San Diego's Comic-Con International has a problem that it doesn't want to address. See, a few weeks back, a group called GeeksForCONsent launched a petition urging Comic-Con to adopt a formal harassment policy in place of the broad, basically unenforceable "code of conduct" that's currently in place. Like many conventions, SDCC has a huge problem with women -- particularly women cosplayers -- being harassed by other con-goers and dubious media "professionals", and the present policy offers victims little recourse.
WARNING: While the following images have been censored, they remain fairly graphic and may disturb some readers and may also be considered NSFW.
I am so tired of writing about rape.
If you didn't catch the news, last Friday, the website Comic Book Resources posted a five-page preview of the latest issue of the Game of Thrones comic book adaptation. And the pages they published — the pages Dynamite Entertainment sent out as representative of the book, which is a standard practice for comic book publishers — included an incredibly graphic rape scene. Erect penis, front and center. Woman bent back nearly double, naked, arched like a porn star.
It just so happens that was also the week that HBO decided to add—and then vigorously defend — a graphic rape scene in the Game of Thrones TV series (a trend the network continued this week), and that both fall in the middle of Sexual Assault Awareness month — and yes, thanks, HBO, Dynamite and CBR, we are in fact extra aware of sexual assault now, so, well done, there. It's worth noting, too, that this is coming on the heels of an incident where a fellow comics editor and journalist got a slew of graphic rape threats for having the temerity to critique the portrayal of a teen girl in a piece of cover art (also published on CBR).
But it's also not just this week, or this month. It's this year. This decade. This lifetime. This is business as usual.
If you're reading this site, you probably love comic books -- but many of you may wonder how much it loves you back. For an industry that's already niche, American comics has seemed oddly willing to narrow its audience. For a medium that prides itself on community, American comics has been quick to close its doors. For an artform that can show readers anything, American comics has seemed content to show us the familiar.
To the outside world, the comic fan fits a certain type. We're so used to the idea that comics favours an audience of heterosexual white men that we sometimes forget that we are comics, and that's not who we are. Collectively, we're so much more than that. It's as a reminder of that fact that the new Tumblr blog We Are Comics exists.
The director Superman Returns and three X-Men films including the forthcoming Days of Future Past, director Bryan Singer has been accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old male in 1999. In a lawsuit filed in civil court in Hawaii on Wednesday, plaintiff Michael F. Egan III alleged that Singer "manipulated his power, wealth, and position in the entertainment industry to sexually abuse and exploit the underage Plaintiff through the use of drugs, alcohol, threats, and inducements."
Egan, now 31, has asked for unspecified damages on four counts of emotional distress, battery, assault, and invasion of privacy by unreasonable intrusion. A lawyer for Singer has denied the accusations, claiming they are "completely without merit."
“I think this woman is wrong about something on the Internet. Clearly my best course of action is to threaten her with rape.”
That’s crazy talk, right? So why does it happen all the time?
Honest question, dudes.
That women are harassed online is not news. That women in comics and the broader fandom cultures are harassed online is not news. That these women are routinely transmitted anonymous messages describing graphic sexual violence perpetrated upon them for transgressions as grave as not liking a thing… that is actually news to me, and it’s probably news to a lot of you guys reading this.
So what can we do about it?
Comic conventions are often fun places where people can come together and celebrate their shared interests, but unfortunately things can turn sour when someone's behavior simply goes too far and harassment rears its ugly head.
The creative minds at Oni Press have stepped in to help. Taking a page from the yellow and red cards soccer referees pull out when players violate the rules, Oni has released a set of penalty cards that creators and convention attendees can use to let people know they're crossing a line. Check out the full set after the jump.
Last week, when artist Tess Fowler got on Twitter and breathed white-hot fury about sexual harassment in the comics industry, the thing that struck me most wasn't her anger; the real shock, given the scope of the problem and the lack of consequences, should be that more women aren't that publicly furious more of the time.
Of course, there are many, many reasons not to speak up. If you're a comics professional, maybe you want to be known for your work, for your accomplishments, not for the fact that some jerk couldn't keep his hands to himself. Maybe you don't want the first thing that comes up when someone Googles your name to be a story of your victimization. Maybe you don't want to be called a slut or a liar when you talk about the sh**ty thing that happened to you (which you will, inevitably), or for people to invent every possible nefarious motivation for your decision to speak up – except the idea that it might be true.
Welcome to the latest episode of ComicsAlliance Presents "Kate or Die," a series of exclusive comic strips created by one of our longtime favorite webcomics cartoonists, Kate Leth! In this episode, Kate takes on the subject of sexual harassment in the comic book industry and the culture of silence that often surrounds it, a topic that's been brought to the forefront as a consequence of recent events.
A couple of weeks ago cartoonist Tess Fowler tweeted that she had been sexually harassed at a comic convention by a well-known comics writer some years earlier. At that time, she did not name the other party. ComicsAlliance's Matt D. Wilson was among those to write about Fowler's widely reported commentary as part of a vital discussion about the culture of misogyny and sexual harassment that pervades the comic book industry, and what might be done to punish offenders and make the industry safer and more inclusive for women.
Earlier this week, after receiving emails from three other women describing similar troubling experiences with the same male comics writer, Fowler chose to identify him by name. The writer is Brian Wood.
Wood has now released a statement admitting to having “made a pass” at Fowler in the past. He denies accusations of harassment and abuse.
The last few years have seen a contentious legal battle take place between Archie Comics and embattled Archie co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit. And in the latest development, six employees -- including Archie Comics Editor-in-Chief Victor Gorelick -- have filed a $32.5 million lawsuit against Silberkleit, accusing her of "destructive, dangerous and at times deranged behavior."