On Friday afternoon, DC Comics reportedly held an all-employees meeting to discuss the company's harassment issues, which had been a major point of discussion within the industry for the past few weeks. Following the day's events, DC issued a formal public statement about its new policies, finally ending a weeks-long drought of silence.
Multiple sources have publically alleged that DC Comics editor Eddie Berganza has a history of sexual harassment.
Following news that Vertigo executive editor Shelly Bond was fired after more than 20 years at the company as part of an ongoing restructuring of the imprint, Loser-City website co-founder Nick Hanover and Rosy Press editor Janelle Assellin noted that Berganza continues to work for the company. Hanover stated on the record that he believes Berganza is a "serial harasser." Berganza and Bond’s roles at the company are unrelated.
On October 1, Graphic Policy published a story by Janelle Asselin that alleged a history of harassment and inappropriate behavior committed by Dark Horse executive senior editor (formerly editor-in-chief) Scott Allie. In it, Joe Harris, who writes The X-Files comics, claimed that at the Hilton Bayfront hotel bar during Comic-Con in San Diego this year, Allie grabbed his crotch and bit him on the ear.
Speaking to ComicsAlliance, Harris explains why he went public about his experience. “I was outraged that it happened, and because people rarely feel comfortable coming forward, and I'm sick of hearing about this cr--, generally,” he said. “I've experienced a range of emotions since the incident, from embarrassment to anger to pity for the perpetrator and anger at the company that had him out there, swimming around like a shark in the aquarium when this was not an isolated incident, as I'd later learn.”
Harris says the incident made what is regarded as a widespread, unspoken problem in the industry very real to him.
This year, New York Comic-Con is taking harassment on their convention floor more seriously than ever before. Their brand-new anti-harassment policy is comprehensive and offers a great deal of protection for attendees. Still, we here at ComicsAlliance wanted to offer some tips for ensuring you and others around you have the safest, most fun convention possible.
“If the harassment is so bad, why don’t women just report it?”
“I want to believe these women, but if they’re not willing to come forth and put their name to these accusations, I just can’t.”
“These claims of harassment are all so overblown. I never see it happening.”
I have been a woman in the comics industry for a few months now. It has been wonderful. It has also been terrifying.
Terrifying in a way I’m used to, though. When you grow up enveloped in the miasma of “tits or GTFO,” “attention whore,” and “fake geek girl,” fear becomes the price you pay to enjoy your hobbies. You don’t even think of it as fear most of the time. Sometimes you join in the fear mongering yourself, enjoying the a**hole glamour of not being too pussy to call another girl a slut. Sometimes you hide in woman-heavy spaces, which go maligned elsewhere (“Tumblrinas!”) but do a pretty solid job of keeping you safe. The fear comes back eventually, though, as a slew of graphic rape threats or a simple joke about “feminazis” you are expected to chuckle along with. It might be in response to a screed worthy of Andrea Dworkin—or maybe you just tweeted something about disliking Guardians of the Galaxy. What matters is that you were a woman with an opinion on the internet, and now you must be punished. You must be made to fear.
One of the biggest issues in the news this week has been the ongoing rampant misogyny and outright terrorism in gamer culture, specifically the attacks on Depression Quest developer Zoe Quinn and feminist media commentator Anita Sarkeesian -- both of whom have suffered exceedingly personal attacks and threats on their lives (including the horrible one in the graphic above, which was sent to Sarkeesian via Twitter). The former for merely talking sexual agency as an independent, adult woman, and the latter for criticizing the industry's treatment of women in its games. What do these issues have to do with the rest of geek culture? Well .... everything. Misogyny in gamer culture is a symptom of a larger, systemic issue. And something needs to be done about it. Now.
Michael Egan, the former model who filed sexual abuse charges against X-Men: Days Of Future Past director Bryan Singer in civil court, has withdrawn his suit following the recent departure of his former attorney, Jeff Herman. Egan insists that his decision is no reflection on the merits of his case against Singer, and instead reflects his inability to continue without representation.
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.