Two notorious individuals in the comic industry are coming together to form a new publishing venture, Alternate Empire. Eric Esquivel and Eddie Berganza have announced they’re “building toward a better future” with the new publisher which has a goal of “creating top-tier quality comics for the Latinx Community.” The first release will come to Kickstarter on March 1.
Esquivel was accused of sexual assault and emotional abuse in December 2018. The abuse included both physical and mental experiences. With the behavior described as “reprehensible” by one publisher, Esquivel saw his projects canceled from multiple publishers.
Eddie Berganza was an editor at DC Comics and during his time there abused coworkers over numerous years. The toxic environment included verbal and physical abuse towards other staff and his reputation so bad that women avoided working with him. The reportedly last incident from him occurred in 2012 at WonderCon but it took five years for him to part ways with DC and only after high profile media coverage.
In the announcement, Esquivel recounts Berganza reaching out to him after being named. Berganza offered Esquivel advice after his own experience. Berganza told Esquivel to “hold (him)self accountable for the mistakes (he) made, try to make amends wherever possible, and continue to find ways to serve the community (he) love(s).”
Ten percent of Alternate Empire’s proceeds will go to Los Angeles’ “Restorative Education Services,” which is an organization dedicated to “healing systemic harms, via traditional cultural practices.” A search for a charity of such name in Los Angeles (or the entire country) through the IRS, Charity Navigator, and Charity Watch turned up no results.
The first release is El Ronin by Jocelyn Ojeda. The comic is described as:
A Japanese-American man whose ancestors were incarcerated during the period of Japanese Internment steps up to defend his Mexican-American neighbors from a cabal of corrupt I.C.E. agents who are trying to extort them.
The reaction has been negative by numerous professionals and we’ll see how the public reacts by the Kickstarter when it launches in March.