You may have heard of an incident at the Chicago Comic-Con, where the comic book artist Rob Liefeld was confronted over his work on certain Marvel titles. There's a fair amount of lively discussion online about his art - he's been accused of having no talent because his figures are apparently not anatomically correct, and occasionally copied from other artists' work.
Mr. Liefeld was signing and sketching, as you do at a con, and a comic book fan walked up and demanded that he apologize for what he considered to be a particularly bad piece of work.
Criticism is expected for a creator and you do need to have a thick skin, but having this kind of intense dislike essentially shoved in your face must be soul destroying.
I think it's completely unacceptable to do this to an author or artist, regardless of how a person feels about a book or a picture. When I'm published (and I do mean to be someday), I expect that not everyone will like my stuff and I'm prepared for that. But this kind of personally-directed hatred would blow my self-esteem to pieces. It's close to being my worst nightmare.
So do you know of any author who has experienced something like this? Has it ever happened to you? How did they/you handle it? Is it ever OK to call someone out like this over your opinion? Should I toughen up and expect it, or a variant of it?
Are you crazy? People who care so much about art that they get into fights about it?? This is a sign of the UN-impending apocalypse. I say, bring on the boxing gloves, set up the ring, and let's go at it! Dan Brown versus Thomas Pynchon, nine rounds, loser leaves town, winner gets a spot on the NYT Bestseller list.
Ok, aside from the PT Barnum aspects of this, I'm all in favor of heated debate about the merits of art work. Honestly. If you think some guy's work sucks, and you want to confront him, have at it. You'd better be prepared to defend your position with something other than "it sux, donkey breath" though.
As an artist, evoking that kind of emotion should be your GOAL not your fear. Being an artist means you challenge people to think and feel, and when they do (even if they don't think and feel the way you want) you've accomplished something very close to Nirvana: your work has touched a deep resonant chord in another human being.