“Wow, Wisp, I had almost successfully forgotten about tumblr user plebcomics and her awful work, thanks for reminding me you fucking asshole!” No problem, buddy! Let’s walk down memory lane together.
Of course, it’s not really “memory lane” because Abigail Nugent, aka plebcomics, is still out there, still crafting inane, adversarial straw arguments, and still just as unapologetic as ever. But there was a time that every tumblr user remembers when it was fucking impossible to avoid seeing her shitty comics.
I don’t… usually like to just outright call comics “shitty”. But god, just looking at her work makes me feel a particular kind of anguish that is similar to physical pain. In fact, they seem specifically crafted to elicit such a response. Nugent designed her comics to be as contentious as possible, using the flimsiest, most offensive arguments to simultaneously make oppressed folks feel a burning need to debunk them and give “anti-SJW” trolls ammunition to harass the former with. All this combined for several months in 2014-2015 to create exactly what she wanted: a million billion fucking notes on her weak-ass drawings.
Okay, maybe framing this as deliberate on Nugent’s part is giving her too much credit. After all, the internet creates these perfect storms around random things all the time. But if it wasn’t at first, her subsequent fanning of the flames was definitely purposeful. One way or the other, she reveled in the pointless chaos she created.
So what exactly did she say in these comics that pissed people off so bad? Well, first I need to talk about straw arguments.
Commonly referred to as “strawmen” (a word I’m not fond of), these arguments consist of creating a caricature of your opponent to take down instead of addressing their actual position. Obviously this rhetorical technique doesn’t hold up to logical scrutiny, but people love to feel like they’re getting sick burns in on others, so it’s always going to be a popular fallacy. Anti-SJ types especially love it because they have no comprehension of oppressed people’s actual positions, opinions, or experiences.
Nugent was for a time the queen of a straw empire, misrepresenting anyone and everyone who pinged her radar as an “SJW”, referencing debunked statistics, and outright making up shit. Generally her comics revolve around shrill and unreasonable black people/trans people/women/etc. or people in the same groups being righteously angry about the aforementioned screeching harpies “speaking for them”. That she was the one speaking for them was an irony that was somehow completely fucking lost on her.
So what is it possible to learn from her? Anyone who needs to be told not to deliberately make bigoted comics isn’t going to listen – to that, at least. Ultimately she did get doxxed and lose her job though, so that’s… something? At least plebcomics makes for a terrific tool to teach people about logical fallacies, and stands as a lesson that there are certain kinds of people you just shouldn’t engage with, no matter how tempting it is.
The verdict: Honestly I kind of regret even looking this one up for research. Don’t repeat my mistakes.