Persona 5 Zine Is Defrauded Of $20,000 By Former Lead Organizer

Persona 5 Zine Is Defrauded Of $20,000 By Former Lead Organizer

Joker, Panther, Skull and Morgana pose from the shadows.

Image: Atlus

Last night, the creative team behind a highly anticipated Persona 5 anthology fanzine announced that its project manager confessed to spending C$27,600 (approximately US$21,300) of zine funds for “personal use”. The money was originally intended for printing and shipping artwork and unofficial merchandise to customers. One of the artists in the zine claimed that the main organizer, who goes by the name Ree, spent the misappropriated funds to play Genshin Impact.

Showtime is an unofficial zine featuring the Joker and Crow characters from Atlus’ popular RPG Persona 5. . However, they said they could not sue because all Showtime pre-order funds were processed through Ree’s personal account and the team never signed a contract with her. Mods intend to hold a fundraiser to meet ongoing pre-orders.

Kotaku contacted Showtime staff, who declined to comment. Kotaku has also reached out to Ree, but was unable to get a response as of press time.

The fanzine claims that Ree lied to members of his team and fake screenshots for months, hiding evidence of financial embezzlement. However, the project had been in trouble for some time.

In January, Showtime tweeted that its dispatch moderator had coronavirus contractedbut the comments under the tweet underline that customers hadn’t received transparent communication about the zine’s shipping status in months.

May 2, Ree decline in shipment of orders, but retained sole control of the project’s finances. Graphic designer Aryl acknowledged customer concerns on the financial situation of the zine and Showtime published its financial spreadsheet One day later. As of May 15, the project has grossed nearly CAD$90,000 (~US$69,600).

After news of the alleged embezzlement emerged yesterday, Zubatzo, one of the zine’s page contributing artists, tweeted that moderators trusted Ree because she previously hosted five successful zine projects. In now-protected tweets, she claimed, based on a message Ree had sent to other moderators, that Ree had spent the funds to Genshin Impact and take away food.

Kotaku has not been able to independently verify these claims, but Ree told GamesRadar that she spent the money on Genshin and things like stuffed animals, zines and day-to-day bills. Either way, the mention of HoYoverse’s hit mobile RPG sparked important discussion about dangers of gacha games. Some Twitter users have underline that it is mathematically improbable to spend the entire amount embezzled on Genshin, and others blamed the general lack of professionalism and lack of recourse in zine projects.

Here’s what we know: fan-produced zine projects like Showtime are risky creative endeavors. Intellectual property law means that companies can decide to sue artists who create fan content, particularly if such content is sold or generates revenue. The risk is even higher for queer artists who want to create LGBTQ content featuring official characters.

The legally gray environment of fan communities can foster creative expression, but it also means that creators typically do not sign enforceable contracts with another. And customers have no easy recourse when promised merchandise doesn’t ship for months. As such, we can view the Showtime incident, in part, as an unfortunate result of how fan communities are forced by IP-holding media companies to operate mostly in the shadows.

According to his statement, the remaining moderators of Showtime talked to a lawyer on June 22, but were told they could not sue Ree. The Showtime team have promised to provide a new financial sheet as they attempt to raise funds for postage to fulfill remaining pre-orders.


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