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Insidery

Comic Creator Harassment Claims Met With Response From Alleged Harasser


If you watch the comic book world as closely as I do, you might have noticed the wind changing direction. Specifically in the last week. Recent events have led to both men and women’s eyes being opened to a dark side of the community. These same events have also rallied many to do something about it. Find out how one creator speaking out about harassment has caused more than just a stir. 

In the public’s mind, the story probably started in late October when creator Tess Fowler (Charmed, Grimm Fairy Tales) tweeted in support of Brandon Graham about supposed misogynistic behavior. In a series of tweets she wrote:

Everybody’s mad at @royalboiler for speaking truth. lol I wish MORE people in this industry would call out misogynistic men by name. @royalboiler called out a writer who tried to get me up to his room at SDCC one year by feigning interest in my pursuit of a comic career. The same guy who ran off my friends mid conversation to get to me, then left me with his room number and told me he’d be waiting to get to know me better. Then the next day when I walked by the booth with friends he shouted at me in front of crowds of pros and fans that he’d waited and waited for me and where the fuck did I go? Needless to say he was married with a pregnant wife at the time. I was young, naive and hopeful. But not THAT naive. Later we talked on Facebook and he made fun of my art, letting me know he had never had any interest in it to begin with. He was mad that I’d been afraid of him. At the time I liked to costume. He told me I should be thankful he was talking to me & that he’d overlooked me dressing up like an idiot. I look at his career and the way he’s touted as a feminist and I cringe. I am not the only woman who has had a run in with him either.

At the time, Fowler did not name the creator but did admit she stopped trying to attend conventions for a while because it was “too scary” for her. Though the story didn’t end there.

Rumblings started happening and eventually, Bleeding Cool posted the story with this statement from Fowler attached:

The behavior of the man in question is considered normal in this business. And the few people who know about it consider it to be my fault for “falling for it” when he feigned interest in my work. In my pursuit of doing this work professionally I ran a gauntlet of this sort of thing. I came in with stars in my eyes and were it not for the handful of really good people who stepped in to keep me safe, I might not have made it through without being completely jaded by it. I am older now, with young impressionable followers of my own. And I do my best to help them over these kinds of hurdles when they arise. I wish more people were brave enough to speak out. But for every voice raised in protest, there are a thousand to defend the person in question. It’s daunting.

And again, it didn’t end there. Fowler got into several discussions with others on Twitter who either did not believe her claim or found it somehow invalid. “Misogyny exists in comics. This was just a fraction of it. Sexism is something different, by definition. This wasn’t discrimination based on my sex. This was a power play for the purposes of cheating on his wife,” she wrote to one individual. “Granted, it was awhile ago, and maybe he’s a shining example of feminism now. But if the accounts I’ve heard are correct, he’s only gotten worse. What he did wasn’t sexism. He didn’t deny me a job or discriminate against me. He treated me like a plaything and let me know to my face just how little he thought of me as a person. Trust me. He’s a tried and true misogynist.”

Along the way, it seemed many industry folks knew who she was talking about, citing this not being an isolated incident, and Fowler received emails and other messages attesting to that which eventually made her decide to come forward with the name – Brian Wood.

Wood, the writer of the current all-female X-Men title from Marvel, the Star Wars ongoing from Dark Horse, and more.

Yesterday we posted a link to Heidi MacDonald’s piece on the whole situation at The Beat. She explained the situation but also called for all comics professionals to do more to stop these situations from happening. She noted that while Wood’s alleged behavior wasn’t illegal, it was something the community shouldn’t tolerate. She also said she reached out to Wood for comment and said, “he declined to comment.”

Today, Wood broke his silence and released the following statement on his official website:

For the last couple weeks I’ve been accused of a lot of very serious things. I feel I have to speak up for myself and for my friends and colleagues who are finding themselves under a sort of scrutiny they don’t deserve. This situation has reached the point where it is affecting people who in no way deserve it, up to and including my family.

Tess Fowler is correct about this: I did make a pass at her at SDCC Hyatt bar roughly 8 years ago.  But when she declined, that was the conclusion of the matter for me.  There was never a promise of quid pro quo, no exertion of power, no threats, and no revenge.  This was at a time in my career when I had very little professional power or industry recognition.  The pickup was a lame move, absolutely, and I’ll accept the heat for having done it, but that’s all it was: I liked her, I took a chance, and was shot down. I immediately regretted it, and I apologize to Ms. Fowler for the tackiness and embarrassment of it all.

I’ve kept quiet for these last couple weeks because this is a problematic thing to address without unintended blowback.  While I believe she is as incorrect as she can be about what my intent and motivations were, I don’t want to encourage any negative opinion directed back at her.

I think the larger issues of abuse in the comics industry are genuine and I share everyone’s concerns.  As a father to a young daughter showing an interest in making her own comics, I do really care about this stuff.  So I don’t want our difference of accounts to take attention away from that industry-wide discussion that needs to happen.

So are we at a he-said/she-said impasse? While Wood’s statement covers a lot of what’s happened, he fails to address something else Fowler has brought up. “Too many stories in my inbox about ONE man. This has to STOP,” she wrote. “Deep down I had hoped he’d turned over a new leaf. So many stories about him. Too many. Same tricks. Different years.”

It might also be important to note just after Wood tweeted his statement he wrote, “Heidi reporting on The Beat that I had give her a ‘no comment’ quote was false, never gave that to her.”

We reached out to hear what MacDonald had to say about Wood’s tweet. She told us, “I reached out to Brian Wood for comment, as I did not feel comfortable only reporting one side of the story, and he did not comment.”

So where does this leave us? We reached out to Marvel who had no official comment on the matter but many fans have been turned off of Wood’s work thanks to the allegations, while others think too much was made out of nothing now that Wood has shared his thoughts on how everything went down.

Whether the allegations are true, it is certainly possible Fowler could come forward with more details contradicting Wood’s statement, is only one aspect of a larger issue. We’ve had to write about harassment in the geek community way too many times this year but it’s important to remember, it’s not just fans doing the harassing, it’s sometimes professionals in the industry. Is this the incident that will finally turn the tide? Or at the very least, make even more people aware this is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with?

[UPDATE] Fowler has put together a tumblr post describing her experience in greater detail. You can read that here.

(image via Doug Kline on Flickr)

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  • Christopher LaHaise

    I’ve got mixed feelings about this. He admitted to making a pass at her, and I’m glad he did. If he did the other parts she mentioned (and I have no reason to believe she’s lying), that bothers me. He may or may not have changed, and while there should be some criticism of his actions, I do agree with him that there should be a sharper look at the industry as a whole, including on the professional level. The entire thing is problematic.

  • Marcy Kitsune

    Given the number of people supposed to have complained, I say supposed as I have not seen the names myself, something is going on here. Even if 50% of those complaining were making it up, an unlikely high percentage, that still leaves multiple women complaining about the behaviour of one man. I hope more people come forward…

  • http://runt.org/ Adrian

    I’d like to see the other people from Fowler’s inbox to speak up so a clearer case can be had. I am inclined to believe there are other victims based on Fowler’s claim, which makes his seemingly polite and thoughtful reply seem quite conniving. Need more data.

  • Emily

    I don’t even know what to do with my anger and frustration on this.
    I read some of Brian Wood’s stuff and I don’t know if I can keep reading. Not with this kind of crap going on.
    I am really disappointed. I hope more informations surfaces on this.

  • http://www.the7thMatrix.com/ Roderick T Faulkner

    Ms. Fowler’s claims only serve to validate there is a dangerous, pervasive “culture of silence” in the comic book industry towards this kind of disturbing behavior. More women do need to come forward and speak out, not only about this particular individual, but about any and all incidents. Only then will the powers that be get the message.

  • Philip Lopez

    I feel the same way. A new issue of X-men came out this week and with all this news coming out, I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. His statement is a good start, but with as many allegations that are out there, It will take a little more before I start buying it again.

  • Haleigh Yonish

    This makes me want to cry with frustration.

    I’m worried that if no one else comes forward, it just lends to the “argument” that women “cry” sexual harassment, and I also don’t want one of the bigger feminist allies in the comics industry to turn out to be part of the problem, to say the least.

    This is very troubling for so many reasons. I hope some more news surfaces soon.

  • Anonymous

    “He did make about the best response he could.”

    did he? to mine eyes, he ignored 90% of her issue with him. hooray, he admitted that he made a pass at her, men do that, but to straight up ignore all the effort he made to then demean her personally and professionally because he didnt get what he wanted? questionable at the best, damning at worst.

  • Louis Gonzales

    Personally, without any knowledge of the situation or further evidence, I can’t make a judgement on Mr. Wood. I truly hope he isn’t what he’s been accused of, yet if he is, he needs to be reprimanded in some way.

  • Emily

    The worst part is I have three issues written by Brian Wood in my to read pile, and I don’t know if I even want to touch them now.

  • Chelsea Spollen

    The trouble is, a lot of the women who are messaging Tess Fowler but not coming forward publicly are quite possibly industry professionals who are, quite rightly, scared for their jobs.

  • Anonymous

    He didn’t ignore it, he said that he didn’t do that. Whether that’s true or not is another matter.

  • Ruby Dynamite

    Two things:

    “She noted that while Wood’s alleged behavior wasn’t illegal, it was something the community shouldn’t tolerate.”

    No, it’s not illegal — at best it’s bullying, at worst, it’s attempted coercion with a side of childish public retribution/shaming when she didn’t hop-to and service him when he ordered her to. Also, she said he was angry about the fact that she was afraid of him/didn’t trust him — considering the behavior he was exhibiting, I’m amazed that he could even utter those words with a straight face and full-on indignation flying. All she did was stand him up (on a ‘date’ that it wasn’t entirely clear whether or not she even actually agreed to in the first place). At most, that merits a ‘oh, well, I’m kinda bummed, but we can meet for coffee instead or something, if you want’, if you’re a decent human being — not ‘ur cosplay sucks u stupid bitca lol’.

    Also? Sexual harassment is more than just ‘tacky’, Wood, you jackass. It’s not like you burped in front of her. You tried to use your big name and influence to wrangle her up to your room, and when *that* didn’t work, you tried messing with her mind and humiliating her into doing what you want. You’re not tacky, Wood. You’re the amorphous pile of useless cells that *wishes* it were as advanced and as civilized as pond scum.

  • Travis

    Cripes. Without even getting into the he said/she said aspects of the story, Wood comes off like a complete ass from the parts that both sides agree on.

    Even if you give him every possible benefit of the doubt, he’s still a guy that tried cheating on his pregnant wife.

  • Ruby Dynamite

    Sadly, it’s not just in the comic book industry — in the atheist community (not even a business industry – this is purely social) recently, there’s been a very similar (almost running parallel) series of reports and accusations against members of the atheist community for harassing female atheists at conventions. Female atheists have been calling for more harassment policies to be put in place, while a dismaying number of male atheists (including a particularly visible and influential one) are stamping their feet and saying a harassment policy would ‘take all of the fun out’ of a conference.

    So yeah – sadly, this isn’t just an industry thing. It’s something social that’s been bubbling under the surface for a while, now. I think women are just getting sick to death of men getting away with this crap scot free. I don’t blame ‘em.

  • Anonymous

    “This was at a time in my career when I had very little professional power or industry recognition.”

    Sorry, I know that doesn’t fly. If it’s ’07, Brian had already made such a spash in the indy comcs scene with his truly (no joke) stunning work with Demo and other pieces, that DC had already put him on contract. Brian was one of the success stories from that scene at the point, and anyone who wanted to break in would have looked to him.

    I remember Brian from the Warren Ellis Forum; he did a t-shirt design that’s still on my favorites, and I wish I still had (the grenade image from the ARTBOMB effort). He’s really talented, and his X-MEN is a solid book.

    He’s also someone who didn’t — at BEST — realize the power and respect others had for him. And not only does that not excuse his behavior, it means I wish his response indicated he’d learned from his actions. That he understood that when you start reaching out and mentoring people, which he was, it mandates a level of responsibility towards them.

    Fowler deserved far better, all those years ago. Her account makes that clear. And we consumers and fans of comics deserve better creators, which Wood’s commentary also makes, depressingly, all too clear.

  • Hawkes006

    Ok, honest question here because I’m a bit confused. What Wood seems to have done here is clearly creep territory, but is it harassment? I mean, he made a really bad pass at her, and she wasn’t into it. Feigning interest in her art I can’t really fault him for, since I’ve said the lie “Wow that’s really interesting” just to be polite in conversation. Someone using it as a pickup line is plausible. That said, it’s comic con, an artist talking to a writer, “art” is a pretty typical topic of conversation to have. If it was two people mutually flirting over drinks, and the guy invited her back to his room for more of the same, wouldn’t we consider that normal? Of course, in that situation it’s mutual, in Fowler’s situation she probably was not flirting back.

    Is it harassment because he presumably held a position of influence in the industry, and his “interest” in Fowler’s art implied he was willing to trade sex for help in breaking in? I’m just trying to figure out how I feel about this, is this inadvertent creep-dom or explicit sexual extortion/harassment?

  • Anonymous

    You seem to be only reading his response, rather than the charges laid against him. If all he did was what he said then… in my opinion no, it probably wasn’t harassment. However, he is also charged with being pretty darn douchy towards her the following day and later online, and then there’s the charge that he’s done this LOTS of times before, with many other women.

    I don’t know what the truth is here, but I’d hypothesise that at the very least this guy has no clue how he comes across to women. Also, he should probably stop trying to pick up women who are queueing up him to show him art at conventions. Like, now.

  • http://runt.org/ Adrian

    Yeah, I know. I don’t claim it’s easy and I’m not passing judgment on anyone not willing to come forward. The harassers create these situations and the victims are then left holding the bag. It’s a vicious cycle, not easily broken. I only wish for Fowler to be vindicated and for us to mark up one more point for the good guys.

  • Hawkes006

    Let me be clear, I’m not saying he’s not a douche. He’s a douche. But being a douche because in his mind he was stood up and he’s a spiteful dick, I still don’t know if it has the intent that people are giving it. Also, I’m still wondering how they got in touch after CC, did he hunt her down? If so, harassment. If she went to him, then I’d just call him a dick. And I don’t know what the content of the other stories from other women are, so I don’t know if we can judge. Were they all “HE HARASSED ME” or were they “Yeah he’s a creep with shitty pick up lines and no concept of social cues.”

    At the very least you are right, the best case scenario is he’s a clueless douche who probably read a PUA article on how to pick up women. I just don’t know if it’s the kind of harassment that needs industry wide movement (lots of other cases out there could use the headline space).

  • dawnofthenerds

    We’re never going to get the perfect case to base an industry wide movement off of though. There will always be holes one can poke and ways to minimize the severity of the incident. Especially given how few women are willing to speak up about this kinda stuff, we have to speak up about shitty stuff like this even when it’s ‘not as bad as it could have been.’ Because it’s very damn shitty, it’s a pattern, and it makes women afraid. That’s a good enough reason. Besides, in this case the bigger problem isn’t Brian Wood. It’s that so many people have seen this happen and haven’t done a damn thing to stop it. I do not mean the women he’s harassed, I mean every single bystander who has witnessed this and done nothing. Every single con that doesn’t do enough to make women feel safe and welcome. Every single person who egged him on rather than calling him on it. Guys like this cannot operate without a social license. That’s what we need to address, rather than just one man. Though Brian Wood definitely needs to apologize and clean up his act too, definitely.

  • Douglas Lee Davis

    I think this is all a bit silly. And making a large ridiculous mountain out of a molehill.
    Married men and women of various industries (not just comics) go to business conferences all the time and cheat on their spouses. Its why our divorce rate is 50%+. Its why conferences happen in Vegas of all places.
    The only thing this guy did wrong (other than attempting to cheat) was be an utter douche after getting shot down.
    But harrasment? No. Misogyny? No.

  • Anonymous

    Is there a lot of misogyny in the atheist community? Having seen videos and blogs by people such as Thunderf00t and The Amazing Atheist, it seems like there might be.

  • Anonymous

    It is technically possible to believe in women’s empowerment, be convinced of ones own allure, and have zero clue as to what signals a woman is really sending out. I would love to know the statistical breakdown of men who actually understand women’s “signals” and those that just assume every interaction with a female is flirting. I’m not convinced that the former group even exists. I have certain friends that constantly insist that women I interact with are flirting with me – I am dubious.

  • Ruby Dynamite

    Sadly, there really is. Thunderf00t and TAA are two of the more notable examples, just because of their visibility — which results in literal thousands upon thousands of atheist Youtubers buying their toxic waste at a premium and believing every last bit of it. Because, of course, if Tf00t is right about creationists, he *has* to be right about the evil feminists in the YT atheist community, right? >.<

    There was one atheist who had a pretty sizable following who did a video called "asking for it?" and told a story about a friend of his who got drunk at a party and was raped — and completed the tale with a rather vicious-sounding "or was it because she was a fucking SLUT who got what she deserved?"

    There have also been plenty of women (including myself) who've been harassed in person or online – rape threats, sexual harassment, death threats, bullying. You name it.

    After that whole mess with Thunderf00t having a huge conniption fit over the harassment policy issue, I basically washed my hands of the YT atheist community.

  • Laura Truxillo

    “I still don’t know if it has the intent that people are giving it.”

    What…what does that even matter?

    Look, if a guy starts yelling verbal abuse at me for not sleeping with him, I don’t care if he did it because deep down he was sad or embarrassed or felt that he’d been done wrong. Intent means somewhere between bugger and all in how you treat other people.

    You’re trying really hard to see him as not-that-bad, which is, admittedly, understandable. We always try to justify things for people we like–it’s one of the reasons stuff like this happens, and not just in the comic industry. (“No, I know Jimmy, he’s a good guy, I can’t believe he’d ever do that…”) You saw we don’t know the content of the other stories, but it sounds like was more than just “I got hit on and was uncomfortable.” The words used were “in tears.”

    But y’know what? Even if it was “Yeah he’s a creep with shitty pick up lines and no concept of social cues”… that’s still kind of harassment here. In this situation. Having no concept of social cues, in a grown, married, neurotypical man isn’t a real excuse–it’s either laziness or it’s a desire NOT to read social cues. You don’t have to be Dale Carnegie to know that propositioning someone who’s come to you for professional advice IS. WRONG. I think most women who’ve ever tried to get a toehold in the industry (or similar ones. Or maybe most women in general) don’t have any problem filling in the gestalt.

  • Lucine

    Because she turned him down he treated her like shit. That’s harassment due to him feeling she owes him sex. Thus, sexual harassment.

  • http://runt.org/ Adrian

    Yeah. Richard Dawkins’s harassment of Rebecca Watson mirrors the Fowler/Wood situation in a few unfortunate but unsurprising ways.

  • Anonymous

    Having lurked around the atheist and skeptic communities (which I believe are closely linked) I have heard that there’s actually been a split in the movement caused by people coming out with stories of sexual harrassment like the one here. There is one side trying to reform atheism and skepticism by recognizing that discrimination and oppression is irrational and illogical, and another that is basically covering their ears and going “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU”. Except they aren’t nearly as polite.

  • Important Film Maker

    It’s unfortunately harder to separate an artist from their work than it should be. Alot of artists (writers, actors, filmmakers, etc) have done terrible things in their personal lives, but produced great works.

  • Ryan Colson

    With a very low comic output, I’d say she’s risking nothing which puts her in the camps of attention or honesty, and I’d say definitely honest.
    As her words say, he’s probably ignorant of how it really went down so he’s downplaying it. I’m curious if any of his female collaborators come forward or she indeed has messaging proof.
    Though I’m sure he’s done what he said and now a decade later just wants to move on or keep it secret….

  • Hawkes006

    I retract everything I said before. The original story didn’t make it seem like his comments that next day were rude, and left me confused on the context of the Facebook messages. But reading her tumblr post… there is no amount of doubt here that could benefit him. This is full on creeper harassment, not just “social cues gone wrong”.

  • Ryan Colson

    Nobody’s come forward so really it’s still he/she said. I’m sure he did it, but his account is different and excludes this harassment bit for now.

  • Hawkes006

    Sorry, I didn’t see “in tears” in the original article. And as I understand it, some psychological disorders don’t make it easy for people to pick up social cues, so I don’t want to make a generalization on this level of creep being intentional 100% of the time. BUT you are right, reading the full details in her account on tumblr make it clear this was intentional, and it was harassment. I made the mistake of trying to give the benefit of the doubt without getting more details. This guy is crossing all sorts of lines, and I’m disgusted with myself for sticking up for him.

  • Douglas Lee Davis

    Sexual harassment in the US has a legal definition. She was neither his employee, an applicant, nor a coworker therefore it was not sexual harassment.
    http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm
    Being a douche after getting turned down, is not sexual harassment. Its just being a douche.

  • http://www.commonplacebook.com electrasteph

    Having read her more full account on the update I can say two things – 1) wow. I believe her and 2) it triggered a memory for me of something similar happening in my own workplace where I felt distinctly ill at ease although there wasn’t any behavior that truly crossed the line. (I’m not in the comics industry, but still).

    This sort of weird, slightly stalkerish ‘unwilling to take no for an answer’ power play is gross, and I’m glad women are standing up and talking about this sort of thing as being over the line. That he doesn’t see that her speech and body language are uncomfortable and uninterested, and that holding out career advancement as a sort of carrot to get to make passes at someone is unacceptable is disturbing.

  • Anonymous

    Quote from the article:
    “Granted, it was awhile ago, and maybe he’s a shining example of feminism now. But if the accounts I’ve heard are correct, he’s only gotten worse. What he did wasn’t sexism. He didn’t deny me a job or discriminate against me. He treated me like a plaything and let me know to my face just how little he thought of me as a person. Trust me. He’s a tried and true misogynist.”

  • Anonymous

    Congrats, you’ve discovered how the US government is purposefully designed to diminish the crimes done to women and minorities. Hell, it was only recently that the legal definition of rape was changed to actually represent acts that women consider rape. So it doesn’t really surprise me that women who are harassed sexually won’t have a legal leg to stand on unless it falls into narrow situations. Thanks for the support.

  • http://www.mygeekygeekyways.com Starman

    I’m inclined to believe Fowler’s account for two reasons.

    First, if she were making it up, there’s way too many details that could be easily refuted whereas Wood’s story is very general and presents the events as a “her vs. mine” argument. There’s too many witnesses who could throw the whole thing into question if she were making it up – her friends, people at the con who saw Wood’s reaction the next day, etc.

    Next, I’ve always found Wood’s promotion as a feminist writer suspect. I haven’t read his New X-Men book (I’m not a fan of X-Men in general) but I think it should take more than writing an all female cast to be considered a feminist. I have read Wood’s Conan the Barbarian and have been disturbed how all of his stories have turned Belit the Pirate Queen – one of Robert E. Howard’s great female characters – into a helpless victim who needs rescuing in nearly every single story arc. Yes, she can use a weapon and is surly and ill-tempered to everyone who treats her like a whore or a slave… but she still requires Conan to be her savior.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    harassment – noun – aggressive pressure or intimidation

  • Laura Truxillo

    I never saw that it mattered all that much if they produce great works, really. Art is important, absolutely, but it is optional. You won’t die or live a lesser life even for not having read that comic or seen that movie, or if that player isn’t on a football team you like. The idea that skill in a completely unrelated field should get someone a pass whenever they behave badly (or heck, since your statement made me think of good ol’ Polanksi, break the law, rape someone, and flee the country to escape conviction) is more than a little disturbing, and unfortunately prevalent.

  • Laura Truxillo

    And they say they’re not really a religion…

    (I kid, I kid!)

  • Matt Graham

    As I thought, it fell in the middle. I’ve seen
    two sides come up a lot when I make the grievous error of looking at
    comment threads on comic news sites jumping on this like TMZ on a Miley
    Cyrus bender – Brian Wood is a misogynist monster in disguise, and Tess Fowler is a gold digging attention beggar.

    I have a lot of friends who have dealt with come ons and fallout like
    this, and I know people who lack social skills and are awkward about
    flirting and intent, so the account, as considered from both parties,
    plays for me. The entire online before and after set up just makes it
    more familiar to me, and empathetic with Tess, because I had MySpace in
    2007, and that sounds like MySpace Drama from 2007.

    It plays
    for me that someone, even if they’re a creative powerhouse, can be
    socially awkward and not understand how to make a pass and how to take
    defeat with social grace. Her account makes sense to me, because I have
    known people like that, and stood up for friends who got caught by
    people like that, and coached people like that in how it’s wrong. Brian
    Wood, good writer that he is, is still just a human being, not an
    infallible font of creativity.

    I am not condoning Wood’s
    behaviour, but I don’t think he’s some masterminding deviant piece of
    human garbage like some want to paint him. I find Tess Fowler reasonable
    and fair in her disclosure and call to action. There should be no shame
    in sharing this story. You or I or someone you know has probably been
    on either end of this sort of awkward interaction somewhere in our
    lives, appropriately at a bar, inappropriately at work. It just so
    happens the guy she had an uncomfortable experience with his now a big
    name in the comic industry seven years later. Actions have consequences,
    however small.

    Tess Fowler isn’t trying to bring him down. She
    just getting it out there. You need to be aware of it whether you’re in
    the comic industry, the movie industry, the service industry, the
    publishing industry, in school, or just a kid at a party. You should
    never be afraid to name names. Ever.

    Tess is going about it
    right. Forgiveness. Education. Moving forward. Comics were always a safe
    place for me in the worst times of my life. I grew up in a time when
    having a crush on Rogue or Buffy Summers got you bullied.

    I’ve
    seen enough of the comic scene in recent years to know there’s this
    in-fighting going on in the nerd hierarchy, people thinking they’re
    better for being in before others, for knowing more obscure creators and
    titles, looking down on cosplayers, looking down on movie fan casuals,
    and I have to say:

    Be thankful people enjoy the characters and
    storylines that gave us comfort and hope. That there are people who want
    to share it with you, and some of them dress up like Power Girl or
    Psylocke and look you in the eye and say, “This is not an embarrassing
    costume at all. It’s hot, if impractical.” That there are people who
    want to learn about Batman or Scott Pilgrim or Modesty Blaise, because
    at some point, you didn’t know all you did either.

    This
    in-fighting and scandal over harassment, cosplaying, old fashioned
    elitism, sexism. It needs to stop. Comic books are the last place in the world
    that shit should be tolerated, because of all hobbies and industries, it
    is the one where the creator and fans hold the real power to fix this
    bullshit.

    Respect. Treat people how you want to be treated. It’s simple.

  • Matt Graham

    I know Fowler also says he had a ring and a kid at the time of his come on. I don’t know about that, so I’m not touching that.

  • Fisty

    Dude might have problems, but his work is really good and his Star Wars classic reboot has been one of my fav comics of the year. Artists are generally a little crazy. This is life. Men & women use each other, it’s not exclusive to one gender.

  • Fisty

    Your eyes are biased.

  • Fisty

    You’ve never been a man who dated an addict then. You gotta say no a lot and it’s only for respect.

  • Anonymous

    indeed, just like every other pair of eyes in the world.

  • http://maidofmight.net/ Michelle

    The “court of public opinion” notoriously isn’t won over with hard numbers. It isn’t a matter of scientific evidence. Anyway, one person is enough. How many incidents are required to cross the threshold of “okay NOW I believe her”? You either do or don’t. I don’t know Brian Wood personally, so I have absolutely 0% reason to believe him.

  • Charlie

    I think this happened way too long ago for anyone to start judging him on it now. However, I think the main message of ‘this shit has to stop’ should still stand.

  • Douglas Lee Davis

    Im fine with that. Acting like a douche, while deplorable, shouldnt rise to the level of being a “crime”.
    Edit (as I stated above):
    Look dont get me wrong. I dont support his actions. But being a jack ass in general after getting shot down is not illegal. Hitting on women while married is not illegal.
    Had he ever purposefully or knowingly retaliated against her by denying her employment or attempting to influence someone else who might hire her, or if he had defamed/libeled her in the industry then it would rise to the level of being sexual harassment, illegal and actionable under the law.
    As it stands its a married douche with hurt feelings. Hardly worth all the handwringing this is getting.

  • Douglas Lee Davis

    Which has nothing to do with the actual legal definition in this country.
    Look dont get me wrong. I dont support his actions. But being a jack ass in general after getting shot down is not illegal. Hitting on women while married is not illegal.
    Had he ever purposefully or knowingly retaliated against her by denying her employment or attempting to influence someone else who might hire her, or if he had defamed/libeled her in the industry then it would rise to the level of being sexual harassment, illegal and actionable under the law.
    As it stands its a married douche with hurt feelings. Hardly worth all the handwringing this is getting.

  • Douglas Lee Davis

    Oooh 22 down votes. Sorry you dont agree with me but thats reality.

  • http://mysterycycle.deviantart.com Devin Parker

    Ditto. The only comics on my pull list for the past year have been Mouse Guard and Conan the Barbarian, the latter of which Wood has been author on. On my bookshelf I’ve got a trade paperback of Northlanders: Sven the Returned, also a Wood-written book. Knowing about his real-life behavior definitely sours the reading experience; I’m pretty sure I’ll be seeing misogyny in all of his writing now, whether that’s entirely fair or not.

    Glad a new author’s being brought in on Conan in February. I might just skip the issues until then…

  • Anonymous

    Piracy?

  • Emily Walton

    1) Where did anyone say it met the legal definition of harassment? This seems like a bit of a straw man. Can the word only be used in a colloquial context if the legal definition is met? What other words does this rule apply to?

    2) The divorce rate isn’t 50%, and even if it is, you need to cite your sources for convention adultery being a major cause of it.

    3) Someone was harassed to the point that they no longer felt safe attending conventions, so please spare us the minimizing language about “handwringing” and “not worth it”. People can decide for themselves what’s worth getting upset about, yeah?

    3.5) Women don’t need men to tell us what is or isn’t misogyny or “worth getting upset about”. I’m not sure why you’re so invested in making us not care about this (although I have my suspicions).

  • Emily Walton

    Even if it’s true that women are mysterious humanoid creatures sending out signals that men are unable to accurately decode, and even if it turns out the man in question is simply a victim of misread “signals”, none of that would justify the shouting, public humiliation, and Facebook harassment that followed.

  • Emily Walton

    Good news: you don’t have to pretend sexism, harassment and public rudeness are acceptable adult behavior to continue reading and liking his books!

  • Douglas Lee Davis

    1. This article and the one it links to specifically mentions the term “Sexual harassment” as do many of the comments. So no they werent using that term in a colloquial context.
    2. CDC stats: marriage is 6.8 per 1k. Divorce is 3.6 per 1k. So its greater than 50%.
    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/divorce.htm
    And adultry is the second leading cause of divorce.
    http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/sep/20/divorce-adultery-bad-behaviour
    3. Yes they can. Stil doesnt mean it amounts to a mountain worth national industry attention.
    3.5. Obviously you do need someone to explain the definition of misogyn to you. It means “the hatred of women”. Cheating on your spouse and being a douche because you got spurned doesnt mean you hate all women.

    I dont care if you care or dont. I just found it all silly and commented as such.

  • http://streetsofgotham.insanejournal.com/ seventhbeacon

    He did in fact publicly defame her by loudly, in front of other industry professionals, ask her why she stood him up when she continually ignored/spurned his advances the night before. Whether that’s actionable, those cases are very hard to prove cause in, but it’s beyond douchebaggery and it’s unfortunate that the culture of silence didn’t shut him down early on by having people tell him to get lost.

  • Emily Walton

    1) I still don’t see where you’re pulling this legal foolishness from.

    2) Our current divorce rate is >50% of our current marriage rate, yes, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that 50% of marriages end in divorce, unless all those people are divorcing the same year they got married. And your adultery citation is from another country.

    3) Following your acknowledgement of other people’s freedom to define their priorities with another prescriptive statement makes me doubt your sincerity.

    3.5) Thank you for mansplaining “misogyny” to me, but if you’ll allow my feeble lady brain to respond: one can harbor disrespect and contempt for women as a class without hating all women individually; and believing one is entitled to sex from women and entitled to humiliate them publicly and privately when it’s not offered sure doesn’t come from a place of respect.

    You “don’t care” so much, you’re easily the most prolific commenter on this post. I feel like someone who genuinely didn’t care would let us silly, excitable womenfolk get upset over trivialities like men abusing their power over women and acting like entitled assholes, and go on with his life. But hey, maybe that’s just my female excitableness acting up again.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    Where did I say something illegal occurred?

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    “This article” does not specifically mention “sexual harassment,” simply “harassment.”

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think it’s all that unfortunate. Same as with any other business, you hit an artist in the pocketbook if they decide to be terrible people. I love Dr Pepper, but thanks to their history of misogynistic BS, I’ll never buy it again. The Pianist is a fantastic movie, but Polanski will never see a dime off me.

  • Anonymous

    Really? Because from what Ms Fowler’s said, it hasn’t stopped happening in the interim. Quite the opposite, according to the women “in tears” sharing their stories with her.

    Oh, and when a guy tries to cheat on his pregnant wife, then publicly shames and privately harasses a woman because she didn’t “put out” for him, I don’t think there’s a statute of limitations on that. Hugo Schwyzer was young when he abused and eventually attempted to murder his girlfriend because she’d been raped and was thus better off dead in his mind. The 20 or 30 years following that incident doesn’t magically make him less of a useless pile of dog excrement.

  • Anonymous

    Lemme guess. You’re one of those people who believe women who are screamed at by strange men on the street should take it as a “compliment” because being dehumanized, sexualized, and insulted on the daily isn’t a “big deal.”

  • Anonymous

    And counting! :D

  • Anonymous

    You don’t support his actions…BUT….you do. Because of everything you’re stating afterwards.

  • http://www.commonplacebook.com electrasteph

    Yeah, that story that deBecker tells about the woman and the groceries and the staircase, where they guy just insists sounds so weirdly like what she’s describing. Hanging around, pestering her, making her friends nervous, repeating the invitation to his room even when she declined. Creepy, creepy.

  • http://www.mygeekygeekyways.com Starman

    You and me both. I’d been sticking with the book out of habit because I’m a big sword and sorcery fan and have been collected Conan since the Busiek revival. But I really hate what Wood did with Belit. After every single story past the first arc (which was directly adapted from REH’s Queen of the Black Coast), Belit has been secondary to Conan, at best, and a damsel in distress at worst.

  • Anonymous

    Dawkins and Watson may have been bickering (Dawkins made some fairly dense comments and Watson called for a boycott) but he didn’t harass her. The harassment claims are about others, both English and American and who-ever the schmuck who lit the fuse of Elevatorgate was Both ‘sides’ have shown unpleasant behaviour since then, with Thunderf00t coming out as King Douche in the whole affair but there are sensible voices too.

  • Anonymous

    That was pretty much it. There are some very loud and unpleasant voices on both sides. One side is railing against feminism but using all kinds of smoke like free-speech to make their reprehensible words acceptable. Many on the other side label people bigots and misogynists if they don’t agree with absolutely everything they say. They can’t seem to take an ally who won’t use their labelling system but agrees with virtually everything else.

  • Anonymous

    I’d say if you randomly sampled 100 men you’d find the same level of sexism, misogyny and harassment in any segment of society. I don’t think atheism/scepticism is any worse. Thing is though, the “same level” is pretty f*cking bad and I’m fully behind any attempt to make it unacceptable and change the culture.

  • Charlie

    Well I don’t know anything about those women, or what happened to them. :S I’m on Ms Fowler’s side but the information is so vague it’s hard to make any sort of judgement. I certainly don’t think he should have cheated on his pregnant wife…

  • Anonymous

    “They can’t seem to take an ally who won’t use their labelling system but agrees with virtually everything else.” Dare I ask?

  • Eisen

    Yeah, there was actually a split.

    Those atheists that are pro feminism (and also pro homo/transsexuality) are often referred to as “A+” – or Atheism Plus and often call so themselves. The Plus stands for social issues that they feel atheism should be connected to.
    If you’re interested in it, I recommend PZ Myers Blog.

  • Eisen

    There actually was a split in the community after Rebecca Watsons ‘Elevator Incident’, because the Opinions were too different. But the misogynists are only the ones who are the loudest. Sadly there are many atheists that think social issues (like misogyny, homo- and transphobia) should not be linked to atheism.

    But there are also many atheists that don’t think that way. They ‘invented’ Atheism Plus, or A+ and stand for a stop to misogyny, homo- and transphoby and racism besides the atheistic views.

    One of the more famous A+ers is PZ Myers (or infamous, if you side with people like Thunderf00t). If you’re interested, check out his blog:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula

  • Joanna

    Lol, what? Assume, unless deliberately stated otherwise, that everyone talks to you like a person rather than a potential sex partner. It’s so ridiculous that something as inane as chatting to the opposite sex means the end goal is to bed them. Sex isn’t the bee all of social interaction, people!

  • Anonymous

    I guess it just surprises me because atheists are usually stereotyped as being more liberal, whereas the stereotype of fundamentalist Christians is that they’d be the type of conservatives who would also be virulent misogynists. I guess the moral of the story is that stereotypes are bad because (among many other reasons) they’re not always accurate. Yay progress?

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    As soon as the word “but” is used, I have a hard time believing you…

  • Andrew Michelangelo Furniss

    Surely that’s a private matter between him and his wife?

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    When you have the power that Dawkins does(the power to send a thousand angry atheists to harass Watson over Twitter), it doesn’t really matter if Dawkins himself said harassing things, he directed to his followers to harass her.

  • http://ptwor.com/ Jay Salinas

    “culture of silence” in just about every industry, not just comics. This isn’t an isolated incident within one section of the global entertainment market. These are disturbing sentiments and attitudes echoed throughout the gaming industry, movie industry, your own workplace. The problem is people don’t give a shit until it hits them in the heartland. Only then does it matter. TMS didn’t notice, maybe even care, until it became a prevalent issue within the comics industry, when “one of their own” was under fire. It’s a bigger issue than any one person or website can handle. And it’s sad, and indefinitely unchangeable.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi
  • Rebecca Pahle
  • http://www.the7thMatrix.com/ Roderick T Faulkner

    Yes, I agree harassment and misogyny isn’t just specific to the comic book industry. However the extremes to which that kind of behavior is overlooked is. Women attempting to break into comics have no formal resources to use to safely file complaints. Publishers simply ignore offending behavior as long as offenders “produce.” If a woman speaks out, they are faced with being blacklisted by the industry, and are often on the receiving end of vitriol from fans. This is most definitely not the case in every industry. Sadly, you re right – this sleazy behavior is part of the dark side of human nature, but this doesn’t excuse the lack of accountability comic book publishers and professionals have fostered in this particular industry.

  • Charlie

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reserving judgement on someone when little information is at hand. Like I said, I think Ms Fowler is completely justified in her complaint and upset. I just don’t want to jump on the bandwagon based on hearsay. Please know that Charlie is short for Charlotte and I’m a feminist, I just don’t want to witch hunt a guy that might have changed for the better in ten years. Ten years ago I was a very different person than I am now.

  • http://ptwor.com/ Jay Salinas

    Mmm, that’s nice.

  • Anonymous

    That’s absolutely fine; just realize you’re making this decision in the social context where women are routinely questioned about their experience, made out to look “crazy”, with men’s experiences placed as more important then women’s. I also do not want to jump on the bandwagon, which I see to be “Oh well it’s he said/she said” bullshit. So yes, that’s fine to be skeptical; awesome, actually. But I personally am more inclined to believe Ms Fowler based on this social context, ESPECIALLY when it comes to women reporting harassment.

  • Anonymous

    That sounds less like an addict problem, and more like a power and control problem….which is worse…

  • Charlie

    Oh I believe her 100%. I was going to buy his comic but now I’m not so sure. I just think that sometimes we need to be careful with these situations, take a step back and have all the information. We don’t want to cause more harm than good to how these situations are handled in the future.

  • dividebyzero

    This story reminded me a lot of this other recent case, of Bora Zivkovic, blog editor from Scientific American. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/17/bora-zivkovic-sexual-harassment_n_4117277.html

  • http://geekinthebreeze.wordpress.com mythbri

    Regardless of Wood’s status with his wife, clearly Fowler was disgusted by the idea of hooking up with a man who was not only married, but had a child on the way. The mere possibility that Wood’s proposition might have been acceptable were he in an open relationship has absolutely nothing to do with Fowler’s comfort with the situation, and clearly she was uncomfortable with it. Her feelings about Wood’s marital status matter just as much as the nature of Wood’s relationship with is wife, if not more so.

  • Anonymous

    I am confused when you believe her 100%, but then state we “need all the information”. What information? His? What has he stated to contribute to the conversation and helping us understand what happened? Other than “nuh uh!” to Ms. Fowler’s statement?

  • Charlie

    The information about the ‘other women’ If he’s done this recently that has more effect on how I judge him than something he did 10 years ago and has now apologised for. I know not everyone thinks like that but people can change. You seem to be confusing my belief of Ms Fowler with my desire to know whether he’s still behaving that way.

  • Anonymous

    You are correct, I was confused, so thank you for clarifying. I’m all for redemption… just not at the expense of either of these women’s stories. Whether it was your intention or not, you appear to value this man’s possible change over these women’s experiences. Please stop.

  • Anonymous

    “he directed to his followers to harass her” That’s a huuuuge statement. He didn’t do that at all, even implicitly. He certainly made some dense comments but you’d need some evidence or even a precedent from him to make the claim anything but a bit overkill. Remember that the harassment being discussed is threatening and misogynistic, including not just general internet dickishness but rape- and death-threats against Watson. On his worst day, his angriest, most arrogant day he would not even hint at men that they should do that.

    Not to say that those with his power shouldn’t be damn careful (and he isn’t always) but to say he directed them,,,

  • Anonymous

    A+ was set up by an American group. I have a few problems with them as they seem to be unaware that there are other atheists outside the US that don’t appreciate being dragged into a purely dichotomous ‘hey, whole world you’re with us or against us’ thing in a rather American-exceptionalist way. I agree with pretty much every position they hold but I won’t be told to use the the A+ label or I’m an “asshole”.

  • Anonymous

    Yep. Polanski makes my skin crawl and the fawning over this ‘great’ artist (and by some of the people who booed Kazan at the Oscars) makes me want to puke. As does Dr. Pepper, though I’ll have to look up their misogyny.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Really, we’re gonna quibble over this? Dawkins has had MANY Twitter dust ups with feminists(Watson is honestly the tip of the iceberg as far as Dawkins harassing feminists go) over the past five years. When he retweets feminist critiques he doesn’t like, he KNOWS DAMN WELL what will happen.

  • Anonymous

    The FTB bloggers came up with the term Atheist+ as a label and one of them announced that you’re an asshole if you don’t use the label. There was a strong vein of American exceptionalism in the way they went on; they were telling the rest of the atheist ‘world’ what to do in a fairly George Bush “your with us or agin us way”. Not a fan of that. I am a fan of virtually every other stance they have, but that wasn’t enough for a lot them because I didn’t use the A+ tag.