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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:…

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.

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wendellcavalcanti Featured By Owner 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.
chiili Featured By Owner 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
zane-degaine Featured By Owner 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.
skmonteiro Featured By Owner 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?!
RyanBlack13 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013
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.
ManoelRicardo Featured By Owner 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!
seangordonmurphy Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013
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. :)
jt-ford Featured By Owner 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! 

cucomaluco Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2013
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.
ManoelRicardo Featured By Owner 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/
oOlinstant0miso0soup Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
The internet activism is starting to take a turn for the worse these days, with people picking up anything they view as a 'casue.' :/ It's a shame a simple little tweet gone blown out of proportion. Hopefully you can still make it to FIQ without any other issues. :<
SirMeierlink Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013
That is very troublesome.
johnchalos Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2013  Professional General Artist
Controversy! International intrigue!
gye Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013
I'm brazilian and I feel bad for this. I'm going to the comic book event because of you and Becky Cloonan!! You too! 
 I'm a huge fan of yours, sir.

In future you can back to Brazil without troubles! :)

theBellhop Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Student Filmographer
Brazilian-American here, and I can confirm that Brazilian bureaucracy can be very tedious at times. I've also learned that being a brown-nose gets you far. As far as anecdotal evidence goes, if you live in New York, the Brazilian consulate is notoriously difficult/rude with everybody, but especially with Americans. I think it's a power thing. 
seangordonmurphy Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013
Thanks for the clarity. I'm finding lots of Brazilians around here are much more peaceful than the twitter types. :)
BrunoBull Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2013   General Artist
People on the internet are always overreacting, I guess you know that, right? It seems that it gives people "courage" to say any kind of bullshit they might be thinking right that moment.

Just to clarify, I strongly believe, like some fellow Brazilians already told you, that the "death threats" are totally void and you are only gonna meet people who are very big fans of your work here.

The "google translator" version of the news by Folha de Sao Paulo is very close to what they were saying in Portuguese. This is one of, if not THE, biggest newspaper here in Brazil, but with alternative media growing more than ever, a great deal of people have started to realize that they can (and do) manipulate a lot of information to their own interests. And causing strong reactions is a very big reason for people who work in this area around here, sometimes a bigger reason, unfortunately, than spreading the news.

Good luck and I REALLY hope you're able to come here anyway!
Jonas72 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013
So what we can take away from this is two main lessons: Be careful what you put online, especially if you're a public/famous person, someone will ALWAYS take offense. And bureaucracy is the work of the devil, if such an entity exists.

I suppose a third lesson could be that the kind of people who find it necessary to make threats based on someone's tweet of frustration deserves, at the very least, to have their Internet access removed. For life.
BatsDontKill Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Ah dude, this all sounds furiously complicated and a situation blown stupidly out of proportion! Wishing you the best :(
lgquelhas Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Professional General Artist
Hey Sean, do you know what is going to happen if you come to FIQ?
Absolutely nothing.
You'll just have a great time.
seangordonmurphy Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013
I'll probably get drunk if I go. :)
ManoelRicardo Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2013  Professional General Artist
yay! brazilian here to help with this dificult task of getting drunk! hahahaha... hope you make going to FIQ, and we can meet! im anxious! :D
mrdamron Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013
Whatever you do, don't say anything negative about or even the word "soccer"
xXlucasXx Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Hey man, i'm brazilian and i love your style.
I understand this situation it's complicated, but do not let these comments mancharem the image of this country that I'm sure your fans love their job too, if not this time, not give up, come will be welcomed with open arms.
augustustodopoderoso Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
This is what I meant when I was telling you about "THE REAL America"; if only you had listen :)
S-Seph Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Student General Artist
Most of the brazilian population are ignorants fools who don't even go to search what is really going on with you and all of that. I'm a brazilian as well, I love you comics. Brazilians are easily offend by any foreign who spell a word about how poor our country is. The irony is that most of brazilians tries to "plagiarize" the north-american and european culture by whatching TV shows that is easy to recognize from the north-american and european TV shows, clothes that they wears and some gibberish they try to say.

I always say that I have been born in the wrong country and the wrong
peterryczkowski Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
this just sounds like all kinds of awesome....minus the death threats
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Sorry you're having a rough go of it.  I'm baffled at how this little thing has blown up.  :confused: 
I am also sorry for how difficult the US makes it for visitors.  :(

This is a remarkably calm, rational 'essay' re. the whole experience, and we could all learn a thing or six from you.  ;)
howlett66 Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013   Traditional Artist
Hey Sean, feeling better, man?Yeah the bareaucratic part of these things down here are a pain in the buttocks...Last time I went through the process to be able to visit my cousin in Chicago, I almost gave up too...Not just by the part of the US government representatives here, but also by the damn Brazilian too.It was worth it though.

I hope you sort this out and attend our con.I'm really excited to have my PRJ signed :)

We fans got your back here bro.Peace.
thecreatorhd Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013
I blame Zach Howard. And Ron Lim. 
howlett66 Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013   Traditional Artist
Why Ron Lim?Poor guy... :D
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013
This whole thing sounds like an attention stunt orchestrated by none other than Jason "Troulbe" Schracter.
seangordonmurphy Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013
That's our Jason.
mbretschneider Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013
Just to clear one thing:

The brazilian visa process is equivalent of the process from the country you are coming (in latin america its called "reciprocity process"). The US Visa for brazilians is a pain (and the procedure was stabilished 1st by the US), in response, the brazilian customs/federal police answer with the exact same process.

Usually, it takes on average for a brazilian from 2 months to 1 whole year to get a permit to travel the US.

To get inside Chile, for example, that isnt in the same economic block as brazil , but has a super-clean entry procedure, you dont take more than some minutes, and vice-versa. The reciprocity protocol at work again

I explain it here because i know there are either braizlians and USers that dont know about those procedures for sure!
seangordonmurphy Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013
Thanks for explaining the reciprocity thing further. I figured it was something like that. :)
mbretschneider Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013
You're welcome man!

I hope if you ever come to brazil, you have a smooth trip. Our comic fans are hardcore and deserve international stars presence! 
NeilMcClements Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013   General Artist
HO-LY CRAP! Just Don't mention Jim'll Fix It when you go to Leeds!
math-san Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013   Writer
I knew spending all my money on stormtrooper costumes would come in handy one day! You've found the first member of your Kingsguard, m'lord!

Also, since no one's said it before, I can translate the article if you want to!
ClaudioPozas Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Sorry to hear about your troubles, Sean! But I'm even more sorry that some Brazilians can't take a foreigner's criticism like grown-ups (even if we are more than happy to criticize everything in our own country).

So cheer up, mate! We're not all bad! :)
defected-angel Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Oh man sorry for that visas process are really dificult
Raulzito2112 Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
As a brazilian I feel embarrassed by our press most of the time. They tend to make a fuss about everything, and it's specially awkward when it spills to other countries. Btw, brazilians tend to criticize the country a lot, but they will get pissed easily if some non-brazilian does the same.

Well, dealing with the brazilian government tends to be a pain to us brazilians who are already used to it, and I can't imagine the pain in the ass that is to get a brazilian visa. I really wish you good luck with that, for I'm looking forward to see you in FIQ. I'm a big fan of Punk Rock Jesus and I can say it really blew my mind when I read it. XD

And you don't need to take those threats seriously. They probably don't mean what they're saying.
JeffGraham-Art Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Imagine the outrage if you had tweeted you wore boxers instead of briefs!! RIDICULOUS!!
matlopes Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013
Brazil to brazilians is like the big brother/little brother thing: 'Hey, ONLY I can kick my brother's ass!' - And dont worry, the bodyguards is just to give you peace of mind, because I can assure you 100% that nothing is going to happen with you here. That's not what we do, and whoever said bad things to you wont go to FIQ anyway.
IgorChakal Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
I can translate the whole thing if you want to. As a brazilian, But here's the deal, basically. We have a fucked up system of education back in Brazil, and it teaches people to hate USA since forever. The reasons behind it are stupid, but it's a racism that's largely accepted, thinking that americans are just pricks who dominate the world and don't give a fuck about it.
To add in the mix, the brazilian media is largely known, being it left wing or right wing, for taking things out of context and just shoving up where they have interests in, manipulating everything around them and just willing to cause any kind of ferocious reaction, just to alarm and cause polemic. It's just bullshit. 
Just say what you meant and leave it at that. Prepare to possibly have some disgusting or stupid comment in FIQ. I am a huge fan of your work, and I'm in England on a scholarship, but I wish I was there. Don't let this thing make up your mind about Brazil, a lot of us admire your work immensely, and will love to have you back in the future. You've just being a victim of a fucked up country. I say sorry in advance for any trouble this caused or will cause.  
seangordonmurphy Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013
Thanks! Google translate is close enough that I can read it. It's hard to understand the nuances that might have been lost, of course. Thanks for the support and the kind words. :)
Alicemonstrinho Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Hi Sean!

So, as a brazillian, I have a few thoughts about this:

1- Brazilians are usually VERY proud. So most part of brazilians will complain about everything, but if someone "dares" to complain about Brazil, we all make a fuss of it. Of course I'm generalizing, but it happens a lot, and this newpaper kind of did it (if you want, I can translate the whole thing in english). 
2- I guess the other reason why people where angry is because Brazil is a huge country, everything is expensive, and it's really rare to have international artists around, so people who spent a lot on airplane tickets to FIQ just to see you felt desperate after reading that you could not attend. This is pretty much my case, I live in the south and bought my tickets just to see you (but don't worry, I didn't tweet anything haha). 
3- The last thing is people hate the US embassy because of it's really hard and sometimes humiliating process for a VISA. They must have thought: "He complained about our process, but USA's VISA is even worst and we only did this process because of their embassy". I mean, if we do know how bad it is, we all should just agree that having a VISA process like this sucks, and it doesn't matter which country is it for. Sometimes people get so angry that they don't even try to understand what's going on, and I guess that was the case of all those people raging on you.

I'm really sorry that you had to pass through all this trouble, and I just wanted to say that you have lots of fans here that admire your work and would love to meet you. If you do come, we'll do everything to make sure you have a great time and that the process is worth it! =)
Have a great day,
Alice ^_^

seangordonmurphy Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013

Thanks! I'm still 90% sure that I'll be attending, so don't feel like your plane ticket is wasted

. :)



Alicemonstrinho Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Yaay hahah, glad to hear that! =)
reborn-gp Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Can I send you a note about the article?
ChuckRamos Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013
Sorry about that dude. We do have a fair amount of assholes around here. That's the best explanation i can give. 
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