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Wednesday, August 19, 2020 

The experiences of somebody who went to the Warren Ellis forums

The Comics Journal interviewed somebody who had some familiarity with the forums run by Warren Ellis, (the interviewer himself also went there), that shed light on what only now begins to draw notice, including from somebody else mentioned in the interview who's virtue-signaling:
Hi, Laurenn thanks for speaking with us. It’s wild! So, can you describe what your relationship with the WEF was? My recollection that the WEF had women moderators who were called the “filthy assistants.” (It was a comic book reference that perhaps lands differently now). Were you one of the “filthy assistants?” How far did you go beneath the surface of how things operated on the WEF, back in the day?

Laurenn McCubbin: I was never an FA, but I was friends with a couple of FA’s - I became closer friends with some of them right after the recent Ellis news came out. I didn’t really know much about the workings of the WEF, or any of the satellite forums.

Do you remember what your feelings were like at the time, when it came to the WEF and how younger women were being treated there? I’m asking because there was recently a sharply-written twitter thread that people noticed from G. Willow Wilson, which begins: “I don’t know how anybody who hung around any of the late 90’s-mid 00’s Ellis forums can profess to be surprised. It wasn’t even a secret.”

I hated the WEF. I hated the vibe
. I barely ever went over there. The constant forum threads of men encouraging women to post photos of themselves flicking off the cameras were pretty creepy, there was a lot of little things that creeped me out, but more than anything, I just despised how they talked about comics. I always got this impression that everyone on that forum felt like comics history hadn’t happened yet-- comics had just been waiting for *them* to show up. The idea of comics being this great, weird thing that existed before us and will exist after us… it felt to me like that forum had no conception of that. And so, the way that exact attitude of “this is all for me; this is mine!” is now revealed to have this ugly sexual component…!

To me, the normality was that the WEF was “familiar” - I have never been a part of any kind of scene that didn’t have weirdo power dynamics and posturing, along with all of the good stuff that brought you into that scene.

I mean, seriously - from 6th grade mean girl clubs to being in the punk scene to doing stand up comedy to being a gallery artist - all of these groups of people have the same dynamics, just with different clothes on and different stakes. It gets fucked up when those stakes become about who gets work, but it’s all very, very similar.

The WEF was great for me - I met people who are still my best and closest friends, my career got a jumpstart, there were funny, fun times. The WEF sucked for me sometimes, too - I fought with shitty dudes (as I have in every scene ever), I was treated abusively by someone I thought loved me, I ignored bad behavior because I was suffering from the consequences of my own bad behavior

It was special, and yet nothing new. It was a place and a time.
So the interviewee didn't think it was that bad, even though poor behavior was allowed there, right down to potential lawbreaking? While it wouldn't be a good idea if she took up what the left now calls "wokeness", that doesn't mean what was encouraged on the WEF should be regarded as acceptable, and decidedly, it wasn't. But why only now is it being noticed? Did even Wilson write on Ellis' dumb forums? That even a propagandist like her would only say so now just attests to her own hypocrisy, and the interviewer, come to think of it, is probably engaging in the same if he thinks Wilson makes the best "witness" to cite.

They're right about "filthy assistant" taking a whole new meaning now: I just realized, it's synonymous with "slutty", though a lot ruder when you think about it. Channon Yarrow, the tall employee for Spider Jerusalem, was a former stripper, which certainly explains why Spider was depicted using the now tasteless figure of speech for her.
I went to comic book conventions between roughly 2000-ish and 2009. And I feel like I picked up on an energy that there were already women back then who were exhausted having to deal with how Warren Ellis was treating the women around him.

Though I should say: I misheard a lot of things; I misunderstood things; I’m in my own head a lot; a lot of things that you hear at comic conventions are total nonsense. So I can't know what to trust of what I heard.

Plus, I had a extra-weird situation back then, because there were occasionally these people who thought I was just skipping through life super-excited to hear about their disgruntlement with comics. There was a type of Comics Person who would love to tell me how they (secretly) thought a Warren Ellis or a Whoever was super-overrated, like I couldn’t wait to hear that! And I’d always just be sitting there, feeling like, “You know what I think the greatest is? This macaroni and cheese.” Or “I live inside my own heart, Matt Damon.”

I fucking love Macaroni and Cheese.

The women who knew about Ellis were already talking to each other, but no one knew the astonishing scope. It was understood that he was “digitally promiscuous” which never sat right with me, but I never said anything about it because who was I to say, really?

I thought that it was shitty that he cheated on his partner (and I call utter bullshit on him saying they had an open relationship), but I didn’t do anything about it. I comforted the women I knew who got used by him, but I didn’t go around waving a torch and demanding his head.

I admire the hell out of the women & NB people who have put the work in to out him as an abuser, and they have my complete support. I mean, even the way they have framed what they wanted out of this whole thing is amazing - not cancellation, but recognition.
Even so, it's unclear how many will care to buy and read his books now, or how well the stories'll age as a result. That said, if Ellis was just promiscuous in a digital sense, that's hardly a problem. If he did cheat on a partner and nobody argued about it...well, that's the left-wing for you. They don't think it's a problem until they decided it suddenly is (and if Bill Clinton's the issue, they still don't), hence, the figure of speech called "wokeness".

On which note, there's hints by the interviewer of the Ellis forum serving as an early example for "wokeness", if people posting messages at the forum didn't think there'd been any comics history begun. This could strongly suggest how we got to a point where established white superheroes, men and women alike, must suddenly be changed in terms of skin color or sexual orientation, and left-wing politics must go on display at all costs, sans argument. The latter is something Ellis had his share of in some way or other in his past writings, and Transmetropolitan was about a reporter in a future era.

One thing I don't get is, where did Warren get all the money to run those forums? It's not like I think they're that expensive to buy and run, and advertising could get them further, but still, it mystifies me. And he built on his undeserved popularity just so he could make his turf a whole big propaganda vehicle. One which is now turning against him. Ah well. Can't say I feel sorry he's now being cast aside by all the ingrates he practically cultivated. That's what comes when these people fail to realize their ideology doesn't exactly encourage loyalty for the right reasons.

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Wokeness is a term tossed around more by right-wing internet culture crusaders than by people on the left. I have never seen it used other than with sarcasm.

The idea that you could juice things up by changing the identity of old established characters and putting ethnic and racial minorities in the old costumes was started in the late '80s by avowed right-wingers like Chick Dixon or conservatives like Roy Thomas. Think Green Arrow Jr, the AirFighters, Infinity Inc and the Young All-Stars. Thomas was particularly conscientious about introducing minority characters, in old or in new costumes. It is not a left-wing thing; the sleepy and unawake people started it first.

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