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Monday, June 22, 2020 

Former Dark Horse editor accused of sexual harassment

There's been a third allegation made against an employee in comicdom this past week, Brendan Wright, the 2nd employee at Dark Horse in recent memory to be accused of sexual misconduct (Scott Allie was the first), against an artist whom he treated like dirt. Anime News Network has this story:
Former Lore Olympus editor Bekah Caden accused former Starburns Industries Press (SBI) executive editor and former Dark Horse Comics editor Brendan Wright of harassment, stalking, and sexual misconduct. Caden wrote on Twitter on Thursday that she met Wright at a party thrown by Dark Horse Comics during Emerald City Comic Con. After exchanging information for potential work, Caden said Wright became "obsessed" with her and would call and text "constantly" as well as showing up at her place of employment and her apartment.

Caden wrote that Wright regularly expressed romantic and sexual interest in her which she rebuffed.

Wright worked at Dark Horse Comics for seven years, according to his LinkedIn profile. He left the company in 2015 and Caden wrote they sometimes worked together on freelance projects at that time. Caden recounted on one occasion she slept over at his apartment after drinking during a work meet-up, but felt she had to lock the bedroom door while Wright slept in another room. Caden wrote that the following morning Wright asked her why she locked the door and commented that the sweatpants he let her sleep in "smelling like p****."

Since posting her story on Twitter, readers have commented that they know other alleged victims who were made uncomfortable by Wright in the workplace. Comic book writer Jeremy Whitley, artist Kelly Williams and Pablo Maybury wrote on Twitter that they were working with Wright on upcoming publications but Wright was removed from the projects in the last 24 hours. Multiple creators in the comic book industry have since vowed not to work with Wright in light of the allegations.
Here's more from leftist Bleeding Cool, where they provide more of what Ms. Caden's said about Wright (she seems to acknowledge it was stupid to drink), telling that he made a vulgar comment about her while laughing, and noting that after she cut off contact with him, he stopped ensuring she'd have a job, and she didn't get more jobs for months. It also says here, most fascinatingly enough:
Brendan Wright began working as an intern at Top Shelf Productions, and a comics and cartooning instructor at the Northwest Academy before spending seven years as an editor at Dark Horse Comics from 2008 until 2015. He worked as a production manager for Amazon's Jet City Comics publisher while working as as a freelance editor on such titles as Gregory Graves (Starburns Industries Press), Mayday (Image Comics), Heroines (Space Goat Publishing), Semiautomagic (Illicit Press), GWAR (Dynamite Entertainment) and Heavenly Blues (Scout Comics). He moved to Germany to create a shared universe comic book line for New Arab Media, including Saudi Girls Revolution. In 2018, he returned to become the executive editor for Starburns Industries Press, where he was employed overseeing editorial for their books and comics arm, including training junior staff in comic book production and editorial, before going freelance again.
Well this is certainly eyebrow-raising. Was it, by any chance, pro-Islamic taqqiya and dawah he was working on there, not unlike that propaganda called The 99 from Kuwait, which Paul Levitz blatantly arranged to do a collaborative project with when he was still in charge of DC in the late 2000s? For now, even if Wright didn't commit any acts that could count as a criminal offense from a legal perspective, what's clear is that he is a pure sleazebag, and one can only wonder if he would've told Ms. Caden it's "all her fault" for his harassment because she didn't dress modestly with a burka. This news is honestly sick, and even if he didn't commit any felonies that would warrant a jail sentence, he deserves to have his career get washed out. The awful Comics Beat says:
Wright had also currently been involved with the Shots Fired anthology to benefit charities dedicated to preventing gun violence. In a note to the project’s backers on Kickstarter, Sean E. Williams, co-founder of the book’s publisher, Comicker Press, announced that Wright would no longer be a part of the anthology
What would the comic's political leanings be, parchance? Liberal and in favor of gun control? Simultaneously, what are the chances they'd speak out against gun violence committed by post-George Floyd rioters against police, and criminals who tried to break into gun stores in south Philadelphia? Probably minimal, if we can guess their specific politics. The CB article also says:
The behavior that Caden described — Wright’s use of the promise of future work as leverage over her — is an all-too common tactic used by harassers in the comics industry. We saw it with Brian Wood. We saw it with Scott Lobdell. We saw it with Scott Allie (who, while no longer an editor at Dark Horse, still writes for them as a freelancer). While some people would argue that their victims should have simply avoided their abusers, and that doing good work is enough to get noticed and break into the comics industry, the fact is that’s simply not the case, and to a certain degree a successful career in comics is as much about who you know as it is how good you are. Those power dynamics are obviously not just a comics problem, and it has to be up to the people with that power and influence (even if they apparently don’t realize they have it) to make the choice not to abuse it before anything will truly change.
While it's true the creators with influence have responsibilities, there's a valid argument to make here that talent searching departments have to be open to auditions by people wanting to make a name for themselves, or want to get their work published, and you shouldn't have to seek help from somebody who could be a scumbag in order to get in. As for Allie, if he's still working with Dark Horse even as a freelancer, the time's come to sever ties with him to the fullest, and not continue keeping him on like Alamo Drafthouse did with an employee who committed a vile offense.

As for Wood, yes, he may have committed some smutty acts, and I also notice his resume includes political propaganda:
There are many ways to read Brian Wood's and Ricardo Burchielli's recently concluded DMZ (DC/Vertigo, November 2005- February 2012, final trade collection released in June 2012): as a metaphor for American military occupation in Iraq, as a parable about the perils of seeing all threats to civil order as coming from 'the outside', as a speculation on the future of America's 'culture wars', as a critical examination of leadership in social and political movements.

Furthermore, the context in which one reads the series also prompts changes in its meaning. For example, reading the first arc, "On the Ground", at the time of initial release in 2005-2006, an intensely violent period in the US occupation of Iraq, is a different experience than is reading, or re-reading, the same collection seven years later after withdrawal of American military forces. Along the same lines, DMZ is a book where history and geography continued to get made, and new characters, such as the Trustwell military contractors and Parco Delgado, founder of the "Delgado Nation" and elected leader of a short-lived provisional government for the DMZ, consistently provided new ways to read the series and to understand its significance to the world outside.
Even if Wood weren't guilty of serious offenses, I find it hard to care if he's that far to the left as his DMZ series suggests. He and Wright may be victims of cancel culture on the left, but if they're of the very same school of thought, there's no need to feel too sorry to see their careers in comicdom get beached. What they, and Warren Ellis, who may have cancelled his newsletter following allegations against him, are learning now, is that their politics won't prevent them from being dumped sooner or later by a crowd of ingrates because they didn't play by an inorganic rule they contrived to suit their insane ideologies.

That said, while these allegations against the above creators, if factual, are certainly troubling, the victims shouldn't just be using social media to deal with the issue. They should turn to the police and lawyers to deal with the situations, depending on the severity of the offenses. And publishers have to be open to giving assignments based on talent, not politics, and not based on whether a creator made a name for themselves in the world of indies. I think that's part of the problem everyone's facing in entertainment. It does lead to corruption, and that has to change as well.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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