Let’s set the stage first. A zine usually refers to a fan-made zine, wherein a group of people team up to create content and release the compilation as a product. Zines may both be printed or digital with any accompanying merchandise. They may be either “for profit” in which a cut of the sales will go towards the contributors, or “for charity”, where proceeds will be donated towards an organization of choice. “For charity” zines do also compensate contributors with a finished product, just that there is no monetary gain.
The zine involved in this is the “SHOWTIME” Persona 5 zine:
SHOWTIME is a fan anthology focusing on the rivalry between Joker and Crow of Persona 5 featuring illustrations, comics, and fanfiction.
According to the zine’s Carrd, the project was announced 1 November 2020. However, due to restrictions following the COVID-19 pandemic, it was understandable that production and shipping had been delayed. A Twitter thread that you may see circulating around began detailing concerns about the project on 13 March 2022, speaking about lack of transparency and updates, and unprofessionalism.
Ree, our former head mod, has recently confessed to spending the remaining $27.6k CAD of zine funds on personal use. Ree has been entirely removed from the project.
Full statement: https://t.co/4nBVV6FCkS
This thread summarizes our full statement.
— SHOWTIME (@akeshuzine) June 24, 2022
The “SHOWTIME” zine has since released a statement regarding the now-former head moderator of the project, Ree, having spent CAD$27.6k of the zine’s funds for personal use; that “personal use” seemingly being spending on Genshin Impact. The remaining moderator team members are encouraging affected parties to seek legal counsel, while they organize a fundraiser to appropriately reimburse orders, expenses, and where possible, compensate contributors.
THE TAKEAWAY? ( EDITORIAL )
There are comments saying that the finances should not have been processed through Ree’s personal account. Instead, they could have had a zine-exclusive / business account which the entire moderator team could access, allowing them to raise the alarm about any disappearing funds. Since the damage has already been done, other zine projects should probably make note of this.
Then, we have the appropriation of the funds. CAD$27.6k is a lot of money for a Persona 5 zine to make, especially considering it’s for fans by fans, with the amount potentially getting you a Constellation 5 5-star character – taking the worst case scenario for pity rates – in Genshin Impact if that’s what it went towards. The feeling of wanting to make your favourite character as strong as you can is definitely understandable. However, using money that is not yours is not the way.
One can only advise so much to always only ever spend within your means. Drafting a budget and sticking to it should help to an extent. We should also acknowledge that gambling addiction is a very real problem, and gacha games are practically designed to extract money from you. Just see how the systems nested within Diablo Immortal work. How about reading someone’s story of spending too much on gacha games as a cautionary tale?
Unfortunately, this isn’t even the first time money has been taken to spend on Genshin Impact in specific; see here and here. Who knows who else is in need of intervention not just for Genshin Impact, but for spending in other games with similar mechanics?
In the case of “SHOWTIME”, the fundraiser will be selling the digital version of the zine, zine merchandise and Persona 5 merchandise donated by the moderator team and other creators within the fandom. Should you be interested in the zine or just would like to see the involved parties get due compensation, do stay tuned for the new storefront.