“Buy a CD,” said the guy obviously in his 50s.

§ June 18th, 2020 § Filed under eyeball, real world stuff § 16 Comments

Okay, I do plan on getting back to the whole intercompany crossover business we were talking about last time. What I was going to talk about today was the fact that I finally got prescription glasses (my eyes finally being stable enough for them, but still prone to occasional bleeds) and have started to try to read the enormous backlog of comics I’ve got waiting for me at home. I’m literally a year behind on some titles.

But something needs to be said about comics writer Warren Ellis and writer/artist Cameron Stewart, both of whom are facing allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. You can read about what’s going on with Ellis here, and Stewart here. No word that I’ve seen from Ellis, but I saw Stewart locked down some of his social media presence.

Now…okay, I don’t really know anything about Stewart, aside from seeing his name on some comics here and there (and I know I enjoyed the Batgirl run he worked on) but I am quite familiar with Ellis, as I suspect most of the folks reading a comics blog like this would be as well. I think it’s safe to say that Ellis had cultivated a persona of being someone who did not suffer fools, was encouraging of new work by independent creators, supportive of the rights of women and the LGBTQ community. So of course it’s greatly disappointing to hear these reports coming out about him. I mean, it’s disappointing to hear them come out about anybody, but Ellis, in particular…you can’t help but think “but surely he was smarter than that?”

I have no idea how this is going to shake out…while I’m all for “innocent until proven guilty,” I’m also for “believe women,” and there is a lot of stuff just kinda pouring out right now. I am curious as to what Ellis, and Stewart too I suppose, are going to have to say in response, whether they’re apologies of varying levels of sincerity, or just a flurry of self-defensive libel suits, I don’t know.

But I do know that I hate seeing these stories come out of the comics industry, a business primarily built on telling stories about good conquering evil, in which evil is continually inflicted on good people and so often goes unpunished. Or worse, unmentioned.

Reader Hooper left a comment on my last post regarding these recent events. You should read the whole post, but I did want to respond to one part of it. Hooper says

“…I feel guilty for contributing to their careers by seeking out their work and purchasing their art.”

Well…you really shouldn’t. How could you have known? It’s not your fault. I mean, you have to go through life and make your decisions based on the idea that folks whose work you’re supporting are operating in good faith. You can’t buy a CD thinking while you hand over the money “I sure hope this guy isn’t a child molester!” You’d drive yourself crazy second-guessing yourself like that. Don’t feel bad that you supported someone who turned out to not be a good person. Don’t even feel bad that you enjoyed the work in the past. Just think “I know better now” and stop supporting that creator. Maybe that creator will make amends, work to better himself, do proper penance, and someday be worthy of support again. Or maybe not. But it’s all on the person who did wrong. It’s certainly not on you, the consumer who didn’t know.

Sigh. Sorry, I don’t have a funny or pithy wrap-up to this post. These are just ugly situations, and I hate that these things happen. I really do.

16 Responses to ““Buy a CD,” said the guy obviously in his 50s.”

  • Andrew Duncan says:

    Well said, Mike.

  • Thom H. says:

    UGH — the news about Warren Ellis is so upsetting. It sucks to find out someone you admire abuses his power to violate other people’s sense of security.

    Seriously, Disgusting Men of America (and beyond), is it too much to ask that you keep your gross fantasies to yourselves? Leave other people out of it!

  • Daniel T says:

    The problem with “stop supporting that creator” in comics is that by not buying a Warren Ellis book you are also de facto not supporting the artists, letterers, colorists, etc.

    Not buying Roman Polanski movies or JK Rowling books doesn’t affect theirmu collaborators the same way not buying Ellis or Stewart books would affect theirs. Unless Grant Morrison comes out and says “Don’t buy Seaguy,” is it really fair to Morrison (et al.) not to buy it because Stewart is a terrible human being? The Multiversity collection has five or six other artists besides Stewart. Do you not buy it just because of him?

  • Daniel T says:

    The thing that pisses me off the most about these sexual scandals is they are not sudden revelations that have taken everybody by surprise. Ellis’ and Stewart’s and Eddie Berganza’s behavior was well-known for YEARS, and not just by people they had power over. Harvey Weinstein’s sexual impropriety was satired in the show “Action!” TWENTY YEARS AGO!

  • Daniel T says:

    The thing that pisses me off the most about these sexual scandals is they are not sudden revelations that have taken everybody by surprise. Ellis’ and Stewart’s and Eddie Berganza’s behavior was well-known for YEARS, and not just by people they had power over. Harvey Weinstein’s sexual impropriety was satired in the show “Action!” TWENTY YEARS AGO! History has shown since the beginning that men can be lecherous pigs so almost any given man being revealed as a creep is not much of a surprise or disappointment. Knowing their were so many people who were aware of the creepiness and did nothing to stop it, especially when they absolutely could have (looking hard at DC right not) ALWAYS disappoints me.

  • Daniel Trogdon says:

    “Knowing there” because not correcting it would bug me all day.

  • Hooper Triplett says:

    Thanks Mike for the response.

    Daniel T – part of my dismay is also the open secret aspect. The victims are not, and should not be, compelled to disclose. Those around them that kept silent and continued to offer the perpetrators work, or promote their work, should be ashamed.

    My question I’m struggling with is what role can I play as a consumer.

  • Mikester says:

    Daniel T. – that is a difficult question, you don’t want to penalize unknowing creative collaborators for the deeds of others participating in the work. Ideally, if the person in question wishes to atone, he’d eschew profits from the work to allow the other person to continue to make money from it, to maybe alleviate any guilt from potential purchasers…but plenty of people still probably wouldn’t want to read it regardless of where the money goes. It’s a mess, to be sure, and innocent people on all levels get hurt by this behavior. I’m sure the rest of the folks on The Cosby Show aren’t thrilled about losing whatever income they may still have been realizing.

  • JIM says:

    Obligatory “What’s a CD, Unca Mike?”

    Ugh. I hate everything about this. I hate Multiversity had to shut down comments on the Ellis article. I hate how I’m starting to understand why so many men on the internet think any display of decency is “performative” and just a scheme to get laid. I hate that I never knew this.

    I was never a fan of Ellis’s work but I respected him.

    The Bluebeard comparison genuinely gave me chills.

  • Casey says:

    OK, I’m gonna say it; I don’t understand why this is a scandal. This clearly demonstrates that Warren Ellis is a despicable person, someone that I would never want to interact with in person, but I don’t see how this affects his published work. Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and many other creative people were awful, and disgusting in a multitude of ways, but that doesn’t stop people from appreciating their work. As far as I can tell, Warren Ellis didn’t do anything even close to criminal, so I honestly don’t understand the fuss.

    Again, he’s clearly human garbage, I just don’t understand why it matters in relation to his creative works.

  • Michael Hoskin says:

    “Not criminal” is a very low hurdle.

    Ultimately, it’s up to each of us to decide whether to continue supporting creative people after we find out they’ve done something despicable. No one (not even Mike) can draw the line in the sand for you. You may not understand “the fuss”, but at least now you know people are “fussed”.

    I myself bought Detective Comics #1000 in a $0.99 sale at comixology this week, so there’s $0.0005 straight to Ellis’ bank account.

  • Thom H. says:

    I agree that it’s a personal decision whether to continue to buy Ellis’ work or not. And the extent of your feelings about this scandal will determine how you’re comfortable behaving in that regard.

    If you want to continue enjoying Ellis’ writing without benefiting him directly, then you can track it down as (physical) back issues. Those are bought and paid for, so Ellis doesn’t see any additional income from their sale. The money you do spend goes directly to a small business that probably needs the funds right now.

    As for future work, you might not want to contribute to a company that enables workplace harassment or to projects that put creeps in direct contact with the young women they like to harass. I’m sure if any remaining sales of The Batman’s Grave evaporate in the next month, DC might get the message that it needs to deal with the “open secrets” its harboring.

    I honestly feel like if someone had pulled Ellis aside years ago and made it very clear that he had to stop being awful, we might not be in this place right now. His targets wouldn’t have had to deal with his abuse, he wouldn’t have had to deal with professional backlash, and we wouldn’t have had to feel bad about supporting him and his work. The bad behavior was definitely his problem, but allowing it to continue is on his employers (DC, Marvel, Avatar, whoever else).

  • Johnny Bacardi says:

    Ellis has commented, in his now-halted weekly email.

    http://createsend.com/t/d-258E4AB2CFB38E022540EF23F30FEDED

    I have been a huge Ellis fan in the past, and to this day have enjoyed many books he’s recommended and creators he’s pointed out. To say this is dismaying and disappointing is an understatement… but I stopped expecting artists, musicians, etc. to be paragons of humanity ages ago so I’m not surprised.

  • Snark Shark says:

    I STILL BUY CDS!!!

    I’m in my 40’s…

  • Mikester says:

    Casey – Everyone’s just tired of this kind of shit happening over and over again, always with men with some measure of relative power using it against women. It may not be technically “criminal” what Ellis did, but it is appalling and folks have the right to say “…I’m just not going to deal with him or anything he’s worked on.”

    It’s possible that someday the work can be approached with some objectivity, appreciating it as is while also acknowledging the immense flaws of its creator. Happens all the time now, like with the examples you give. But appreciating Ellis’s work right at this moment is just plain off the table.

  • @misterjayem says:

    “Ellis has commented, in his now-halted weekly email.”

    A wise woman recently told me, “Users groom their friends as well as their victims.”

    Ellis’ self-serving comment — “I have never consciously coerced, manipulated, or abused anyone ***I was ignorant of where I was operating from” — is just more of the former.

    — MrJM

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