Sexual harrassment in the medium could occur when it's so overlooked
The comics industry is in deep trouble. Not because it isn’t getting taken seriously, it is; the sheer volume of comic book movies, novels and articles about comics can attest to that.Or is it? What about the comics themselves? They sell so poorly, you can hardly take them seriously based on that fact. There have been times over the years when Saturday morning cartoons were considered source material for movies (like the Scooby-Doo films in the past decade). Comics as a wellspring for Hollywood is just another example of how they'll look everywhere for something to avail their moneymaking machine, yet isn't necessarily doing it as a favor for the zygote.
It isn’t even that comics aren’t making money. Sales are up in many key ways, women are in particular buying more books than ever before, and that holds true for PoC as well. Independent comics are selling more than ever. In some ways the entire industry is in the best place it has ever been in. So why is the industry in deep trouble?I'm afraid whatever money they're making is peanuts compared with other mediums like movies and music, so don't try to gloss that over. Plus, paper's becoming so expensive these days.
The people that actually make the comics we read–the business people, editors, artists, scriptwriters, and colorists are almost all men. Let’s clarify this further–almost all are able, white, straight, cisgender men. This is reflected in the representation of gender in comics; only about one in four comic book characters are women, they appear approximately 30% of the time compared to male characters. It’s even worse when it comes to PoC, and worse still for LGBTQ+ and disabled characters in comics.Oh please. As seen of recent, the big two are going far out of their way to pander to LGBTQ mindsets, but never to Moldovans or Portuguese. And this piece misses a big point about the panderings that are taking place: they're not sold on talented writing merits, just on "diversity". Putting that in just dampens the main issue that matters more. Though I have to say that's an interesting idea to bring up the disabled: they've had many chances to introduce co-stars who're blind, deaf and even people coping with asthma and muscular dystrophy (I once had the latter problem when I was 15 years old), but all they care about is shoving LGBT propaganda down everyone's throats without asking whether it's a healthy practice, and the ideas the writer's talking about only seem to concern costumed superheroes.
And are all the contributors men? If she'd pay attention to some of the past folks like Ramona Fradon, Ann Nocenti, Louise Simonson, Karen Berger and Jan Duursema, not to mention Jeanette Khan, she'd know there have been some, and those contributors were of far more respectable caliber than those of today. But if she argues women are becoming marginalized at the majors, I can concur with that.
So let's go on now to the main issue at hand:
According to a source I spoke to for this article who wished to remain nameless, one of the most senior editors at DC is known by management to have multiple sexual harassment allegations already in his HR file. Instead of firing someone who has behaved inappropriately multiple times, DC has, according to my well-known source, stopped hiring women who would have to work with him. This offender was kept in the DC offices when DC made the move from its New York City location to Burbank–possibly because he’s not the company’s worst offender.As anybody familiar with their output since 2000 knows, the big two published screeds with angles offensive to women in the past decade, among other atrocious, sensationalized trash. So if these complaints have any meat to them, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise they're capable of translating their fanfiction nightmares into real life offenses (and almost 3 years ago, there were two cases that was almost similar). At the same time, it may not be too surprising that some women could overlook the issue too, like DC's current head, Diane Nelson, who's done nothing to improve them in any way.
There is allegedly another employee still working at DC who allegedly assaulted a woman multiple times in his office. The woman concerned reported him multiple times to management at DC and the person who hired her, but didn’t receive the support she needed and eventually left DC altogether. Instead of firing the alleged offender for his actions, DC, I am told, moved him from comics to another department. It was apparently considered more important to shield the man involved, than to offer support to the woman. The man allegedly now works under a tacit rule where no women are allowed alone in his office.
According to another source who requested anonymity, another DC editor is allegedly renowned within the industry for the way he ‘mentors’ women (his ‘process’ allegedly involves sleeping with them). This has reportedly been going on for years, and is considered an ‘open secret’ at the company. But it’s not just DC. According to another source, Marvel Comics employs a non editorial staffer who staff now apparently seat away from any women at events. He’s well known for his wandering hands, and they tend to wander up the legs of women nearby without asking for consent first. The same source told about another Marvel regular who worked on very prominent titles in the 80s and 90s is well-known for inappropriate touching.
Marvel’s recently-announced Red Wolf title has also become a very public PR disaster for employing a publicly named and accused abuser. Many readers feel Marvel is forcing fans to choose to either support a diverse book knowing that they are also supporting the abuser, or not support the book but hurt the sales of a diverse comic. It’s a situation that could easily be avoided by Marvel removing the problem individual and then continuing with the title, but the easy solution has not been publicly discussed by Marvel.
In fact, that's something the writer's probably not considered: those women who are in higher positions at the big two don't seem particularly concerned with what goes on in the office below, and are throwing other ladies under the bus, which makes them complicit in an offense. If they could serve as apologists for reprehensible storytelling, it should be no surprise they could be such a letdown with real life problems to boot.
And one can only wonder: how many of the offenders alluded to in this piece worked on screedish books like Identity Crisis, and even the Spider-Man story where Dr. Octopus switched brains with Peter Parker? It wouldn't be a surprise if this turned out to be the case.
The writer even says there's homosexual harassment going on in at least one smaller publisher, and these descriptions, be warned, are pretty graphic:
Two different sources told me the same story involving a smaller press. I can only reveal the specifics of one story, as one of those sources asked for some of the information to be withheld. The man involved allegedly has a drinking issue, is deeply disliked by staffers, and has reportedly grabbed employees’ crotches (and in one instance, licked an employee’s ear) without permission. Multiple incidents have happened in public, but for various reasons I can’t discuss those at this time. I was told two other stories about small independent press, but was asked not to give that information out. I’m not sure what it takes to be a guy and get fired from a comics publisher but I know it must take a lot.It's pretty amazing that a largely leftist website known for smear attacks on conservatives and apologia for political correctness is willing to acknowledge homosexual assault does exist. Especially since the writer says she's a transgender woman. I suppose we will have to cut them some slack. Nevertheless, this is still a website that's got otherwise untrustworthy people working for them, and plenty of stuff you can't just take at face value.
Lack of diversity in comics is being reinforced by the industry’s failure to support victims of harassment and its protection of abusers. The volume of abuse within the industry has created a culture of fear and protectionism, and although women and people of color are the usual targets, that’s not to say men have not been affected too. I was told a story by one source of a straight guy getting his crotch grabbed by another guy. The comic book industry is small and very set in its ways, and we have a situation right now where the abusers keep getting rehired but those trying to blow the whistle are blacklisted.
If these cases are true, then as always, it beggars belief why the victims keep working at companies that protect abusers. If the former DC staffer whom she said quit her job there did so, why didn't she go the police? I'd think that somebody who wisely left a perverted grotto would know that, if the offense was severe, she should by all means turn to police to file a charge. And shouldn't worry about being blacklisted. Some prices are just too high to pay for getting a job at companies who own our favorite universes.
Of course, don't expect any of the most knee-jerk creators to comment on this or speak out against the big two, even indirectly, because they're already so corrupt themselves, the chances they'll help out are close to nothing. That's why cleaning up DC/Marvel is going to be a very long trip.
And even if more people of different racial background are hired for jobs, that won't ensure sexual abuse in the medium goes away: even men of different racial backgrounds can either commit the crime or turn their backs on it. The key to stopping the problem is challenging the companies to prove they're not going to blacklist anybody who speaks out.