Mixx Controversies: AnalysisAug 14th 1998
The first course of action, of course, was to get an interview with the two men who are currently at odds with each other: Stuart Levy, C.E.O. of Mixx, and Ronald Scovil Jr., former editor-in-chief and outspoken critic of his ex-employer. (You can read the interviews by following the links on the side.) Naturally, the two spoke in almost complete opposites, but due to several reasons (including Mr. Levy's legal threats), Mr. Scovil was reluctant to talk to us, and could not answer many questions.
Issue number one: Sailor Moon's move to smile without the customers being notified
The story so far: Sailor Moon was one of the most popular stories in the magazine "Mixxzine," which was, until now, the sole publication of Mixx Entertainment. The manga was removed from Mixxzine for the current issue, with no warning, and put into the forthcoming half tech-girl/half Sailor Moon magazine "Smile", which skips ahead in the story. The in-between segment will be put in a separate comic book series.
Fans' reaction: Extremely angry over not being told in advance. Many are convinced that this is part of a plot to rip them off. The non-internet savvy won't find out until they get the issue, and since the story jumps so far ahead, no one will know what's going on.
Mr. Levy: That was a big mistake, and I really wish we could do it over, but it's too late now... What we did was for the good of the magazine, because in its current format in the current market... it just wasn't being taken seriously. We were excited and wanted to implement the changes as soon as possible. We had always planned that the shoujo and shonen publications would separate for our second year, and I'm confident that it will be better this way.
Mr. Scovil: (partially from response to Mr. Levy's public letter) To do a pure shoujo or female version of Mixxzine, the way it is happening... [was not the plan] from day one anyway. Not warning people... was an intentional decision, and [Mr. Levy] personally chose not to have the subscribers informed about Sailor Moon leaving. When it was made there was a public Mixx forum that could have informed the subscribers what was going on. Most subscribers still don't have Mixx 2-2 and they've already re-subscribed starting back at issue 6. They won't know what is going on until after the fact.
Conclusion: Neither side can be proven, but making the "mistake" of not telling the readers has approximately the same effect as intentionally tricking them. Fans are angry because they are not getting what they subscribed for, and are being forced to buy two additional monthly publications to continue getting the same manga.
Issue number two: Editorial content in Mixxzine forcing comics to shrink
The story so far: Slowly, editorial content that is more in tune with a regular magazine has been finding its way into Mixxzine. Since it is not financially possible to add more pages, the comics are being forced to be put two-per-page, cutting their size in half, and forcing the reader to read the magazine sideways.
Fans' reaction: angry, mostly because they paid for comics, not the editorial content, which many say is below-par. The shrunken comics are agitating some of them even more.
Mr. Levy: It would be nice to just publish manga, but advertisers weren't taking us seriously as a comic book, and we had to introduce editorial sections so that they would place ads with us. We can't make money by just charging for the magazine. Printing costs are very high, and we had to add all of this editorial content. We really didn't like the idea of having to drastically cut back on how much manga we had in there... I mean, that's what subscribers paid for. We ran some test prints, and they looked good, so we went with [that way of printing]. It turned out even better than we had hoped. I think fans will eventually like it this way.
Mr. Scovil: (could not comment)
Conclusion: Mixx really didn't have much of a choice, and hopefully fans can adjust.
Issue number three: The fans' uproar
The story so far: The anger of the fans as of late has boiled over: An "Eye On Mixx" watchdog web site, along with an "unofficial web board" has been put up, a "20 Question Ultimatum" was posted on the MixxOnline web board before it was removed, the "Save Our Sailors" group posted an angry reaction to Mixx's treatment of Sailor Moon creator Naoko Takeuchi, angry posts on newsgroups have appeared, and a hacking activity was made on the MixxOnline web site. Fans have e-mailed Mr. Levy calling him "Satan" and one even posted his personal information on a public newsgroup.
Fans' reaction: No one has taken responsibility for the MixxOnline hack, but Eye on Mixx and the well-established "SOS group" have been defended as having done nothing wrong. The fan who posted his personal information was attacked by other fans on the newsgroups.
Mr. Levy: (from public letter) The Eye on Mixx page, the "unofficial Webboard" on Ronald's girlfriend's site, the "20 Question Ultimatum" attack, the "report" from San Diego Comicon--all these activities stem from this group of hecklers. It is even feared that the recent hacking of the MixxOnline website with a dangerous virus may have been influenced by the false statements of this group of hecklers.
Mr. Scovil: (from response to Mr. Levy's public letter) In claiming that the eye on Mixx page is a "hecklers" page he is outright dishonest and lying. In fact, the Eye on Mixx page was started by two other individuals (not myself) because of the flagrant question-dodging and excuse-making on the Mixx webboard. For someone who wants to try to embrace the flag and wrap himself in the freedoms that this country provides, Stu, you don't understand one of the easiest and most simple rights people have: the right to free speech.
Conclusion: While some fans have gone over the top, Levy's claims that it is connected to Mr. Scovil and Eye On Mixx are without ground and potentially libelous. Any computer-literate person would also recognize his claims that the hacker installed a "dangerous virus" on the page are ridiculous, and upon further inquisition, Mr. Levy admits that he does not know much about them.
Issue number four: Eye on Mixx's swastika logo
Fans' reaction: A logo on the site that replaced one of the X's in "Mixx" with a swastika has been replaced with an apology, and is said to have represented Mixx's fascist behavior, and was not meant to portray racism.
Mr. Levy: I had relatives that were killed in the Holocaust, as did most other Jews, and there is absolutely nothing more offensive, insensitive or racist than a Nazi Swastika. I cannot explain how horrible the feeling was when I first saw these logos on the Eye on Mixx page. Right there, I knew I was either dealing with a very warped and psychologically sick person or someone so ignorant that it is embarrassing to our entire society... This is sick. If anyone reading this realizes how crazy this is, think to yourself: do I really want to associate myself with this lunatic behavior?
Mr. Scovil: (Not on subject of swastika logo, from response to Mr. Levy's public letter) In claiming that the eye on Mixx page is a "hecklers" page he is out right dishonest and lying. In both of the polls that are on the bottom of the page there are 5 choices, ranging from "I love Mixx" to "I do not like the new mag and won't buy anymore." People can choose whatever they wish and it is being calculated openly for everyone to see. No one is saying if you like Mixx do not use the ballots. In fact, the EyeonMixx page was started by two other individuals (not myself) because of the flagrant question dodging and excuse making being made on the Mixx webboard. For someone who wants to try to embrace the flag and wrap himself in the freedoms that this country provides. Stu you don't understand one of the easiest and simple rights people have. The right to free speech.
"Gander" (EyeOnMixx co-creator) (in response to question if Mr. Levy had ever contacted them directly on the subject of the swastika) Never.
Conclusion: A quick look at the EyeOnMixx page reveals that the page is hardly a "hecklers" page. The swastika logo is long gone, and all the data there is neither defamatory or vicious.
Issue number five: Ron Scovil's position
The story so far: Ron left the company near the end of July (although by whose hand it is not known) after being editor-in-chief since the company's inception. Ron was the only person from Mixx to keep in regular contact with fans.
Fans' reaction: Since they had only heard from Mr. Scovil and consider him more trustworthy, this is who they are backing.
Mr. Levy: Ronald Scovil Jr. is not with Mixx anymore. Ronald did not resign; he was terminated from the company on July 17, 1998. Ronald was given many chances to contribute to the tremendous amount of work our small Mixx staff has to handle. However, while the rest of our small team worked overtime, we also had to make up for Ronald's lack of effort. Ronald spent most of his time on the very newsgroups that his group is now using to wage his personal war against Mixx. The reason why he was able to spend so much time talking to many of you online is because he failed to do most of the duties he was hired to do--such as his editorial duties and his distribution duties. His title of Editor-in-Chief was mainly honorary--he almost never contributed to the editorial of the magazine from Mixxzine 1-1 to the current issue. He did not have any role in the process of localization of the manga throughout Mixxzine's publication history.
Mr. Scovil: (could not comment, so this is from response to Mr. Levy's public letter) The title was "honorary." No one used titles per se, or had a potpourri of various responsibilities. You are in essence saying, "I gave the janitor the Editor in Chief title." So when that article that was due didn't come in or wasn't written We can blame him for what allegedly weren't his duties in the first place.
Conclusion: While only Mr. Scovil backs up his side with logic, the truth cannot be determined. This appears to be a private matter between the two, and is not really beneficial to the audience.
Issue number six: Do they have the rights to Kenji's Spring (Spring & Chaos) or don't they?
The story so far: Kenji's Spring, the biographical CG-rich anime detailing the life of Japanese author Kenji Miyazawa, was fansubbed earlier by Kodocha Anime, who was told last summer to remove it from their distribution, as Mixx had picked up the rights. They were later told that this wasn't true by outside sources.
Fans' reaction: While they don't know who to believe, the Mixx dub of Kenji's Spring (which was retitled "Spring & Chaos") was so poorly received at Otakon this summer that the second showing was cancelled. Some called it the worst dub ever.
Mr. Levy: (From an e-mail to Kodocha Anime) I noticed that you have made Kenji's Spring (Spring and Chaos) available through your fan-sub network. The information you have received recently regarding our licensing arrangement with the original copyright holders in Japan is incorrect. We have entered into an exclusive worldwide distribution agreement for all media and versions of the title, including any sub-titled versions, as well as dubs.
Mr. Scovil: (could not comment)
Conclusion: Mixx does have the rights. Fansubbers are to pull the title immediately.