This article was originally published at Comics Bulletin on October 1, 2015.
Janelle Asselin published an article at Graphic Policy today detailing specific allegations of assault and battery concerning Scott Allie, the former Editor-in-Chief and current Executive Senior Editor at Dark Horse Comics. The full story including quotes, sources, locations, and other details and ought to be read for a full understanding of what occurred and why it is newsworthy.
This story is notable because it contains a named source in addition to many anonymous sources from both the event and within Dark Horse Comics. That source is comics writer Joe Harris who chose to step forward with his story after being assaulted by Allie on Thursday, July 9th at the Hilton Bayfront hotel. Allie grabbed Harris’ crotch and bit his right ear after Harris approached him at the bar.
Asselin provides numerous accounts from other professionals who requested to remain anonymous, revealing this behavior to not be a solitary incident, but part of a long pattern of behavior. Current and former Dark Horse staff state that Allie “…punched coworkers. He’s been inappropriate” and “would become aggressive—mostly verbally—and say terrible things about people.” His propensity for biting employees is noted and garnered him the nickname “Bitey the Clown” at the Dark Horse offices.
The complete article is horrifying. It is an example of an employee allowed to assault and harass co-workers without reprimand or significant consequences. Even Allie’s recent change in position from Editor-in-Chief to Executive Senior Editor only comes after but not necessarily in response to years of this behavior and very public displays at San Diego this summer.
This is the sort of behavior that has been spoken about, but rarely reported within the comics industry. Stories about editors, writers, and other professionals who habitually abuse and harass coworkers and subordinates are all too common. It is understandable that these stories rarely come forth within the comics press, though. Those being targeted by this behavior often place themselves at even greater risk by speaking out. Comics is a small industry and the potential loss of work is significant, especially when the highest echelons at publishers like Dark Horse have actively protected those being accused.
There is no fast or easy solution to this problem. It has become ingrained into the culture of the comics industry. However, work like Asselin’s article mark the start of a long climb towards justice and fair treatment across comics. More people are working to expose the predators operating within comics every year, and they are becoming more successful. The bravery of a single individual, like Joe Harris, shows that professionals are becoming more willing to step forward and share their stories. Asselin’s article is a significant step forward, but there are many, many more to come.
We here at Comics Bulletin are dedicated to the ideals of equality, justice, and fairness. When these ideals are threatened within comics, it is our responsibility to not remain silent, no matter the potential repercussions. In response to this publication, we will make two points.
- Comics Bulletin will cover news stories regarding professionals who use their place in comics to harass, assault, or otherwise harm other human beings in any form.
- Comics Bulletin will support coverage of any stories with whatever resources we can offer.
As noted at The Beat, the culture of abuse has been a longtime epidemic within comics. Change will only come through constant, coordinated efforts to expose these abuses to the public. Asselin’s hard work and Harris’ bravery set an example that all of us working in and writing about comics can aspire to. We here at Comics Bulletin applaud their efforts and pledge to do our part in helping to make comics a better place for everyone involved.