The title of this post is slightly off. Webcomic drama as we used to know it never really went away. In fact, it’s been growing behind the walls, not daring to spread out. There may not be large message board battles like the time that one guy took on that other guy back in Ought Five, but the seething hatred in the community still thrives…at least for two well-know creators.

Tom Brazelton, the unassuming Iowan creator of Theater Hopper, and gentle Gordon McAlpin of Multiplex fame, have been battling behind the scenes for years. What? That’s impossible? NO. THAT IS AN INCORRECT ASSERTION.

It’s true. I’ve talked to both of them about the situation and they’re finally ready to come clean in the hopes that by publicizing this fierce, bitter rivalry, a victor may finally rise to the top of the heap. The two-man heap.

“I don’t know where to start,” said McAlpin, sipping a gin and tonic in my office. So I reminded him of the first time I ever saw them together, Wizard World Chicago 2007. My first and last Chicago convention. I remember seeing the two of them at the bar, glaring at each other. Gordon was pounding back glasses of Jamesons, Tom draining bottle after bottle of Arbor Mist. They started screaming across the bar. “Oh yeah, that. I remember that now,” McAlpin remembered, “that was nothing. That was…what had happened was that Brazelton had said some unkind things in his comic. Unkind things about me.” Let it be known that he put air quotes around “comic” just then.

A quick look through the Theater Hopper archives revealed the following strip:
Theater Hopper

Let it be known that I’ve censored the language and removed the final panel, a depiction of Gordon McAlpin engaging in unspeakable acts with the Adobe Illustrator logo. I can see why this might have upset Gordon.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa…it’s not like that at all,” said Brazelton, taking a long pull from a cigar. Opening the window, I asked him to explain the story from his side. He told me that his initial anger came from an earlier Multiplex comic in which this was the punchline:

“The homosexuality assertion doesn’t bother me at all,” says Brazelton, twitching, “it’s the part about me being disgusting. I have feelings. Feelings.” I’ll never say whether or not the next thing Tom did was cry, but it was.

This initial back and forth and the subsequent screaming match in Chicago three years ago were only the beginning. Since that time, both Multiplex and Theater Hopper have been filled with subtle and not-so-subtle attacks. In 2008, Gordon introduced Dom, a new Multiplex character that happened to look like Brazelton’s Tom character from Theater Hopper aside from being severely mentally handicapped and almost constantly soiling himself. Every Theater Hopper strip in 2009 has a drawing of Gordon McAlpin being brutally murdered somewhere in the background (you have to look really, really closely). It’s rumored that at this year’s Wizard World Chicago the two were constantly trying to get people away from each other’s tables with stories of paper mites, flatulence and that the other is a sex offender.

I personally believe the time has come to set aside their differences. It’s time that we bring this issue to the forefront before any more online comics are ruined. It’s time we reached out and said “Hey, guys. Hey, Tom and Gordon. Listen, there’s no need for rivalry here. We’re all friends. And neither of you are really very good at what you do.” Join me in this cry.

Will it change things? Who knows? There is, however, hope. In talking with them, I discovered one piece of common ground…one shared hatred between them. Joe Dunn from Joe Loves Crappy Movies.