Building a Safer Comics Community
For an uncomfortably too-close-to-home satire of the comic book industry, look no further than Evan Dorkin’s Eltingville Club. A darkly comic—and scathing—indictment on nerd culture, Dorkin used the series to comment on the worst the fandom has to offer, including the oppressive and misogynistic way it can either dismiss or objectify women in the industry. This week, the comic news sites sadly proved Dorkin’s commentary right, as multiple victims of sexual abuse and harassment came forward with their #metoo stories from the trenches of the industry. And with the allegations and reported abuses, several professionals faced their day of reckoning. It was all a stark reminder of how the comics community can be equally tight-knit and oppressive.
Hopefully, the recent spate of women finally breaking their silence to expose the dark underbelly of the industry will help discourage future abuses, but it’s also a good excuse to actively try to make comics a more inclusive environment. It shouldn’t have to be said, but:
- Treat others with respect. The comic industry is hard enough to succeed in. Don’t create a situation where you make someone feel threatened, uncomfortable, or taken advantage of.
- Don’t abuse your position. In an industry where networking is a necessity, don’t assume an underlying sexual motive when someone expresses an interest in you or your work. That goes double if you’re lucky enough to have a following, standing, or experience in the industry, which can create uneven power dynamics to be cognizant of—and avoid taking advantage of—when interacting with others.
- Be a force for good. In short, be the gallant hero—not the predatory bad guy–to those around you. We’re all read enough superhero comics to know the difference. ‘Nuff said.
If you’re a victim of sexual assault and need help in the United States, contact RAINN at (800) 656-4673 for assistance by a trained staff member from a local sexual assault service provider. You are not alone.
Have thoughts on how to keep the comics industry inclusive? Share them in the ShoutFyre forum!
Editor, Artist, Letterer, Colorist Steve is the long-running cartoonist at the Charleston, SC alt-weekly Charleston City Paper, where he skewers politicians and criminals (and criminal politicians) alike with editorial cartoons and police blotter illustrations every issue. Steve was best known his indie comic book (and subsequent webcomic) BOONDOGGLE