Misogyny and harassment in the comics industry
22nd Nov 2013
Responding to a lengthy twitter rant by artist Brandon Graham, comic creator Tess Fowler stated that one of the comic authors mentioned by Graham in his lengthy twitter rage, had in fact attempted to lure Fowler to his hotel room at San Diego Comic Con several years ago with the promise of furthering her career in comics at that time .
Fowler later named the man in question as Brian Wood, prominent author of the all female team X-Men book, and writer of Star Wars.
Having named Wood, Fowler then made several public statements insinuating that this behaviour was very much still current with allegations from 3 other women against the same man surfacing as a result.
In response to commentators questioning her silence at the time as well as public accusations of falsifying stories, Fowler responded on Twitter:
I’m being asked a lot of questions. So here are more answers: Why didn’t I take to social media immediately? I was afraid of being THAT GIRL I’d been warned it was my responsibility to watch my own back. And I believed it. Why am I willing to talk about it now?
Because a MAN in the industry spoke his name first, and was attacked for it. Every time I have talked about it to any of my followers I never revealed his name.
Brandon’s tweets made me think twice. Especially now that I am independent. Again, I don’t hate said creator. I never did. It made me feel dehumanized at the time. Even worse was his half hearted apology AFTER giving me a ration of shit, and only because I requested it.
Former DC employer, Anne Scherbina, similarly went public with her own allegations against Wood, as did comic creator Mariah Huhner, a previous Editor-in-Chief at Comics Alliance.
Wood’s response saw him admitting he did make a pass at Fowler, but denied any promise of “quid pro quo, no exertion of power, no threats, and no revenge.”
He has since sent Fowler an apology, although one she labels as “not the one many want right now.”
She tweeted soon after that: “To me, what he accepted ownership of felt genuine. It felt like a step in the right direction. Granted it was a small step on a long road but I believe in positive reinforcement. For if we hold their feet to the flames forever, we will not have allies, but ashes.”
Whilst Fowler seems to consider Wood’s apology a step in the right direction, these reports and public testimonials from women within the comics industry have exposed a dark underbelly of misogyny, further revealing the dangers of comics as a boy’s club.
While comic fans leap to defend Wood and those brave enough to speak up are mocked, shamed, and reviled by fans, women comic creators continue to come forward either with their own personal experiences, or statements confirming the culture of misogyny at play within the comics industry.
Comic fans themselves are all too aware of harassment within comics, as sexual harassment of women comic convention attendees is increasingly reported.
The Con Anti-Harassment Project was launched to ensure that comic conventions had procedures in place to ensure safety and respect for all attendees, although many conventions still do not have harassment policies.
As the comic industry fails to lead by example, it seems that the discussions of misogyny within comic fandoms are tied to an industry wide problem with women.
Discussions regarding misogyny and harassment within comics both in terms of the industry and the fandom are ongoing.
While the comments section of any comics media piece on the subject reveals a largely intolerant and dismissive collective of voices, we hope that the bravery of these women and the sharing of stories, information, and advice will further encourage others to break silences in hopes of creating a safe and respectful industry.