First up, before I get into the rather nasty details, I want to give a big “Thank you” to James Marsh on Twitter, who designed the new site banner at very short notice, but still came up with something that’s great and reflects the content I’ll be covering for the next few years. Hire him for all your art needs.
Before going further, I’m going to put a content warning here as it’s a subject people will not expect to have come up here: What follows includes mention of child abuse.
He designed the original site banner, sold me my complete Transformers UK collection and did all the scans that Transformation used.
Plus, he had been largely responsible for my involvement in fandom in the first place as finding his website and going from the links there to TFArchive in 2004 is how it all began for me. For over a decade I regarded him as a good friend and influence on my own writing.
He suddenly vanished from the online world in 2018 with a flimsy pretext of his computer having broken. I found this odd, but as his partner kept posting occasional things on his behalf until 2020, I thought whatever the reason was, it wasn’t a huge deal and he’d be back eventually.
A few weeks ago, I was made aware by a similar concerned mutual friend who had done his own Googling, of the terrible truth.
Cliffjumper had in fact been convicted of possession of child pornography, having been arrested in 2018 and convicted in 2020 for crimes going back a decade.
I find it very hard to describe how this news about someone I considered to be a good person and friend affected me. Though obviously, that’s of no consequence compared to what the kids in those photos would have gone through.
In terms of this website though, I thought it was very important to say something as Cliffjumper had been thanked several times, the two Transformation books are dedicated to him for his help and there are several mentions of him throughout my writing on the comic as he had at one time been a leading authority on it, before places like the Wiki had supplanted it. I don’t want readers coming across that same story and worrying about my own association with him.
So, to be completely clear, I never had any awareness of this part of his life, and I am disgusted and horrified to learn of it. The banner and specific thanks are now gone, though removing every single mention would effectively be impossible, and also feel too much to me like trying to hide something.
I want to make it equally clear that if he ever crawls out of whatever hole he’s currently in, he’ll get nothing from me but a “Fuck off”.
I do want to thank everyone who has been so supportive as I’ve dealt with the shock of having learnt this (at one point I could barely look at the comics I bought from him), and the person who made me aware of it in a way I could deal with it on my own terms rather than a reader asking about it.
There’s been a lot of awful people in fandom revealed over the last year, I really hope this will be the last of them.
And keep an eye out for something in the near future I’ve decided to do to help a children’s charity as a form of personal recompense (whether it’s needed or not is irrelevant, I just feel a bit dirty for having given him so much promotion).