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September 16, 2013
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Last week I was trying to get a visa for a trip to FIQ--the largest comic art festival in the southern hemisphere. The process was frustrating, so I posted a Tweet. It was soon picked up by a Brazilian newspaper, and that's when the drama started.

"The Brazilian visa process is ridiculous. One more snag and I'm canceling the convention at FIQ." was my Tweet.

A few hours later, the "story" was picked up by a large Brazilian newspaper, seen here: www1.folha.uol.com.br/ilustrad…

Which started a 48 hour session of my Brazilian readers fighting off the hundreds of offended Brazilians (most of whom have no idea who I am) attacking my Tweet. After retweeting the more ridiculous tweets, I finally signed off of Twitter for a few days. I also asked my Twitter followers to halt the conversation because it was just getting worse. Even this morning, I deleted a few threats in my email account. And I've just been notified that the Brazilian embassy is upset.

No, none of this is made up.

Last year I did a comic about a clone of Jesus becoming an atheist, and Brazil remained mostly quiet (you know, the country that built a giant Jesus statue performing a spread eagle over Rio de Janeiro). Who would have thought that of all thing, my stupid Tweet would have started such a storm.

I've been dying to go to FIQ, a huge (and free) comic convention in Brazil for about two years now. The handler is great, his assistants are great, and they've agreed to pay for everything. I have a lot of wonderful Brazilian readers, so I was anxious to go down and say hello. I understood that the visa process wouldn't be easy, but didn't mind. I even took a day from work to create a "The Shadow" piece for a gallery the show was having.

But after spending an accumulative three days trying to get the visa, I was ready to quit. The website for the Brazilian consulate in NYC kept crashing, it has the wrong address listed (that was a fun morning going to the old consulate, which had been moved months ago), and the process to file payment wasn't clear. I got a post office money order twice (they accept no other payment) because the amount was wrong (is it $160 or $180?), and at the end I was told that I had to start over because I needed a visitor visa, not a business visa (as I was previously told).

I was furious, so I did what we all do: I sent out a tweet.

As far as I knew, every person on the planet knows that government bureaucracy is frustrating (in any country), and going through the hoops of international travel can be stressful. The lines are long, the people are mean, and the rules are vague. In the US, criticizing the government is a part of life. And when I criticized the Brazilian visa process, I assumed it would be harmless. After all, I wasn't blaming the entire country of Brazil, just a the politicians who make US/Brazilian travel difficult.

Again, I blame US politicians as well.

Brazil has what's called Reciprocity Laws in place for people looking to enter the country. I'm not an expert, but from what I understand it vaguely means this: whatever hoops the other country puts Brazilian travelers through, Brazil matches with the same hoops. Which makes perfect sense to me, which is why I was willing to go happily through them.

When I angrily left the consulate for the second time that day, I wasn't just annoyed for myself--I was annoyed that Brazilians go through the same confusing process (sometimes it's even worse for them). As far as I know, Brazil and the US are on friendly terms. We've both survived the economic crisis (for now) with Brazil being the 6th largest economy in the world. My hope is that as Brazil continues to rise (and as more business in Brazil continue to boom), politicians on both sides will make it easier for us both to visit one another.

And I know the US makes it hard for most people trying to visit, and for whatever it's worth, I'm sorry it's like that. If I was a politician, I'd look into it. But I'm just a lowly comic artist with a schedule to keep, and it's not my arena.

I have no idea what that article written in Portuguese says about me, but I'm told I was taken out of context. I'm not trying to stoke the flames again, but I do have a right to defend myself.

As far as the show, I'm still not sure if I'm attending. FIQ has generously stepped in to try and help with the process. And with the threats coming in, there's talk of getting me a bodyguard--maybe even some Stormtroopers--which would be awesome. But I'm not sure if it's worth the risk. Stay tuned.

Thanks to those Brazilians who stood up for me! And thanks again to FIQ for your amazing support. Hopefully see you all soon. If not this year, then in the future.

Add a Comment:
 
:iconwendellcavalcanti:
wendellcavalcanti Nov 2, 2013  Professional Artist
The brazilians are the "internet drama queen",  everyone knows that. I'm brazilian.
I was looking forward to see you in the FIQ, Sean, and get an autograph in my books and give you a copy of my comic book. Maybe in the future.
I'm so sorry for those stupid politicians.
Regards.
Reply
:iconchiili:
chiili Oct 28, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I wanted to say something, but I think most Brazilians here already said. 
I love your comics and also feel sorry for that. Do not care about this site, most articles there are sensacionalist, made ​​to attract attention of people and get more views. And most people that retweet, as you said, not even know you! They are just  haters who stay on the internet all day with nothing to do in life, so really, don't pay attention to this stupid people. Brazil is large, and has a lot of people here who would love to meet you (like me ;D). If you confirm the FIQ please advise here, I would go there just to see you :D
Reply
:iconzane-degaine:
zane-degaine Oct 7, 2013  Professional General Artist
Damn dude. Hope you make it. Sounds like it would be an awesome trip. Sucks you have to go through hoops like that.
Reply
:iconskmonteiro:
skmonteiro Oct 5, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Sounds like you're ending up just like Chris!  Haha.  You were just in Ireland, did you find a Kale?!
Reply
:iconryanblack13:
You realize threats in Brazil aren't like threats here, right?  In the US you have to worry about trolls who live under their mother's floor and are only dangerous when they haven't masturbated that day.  Brazil is a different animal.  Maybe wait until next year?  I'd like to see a Punk Rock Jesus part II or something.
Reply
:iconmanoelricardo:
ManoelRicardo Oct 2, 2013  Professional General Artist
Sean, I feel very sorry, sad and embarassed for you taking stupid raging shouts from Brazil. I hope you can ignore them and can atend to FIQ to understand and feel how much Brazilians artist and comic fans respect and admire you and you work.

For me, an aspiring comic artist from outside the big business center (that is Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, where there is the majority of comic business, and the opportunity to draw to publishers from other countries) that will atend FIQ to try to get some comic gig, you have been a role model of comic professional, not only for your astounding work, but for the way you think ahead of most of comics artists and share that knowledge with all of us. thats simply too inspirational and im sure it built for you a bigger faithfull crowd of fans. for that I really thank you.

So I imensely hope that you can make to Brazil and go to FIQ, and taste some brazilian food and drink. the FIQ happens to be in Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais that is one of the most iconic state to brazillian culinary. the best "cachaça" (have you tried? its a cane sugar distilled) is also from Minas Gerais, and it make the best caipirinha (brazillian traditional drink! PAR-TY!!!). So, its more likely you are able to forget all those troubles in a brazilian week tour! hahaha!

hope we can meet there! cheers!
Reply
:iconseangordonmurphy:
Thanks for the kind words, and for the support you've always given. The whole thing is a simple misunderstanding. I'm sure I'll make it out to Brazil at some point soon. :)
Reply
:iconjt-ford:
jt-ford Sep 25, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
I had to jump through those very same hoops when I went to Brazil last November. Got the wrong kind of money order, the info on the website was useless, I spent all morning walking around Boston trying to sort things out and just barely managed to get my application in on time. 

Still, Brazil is amazing and was worth the hassle. 

I hope you get to go, and that you are safe when you are there. 
It's gorgeous and thriving and the people are incredible. 
Stay safe! 


Reply
:iconcucomaluco:
I feel as unconfortable with the over reaction of some of my Brazilian peers and their death threats (due to the injunctions of Folha de S. Paulo, a trendy, neoliberalist, ex-leftist newspaper that in recent years has become, more and more, rightist yellow-press oriented), as well as the tweet that began the whole thing.
Our president, Dilma Roussef, canceled, last week, her official visit to Obama in Washington after the public scandal involving the confirmation of the illegal manouvres perpetrated by American government employees in Brazilian territory spying our high-rank politicians and the president herself. The scandal was no good for the American image and I believe your country has lost the perfect opportunity to make a millionaire deal with mine.
Your work is admired by thousands—me included—in our country. Brazilians, especially the young middle-class and well-offs, are connected to the Internet most of the time; they follow people from all over the World they love, cherish and idolize—you included. It is not true there is a general demonization of the American people in Brazil; there are lots of Brazilians who hate Americans for quite a bunch of proper and/or equivocal reasons alike; there is a great majority who use you guys as role models. I dislike the idea of hate as much as of that of blind passion. You Americans had brought us Coca-Cola, Hollywood movies, TV sit-coms, rock'n'roll, superhero comics, Star Wars, Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Michael Jordan, Prince Valiant, Pixar, images from Mars... But you Americans were also responsible for quite bad feelings among us Brazilians in many occasions throughout the last century.
The mild reaction to Punk Rock Jesus might be because it hasn't been published here yet.
Your tweet touched a sensible exposed nerve, and it proved your unawareness about the difficulties (and sometimes the deep embarassments) faced by Brazilians willing to visit USA.
I've read the comments made by some Brazilians in this post and I regret none said what is obvious: although the harm done is not extensive nor profound, your tweet WAS irresponsibly offensive. No one likes to be ridiculed. Your twitter account and the messages you post there are followed not only by your close friends; it's an open window accessed by an increasing number of people, all over the planet. You are a public person and what you say weighs heavier than any other ordinary person's words.
The whole deal gained an extraordinarily exaggerated tone, we have to admit. You received an extra attention, that's for sure, but it is not exactly the best propaganda during these iconoclastic times of ours. Your stay here will be either ignored by the media or followed close by people expecting the tiniest of mistakes, the subtlest of slips. There will be lots of people interested in meeting you personally. If you get your visa, I hope you have a good time in Brazil and thicken the ranks of fans of your wonderful work.
I'm sorry to having read your tweet and I'm sorry you received impolite (and threatening) responses from some raging Brazilians. I hope these few angry individuals don't tarnish the overall idea about my country and its people.
I don't know you personally; we've never met. But I know your work and I admire what you have been doing on your drawing board. You might be a really nice guy so I hope you utter more accountable public comments in the future.
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:iconmanoelricardo:
ManoelRicardo Oct 2, 2013  Professional General Artist
man, Punk Rock Jesus is been published in the last 6 months in Vertigo's magazine. It is amazing. :)
I bought the last issue yesterday and im going to read right now! \o/
Reply
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