresses for my family members, phone numbers, purported employment information, and archives of my social media accounts. This information has three times been posted on Twitter.”

As a result of being doxxed, she has been on the receiving end of numerous people threatening violence against her and her loved ones.

It isn’t just Ren, either. When I asked Saucedo about doxxing, she told me,

I feel like Ren has probably said about as much, but Kiwi Farms is easily the largest source of the doxxing, as they have several threads in and around the topic of Vic Mignogna, and one thread solely dedicated to me.

Their threads have desperately tried to locate my place of business, my phone number, and my home. You can see them desperately trying to piece together and triangulate the region in which they believe I live. They share pictures of various residences they believe to be where I live, and in the major “Weeb Wars” thread they posted a copy of my marriage license and certificate. Although things like marriage certificates are publicly available for people to acquire, most people don’t do this sort of thing to each other, and the license is just a really uncomfortable and extremely personal sort of a thing to be spread around in any sort of a malicious way.

You don’t need me to explain why doxxing is a favorite tactic of the alt-right. By doxxing, they can directly threaten a person’s home address and Target not just the individual, but also their families and loved ones.

But Why?

But what do these people have to gain by this continued harassment? As Doyle sees it, it all comes down to money: “Wallets open up if you can convince angry young white men that they are being denied a birthright, and shown who has cost them that place. It’s an obvious grift—you only have to look at who is raising money, and how. All of us who stand opposed to them are not profiting off our moral stance, here. But when a ComicsGate ‘personality’ lies about being Doxxed for the third time in a year, and can monetize a mailbox falling over … you can see who the grifters here really are.”

Ultimately, many of these individuals start campaigns to produce comics and the like. These campaigns have financially been wildly successful for the people starting them. To use Ethan van Scriver as an example, he has run multiple IndieGoGo campaigns for his comic, Cyberfrog. However, despite being fully funded three times over, the comic missed its November 2018 release date and, as of now, has been continually delayed, despite supposedly being finished.

But YouTubers often use the anger directed at their targets to draw attention to their videos and livestreams. Hate has proven fruitful.

So What Should We Do?

Given the absurd lengths these online bullies reach, it can be daunting to even think of it. It might seem as though these people are a storm that destroys all in their path, but the reality is that, the more and more of their absurd actions are exposed, the weaker they become.

As Osajyefo put it,

Defending their victims, even to deflect attention away, is fruitless as either still yields the only things they want; attention and validation.Though shining an objective spotlight on their action has helped shut down a lot of their efforts as broad scrutiny often exposes their prejudices and topple their straw man arguments.

[I] learned that the most effective means of dealing with these attention-hungry sycophants is ignoring, blocking and reporting them. It’s also worthwhile to remind and encourage others not to engage them as it only sets off the trapping others fools in a grift around their personas. Your time is their money.

Many users have used blockchains to block hateful users from their content. This manages to protect themselves from potential suspensions, as well as keep these movements from targeting specific tweets of theirs.

I have alluded, throughout this article, to being targeted by these groups, which I have. They spent the better part of a year targeting me in various threads, with van Scrier going through old pictures of me to harass and target me. There are multiple livestreams where all these guys sit around calling me “prepubescent” and other emasculating and/or homophobic slurs.

So, I blockchained all of them. Start with Bounding Into Comics or Bleeding Fool, then blockchain all the followers to the core individuals mentioned in this article. Your life is too short to waste dealing with these people.

And, once they’re starved of content, they will be unable to direct hate toward anyone. After all, if no one engages, they will grow bored, but it is vital to expose their tactics in order to stop not just them, but any future alt-right internet group that might surface in the future.

(featured image: freestocks.org from Pexels)

Anthony Gramuglia has written for CBRScreenRantAnime Feminist, and Vocal. He is an MFA Graduate with an enthusiastic love for writing and all sorts of fandom stuff. You can follow him on Twitter at Check out @AGramuglia.

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Have a tip we should know? tips@themarysue.com

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue: