Tag Archives: harassment

Charles Brownstein is Out as Comic Book Legal Defense Board Executive Director

CBLDF logo

The writing was on the wall and rumors swirled all throughout the day but Charles Brownstein is officially out as the Executive Director at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund “effective immediately.”

The calls for Brownstein’s removal were raised again last week after the numerous revelations of abusers and harassers in the comic industry. Brownstein’s issues stem back to 2006 and that event along with other criticisms of the organization, some justified and some not, continued through the weekend until today’s event and change in leadership. Brownstein began with the organization in 2002.

Creators in the comic industry began to speak up how they would no longer support, or weren’t supporting, the CBLDF over Brownstein’s employment.

Read the CBLDF’s statement below:

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has accepted the resignation of Charles Brownstein as Executive Director, effective immediately. 

Our organization exists to serve the comics community and the First Amendment, and we can’t do that without an open and honest discourse. We believe our organization’s management and staff should be representative of and responsive to the community they serve. As we move forward, it will be with a renewed focus on accountability and transparency. And as we plan for the future with new leadership in place, we will work with our staff and human resources experts to continue developing policies that will make us a stronger organization. 

We hear and understand the concerns of our community and recognize that this is only a first step in building greater trust and understanding regarding our mission and how it is carried out.

CBLDF Support is Pulled as Brownstein Allegations are Raised

CBLDF

Last week was a very revelatory week when it came to harassment in the comic industry. Three individuals were named over the week. Further discussion of harassment within the industry was raised including the 2006 allegations against current Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Charles Brownstein.

Numerous creators took to Twitter to say they were pulling support or denounced the organization for the lack of action concerning Brownstein. In full disclosure, we have been members and supporters of the organization but are also adding our voice of no longer doing so until change comes.

Things kicked off when writer Jennifer de Guzman shared the 2006 article from Comics Journal that details the assault that occurred between Brownstein and creator Taki Soma.

Numerous creators then took took to Twitter retweeting the piece and saying they were pulling support and others saying they had already done so.

Soma spoke up as well stating there were other victims.

Mike Scigliano, who served as CBLDF deputy director, came forward, Tweeting that he’d been harassed by Brownstein. Scigliano’s Tweet would indicate not only an issue with Brownstein but the entire board of the organization.

In 2006, in response to the event the CBLDF hired an outside firm which then made recommendations for Brownstein remain in his position. We’re told that he did indeed meet all of those requirements according to sources.

The CBLDF is an organization focused on free speech issues and has had some recent controversies including their support of graphic novel publisher/distributor Simon & Schuster after threats of boycott related to bigot Milo Yiannopoulos. There’s been a lot of chatter of an antiquated organization not up for modern times.

The organization is made up of a board of industry professionals and supported by donations and corporate sponsors and retail members.

Warren Ellis Releases a Statement about Accusations

Creator Warren Ellis has released a statement through his social media and email list where he addresses the multiple accusations against him.

You can read the full statement below.

Hello. Please forgive the lateness of my appearance. I have been speaking to people, and listening carefully, for a few days.

Recent statements have been made about me that need to be addressed.

I have never considered myself famous or powerful, to the point where I’ve made a lot of bad jokes about it for twenty-odd years. It had never really occurred to me that other people didn’t see it the same way—that I was not engaging as an equal when gifted with attention, but acting from a position of power and privilege. I did not take that into account in a number of my personal interactions and this was a mistake and I own it.

While I’ve made many bad choices in my past, and I’ve said a lot of wrong things, let me be clear, I have never consciously coerced, manipulated, or abused anyone, nor have I ever assaulted anybody. But I was ignorant of where I was operating from at a time I should have been clear and for that I accept 100% responsibility.

I hurt people deeply. I am ashamed for these mistakes and I am profoundly sorry. I will not speak against other people’s personal truths, and I will not expose them to the toxicity of the current discourse. I should have been more aware, more present, and more respectful of people’s feelings and for that I apologise.

I have had friendships and relationships end, sometimes in bitterness, often due to my own failings, and I continue to regret and apologise for the pain I have caused.

I have always tried to aid and support women in their lives and careers, but I have hurt many people that I had no intention of hurting. I am culpable. I take responsibility for my mistakes. I will do better and for that, I apologise.

I apologise to my friends and collaborators for having created this situation, and I hope they will be treated kindly. Mistakes and poor choices in my personal life are not on them, but only on me.

We have a responsibility to one another, every day. And I have, in my past, let too many people down. I hope to one day become worthy of the trust and kindness that was placed in me by colleagues and friends.

I will continue to listen, learn, and strive to be a better human being. I have sought to make amends with people, as I have been made aware of my transgressions, and will continue to do so.  I have apologised, I apologise, and will continue to apologise and take total responsibility for my actions without equivocation.

I am going to be quiet now, to listen more than I speak, for other voices matter far more than my own right now.

Cameron Stewart and Warren Ellis Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Multiple women have come forward on social media recounting their encounters with comic creator Cameron Stewart. He’s accused of predatory behavior including grooming young women.

Artist Aviva Artzy revealed on Twitter that Stewart had begun to groom her when she was 16 years old and he was in his early 30s.

Other women came forward including Kate Leth who said she had a similar experience when she was 19 and he was in his early 30s.

Both Marsha Cooke and Babs Tarr, who worked with Stewart on Batgirl and Motor Crush, voiced support as they both said they have witnessed the behavior. Others have spoken up that this was a known behavior of Stewart’s within the Toronto comic community.

Grooming is when an older person builds a relationship with a younger individual (often minors) with the goal of sexual activity/abuse. The age of consent in Ontario is 16 but “luring a child” applies to those under the age of 18 for the purpose of committing a criminal offense which can include sexual exploitation. It’s unknown what Stewart’s motivations were but as recounted on Twitter, many of the discussions turned sexual.

In the discussion of Stewart, Warren Ellis‘ name also came up on Twitter also describing his behavior as grooming. Though details are emerging one person has described him as a “bluebeard.” That’s someone you have a relationship with until you find out they secretly have a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife. More information is coming out with specifically what he has done but others have spoken out about their experiences, though vaguely, describing similar manipulation as done by Stewart.

The accusations against Ellis sounds similar to Stewart in that he would contact younger women (19 is the youngest mentioned so far) and then would engage them in chats about the industry acting as a mentor and then discussions would eventually turn sexual. While “grooming” is often associated with minors it can be done to anyone of any age. One description of it is “Grooming is the slow, methodical, and intentional process of manipulating a person to a point where they can be victimized.” This describes much of what has been said about Ellis as well as Stewart.

One person described their interaction and history:

  1. He found me when I was young/vulnerable/uncertain.
  2. He acted like a mentor, gave me so much appreciated attention..
  3. but pushed boundaries.
  4. He said I was his world/we were best friends/he was my thrilling secret/he supported my career so I didn’t feel like I could say no.
  5. He dropped me. I blamed myself.

Others have posted screen shots of conversations or described them:

I have years of emails from Warren Ellis leading me to think we were friends, then leading into sex chat. It was like a clang in my head when I joyously mentioned talking to other creators and he dropped me. Like hot garbage.

These are stories of psychological manipulation that are unacceptable and rumors have swirled for some time about Stewart. It’s another form of abuse and the shitty behavior that has swirled within the comics community for decades as those in power take advantage of their positions. It shows there’s a long way to go until we have a safe and inclusive community and there are issues beyond physical assault that need to be dealt with.

Neither Ellis or Stewart have made statements as of this article. Stewart has locked down his social media to private.

(images courtesy of The Beat)

Hope Nicholson Shuts Down Bedside Press

Bedside Press

Bedside Press has posted a statement that the independent comic publisher will be shutting down. Earlier this week, owner and comic creator Hope Nicholson admitted that the person in 2018 article about sexual assault was her. While she disagreed with calling it assault, she admitted that the events were largely accurate.

Nicholson’s admission received backlash as it took autonomy from the victim away who kept her anonymous in the original article. Her follow up Tweets and statements centered it all around her.

Subsequently, she deleted her personal Twitter account leaving just the publisher’s account which has Tweeted out subsequent statements including the news of the closing. Some creators who were being published through the company had already announced they were pulling their publications before the announcement.

You can read the full statement below.

Dark Horse Parts Ways with Writer Brian Wood After Third Harassment Accusation

Brian Wood

Earlier today, Laura Hudson became the latest individual to accuse comic writer Brian Wood of improper conduct and sexual harassment. She is the third individual to do so over the years. Wood is accused of forcibly kissing her and then pursuing for weeks after attempting to have sex with her.

In 2013, artist Tess Fowler alleged that Wood sexually harassed her at a convention years before. Wood admitted to having “made a pass” but denied harassment or abuse. Anne Scherbina accused Wood of “making a pass” as well and then threatening her career when she didn’t agree. Scherbina says Wood then retaliated by posting a blind item that she provided sexual favors in a DC stockroom.

Wood currently writes Alien comics, as well as some creator-owned series, for Dark Horse. The publisher has made a statement that they will be parting ways with the creator.

In a statement to The Beat, Dark Horse said:

Effective immediately, Dark Horse will not pursue any new projects with Brian Wood. Dark Horse has cancelled the upcoming series Aliens Colonial Marines: Rising Threat.

It’s unknown why this THIRD accusation has caused the parting of ways as opposed to the previous two preventing them to begin with. Since the Fowler accusation, Wood has worked with Dark Horse, BOOM!, Image, and Marvel.

Brian Wood Again Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Brian Wood

Inspired by women coming forward in the video game industry, Laura Hudson has Tweeted about her interactions with comic writer Brian Wood accusing him of sexual misconduct.

In her account, she met Wood at a bar where he grabbed her and forced her to kiss him. She then excused herself to head to the bathroom and looked him up on Wikipedia where she found out he was married. Wood then texted Hudson for weeks asking her to have sex which she refused.

This isn’t the first time Wood has been accused of such behavior. In 2013, artist Tess Fowler alleged that Wood sexually harassed her at a convention years before. Wood admitted to having “made a pass” but denied harassment or abuse. Anne Scherbina accused Wood of “making a pass” as well and then threatening her career when she didn’t agree. Scherbina says Wood then retaliated by posting a blind item that she provided sexual favors in a DC stockroom.

You can read Hudson’s full Twitter thread below.

After this latest round, Brooklyn comic shop Anyone Comics has announced they will no longer be ordering comics written by Wood.

Comic Creator Jai Nitz Accused of Predatory Behavior (Update x2)

Jai Nitz

You may not know the name but you most likely know Jai Nitz‘s creations like El Diablo, a character who appeared in the film Suicide Squad. Nitz is also now the latest comic creator to be accused of harassment.

On the site Her Campus, a University of Kansas student recounts her experience with Nitz who graduated from the school in 1998 and was a guest lecturer of the journalism class of the student.

The victim recounts how what she perceived as a mentorship turned into something more sinister. Drinks turned into sexual talk and then a forceful kiss after the victim made it clear she wasn’t interested.

Nitz attempted to use his position, a power structure inequality, to take advantage of a student. And she may not be the only one.

I’ve been told that I’m not the only one to experience this behavior from him.

A Title IX complaint was made over the behavior and the victim was informed that “the school of journalism wouldn’t be inviting Jai back.”

Nitz deleted his Twitter account earlier today as news broke (update 4/1 – he has reactivated his account but set it to private). We’ve reached out for comments from publishers. Nitz currently has a series Astro Hustle being published by Dark Horse and the series Suicide Squad: Black Files wraps up this week for DC Comics.

Update (4/1/2019): Dark Horse has responded with an updated comment to their original statement released Saturday:

Dark Horse takes all allegations seriously. We have cancelled future issues of Astro Hustle. While we were unable to prevent our distributor’s shipping of Astro Hustle #2, we are also suspending our professional ties with Jai Nitz.

Update 2: Nitz was to appear at Planet ComicCon this weekend and has left the convention and not returning. The below photo was taken 1:52pm today. The photo reads:

Sorry Folks! Jai had a family emergency & will not be back this weekend. Have a great con!

Photo used with permission from @Shoelais

Correction: The article has been updated to make clearer Nitz’s role in the journalism class. He was originally titled the co-professor of the class when he was a guest.

Eric Esquivel is Now Off Nightwing and Tweets a New Statement Addressing Accusations of Abuse

In early December, comic creator Eric M. Esquivel was accused of abuse, both physical and mental, by a former co-worker. Since then numerous other accusations have surfaced, his series Border Town was cancelled, and he was dropped by SBI Press. Now, he’s off DC ComicsNightwing.

DC Comics has informed retailers that Esquivel will no longer be co-writing Nightwing #58 which is to come out in March. He hadn’t yet been announced on the issue, as March’s solicitations are just being released. While his name will appear in the January DC Previews, he will no longer be involved. DC hasn’t update the credits though, so it’s unknown as to who will be taking over. The issue was thought to be a try-out for Esquivel on the series which he would then take over. That is likely not happening either.

While DC didn’t say why they made it’s change, it’s the latest fallout surrounding the accusations. Accusations that Esquivel addressed again December 19 after releasing an initial statement on December 14.

You can read his new statement from Twitter below:

Well-meaning entities in my life have discouraged me from saying anything in public. I’ve been told that the best strategy right now is to “hold tight, until this all blows over”…But I don’t want this to “blow over”. Either in my own life, or in Culture-at-large.

What I want, is to apologize. To serve as a cautionary tale to others. And to change.

Hearing my past behavior described to me this week has been the most surreal experience of my life. My perception of events, relationships, and personal dynamics are so far removed from the way they’ve been recounted, my knee-jerk reaction is to deny them outright…

…Both publicly, and to myself.

But the sources of these accusations are women who I not only respect, but who I genuinely love.

These are people whose presence in my life has changed me for the better, and who I am infinitely grateful to have known. People who I’ve kept in intimate contact with since the years we’ve been apart.

So it doesn’t make sense that they’d simply be making things up. They have nothing to gain, and everything to lose.

The odds suggest that I have a problem. Or, rather, that I AM a problem.

And, honestly, that’s something I’ve been at least peripherally aware of for some time. Everything I’ve ever written has been about a young man, operating at a deficit because he grew up without a father, trying his damndest to figure out what it means to be a “man”.

And that’s because I was pulling from my own experience. I grew up without any male role models. So I looked to Pop Culture for instructions. A lot of what I learned was useful: the sobriety I reverse-engineered from Batman, the compassion for animals that I aped from Aquaman,etc

But the stuff I learned about male sexuality– from James Bond, Arthur Fonzarelli, Gene Simmons, etc– were completely inappropriate.

(To be clear: I’m not blaming Pop Culture for my actions. If I didn’t grow up behind a library, I would’ve found other archetypes to emulate. Possibly even shittier ones)

I was, and continue to be, insecure in my masculinity.

In my twenties, I tried to combat that by doing everything I could to muster up external validation: getting into fistfights, pursuing the spotlight, and behaving extraordinarily promiscuously. Especially with other men’s wives and girlfriends.

It kills me that I have to say this, but: I never engaged with anyone who was unwilling. Not only is that downright evil, it wouldn’t have accomplished what I was trying to accomplish: which is to feel wanted and appreciated.

I became conscious of my own toxic behavior about two years ago, after a close female friend suggested that I examine myself from that perspective.

I’ve attempted to change the way I’ve lived since then. I’ve volunteered at various community-oriented charities, taught writing classes to formerly-incarcerated youth, used my platform in The Arts to amplify the voices of disadvantaged creators…

… but I never reached out to the women from my past, to make sure that I hadn’t unknowingly harmed them. Mostly because I am a coward, and feared hearing that the answer was “Yes, of course”.

I don’t know what to say about that. I don’t know how to make things okay. I don’t know how I can be of use to culture, going forward.

Is it by encouraging other men to examine themselves, and their behavior? Is it by documenting my recovery from sex addiction in public, to show that it’s possible? Is it by fucking off into the night forever, so nobody has to deal with me ever again?

Honestly, I hope it’s that last one. Because that’s the easy way out. &, as I’ve mentioned, I’m a coward.

…But I suspect that it’s not. I suspect that I’m not operating on a level of awareness that allows me to see the answer yet. But I’m going to try to get there. I promise.

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