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The current (and ongoing) unpleasantness.

§ June 25th, 2021 § Filed under ellis § 15 Comments

I generally liked Warren Ellis’s work. Okay, Ruins from Marvel I despised, and put me off reading his material for a while, but once I started picking up his work I found I enjoyed it. I mean, it was occasionally a little same-y, with many characters identically speaking in what I presume to be Ellis’s sardonic voice, but otherwise the stories were clever and well-constructed.

Do I think Ellis has more good comics writing in him? Well, sure. Would I like to see that work? Under normal circumstances, absolutely.


About a year ago it came out that Ellis had been using his position as An Exalted Comic Creator to commit sexual coercion, emotional abuse, and grooming on young, vulnerable women, particularly fans and those who were in the industry. An alarming number of stories began to come out, and the website was created to gather together testimonials on Ellis’s behavior. It’s harrowing and unpleasant reading, certainly revealing patterns of manipulation.

The creators of the website offered to Ellis a way…well, not “out,” but “through,” I guess, asking him to work with them to acknowledge his actions and find ways to improve himself and help to correct the cultural and industrial circumstances that allowed it. Which admittedly is a tall order, and who knows how much could actually be done, but doing something is better than doing nothing.

“Nothing,” however, is what’s been done, as far as anyone can tell. Maybe Ellis spent the year in private contemplation, working to better himself and identify ways he could work at preventing this behavior from perpetuating…you know, after sending a few more inappropriate messages to his victims after the news broke and he posted an apology (now gone from his official websites). According to SoManyofUs, he did send out a handful of personal apologies, that were apparently unconvincing.

The reason this is all coming up again is that an artist revealed he was working with Ellis on a revival of an old, abandoned comic project of theirs. And said artist got somewhat defensive about it, which you can see here.

It looked like the plan was to just kinda sneak back into the comics business, without so much as a “hey, how y’doin'” and hope enough people didn’t remember or care about the whole hoohar from last year to make the book profitable. Which, you know, kinda pissed everybody off, since Ellis’s half-baked apology at the time didn’t exactly strike anyone as useful (particularly taken to task was Ellis’s assertion that he was “unaware” of the position and power he held). And it’s been essentially radio silence since. Even Image, the publisher of this forthcoming Ellis book, basically responded to a direct question about the situation with “more details on that comic soon!”

However, the silence was just broken today, as Ellis finally, a year after the offer of opening dialogue was made, contacted the site to see how he could work with them. I mean, that’s good an’ all, and maybe he needed that year to build up the courage or develop himself to the point of being receptive to change…or he saw the shitstorm his new comic announcement stirred up and rethought his career strategy.

Whatever the reason, this is at least some kind of step forward. I don’t know what will happen next, and I don’t know what kind of amends he can make…some testimonials emphasize the permanence of the emotional tolls and how forgiveness seems nearly impossible. But the opening is there, so we’ll see if any positive motion can happen in this whole ugly, disappointing, and disheartening situation.

This is not a fun thing to write about. I’m sure this is not a fun thing to live through, for all the people directly impacted by Ellis. I don’t know, when all is said and done, if any of us will be able to read Ellis comics with a clear conscience again. Maybe we can, if enough redemptive work is done, but honestly, “getting to read comics” is the least important thing about all this.

What is important is that this never happens again. That those not in power are not threatened or forced by those with power. …Again, like I said before, a tall order. But maybe we can get just a little closer to that ideal.

EDIT: Image Comics has released a statement.

EDIT 2: Warren Ellis has issued a statement addressing some of the concerns in my post. I mean, not directly in response to me, but you know what I mean.

P.S. If you’re thinking about being a drive-by dumbass in my comments, don’t bother…I’ll just delete whatever you expel.