Looking Back | Speaking out

Allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct mired the comics industry in the summer of 2020.

We continue our series that looks back at the biggest comics industry news trends of 2020. Watch for more posts all this week.

In the midst of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and the countless protests in the United States following the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota this past summer, a wave of allegations against comics creators and industry figures became public. These allegations ranged from abuse to harassment to other forms of sexual misconduct. Many brave people stepped forward to tell their stories and share what happened to them over the course of several weeks in June.

The comics industry isn’t unique in this regards; at the same time that the allegations against comics pros occurred, the professional wrestling industry was going through what was dubbed the Speaking Out movement. And both follow the bigger #MeToo movement that began to go viral back in 2017, which revealed the bad behavior by many entertainment industry figures (as well as politicians, captains of industry and, well, just about every other industry out there).

And in comics, harassment has, unfortunately, been part of the landscape for decades. In more recent years high-profile industry figures like Eddie Berganza and Brian Wood have been accused and subsequently lost work as a result, so to say that this is “new” would be inaccurate.

What seemed to set 2020 apart, however, was the number of allegations that occurred in such a short amount of time. Some were industry figures who had previously been accused, while others were newly revealed.

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Warren Ellis story pulled from upcoming ‘Dark Knights: Death Metal’ anthology title

‘Dark Nights: Death Metal Legends of the Dark Knights #1’ will instead include a story by Marguerite Bennett and Jamal Igle.

Following the sexual misconduct accusations by many, many women against Warren Ellis that came to light this past week, DC Comics sent an update to retailers yesterday on the contents of Dark Nights: Death Metal Legends of the Dark Knights #1, which was originally intended to include a story by Warren Ellis and Jim Cheung, focused on the T-Rex Batman we saw in the first issue of Dark Knights: Death Metal. I was pretty excited about it when it was announced, but now? No.

DC will replace that story with one by Marguerite Bennett and Jamal Igle, according to comics retailer Ryan Higgins:

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Warren Ellis accused of sexual misconduct; Ellis responds

The writer was accused of predatory behavior by many women on social media this week.

Following the accusations against Cameron Stewart that were posted by many women on Twitter this week, others began sharing stories about another creator, writer Warren Ellis, on social media, including musician Meredith Yayanos, writer and editor Katie West and photographer Jayne Holmes, among others.

Multiversity Comics has rounded up several of the accusations. West’s initial tweets were the first to mention Ellis, and she would later delete them. But after other women came forward, West posted:

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Warren Ellis writing T-Rex Batman is the news the world needs right now [Update: No, it’s not]

Ellis joins many other writers in two anthologies that tie into DC’s ‘Death Metal.’

Update, June 30: Following allegations of sexual misconduct, DC Comics has removed the Warren Ellis-written story from Dark Nights: Death Metal Legends of the Dark Knights #1. And good riddance to it.

Original story:

DC Comics put out a press release today detailing two new titles related to their upcoming Death Metal event by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Dark Nights: Death Metal Guidebook #1 and Dark Nights: Death Metal Legends of the Dark Knights #1 are both anthologies, containing various stories related to the event by a host of creators.

The guidebook will “showcase the new factions of Earth and explore the mystery of what happened to the Justice League after their battle with Perpetua,” while the Legends title will be “collection of short tales where demons dwell and reality is overrun by monstrous versions of the Dark Knight.”

Including T-Rex Batman, as written by Warren Ellis.

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Quoted: Warren Ellis on Alan Moore’s retirement

“He changed everything.”

The publication of the last issue of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen brings the end of Alan Moore’s comic book writing career. In his weekly email newsletter, Warren Ellis marks the occasion with a few words about the writer:

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Ellis + Hitch reunite for ‘Batman’s Grave’

The 12-issue series will take readers into the minds of Batman and Alfred.

Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, the team that reignited the comics medium with their take on The Authority at the turn of the century, will reunite for a new Batman maxi-series. Kevin Nowlan joins Hitch on art.

Titled The Batman’s Grave, the 12-issue series will see the Dark Knight take on a case that “forces him to inhabit the mind of a murder victim with a half-eaten face—without filling the empty grave next to those of his parents.”

“My very first work at DC was two issues of Legends Of The Dark Knight,” begins Ellis, “so it’s been 25 years since I did a full-length story with the Batman. I’ve decided to revisit the crime scene where my career in American comics began, and I’m so grateful that my old comrade Bryan Hitch is doing this midnight run with me. It’s been too many years since we last did a long campaign together.”

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Ellis + Howard’s ‘Trees’ returns in September

‘Trees: Three Fates” heads to Russia for a murder mystery set in the shadows of the title’s mysterious giant alien presence.

Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s high-concept, human-focused science fiction series, Trees, will return in September, the writer announced in his weekly Orbital Operations email newsletter.

Trees kicked off in 2014 and features an Earth where massive aliens landed and stood silently for a decade in different parts of the world. The comic tells the story of various people around the world and their reactions to living in the very large shadows of these mysterious “Trees.”

So far 14 issues have been released, but the numbering will chnage with the new volume. Trees: Three Fates will run as a five-issue miniseries, according to the solicitation Ellis shared. “It was originally just going to be TREES issues 15-19, but Image thought it would work better as a branded serial,” Ellis said. The story will focus on a murder mystery in Russia near the site of one of the alien Trees that inspires as the series’ title.

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Ellis, Villalobos, Bonvillain revive ‘WildCATS’ [Update: It’s been cancelled]

The new series launches in August and follows Ellis’ work on ‘The Wild Storm.’

Update: As of March 3, 2020, Warren Ellis has said that this project is cancelled. “The artist didn’t want to draw it after all and no replacement was found,” he wrote on his blog.

Original story below:

Warren Ellis’ adventures in the Wildstorm universe aren’t coming to an end as quickly as we thought. Although The Wild Storm comes to an end in a couple of issues, DC Comics has announced Ellis will write a six-issue WildCATS miniseries that spins out of it.

“The first line I wrote down for WildCATS was: ‘Saving the human race from the human race,’” Ellis said in the press release.  “It’s a team made up of people who have seen the worst in everybody and everything, and yet still put themselves in frankly absurd amounts of jeopardy just so tomorrow might be a little bit better. And it’s a short series, so I might just kill them all. Come and see what happens. The art is great.”

And that’s the really good news is he’s working with the former Border Town art team of Ramon Villalobos and Tamra Bonvillain. The Vertigo series Border Town ended prematurely because of the behavior of its writer, and it was a shame the art team was caught in the wake. So it’s good to see the two of them back together, working on the flagship title of the WildStorm universe.

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‘Detective’ #1000 to feature Dini, Lee, Bendis, Cloonan, Ellis and more

DC Comics has unveiled the line-up for Detective Comics #1000, the landmark issue that arrives in stores in March.

The comic will feature short stories by a variety of creative teams, from classic Batman creators like Denny O’Neil, Paul Dini and Kelley Jones, as well as more recent creators like Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Tom King.

“Following in the footsteps of the blockbuster Action Comics #1000, Detective Comics #1000 is going to be a must-have for every kind of Batman fan,” said DC Publisher Dan DiDio. “Everyone we asked to be a part of this monumental issue immediately said yes and we can’t wait for fans to get their hands on the comic book.”

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