On Nathan Edmondson, Marvel, and the Cycle of Harassment (Updated)
We’re NOT afraid…
A year and a half. That’s how long I’ve been researching allegations swirling around comic writer Nathan Edmondson. In that year and a half I’ve talked to a lot of people, ran into a lot of dead ends, and most importantly, been told consistent stories of sexual harassment and poor treatment of collaborators. I’ve had first hand accounts, second-hand accounts, and promises of actual evidence, only one of which has been produced. And after a year and a half, while I absolutely believe Edmondson’s an asshole and did what he’s accused of, as a journalist who believes in checking sources and facts, I have not had enough to run a story I felt I could defend in court. Because, I’ve been warned numerous times, if I ran it I should expect to be sued.
Why is this all coming up now?
While sniping has been happening against Edmondson by other creators for quite some time, this news has been covered by so many due to Marvel‘s announcement that Edmondson is the writer on their new Red Wolf series. While the series is great in that it features a Native American lead character, as well as a Native American, Jeffrey Veregge, providing covers, character design, and “consulting,” it also has the troublesome Edmondson as the writer. This has led many to wonder and question their support of the book as a whole. It absolutely makes me again question Marvel’s decision-making process, and their commitment to progressive and positive change.
Some of the accusations against Edmondson have been covered already here, here, and here. I encourage folks to read those three articles to catch up. But for those that don’t want to, here’s what I know.
I know of his involvement with The Leadership Institute, an anti-gay, pro-life, right-wing organization. There’s photo evidence of this, and being conservative is not a crime (though makes me question why he’s been put on some books he has). I have been told second-hand of sexual harassment (attempts at first hand accounts have gone nowhere). I have been told first hand accounts of “troublesome” dealings with other creators. That was never ran as it would have identified the claimant and there was no way to run it anonymously. I have been told both through first and second-hand accounts of a general disrespect towards women. I have been told of an incident at a party where homophobic statements were made, and I have an email apologizing to attendees about the behavior (that email has yet to be verified).
The series he was to do with the also troublesome Adam Baldwin, Ranger with Dark Horse, has become vaporware. I had hoped with 56 (Red Wolf is 57) series already announced and no Nathan Edmondson, that publisher has also decided to sever their relationship with the creator. That hasn’t happened. Marvel seems to have no issues with what is a “known” issue in the industry. They were after all running short on male, white writers, since their All-New, All-Different team of writers is only 83.33% male and 97.62% white. They needed Nate to fill in a slot.
Without “physical” evidence I can verify, without a first hand account of the harassment, I chose not to cover this story (until now). That hasn’t stopped me from continuing to investigate. I personally have also chosen to not support, or cover, any series Edmondson writes. To do so would be hypocritical.
Some who have been vocal have said some victims haven’t been talked to, and the reality is, I probably don’t know about them. Names have been vague to me. And those that I have been told about? They’ve not wanted to talk about any of this. And why should they? The comics industry has a history of not supporting victims. The track record is abysmal in supporting victims.
Some have said sites are scared to run stories about harassers due to the threat of lawsuit or loss of access. I can refute this by stating the following:
We here at Graphic Policy are NOT afraid to run these stories.
We here at Graphic Policy are NOT afraid at losing access. Retaliation against us becomes a story we’d run too.
We here at Graphic Policy will DEFEND you the victim as best we can, and more importantly treat you with the utmost respect you deserve.
Please contact us, even off the record. I am the only one who reads our email. Use our contact form above. DM us a message. Message us on Facebook. Or contact me personally through email, Facebook, or Twitter. We can’t fight the good fight without hearing from you.
Out of the seven plus years we’ve existed I’ve been contacted twice about harassment in the industry. One is this Edmondson story, and I’ve explained above what I know, what I have, and why I have not run the story. The other was someone I not only was told about, but witnessed as well. That was run as a blind item with a proper guess in the comments.
While we’ll listen and advocate, we will also do our research and investigation. We need to do our due diligence. By not doing so, we do the victims an injustice by not being able to properly defend the story.
Until there’s buy in across the industry, to point fingers at journalists is misguided. I know of a dozen other bloggers/journalists who have worked on this story, many for longer than me. They too have run into similar issues I have. We can’t run stories on hearsay, we need first hand accounts and evidence. There’s a lot of recent talk of lifting up the discourse in comics journalism, and that’s what this is. To not, would make us a second-rate TMZ. A rag run on rumors. That’s not what this site is, and I stand behind the decisions made up to this point on this story.
We, as well as my fellow bloggers, can only shine a spotlight on the trouble makers, it still takes a decision by other creators to refuse to work with these individuals, and publisher to not hire or support their work. There also needs to be an effort to support, not shame victims. Those who have been brave enough to come forward have consistently talked of being pariahs whose careers have been frozen, and the work has dried up. Not to mention the abuse and additional harassment flung like the feces it is their way from anonymous keyboard jockeys who think they’re funny and doing it for the lulz.
There’s a lot that needs to be done on all sides, but to focus on only one facet misses the big picture. If this is to end, we all need to work together.
Updated: Some information regarding Edmondson’s relationship with Image has been updated and stricken after being reached out to directly by a publisher who clarified the relationship. The lack of releases is explained as chronic “delays.” We have seen internal communication and statements that his behavior was a known issue at the highest level.