Mr. Z Takes Umbrage

August 5th, 2008
Subject: Umbrage at Comic-Con

Mr. Wakcher:

As I am sure you are blissfully unaware, your failure to appear in court on July 24th, 2008 for the hearing on Summary Judgment in the matter of Mr. Z v. Wakcher has resulted in the direst of consequences. While the court made no official ruling, let it be known that you are indeed held in the utmost contempt.

During the course of the Summary Judgment hearing, I argued that Circle Versus Square constitutes a lewd exhibition that is criminally obscene and patently offensive: that it flies in the face of a community standard which persons of conscience hold dear. It was quite easy to assert that your comic lacks any serious artistic or literary value, and to quote Roth-Jacobellis, is "utterly without redeeming social importance." Finally, I made a valiant appeal to English Common Law in which I pleaded with the court to consider the Hicklin test and to declare your comic obscene on the basis of its depravity and potential to corrupt minds open to such immoral influences.

Sadly, though my arguments were sound, the judge found there to be triable issues of fact. As such, my motion for Summary Judgment was denied pending further evidence proving your comic to be umbrageous.

Dismayed at the ruling of the court and disgusted at your contemptible failure to appear, my rage broiled within me. I felt a slight twinge in my brain as with great vigor, I succumbed to the ways of the Beast. I marched out of the court with only one question in mind: how I was going to hunt you down.

In my rage, I went into seclusion to contemplate my predicament. My butler expertly prepared a delectable foie gras with mustard seeds and fresh spring onions in a savory duck jus. I sat by a roaring flame clutching a glass of 1985 Château Mouton Rothschild, considering my next move.

I am usually loathe to read the "Goings-On" section of your comic as I presume you have little meaningful to say, and that it would only serve to inform me of the more trite aspects of your daily affair. But seeking any way to vent my anger I insisted that my butler read it to me aloud. I listened with absolute disinterest and despair until I heard in my butler's sonorous voice the sweet words, "I will be at Comic-Con."

I could not contain my glee as I jumped out of my chair, spilling my wine and startling my butler. I instructed him to make arrangements to fuel the private jet, for I had some traveling ahead me if I was to confront you properly. I arrived at the Comic Convention on the morning of July 25th with every intention to unleash my fury upon you with all speed. As a man of class and good breeding, I used my powers of influence to obtain an official Exhibitor's badge via covert channels which would be closed to lesser men such as yourself. Now it was time to seek you out amidst this vast and sordid display of geek culture.

In the crush of people you were no easy man to find. No doubt you were hiding in some lengthy line to pay your respects to men of such distinction that you will never reach.

Finally, I found you paying homage to the creators of Cyanide and Happiness—another cartoon I have no small amount of disdain for. From behind, I noted on your shirt a brazen advertisement for your horrid comic. I heard the boom of your relentless voice rise and fall and could not help but notice the similarities of your behavior to that of a snake oil peddler. It became apparent to me that in a fit of desperation you had sold your soul to your own creation.

My bile rising, I moved toward you quickly with every intention to take the law into my own hands and beat the living sh-t out of you. I could see the scruff on your unshaven face, and while momentarily taken aback by your lack of decorum, I continued forward with fists clenched. In an instant I was about to make myself known to you, when at the height of my rage, about to deliver my most satisfying punch since the bone shattering knockout blow I delivered to Frank Dux in the 1980 Kumite during my illustrious career as an unlicensed mixed martial arts World Champion and cage fighter, I heard those mellifluous words streaming from your forsaken lips:

"We, the undersigned, take umbrage, and hereby declare the webcomic Circle Versus Square to be obscene, egregiously offensive, and without redeeming social importance."

My initial surprise gave way to shock, a mild psychosomatic anaphylaxis, followed by giddy ebullience and a direct experience of God's transcendent love. For I realized that in spite of any scheme you were undoubtedly concocting, you were unwittingly doing my work for me. Here you were, shamelessly soliciting signatures from artists of all repute and description, pleading with them to take umbrage at your insignificant comic. I had sought you out in part to uncover evidence proving your comic to be umbrageous and with each signature on your petition a community standard was being established to that very end.

I tracked your progress with great interest, assuming the guises of various prominent fictional characters from popular works of Science Fiction and its innumerable sub-genres. While I was pleased with the general sentiment that declared your comic obscene, there were a few notable exceptions which raised my ire. During one of your less productive periods, I questioned the members of the Dumbrella booth as to their knowledge of a "strange fellow circulating an umbrage petition." Chris Yates of Reprographics proudly declared his umbrage, which raised him slightly in my esteem. However, the failure of Jon Rosenberg of Goats and Richard Stevens of Diesel Sweeties to add their names to your petition did not go unnoticed. I may yet use my immense influence and stature to bring them down a peg.

As I continued to follow you around the floor of the San Diego Convention Center, I noticed you happened upon Matt Groening during one of his unofficial appearances. Mr. Groening undeniably holds a certain clout in the world of entertainment, and yet, I remember young Matthew as just a fledgling cartoonist. I took him under my wing and single handedly facilitated his rise to prominence and informed many of the subtler aspects of his humor. In spite of this longstanding relationship, I lost all respect for him when I noted his failure to sign your petition. I formally sever all ties with Mr. Groening and have instructed my secretary to stop receiving his calls.

I was pleased, however, to see that my old colleague Patric Verrone, President of the Writers Guild of America, West, did in fact take umbrage. I was tickled as he admonished you for speaking out of turn, bringing me back to those days in which I acted as Special Silent Mediator during the recent writer's strike in which I wordlessly reprimanded him for a similar faux pas. Still, in consideration of the fact that he did indeed sign the Umbrage Petition, I continue to hold him in high regard as a man of class and good character.

Hungry to see you collect yet more signatures, I was doleful to find that on the next day, you were nowhere to be found. My staff informed me that you had bought your tickets on short notice and that your lack of foresight resulted in your inability to attend all four days of the Convention. Of course, if you were a man of greater means, you would have had the recourse to stay as long as you wished to naively bring about your own destruction.

Seeing as I had several acquisitions to make in the area, I decided to stay for the full duration of the Convention. I wandered around with a sense of bliss, realizing that the mass of tortured antisocialites, many of whom I still despise, are nonetheless my kin in taking umbrage at you and your wretched excuse for art.

As countless other creators take offense at your comic, my case grows ever stronger. I shall not attempt to further define your obscenity today, but I and a vast army of like-minded individuals know it when we see it. I write this letter with a smile, knowing that the next time we appear in court I will have the backing of the artistic community, and their peculiar, nonspecific anger.

With utter disdain,

Mr. Z