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Today in Depressing

Archie Comics Sues Its co-CEO for Sexual Harrasment

This is a different sort of “women can do anything that men can do” story than our usual ones, unfortunately. Archie Comics Publications has been doing a number of things that’s impressively beyond our expectations for them lately, like introducing an out gay character and tackling Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in nearly the same breath. And now for something just as unexpected, but completely different:

The co-CEO of Archie Comics, Nancy Silberkleit, is being sued for workplace bullying and sexual harassment by her own company.

From TMZ, the last place one much expects to find comic news:

According to the lawsuit, filed yesterday in NY, several employees have lodged complaints about Nancy’s “offensive” behavior … including one time in 2009, when she barged into a meeting and “pointed to each [attendee] and said, ‘PENIS, PENIS, PENIS, PENIS’ and then walked out.”

Nancy allegedly pulled the same “penis” stunt again in 2010 — but this time she also screamed out, “My balls hurt.”

As usual, it’s likely that the brief facts of the suit that get quoted in news outlets give us only the iceberg tip of the real story, but this doesn’t really sound like workplace appropriate behavior, to say the least, and if it’s part of a trend that’s been going on since 2009 that only makes it worse. The independent firm that Archie contacted for advice on the matter seemed to agree, advising them to immediately cut ties with Silberkleit. At the moment, the company is seeking to legally bar her from returning to their offices and from representing the company in any way, including at San Diego Comic Con.

If Silberkleit is removed from her post at Archie, it will be the first time the company has not had a family member of one of its original founders; Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John L. Goldwater; at the executive level.

(TMZ via Big Shiny Robot.)


  • Kristin Frederickson

    I’m curious in what context someone would think it was appropriate to barge in a room and start yelling “penis” at their workplace. I imagine she’s had this lawsuit coming for awhile (although I wouldn’t mind seeing some other sources… I don’t really have a lot of faith in TMZ).

  • Martin Pelletier

    Sexual harassment, maybe, but from that excerpt on her behaviour, I’d say she’s also slightly nuts.

    Also, there’s nothing quite as surreal as the phrase “The independent firm that Archie contacted for advice on the matter”. I’m totally imagining Archie Andrews walking into some big New York firm (where all secretaries would look like Betty/Veronica with slightly different heads) and asking for help.

  • Wesley Smith

    One of Goldwater’s sons is CEO, right? I mean, I’ve seen him referred to in interviews as such. 

  • Amanda Jean Carroll

    Admittedly I don’t know that much about any of this, but sexual harassment seems like a very strong allegation. Not only should we try to avoid assuming that these allegations are true (just look at the Dominique Strauss-Kahn situation to see why media presumption of guilt is dangerous), but we also might want to question whether or not they are an appropriate thing to sue someone for in the first place. 
    Nancy Silberkleit is the wife of the deceased son of one of the founders — she basically inherited the title of Co-CEO. By most accounts she’s done a pretty great job, for the reasons cited. Last I heard she was also working on something called a “comic book fair”, that would travel around to schools like Scholastic book fairs, and on getting Archie comics used as school fundraising materials the way some kids sell candy bars or have bake sales.
     Maybe it’s the conspiracy theory nut in me, but the fact that she’s being sued by her own company seems suspect. I mean, mightn’t they have their own reasons to want to see her removed from power? 

  • James William Medina