Comics Lowdown | More allegations against CBLDF’s Brownstein brought to light

Plus: News on Diamond, Art Spiegelman, Dragon Con and more.

Writing for The Comics Journal, Michael Dean has a long article detailing additional allegations against Charles Brownstein, the former executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Dean spoke with many former CBLDF, employees, including former Development Manager Cheyenne (Shy) Allott, who had been under an NDA about her time at the CBLDF until recently.

“My trouble with Charles started three days into my employment, at ComicsPro in Memphis, Tennessee,” Allott said. “Upon arrival at the show, I went to check into my hotel room only to discover that Charles had booked us in the same room together. I was instantly uncomfortable with this arrangement and for the first time, I saw Charles drop his charming facade and switch into an accusatory tone. He stated that it wasn’t fiscally responsible for me to have my own room, as we were a non-profit. I felt like I was misusing funds simply by asking that question.” Brownstein did not respond to TCJ’s request for comment.

The Comics Journal also sent questions to the CBLDF board, which CBLDF President Christina Merkler responded to. You can read her responses here, but one thing she addressed was whether CBLDF was still viable — a question many have been asking over the last couple weeks:

Given the current bad publicity, is CBLDF no longer a viable proposition?

The current Board thinks it is. Governance needs to change. The approach to the mission needs to modernize. We’re working to bring in outside expertise to help ensure that the CBLDF’s important work is done and is done in a more transparent fashion. Right now, the CBLDF is actively providing legal and financial support for a group of cartoonists in Chicago at risk of having their work altered, confiscated, or suppressed in a copyright battle. We’re monitoring and combatting unconstitutional legislation and recently aided Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Nick Anderson in his fight to restore his political cartoon to online merchant Redbubble after a takedown. We’ll also continue to fight identity censorship. This work is important and the Board does not foresee that changing in the near future.

Distributors: The Hollywood Reporter talks to comics retailers and to Diamond Comics Distributors about recent allegations by retailers that they’re being charged more for shipping following Diamond’s pandemic shutdown. Diamond said that their base rates have not changed, but since publishers have been releasing less product, shipments have been smaller, and “smaller shipments cost more to ship per pound than large shipments.”

Distributors: Speaking of Diamond, ICv2 breaks down the money that Geppi Family Enterprises received from the U.S. government’s Small Business Administration as part of the Payment Protection Program, which includes a $5-$10 million loan for Diamond.

People: Art Spiegelman has been selected as a 2020 Great Immigrants Recipient by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which honors immigrants who have made notable contributions to American society every July 4th. “Maus, Spiegelman’s meticulously researched exploration of his parents’ Holocaust experience, in which he depicts Jews as mice and Nazis as cats, was serialized in RAW from 1980 to 1991. It was also published in collected volumes by Pantheon. Maus is not only Spiegelman’s best-known work, but was transformative for comic art because of the unprecedented critical acclaim for what was then an underappreciated art form, and for its profound influence in exploring the trauma of the Holocaust in popular culture,” his write-up says.

People: Newsarama has an in-depth feature on Carol Kalish, the former Marvel employee who was instrumental in creating the comic book direct market. Kalish passed away in 1991. The feature includes commentary from many people who worked with her and knew her, including Peter David, Kurt Busiek, Paul Levitz and her longtime domestic partner, Richard Howell.

Conventions: Comic-Con International’s online replacement for the annual San Diego Comic-Con, Comic-Con@Home, will kick off Wednesday, July 22 and run through July 26. Here’s the schedule for Wednesday. Comic-Con@Home will feature over 350 separate panels spread out over all five days of the event, with panels appearing on the convention’s YouTube channel.

Conventions: Dragon Con has joined just about every other major event this year in cancelling their live show. They plan to hold a virtual event over Labor Day weekend.

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