January 22, 2015
January 16, 2015
January 08, 2015
When I saw this strip 2 days ago, a part of me was shocked, even though I could understand what you tried to convey. I also remembered that the perspective people from another continent have is tremendously different from those with an inside view, especially when you’re right in the middle of a real massacre. This is why I decided to wait a little before writing this post, just to make sure I was a bit more clear-headed.
As a The Birds reader, I know what the characters stand for, and that the comments they utter might not necessarily echo the opinions of their author. Aren’t these characters a cynical mirror of our society after all? They’re dysfunctional, constantly at each other’s throat and seem to revel in adopting all the evils of our culture as a way to validate their existence. The Birds can thus be said to belong to the caricature genre, because, honestly, I can’t picture a Robin D. Laws pulling a gun out at anybody for any verbal threats he might receive or perceive, unlike his characters.
However, very few French RPGers have ever read The Birds and this strip that has been published just at the beginning of a series of tragic events which have seen their conclusion only yesterday –or so I really hope –really hurts. We haven’t started to lick our wounds yet. Grieving is at its beginning. People died and a symbol of freedom which is really dear to us, freedom of speech, was attacked in the most violent way.
Many of us grew up reading these cartoonists, laughing at their silly style and messages. They were, and are still part of our culture. These cartoonists made us all laugh, they shocked us, they would knock down what could be called the French establishment with their caricatures, if such a thing has ever existed here. But what is also clear is that at every new issue of Charlie Hebdo, the journalists, chroniclers and cartoonists voiced their own opinion in what’s going wrong in our country, but also in the world, opinions that would find an echo among many people, which would shake the certitudes held by many others and which would give them food for thoughts, but which would also cause a lot of outcries from fundamentalists and targeted politicians.
Then it happened. Since last Wednesday, 17 people have died, slaughtered by terrorists who are trying to force their laws on ours. The French people has been quick to react and the reaction of support from the whole world to this tragedy that hit us has really warmed our heart with blog posts, speeches and cartoons.
Conversely, many people arose on the internet, pointing fingers at this weekly newspaper and at what they denounced as racism and sexism. The debate shifted from standing up against terror and the attempt to crush down our freedom of speech to a debate about whether Charlie Hebdo was a “creepy racist”, misogynistic and anti LGBT newspaper.
Many have been justifying their claims by saying that if complaints were filed against them, only to be dismissed soon after by the French justice, it obviously means they’re guilty. Many arguments backing that view can be found on the social media. But I’m not writing this post to try and prove them wrong. I’m just trying to explain why your strip has hurt us.
As a side note, we've got a 40-year old law here - the Pleven law - which fines and/or sentences to jail any racist and hate acts, be they voiced or enacted. And if some French politicians have already been condemned thanks to this law, then I’ll leave the readers free to make their own judgment.
To come back to The Birds now, what I’m trying to tell you, Robin, is that you should know that all the French RPGers who have seen your recent strip strongly feel that you’ve endorsed the side of those who ‘re denouncing Charlie Hebdo as racist, that your characters mirror your own opinions, when what you actually meant was that their debate should wait.
But as I said at the beginning of this message, a part of me was shocked by your strip when I saw it too. This massacre is too recent, it has shaken us so violently, and nobody could see where your support was. We didn’t feel that you were empathizing with the events we’ve been living these last few days. We didn’t understand you, but most importantly, we thought that you didn’t understand us.
Your comic strip has hurt us, Robin, whether we can put some context behind it or not, and even though it was unintentional. Its publication was untimely, its formulation too ambiguous and it has been felt like a slap on our face coming from a game designer many of us admire and look up to.
January 06, 2015
This weekend I’m pleased to appear at Chupacabracon at the Norris Conference Center in historic Austin Texas. Organizers have rounded up a veritable constellation of tabletop luminaries, including my boon compadre Kenneth Hite, Feng Shui 2 developer Cam Banks, and Hillfolk contributors Jason Morningstar, Steven S. Long, John Wick and Sean Patrick Fannon.
Find me paneling, signing, podcasting and hobnobbing as follows:
Friday – Effective Networking in the Game Industry 4:30pm-6pm
Friday – Opening Ceremonies 6pm-7pm
Friday – VIP Meet and Greet 7pm-8:30pm
Saturday – Elements of RPG Game Design 9am-10:30am
Saturday – Building Memorable RPG Villains 11am-12:30pm
Saturday – Signing at Dragon’s Lair Books & Comics 1pm-2pm
Saturday – Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff LIVE 7pm-8:30pm
Sunday – VIP Brunch and Bitch 10am-11:30am
Hope to see you there, Austinites! Although your weather forecast is nowhere near as balmy as when I first started looking, it will still be an improvement on what we have here in Toronto.