Kate here, for another Previously on Comics column.
What a week, huh?
When you work in comics, or read about comics, or write about comics, it is sometimes easy to forget how 1) comics is an extremely small industry and 2) comics is also a fake industry with horrible hiring “practices.” This past week was far from the first time that a survivor has come forward to share their experiences of abuse, harassment, and just straight up casually creepy, sexist, awful behavior. It happens frequently. And then more survivors come forward. And more. Sometimes this results in that person being fired, but most of the time it doesn’t, and life goes on, until the same cycle inevitably starts again.
This week was different for a number of reasons, first just being the number of people who have come forward to share their stories, and the number of people those stories are about. Due to the potentially triggering nature of the stories that have been shared, I am not going to summarize them in any way, but instead, link to individual twitter threads.
The most talked about individual named as survivors continue to share stories was Warren Ellis. I am not going to link to individual threads, but this thread is important for context. There is now a group for survivors to share stories. The group quickly grew to include over 50 people, which made it very clear that this was a pattern of behavior dating back decades. Ellis posted a statement, but I want to refocus on how Ellis being part of this cycle, this time, seems to have broken the cycle in some way.
Ellis’s comics celebrity status may have been part of the reason why other high profile women have spoken up. G. Willow Wilson wrote a series of tweets about the “casting couch” culture of the late ’90s and early ’00s. Kelly Sue DeConnick posted a 20-minute statement on Instagram about Warren Ellis, her 20-year friendship with him, and her desire to use her status and power to change the comics industries by working with the publishers directly to change that culture. She also stated that she unequivocally believes all of the women who have come forward and is speaking to many of them about how she can help.
Another major difference this time is that male allies stepped forward to support the survivors and call for change–which is exactly what everyone has said is needed before comics will change. Brenden Fletcher tweeted to say that Cameron Stewart will not be a part of any future Motor Crush projects. Brian Michael Bendis stated unequivocally that he has not participated in any CBLDF-related projects for years because they would not fire Charles Brownstein. DC Comics also put out a press release staging that the Warren Ellis and Jim Cheung comic planned for Dark Knights: Death Metal Legends of the Dark Knights #1 would be replaced by a story by Marguerite Bennet and Jamal Igle.
This time things feel different. I hope this is true. The situation will obviously continue to unfold, but that’s enough for now.
I’m going to end with some links to some important causes, in case you, like me, are feeling helpless and disgusted.
Here’s a link to a thread about Black creators or comics with Black leads on Webtoon, which was posted on Juneteenth.
Here’s a list of Black Creators and/or comics with Black Leads that you can find on @webtoon
A THREAD pic.twitter.com/NGRgqh4Grp
— The Anime Tea (@theanimetea) June 18, 2020
A Black-owned indie comics distributor also announced that it was open on Juneteeth. Go support them.
Finally, the London Cartoon Museum, run by the Cartoon Art Trust charity, launched a fundraiser to try to keep their doors open during the pandemic.
Take care of each other, everyone.