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Thursday, January 14, 2016 

IDW's Dirk Wood does no favors by apologizing for serious offenders

One of IDW's marketing managers, Dirk Wood, recently wrote a Facebook post where he admits that Dark Horse editor Scott Allie's assaults are reprehensible, yet still goes a classic apologist route and argues that Allie should still be allowed to keep his job anyway. Here's what he had to say:
I know I'll regret saying this out loud, but my conscience will not let me avoid it. I've known Scott Allie for 23 years, which at the moment is more than half of my life. We worked together closely for 16 years. We are a bit like brothers, in so much as there have been times when we've gotten along, and there have been times when we wanted to murder each other. I also know Joe Harris, although not as well as I know Scott, but I like Joe a lot.

I will begin by saying that I am in NO WAY condoning the behavior detailed in today's comic press. No one should have to put up with that. I don't blame Joe at all for wanting to make this public, it is his experience, and far be it from me to criticize how he processes it.

That said, I've been disturbed by the way Scott has been portrayed. Not the EVENTS mind you (Scott himself admitted and apologized for that), but Scott as a person. Scott is indeed the person that got blindingly drunk and did those things. And that is NOT okay. But Scott is also more than that. Scott has been hiring and championing women and minorities in comics for over 20 years. He is a dedicated father, devoted husband, and a tireless worker. He also...can be a bad drunk, and it's something he's struggled with over the years. This is NOT an excuse for his behavior, and clearly, he jumped the shark at SDCC.

My point is this: Scott is not a monster. I see people calling for his head, wanting him fired, etc. Scott is also not a champion. He is a real, flawed human being. He's clearly got some things he needs to figure out, and obviously owes some serious apologies to some people. As for the notion that he also exhibited a pattern of abuse while sober, this is something I never noticed (although that doesn't mean it didn't happen). In fact there was one member of upper management there who was more abusive than anyone I've ever seen in the industry, mostly during work hours (DH employees from this era will know EXACTLY who I mean). Again though, that's another thing that doesn't excuse Scott's actions.
Well duh, why does he think people would want him fired from Dark Horse? It so happens this kind of tyranny dates back a number of years, and several people fell victim to this basket case. And no amount of good work in his job can change the fact that he did something very serious that cannot go unpunished. Wood's apologetics are no better than Tom Werner and Whoopi Goldberg defending Bill Cosby. I guess what Wood's suggesting is that NBC and Netflix shouldn't have scrapped the projects they were doing with Cosby before the official news made headlines? Are Cosby, Jerry Sandusky and Stephen Collins also "real, flawed humans"? Sorry, Mr. Wood, but I'm not buying the Volkswagen you're selling (and besides, there could be emissions cheating software inside! Can't let those exhaust fumes affect our valuable lungs, now can we?). Wood may be acknowledging that Allie's actions were scummy, and he's correct on that. But to insist he's any different from the movie actors and singers who've soiled Hollywood with their own revolting antics is incredibly stupid, and pegs him as an apologist who wants to make exceptions. This all stinks of Orwellian doublethink. And it gets no better with the following:
Despite the tropes of our chosen profession, people are not simply heroes and villains. People are a mess, and they are full of gray area and nuance, goods, bads and in betweens. Scott has clearly done wrong, and I'm not defending it. Just want to point out he's done some right here and there too. Thought I would mention it since I didn't see any of it today.

Harassment is a real problem in the world. Not just comics, the world. But to make any progress battling problems this large, it is my opinion that we have to accept the fact that people are complicated, and have real conversations about it. There are toxic workplaces, bad situations and bad environments, allowing bad behavior. But, picking a different boogeyman every 3 months, calling for his/her head, and then moving onto the next controversy...that's not going to solve anything (in my opinion --I do not profess to have any actual expertise about any of this).
Next thing you know, he'll be arguing that Mussolini made the trains all run on time. Let's be clear. The sad reality is that there are cases of would-be inspirational figures who master consensus building, yet behind the scenes they're regrettably doing all sorts of misdeeds that can nullify the impact and alienate many decent people. Such was the case with Collins and Cosby, and they've since been paying the price. Wood forgets at this point that this isn't just harassment we're talking about, but assault as well. And even if it was done under alcoholic influence, that doesn't mean it can't go unpunished. That's why there's a segment out there who'd be a lot happier if Allie was given the pink slip at Dark Horse and not continue to be paid for his grave offenses. Defending him as a family man doesn't change anything any more than it would for Collins and Cosby. Unfortunately, that's what Mike Richardson's been doing too, by keeping him on the payroll as an "executive senior editor". Which doesn't sound all that different from EIC to me.
I've said it a couple times, but I want to be overly clear about this -- I do not think what Scott did was okay, far from it. Just wanted to point out it was a real person that did it, not an evil character from one of his books.

I'm sure some of you will disagree with some or all of this, and that's ok. I absolutely agree with the premise that we need to improve as a society, and make comics a safer and more accommodating place for everyone. I just did not recognize the person being discussed today as an entirely accurate representation of my friend Scott, and I felt compelled to say so.
Well duh, I'm sure plenty of people thought the same way about Collins and Cosby, but look what they both turned out to be. Though testimonies exist suggesting that Cosby was a pompous jerk even towards some of his aides and talent agents, one can be sure there were a lot more who had no idea just what kind of wolf in sheep's clothing he really was, including the entertainers Jill Scott and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter who asked Amazon to remove all recommendations he initially made for Cosby's last biography in the past year. And "real" person? Even if Allie only did it while drunk, that hardly makes him a real person. He could've been a cocaine addict and that wouldn't make him a real person either. And that's why this comment really made me sick:
FYI, Dirk is a feminist and intensely kind. Saying he would ALLOW sexual harassment in his workplace is a huge leap from his support of a friend.The incident described in the article was gross, but it was about dudes at a party. The article was not about keeping women safe at the workplace. It was about men in comics. It doesn't translate to the systemic harassment women experience daily. Apples and oranges. If I were in comics, I would be pissed that men were trying to take over another area of women's experience. But after watching the reaction of people on the Internet, I'm really glad I'm not.
Only women matter?!? Not men? I suppose she even thinks this horror couldn't possibly happen at a bachelorette party? Anybody who thinks only one gender matters is jaw-droppingly deluded and needs a psychologist. If men aren't kept safe from such crude violence, how can we expect the women to be any better off? And what kind of feminist is Mr. Wood, exactly? The left-wing, SJW kind? Furthermore, according to this reply on the page:
Actually, Grace, the article was about the systematic harassment that Scott did over years while both drunk and sober -- to both men and women. Just because none of the women were willing or able to come forward with their stories doesn't mean it's "about dudes at a party." Not to mention the fact that he was known for this behavior internally for years, which meant his employees of any gender had to wonder if they'd be next to be bitten or groped.
And here's another one rebutting the moonbat's apologia:
Grace, this is the second or third time now I've seen you belittle what happened to Joe because he's a dude. He's not "trying to take over another area of women's experience," HE EXPERIENCED this, and it just happens to be something that women tend to experience more. Rather than call him out for trying to "Kanye" the experience of women, we need to recognize that assault and abuse can happen to anyone.

If you're saying that men who experience these things shouldn't speak up, that's really disturbing. Why wouldn't they? A lot of men would NOT speak up because they might fear seeming "feminized" by speaking about experiences most people associate as happening to women. That's fucked up, and you're perpetuating the idea that that's exactly what he should have done. I'm proud of Joe for speaking up despite his fears—the fears any freelancer would have of losing work, or being seen as someone who can't just go along with what happens between "dudes at a party." Men who speak up about these things are expressing solidarity with anyone else who has had similar experiences and should be supported.
Both genders matter, and to say they don't reeks of very poor judgement. Kind of like the case with "feminist" Anita Sarkeesian seemingly only being concerned about what women face on the internet, but not men. And in hindsight, I think she's given enough signs even women don't matter all that much to her either.

I also found this eyebrow-raising comment about Allie's MO as an editor:
I don't know Scott on a deep level and I am relatively new to the comic industry. But I appreciate Dirk's comment, and the idea that people are complicated. In the spirit of showing multi sides of a personality I thought some might find this interesting. (Though certainly not excusing anything.) Scott Allie had a chat with myself and other artists not too long ago with the directive, "Do NOT to oversexualize the females characters in your art." Don't stick out a characters butt in every image, etc. Stay away from T&A. Maybe it was just the specific book I am on, but coming out of fantasy art genre, where artists are often programmed to do the opposite, (Chainmail bikinis anyone?) it was refreshing to hear this direction from a person in his position. Liberating actually. I've never heard this from another client. And as a father of a 13 yr old girl, one of the coolest things an editor or art director has ever said to me.
Really, is that so? Anybody who's oh-so worried about "over-sexualization", but not about real life physical assault and molestation, clearly has no moral compass. This reminds me of a comment made by somebody on a recent Hot Air topic about the charges now filed against Cosby in Pennsylvania:
The ones who insist on preaching self-righteous are the ones who usually have massive skeletons in the closet.

Cosby was busy raping women. He is a disgraceful human being.
People who play the role of "public moralists", which, in Allie's case (and Cosby's), takes on a negative meaning, are the kind of people who could have dark skeletons in their closets. Anybody who's more concerned about sexiness and/or attractiveness, however they do it, but not about their own personal conduct, need to get their heads examined. And I just remembered: didn't Allie work as editor on a number of horror-thriller titles? Gee, what's wrong with sexiness that isn't so wrong with jarring bloodiness? Tsk tsk. People with that kind of double-standard are decidedly very screwed up. (Ironically, one of the series covers seen in that interview, for Grindhouse, does feature a busty woman on it, so maybe that's just some more tedious, trolling apologia in the comments there, though it is just the cover, and no way to be sure if the interiors are the same style.)

If there's anything we can learn here, it's that, just like sexual abuse is not unique to just one single medium or industry, neither are apologists for the same, as Wood's just proven. He ought to consider the long-ranging consequences of his defenses for Allie, because some people might get the idea that IDW doesn't have a solid policy against workplace abuse, and that wouldn't be good for their business. That said, I'm also quite disappointed if nobody filed police charges against Allie, because how do they expect violators like him to be sent a message? If they haven't, they're letting the excusing bosses walk all over them too. And that does nothing to solve the problems.

Update: on File 770, a site dedicated mostly to sci-fi conventions, I discovered Kurt Busiek writing a response in the comments section, proving he was fully aware of this news, yet as noted before, he clearly has little or no concern, if all he could do afterwards was call it a "treat" to work with a creep like that. When creators themselves turn a deaf ear and blind eye to monstrosities, it just proves how extremely difficult it'll be to make a difference.

Update 2: as if it couldn't get any worse, now former editor Mike Gold's more or less written an apologist mishmash for the sake of that repellent man. I just don't see what's so special about him that they get so scared and scramble to his defense. If Allie were a Republican, I'll bet they'd be less inclined to defend him.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • 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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