Tag Archives: harassment

Harassment in the Comics Industry. We Talk to a Lawyer. Listen on Demand.

On demand: iTunes ¦ Sound Cloudhref=”http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/graphic-policy-2/graphic-policy-radio-politics-and-comics-of-the-multiverses?refid=stpr” target=”_bla ¦ Stitcher ¦ BlogTalkRadio ¦ Listed on podcastdirectory.com

Harassment is a long standing crisis in the comics industry — and despite brave voices speaking out, rarely have harassers suffered any consequences. Mainstream reporting on the open secret of sexual harasser Eddie Berganza has finally lead to his firing and now more stories of harassment are coming to light. We think it’s time to talk to a lawyer– an employee rights attorney. We’ll not only be discussing some of the high profile harassment cases in the comic industry but also what folks need to know in their every day workplace.

Joining Graphic Policy Radio is Paula Brantner a Senior Advisor for Workplace Fairness.

Paula Brantner is the Senior Advisor to Workplace Fairness, after serving as Executive Director (2008-2016) and Program Director (2003 to 2007) writing legal content for the Webby-nominated site www.workplacefairness.org, and developing products for WF’s social enterprise program, 0.1.2.3. In 2016, she founded PB Work Solutions, LLC, to counsel and coach workers in toxic workplaces and consult and advise on workplace issues and nonprofit strategy. An employment lawyer for 25 years, Paula has degrees from UC-Hastings College of the Law and Michigan State University’s James Madison College. She is a former co-coordinator for NetSquaredDC and a retired DC Rollergirl. She volunteers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, travels around the world to see pandas.


Resources

Workplace Fairness

CoWorker.org

Freelancers Union

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Harassment in the Comics Industry. We Talk to a Lawyer. Listen in LIVE this Monday.

Harassment is a long standing crisis in the comics industry — and despite brave voices speaking out, rarely have harassers suffered any consequences. Mainstream reporting on the open secret of sexual harasser Eddie Berganza has finally lead to his firing and now more stories of harassment are coming to light. We think it’s time to talk to a lawyer– an employee rights attorney. We’ll not only be discussing some of the high profile harassment cases in the comic industry but also what folks need to know in their every day workplace.

Joining Graphic Policy Radio is Paula Brantner a Senior Advisor for Workplace Fairness.

Listen in LIVE this Monday at 10pm ET while we discuss this important topic.

Paula Brantner is the Senior Advisor to Workplace Fairness, after serving as Executive Director (2008-2016) and Program Director (2003 to 2007) writing legal content for the Webby-nominated site www.workplacefairness.org, and developing products for WF’s social enterprise program, 0.1.2.3. In 2016, she founded PB Work Solutions, LLC, to counsel and coach workers in toxic workplaces and consult and advise on workplace issues and nonprofit strategy. An employment lawyer for 25 years, Paula has degrees from UC-Hastings College of the Law and Michigan State University’s James Madison College. She is a former co-coordinator for NetSquaredDC and a retired DC Rollergirl. She volunteers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, travels around the world to see pandas.

Listen in this Monday.

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day! What’s everyone getting? What are you excited about? Sound off in the comments! While you wait for shops to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

The Outhouser – With Industry Focused On Eddie Berganza, Marvel Hires Ron Richards – For fucks sake!

CBR – Rotten Tomatoes Delays Justice League Score – We’ll have our review soon!

Kotaku – Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2: The Kotaku Review – Who’s getting it?

 

Reviews

ICv2 – Dennis the Menace Vol. 3: Dennis the Menace in Hawaii HC

The Outhousers – Elektra: Always Bet on Red

Eddie Berganza Has Been Suspended

An email has been sent out from DC Entertainment that Group Editor Eddie Berganza has been suspended and removed from performing his duties.

Berganza has once again been at the center of past harassment at the comics publisher. Buzzfeed published an in-depth article on Friday which reignited the discussion about the lack of action on DC’s part leading to a new round of coverage as well as creators and more adding their voice and concerns over the continued employment of the individual.

The email is below:

Statement from DC Entertainment regarding Eddie Berganza

DC Entertainment has immediately suspended Mr. Berganza and has removed him from performing his duties as Group Editor at DC Comics. There will be a prompt and yet careful review into next steps as it relates to the allegations against him, and the concerns our talent, employees and fans have shared. DC continues to be extremely committed to creating a safe and secure working environment for our employees and everyone involved in the creation of our comic books.

Thanks to Those Speaking Out. We Support You.

Many within the comics industry are taking a stand and speaking out against harassment and the continued protection of those who engage in it. One reason individuals don’t speak out is over fear that they will be blacklisted and not supported by publishers (and fans). So, along with our vocally supporting these creators we as a community need to also show we also have their back financially.

This isn’t a complete list so please add individuals missed in the comments below.


Sophie Campbell is quoted in the recent Buzzfeed article as have turned down Supergirl due to editor Eddie Berganza. That’s beyond stand-up and shows true conviction. Check out her work on Jem and the Holograms, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Wet Moon, and more.

Joshua Hale Fialkov is a writer who worked with DC on the series I, Vampire (among others). He reportedly left the company over a disagreement about killing Green Lantern John Stewart. He’s written awesome series like The Bunker, Tumor, The Life After, and most recently Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth.

Kwanza Osajyefo is one of the creators behind the recently released in trade paperback Black. Not only is he outspoken but also a target for degenerate comic “fans” who only want to take us backwards. That hasn’t stopped him down from speaking out.

Christopher Sebela is the writer behind the upcoming Cold War from AfterShock Comics, Heartthrob, We(l)come Back, High Crimes, and more.

Tony Isabella is one of the co-creators of Black Lightning for DC Comics. Maybe grab one of his classic trades to prepare for the new CW television show or the recent Black Lighting: Cold Dead Hands #1.

Jennifer de Guzman has been one of the most outspoken individuals when it comes to harassment in the comics industry. She’s written for numerous comics (like Womanthology: Space) and prose as well as a journalist. Buy her stuff and hire her!

Lilah Sturges is a writer of comics and fantasy novels having written Jack of Fables for Vertigo. You can also check out her work on Everafter.

Jonathan H. Gray is an artist who has done work on Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Universe, Mega Man, as well as numerous work for Disney Comics.

Matthew Rosenberg is a comic writer who has published indie comics and also worked for Marvel and Archie. He was also part of the DC Writers Workshop Class of 2016. Go check out his 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank which was recently released as a trade paperback.

Kate Leth is a creator who has worked for Marvel, Dark Horse, BOOM!, Dynamite, IDW, and Image. Whatever you buy to support her, it’s going to be good.

Tamra Bonvillain is a colorist who has worked for DC, Marvel, Image and more on such titles as Doom Patrol, Wayward, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Uncanny Avengers, and more.

Colleen Doran spoke out, blew the whistle and was thrown under the bus. Lots of fantastic work including Sandman from DC Comics’ Vertigo written by…

Neil Gaiman who clearly has Doran’s back…

Tea Terry Blue is a digital project manager at King Features Syndicate, a co-editor of RAW Fanthology, and overall comic nerd. Go follow them since there’s tons of other folks speaking out too that Tea is spotlighting.

Ryan Ferrier has written comics such as D4ve, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, WWE, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and more.


That’s a lot of folks to support and I’m sure I’ve missed tons. So, please add on in the comments below and go support those wonderful folks.

Eddie Berganza’s Years of Harassment Gets In-Depth Coverage

Harassment is rife in the comics community with known issues buzzed about and whispered with little repercussions for the harassers or those that protect them. Buzzfeed has released an extensive article covering the known issues with DC Comics‘ editor Eddie Berganza which has been covered extensively by Bleeding Cool for years (credit where credit is due). The article has numerous individuals on the record discussed not just Berganza but also DC “goodwill ambassador” Julius Schwartz.

Berganza’s career has been all over rising from group editor to executive editor and back again to group editor all the while women left the company due to the harassment and behavior. Berganza’s actions occurred years ago and no new allegations have arisen recently but with the numerous reckonings of people like Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein the issue is back to the forefront again highlighting how men in power have kept their jobs and been protected in their careers while the individuals they abuse are left in their wake with careers at times ruined.

Berganza’s allegations involve groping and forcibly kissing female staff on more than one occasion with at least five individual having spoken to DC leadership. Three of those women spoke to Buzzfeed. None of the women who reported Berganza to human resources still work for the company.

The article paints the picture of a toxic environment full of “offensive jokes or line-crossing comments in the presence of or at the expense of women” including the statement that a character needed to be made “less dykey.” Despite that toxicity and multiple infractions and complaints Berganza is still employed by the company.

Berganza’s reputation was so known in the industry and out that women avoided working with the line of books he oversaw and women were discouraged from working with him in his department. Sophie Campbell is quoted as saying she turned down working on Supergirl because she’d have had to have worked with Berganza. It was an “open secret” though a “code of silence” prevented some from speaking out.

The most recent, and reportedly last, incident occurred in 2012 at WonderCon where Berganza again attempted to “make out” with an individual. Despite numerous issues Berganza kept his job but was “demoted” from executive editor to group editor. They still apparently valued him enough to keep him employed sending a signal to many.

In response to the article DC stated:

DC and WB are unequivocally committed to cultivating a work environment of dignity and respect, one that is safe and harassment free for all employees. We take all claims of harassment very seriously and investigate them promptly. Employees found in violation of the policies are dealt with swiftly and decisively, and subject to disciplinary actions and consequences.

It’s clear a toxic element still corrupts the industry with individuals protecting or encouraging this type of behavior for the sake of sales and actual impact to the instigator from behavior being minimal. Berganza is just one case but we’ve covered the issue more than once. We’ve gotten word of more that has yet to be revealed with other individuals at other publishers.

Hopefully with a renewed spotlight on toxicity in entertainment, and elsewhere, maybe changes can be made going forward within the comic industry but that won’t make up for the careers and individuals destroyed in the wake of what has already happened.

Vault Comics and the Vault Team Speak Up Against Online Harassment

For a few months now, a sustained attack against comic creators has been underway from online elements who have organized a harassment campaign to gate keep the comic industry. While there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, few publishers have really spoken up against it, until now.

Vault Comics has released a statement not only condemning the harassment, but also throwing down a challenge for other publishers to do so.

You can read their full statement below and we support it 100%. We’ll have more on this down the road.

A STATEMENT FROM THE VAULT TEAM

Mistreatment of comics creators, both online and in other public forums, has reached a fever pitch. Creators have been subject to relentless online harassment, doxing, phone calls to their homes, public ridicule, verbal assault, and even death threats. These behaviors frequently rise to the level of criminal misconduct. More often than not, the perpetrators target creators who identify with one or more minorities.

This has to stop. We must do everything we can to stop it. Those of us in the industry who are less vulnerable to this mistreatment must stand up for those who are at risk. In particular, publishers and their parent companies, and other companies associated with the comics industry must make a public stand against this behavior.

We call on other publishers—especially those with the loudest voices—to unequivocally condemn harassment of comics creators, to lend legal and other support to creators who are targeted, and to publicly disavow the individuals who engage in such behavior. We must not allow them the feeble excuse of critical freedom. These individuals are not critics; they are bullies, and in some cases, criminals. Their behavior is not criticism; it is abuse. We do not need and do not want their business.

Beyond that, we call on everyone who witnesses mistreatment of creators and other members of the comics community to condemn the perpetrators, and stand beside those who are targeted. If you witness mistreatment online, report the behavior through the appropriate channels. If you witness mistreatment in public, intervene. And always check in with the individuals who are targeted. Let them know they are not facing this alone.

If the comics industry is to thrive, we must produce relevant art that reaches a diverse audience. To achieve this, we must foster an inclusive community of creators, who feel safe enough to do their best work. If we sit idle as members of our community are targeted by bullies, we will find the medium we love relegated to obscurity, alienated from its audience and creators alike. But if we stand up for our creators, and defend comics as a medium to which everyone is welcome, we will see our medium reach new levels of commercial success, and new heights of artistic achievement.

Adrian Wassel
CCO & Editor-in-Chief

Damian Wassel
CEO & Publisher

Tell IDW and Hasbro You Support Aubrey Sitterson

Comic writer Aubrey Sitterson is the subject of the latest targeted harassement by an online group of organized trolls who are attempting to get him fired from his work on G.I. Joe. While they claim it’s about a Tweet, by their own words this is a long term campaign due to their disagreement over his support of diversity and inclusion. These same individuals regularly target African American, female, and transgender creators showing they are racist, misogynistic, and transphobic.

It’s time for us to take action and make your voice heard in support of Sitterson.

We are asking you to contact both Hasbro and IDW Publishing to show your support and send an email to the two in support of Sitterson.

It’s unacceptable that Sitterson is being targeted and we here at Graphic Policy stand behind him 100%. Hasbro and IDW caving will set a precedant that will have chilling ramifications within the comic industry going forward.

DC Finally Addresses Harassment Allegations

DC-Comics-logoOn Friday DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson addresses staff in a special meeting regarding the harassment allegations made against staffers within the company as well as the company’s policies and procedures.

The allegations arose (again) three weeks ago after staffing changes at Vertigo were made causing an uproar in the comic community.

A sustained external campaign for the company to address the issue has been waged since and my understanding internal pressure was also pressed.

DC has released a statement:

DC Entertainment strives to foster a culture of inclusion, fairness and respect. While we cannot comment on specific personnel matters, DC takes allegations of discrimination and harassment very seriously, promptly investigates reports of misconduct and disciplines those who violate our standards and policies.

As part of our ongoing effort to provide an equitable working environment, we are reviewing our policies, expanding employee training on the topic and working with internal and external resources to ensure that these policies and procedures are respected and reinforced across the company.

The above is the first official acknowledgement of issues by the publisher.

After Vertigo Shake Up, Sexual Harassment Allegations Resurface

eddie berganzaIt wasn’t long after the news of the firing of Shelly Bond and restructuring of Vertigo by DC Entertainment that folks begin questioning why someone like Bond was let go while others in the industry who have histories of sexual harassment keep their positions. One of those people mentioned specifically was Eddie Berganza, currently the Group Editor for Superman titles at DC Comics.

I had known of the incidents for some time, but with everything of its nature things always need to be researched, checked, double checked, get permission from those who recount stories, check those stories, etc. etc. Covering this sort of issue was nothing new for the site, but there’s right ways to do it, and I like to try to do it the right way.

So when people decided to name names it was absolutely time to write what was known as now it wasn’t just an open secret, it was just open. And I pondered all day as to what to write, then I didn’t have to really write anything, because there’s two solid pieces that you should read that covers it all.

Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool does an excellent job of recounting the incidents, the facts, the fall out, everything you need to know about it. And he fills in some gaps I didn’t know about. Credit where credit is due, he nails it with facts.

Then Heidi MacDonald at The Beat also posted an article that is an fantastic companion piece to Johnston’s post.

When it comes to the details, I have nothing to add, and they do a much better job than I could have.

What I will add and state is that harassment is still pervasive in geekdom whether in offices, at conventions, or in stores. It should not be tolerated, accepted, or swept under the rug. We as an industry and as fans should be aware it is present, and do everything we can to help make comics an inclusive and welcoming place.

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