Comics Lowdown: ‘Astro Hustle’ canceled after sexual misconduct allegations against Jai Nitz

Plus: Mark Alessi passes away; DiNKy award nominees and more.

Dark Horse Comics has canceled the final two issues of Astro Hustle after writer Jai Nitz was accused of sexual misconduct.

The allegations were first published on the Her Campus website by Hannah Strader, a University of Kansas student who met Nitz when he was a guest lecturer in one of her classes. Nitz, whose recent work also includes a Suicide Squad story for DC Comics, briefly deleted his Twitter account (which is now set to private) and bailed on his appearance at 2019 Planet Comicon last weekend.

“Dark Horse takes all allegations seriously. We have cancelled future issues of Astro Hustle,” the publisher said in a statement to CBR.com. “While we were unable to prevent our distributor’s shipping of Astro Hustle #2, we are also suspending our professional ties with Jai Nitz.”

Astro Hustle artist Tom Reilly addressed the cancellation on Twitter, saying it was “for the best” and showing support for the victim. And Nitz released a statement to Bleeding Cool, saying “I am stepping away from comics and public life. I am seeking counseling and trying to live a better life for my loved ones.”

Passings

Mark Alessi, the founder of the comic company CrossGen, passed away March 29. CrossGen published comics from 2000-2004 before going under, creating comics across multiple genres in a shared universe setting. CrossGen’s library included Scion, Way of the Rat, Sojourn, Mystic, Route 666 and many other titles. Disney bought the rights to the library shortly after the company went bankrupt. You can read more about the company’s brief history at the Hollywood Reporter.

Ron Marz, who wrote Mystic, Sojourn and Scion for the company, shared memories and art on Twitter following the news, saying “I’m still convinced that CG was the best concentration of artistic talent in one place ever in comics.”

Scion art by Jim Cheung

Artist Jim Cheung, who worked with Marz on Scion, wrote:

“In life, we sometimes encounter people who can change the course of our lives. For me, Mark Alessi was one of them. Like so many others, I only learned of Mark’s passing through social media. It was a surprise, and made me reflective of the fact that I owe a great deal to him, since he was instrumental in placing me where I am today. Had he not decided to hire me for one of the four founding books at Crossgen Comics, I might not have ever found myself living on the other side of the world, nor working alongside so many incredible comic creators, in a studio rife with energy and talent. I might not have ever been able to absorb skill sets that enabled me to boost my drawing ability beyond what I was capable of, allowing me to be in the position I am today. Those brief few years at Crossgen were truly transformative, and despite all the ups and downs, I don’t think I’d trade it for anything. So thank you, Mark. May you Rest In Peace.”

Awards

The Denver Independent Comics and Art Expo has announced the nominees for the DiNKys, their annual awards program. The awards cover small press comics, with an emphasis on Colorado creators.

In other awards news, both Marvel and DC Comics have been nominated for the annual Webby Awards. The Webbys are presented by the Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences and honor the best in digital media.

Interviews + commentary

Our own Brigid Alverson speaks with cartoonist Seth about Clyde Fans, a graphic novel 20 years in the making.

I greatly enjoyed this conversation between Die writer Kieron Gillen and Tim Sievert, creator of The Clandestinauts, about role-playing games.

Justin Zyduck dives into the lettering on old issues of Uncanny X-Men and what letterer Tom Orzechowski brought to the series.

Comics on the web

Curious about chemistry? Writer Jim Ottaviani teamed with cartoonist Roger Langridge on a series of cartoons for the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemistry World website. Like this one on the discovery of oxygen.

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