Tess Fowler, Brian Wood, and Harassment in the Comic Industry

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The Incident

The story first broke at Bleeding Cool, with artist Tess Fowler alleging an unnamed, but well known creator had sexually harassed her at SDCC 2007. This creator “feign[ed]interest in my pursuit of a comic career,” and asked her up to his room. She declined the offer. He later insulted her work and person on Facebook.

Yesterday Fowler took to Twitter to name her alleged harasser, writer Brian Wood (DMZ, X-Men), and share the full story. The Outhouse has collected her tweets here. Fowler spoke not just about the incident with Wood, but about the numerous incidences of sexual harassment and condescension that she and women in comics have endured. Ian Sharman collected some of those comments here. She spoke up, she said, because she was in email contact with three women who had stories of similar harassment by Wood–and worse.

This afternoon Brian Wood posted a statement, in which he admits to hitting on Tess Fowler, but says it went no further. He refutes allegations of blacklisting, or suggesting a pay-for-play arrangement. Wood says that he needed to get his story out, but does not want to “take attention away from that industry-wide discussion that needs to happen.”

The story, already dominating talk in the comics industry blogosphere, blew up on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, with some fans defending Wood, and others organizing a boycott.

Fowler has responded in greater detail on her Tumblr, describing the incident as a “subtle, and scary” power play, though she clarifies that she is not calling for a boycott or blacklist of Wood’s work.

The story continues to develop, and whether or not one sides with the allegations, it’s an important reminder that we must address the sexism that can infiltrate convention culture, not just within the geek community but among industry professionals as well, if it is to be stamped out. As Fowler has stated: “I also believe his behavior is a symptom of a much bigger disease. A disease of silence, where you go along to get along. And you never say anything about your experiences because the harm to yourself and perhaps to others will be monumental. That’s not okay. And it has to change.”

Commentary

G. Willow Wilson, Sex, Gender and the Comics Industry

Dean Trippe, Additional Thoughts Following G. Willow Wilson’s Post

Heidi MacDonald, Comics Have Hit Puberty and its Not Pretty

Rachel Eddin, Comics Guys, Harassment, and Missing Stairs

The Mary Sue, Comic Creator Harassment Charges Met with Response

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Kayleigh Hearn