Among my strongest character flaws is a tendency towards wrath. I'm the guy who will happily burn down an entire village just to get back at one douche living in it. Looking back on these last four years, I wish I were enlightened enough to walk away. I wish I were zen enough to view it as a learning experience and move on. That's definitely something I need to work on.
For now, however, I'll just have to settle for smashing CE-Rap in the nuts with a sledgehammer. Here we go.
- - - - -
Way back in the olden days on 2011, I was stuck in a very troublesome predicament. I had just parted ways (amicably) with 3XStudios, the man behind the artwork of VG Exiles 1 and 2. We had both agreed that the professional separation was for the best, but I still had no artist. I still had no way to bring a non-sprite detailed story into a sprite movie. I couldn't draw worth a crap and was left with an unfinished VG Exiles 3.
Then, CE-Rap came along. We hammered out VGE3 and formed a strong professional relationship. Well, as professional as it gets for hobby work.
...and looking back on it, it didn't take long for things to start sliding downhill. Because artwork was such a time-consuming and difficult thing to do for free (the series made absolutely no money and I'm poor), I was very receptive to any ideas he would bring to the table. If he wanted to put something in, he pretty much got it every time. My reasoning was that it's entirely too much work to heap on somebody without giving them some creative control.
Unfortunately, he started abusing that control.
It started as minor changes - stuff that hadn't been scripted and finished already on VGE3. A change in attitude here, a planned character use there. When he discovered that I never actually had a plan for the series but rather made it all up as I went along, he wasted no time writing out an entire series plotline. It was this giant, convoluted "lore-heavy" saga that extended from ten years before the current team to however the fuck long it would end up being in the end. He kept established canon in mind as much as he could, but he wrote a hundred times what could ever be displayed in the video format.
Eventually, the plot changed so much that it became necessary to scrap the entire series and start over. I resisted at first, but once again cowed to the dozens of seemingly rational arguments he had in favor of that action.
You see, Rap was a manipulator. He was a silver-tongued bullshitter who knew how to talk his way in and out of any situation with lawyerly precision. He saw (and even described) himself as a super quick-witted guy who was always forty steps ahead of whoever he was working with. He was above. He was advanced. He always felt that other people were too slow for him and he eventually realized the problem was that he was so fucking brilliant that "normal" people couldn't keep up. He was always the smartest motherfucker in the room and could make no mistakes. He could work out all the possible future consequences of an action, and therefore always knew the best route. Not just "knew", KNEW. Uppercase. He was the professional. He was the head-down-eyes-forward-self-driven-uber-rhino-badass and he KNEW WHAT THE FUCK WAS UP. He was FOR REAL. He was UP FRONT. He DOES NOT BULLSHIT. (...and his real name is "Carl", not "Carlito" as he claims. Because obviously the first personal detail you're going to learn about him is complete and utter bullshit.)
Now, you take a guy like that who lives up his own asshole and partner him with somebody like me.
I've been told that I write with an air of "authority". It creates the impression that I'm more knowledgeable, assertive, and confident than I really am. People who know me IRL know that's not the case at all. I'm insecure as fuck. I constantly second-guess myself. I look for flaws in my own reasoning and I am acccommodating to a well-reasoned counter-position. I value being wrong. I value being mistaken. This makes me vulnerable to bullshitters and manipulators. I've been taken advantage of a few times because of it.
...and THAT'S where I've been for the last few years - in CE-Rap's World of Bullshit.
The original Exiles canon was the first to go. It had to be rebooted to meet Rap's new story. We worked through a good 75% of the fight scene for a brand-new VG Exiles Episode 0. (or rather "1" this time.) We swapped Ken out for a souped-up version of Vice from KOF. We changed the setting. We changed the setup and the story. We did custom spriting. Everything was looking good.
Then Hurricane Sandy happened and Rap disappeared. While he was gone, I created FAILtality 2 and stuck his name on it. I organized the Random Select Collab with other fine animators. I started up new solo projects knowing that everything would have to go on the back burner when he returned.
...and go on the back burner they did.
It wasn't long after Rap's return that we got back to work. He was a big Captain America fan and had to make himself part of the Random Select Collab after learning that I had drawn Cap and the Hulk. We spent a few months putting that together before stopping at around 75%. (Never to be completed...)
You see, Rap now had a slick new plan - making money. Advertising. Sponsorships. Partnerships. YouTube revenue. Making a living off this, son! Doing this for money! (Some of you might be seeing the flaws in this already and you are 100% fucking right. More on that later.)
Nooooowwwwww, The VG Exiles reboot was no longer good enough. The Exiles is copyrighted by Marvel. The sprites, sounds, and music we use are also third-party owned. If we were going to monitize this, we had to eliminate all of the copyrighted material. It had to be "our" series. So we could sell the fuck out of it.
XEUS WAS BORN.
Xeus was a once-again rewritten version of the VG Exiles with all-new content. It was still based on video game characters, but those featured were amalgamations of already existing ones. Take Jon Talbain, mix him up with some Ifrit from Final Fantasy, some whatever the fuck from Skyrim, give him fire powers, and call him SOVENSBANE. Take Stryker, mix him up with some Solid Snake, some Stargate, make him a couple of decades older, and call him JACKSON.
That kind of shit.
Needless to say, this turned a relatively simple flash series into a nightmarish clusterfuck requiring custom EVERYTHING and the next two decades to produce. That would take money. Lots of money.
Fortunately, we had a mutual contact in California. This guy had gotten into the toy business and was doing pretty well for himself. You know, the kind of business that Rap could latch onto like a leech and suck dry for support money while we went around selling our Xeus humunculus to any internet group who would show it and pay us.
He wanted us to move out there and get started CREATING THE FUTURE. By this time, he had me hook, line, and sinker. Full assortment of stars in my eyes. I was ready to commit to the great California Quest!
...buuuuuuuuut he wasn't. He was still neck-deep in shit from Hurricane Sandy. I was eight hundred miles away in Kentucky. What could I possibly do?
Well, I could rent a large SUV, drive all the way to New York, pick up him and his stuff, drive everything back to Kentucky, and let him move in with me. ...and that's exactly what I fucking did. Because I'm an idiot.
August - December 2014.
Rent free. Utility free. I'm buying his groceries. I'm buying his metric ton of cleaning supplies. I've given him a cell phone and now I'm paying to put minutes on the thing. I upgrade my cable internet to the best possible speed so he can stream hi-def videos while he does whatever the fuck he does all day instead of watching DVD's like a more considerate person might. I'm paying extra for his subsequent data overages. I'm working in a warehouse. So... needless to say... I'm going broke. He's not paying for shit. He deeply regrets not paying for shit. Wait, scratch that. He deeply regrets that I CAN'T HAVE A PAYMENT AT THE MOMENT. Not that he can't pay. There's a difference. The former is a "gift" he can't give, but shouldn't be expected to. The latter is his failing and fuck knows he's not gonna word it like that. Because lawyer.
By that time, Xeus had been put on the back burner as well. Mortal Kombat X was due to drop in April, so we had to drop everything and do FAILtality 3. With FAILtality being easily the most successful thing I had ever done, Rap felt that releasing one on the heels of MKX would propel us forward and get the ball rolling for the California move. That's right. His plan was literally
I mean, how the fuck else were we going to get out to the west coast? Rap certainly hadn't shown any ability or desire to carry his own weight, so where was this miraculous windfall of money coming from? We didn't know, but Rap ASSURED me that it would all work out. All we had to do was take this extremely complicated set of FAIL scripts we had written and cram eight months of work into an impossible five. ...and when I say "impossible", I mean literally fucking impossible. I did the math. He gave no fucks. We just had to make the attempt - even if it meant working for five solid months with no real breaks and 1.5 hours of sleep a night. Unpaid.
So there I am - slowly losing my bank account. Working a production schedule in which he gets to tell me when to work on flash and when to go to bed between my normal work shifts (which are paying all the fucking bills). I have a manipulative, egocentric, (and I suspect sociopathic) prick setting the rules in MY FUCKING HOME. All in the name of "brotherhood". Rap was the BOSS. He had made himself so. (Hell, no sooner had we decided on the name Rhino Rex Studios that he appointed himself as the CEO of the "company".)
By this time, I had lost complete control of absolutely everything. In my desire to make him feel welcome both in my flash projects and in my home, I had surrendered the captain's chair. My desire to give him creative control for his hard work was not reciprocated. If I didn't like an idea, I was "not seeing the bigger picture" or "not imaginative enough" or "not really committed". If I wanted "my" idea done, I had to argue against his counter-idea that he had already built a giant tapestry of support for and could argue with his usual manipulative lawyer bullshit.
By the time Christmas rolled around, I was done. I was out. I officially walked away.
...and he stayed.
For the NEXT SEVEN MONTHS he continued living rent-free in my home. I didn't have the heart to kick him out. By his own statements, doing so would result in him going back to a Hurricane Sandy relief shelter and living in squalor.
...and still he remained controlling and manipulative. He ruled the roost. I continued going broke. I eventually had to stop buying his food because I couldn't afford it. I couldn't afford decent food for myself, either (the positive upshot of this was that I turned it into a weight loss game and dropped fifty pounds).
I went through multiple mental and emotional breakdowns. I would have these moments of lucidity and fire off an angry email, but I was always willing to be walked back into the fog by his silver-tongued lawyer bullshit. Our personal relationship rapidly deteriorated. We eventually reached a point where we couldn't even interact (except for that one time where he blew up his own fucking computer and spent three hours dressing me down for it).
The end finally came one night when he knocked on my bedroom door and asked me to clean the kitchen. I flatly refused. An argument began. It escalated. I went to shut the door between us and he shoved his way in. At this point I'm just repeatedly telling him to get the fuck out of my room. Then he puts his hands on me. That kind of "arm touching yeah-whatever-dude" male dominance bullshit. I shove him. He comes back and now we're nose-to-nose UFC style about to come to blows. I tell him to take his swing. All the reason I need to throw his ass out of my home. After many more angry words he finally walks out, determined to use whatever legal recourse he can get to remain in my home, including paying part of my rent so he becomes a "tenant" and must be formally evicted.
Thankfully for me, my landlord and her husband live one floor beneath me and heard everything.
The next morning, I'm looking into eviction possibilities and Rap comes at me with the whole "we BOTH went too far" line of bullshit. If ever there was a time for him to stand up and admit he was wrong about something important, that was it. And he failed.
As it turns out, you don't have to actually strike somebody to be charged with assault. Him pushing his way into my room was assault. Him putting his hands on me was assault. His nose-to-nose escalation was assault. He did it and I had witnesses.
Interesting tidbit - when you give somebody the option of GTFO or go to jail, people tend to GTFO.
Now, he's gone. His shit is gone. My home is mine. My future is mine. ...and if there's anything in this universe resembling cosmic justice, CE-Rap will spend the next twenty years chewing a tunnel through the base of Shit Mountain.
- - - - -
That grand finale happened back in July and I've been struggling to get back on my feet ever since. I'm fighting like hell to come back to flash, as it was pretty much the only thing I ever did that amounted to anything. I've decided that I'm not going to let this mooching fuckhole ruin the only good thing I ever did. That said, I am un-cancelling the VG Exiles. It will return. Just not in the same form it would have taken with Rap and most definitely not soon. I need to perfect the art of sprite-based storytelling and be able to do the entire thing on my own if need be.
To that end, I am going to finish some older back-burnered projects while getting started on my brand new series. It will be hugely story-driven and will help me build the skills I need to bring back the VG Exiles on my own.
I'm a brand new man, now. I'm the Captain. Time to take back my ship.
(This is, of course, the abridged version. There is a LOT more. Some of it WAY worse. I will answer any questions that I feel I am able. I will also post a link to this journal in every future journal I do until I get tired of trashing CE-Rap's already beshitted reputation. Why? because fuck you, Carl. That's why.)