If you follow comics news, you probably know that there’s currently an ongoing controversy about writer Brian Wood. To summarize it as briefly as possible: Cartoonist Tess Fowler has publicly stated that he sexually harassed her at a comic book convention. The behaviour she described, while not…
Luckily, I had already bought and read Ex Machina, Starman, etc. when Tony Harris melted down. His meltdown ensured that I wouldn’t buy anything he was involved with again - no covers, no interior art, nothing. And it’s a shame, because I think he’s a fantastic artist, but I don’t want my money supporting his attitudes.
With Brian Wood’s case, it’s more complicated for me.
See, Tony Harris had his meltdown in full public view and had it recently. He not only resisted any critique and refused to listen to any contrary viewpoints, he doubled down on it and kept digging his hole even though he was already in one.
Brian Wood’s case isn’t quite so simple to me (and if I realize I’m rationalizing as I write this, I’ll own up to it and if I am rationalizing and you point it out, I’ll do my level best to understand that).
As I write this, I am aware that Tess Fowler and Anne Scherbina have accused Brian Wood of engaging in creepy behavior at best, and harassing behavior at worst …
I had only seen excerpts of Fowler’s comments in Bleeding Cool and Heidi MacDonald’s piece and so on. In finding that link, I read the full account.
He was talking about it like it happened ages ago, in his 20s or something, and I remember my early to mid 20s and I wouldn’t want to be judged now by the guy I was then because that guy could be a raging dick, especially when he was drunk and there were a year or two when I was drunk a lot of the time. Back then, I was struggling to be the man I am now, and I often felt like I was failing at being who I wanted to be, who I needed to be. I often felt like I was letting myself down, that I wasn’t living up to my potential, that I wasn’t the man that my friends saw but that - if I worked hard enough at it - I could be.
Remembering that time in my life when I was far more clueless than I am now, I could understand it, even if I disagreed with the behavior, and find compassion and empathy for everyone.
But no, this shit happened in 2007, according to Tess Fowler’s account (Wood says it was roughly 8 years ago in his statement). And Brian Wood, a guy I thought was in his early 30s (which would have placed the con in question in his early to mid 20s), is actually pretty damn close to my age. While I’ll freely admit that I have no idea when a woman is interested in me, I have known for a VERY long time what the signs of disinterest and discomfort are. And I knew that in 2007. Which means Wood should have known it then too.
Hell, that’s shit Brian Wood should have learned long ago.
I don’t know what to say if he somehow managed to get this far in life without learning that, without anyone pulling him aside and saying, “Dude, it is really not okay to treat people like this. You’re being a colossal asshole. Knock it off.” But if he did learn it and ignored it in these examples, that is predatory and harassing behavior. Full stop.
The problem is that we live, as Don LaFontaine might have said, in a world where one account might be dismissed as a misunderstanding or a difference of opinion - where the guy’s counter-claim is often assigned greater validity because … fuck, I don’t know. Testicles? Is that a reason or a body part? It kinda seems like both here.
But two accounts … that’s a pattern. And those are just two people willing to be named and take the heat. One account is smoke, and while astute people can surmise that something is burning, two accounts shows you where the flames are.
Before I started writing this, I could understand being awkward in my early to mid 20s because I had been. My only saving grace was that I had such low self-esteem that I rarely even said I liked someone, much less make any kind of physical advance, because why bother? Why would anyone like me?
After reading these accounts, the excuses don’t hold water. Off my pull list. Tony Harris mouthed off like a blowhard in public about broad groups of people and acted like an asshole and that was sufficient to get his name off my pull list in perpetuity. I can’t ignore outright harassment that harmed individuals.
The only bright spot in all of this is that I’ll save some money and my little girl’s percentage of my pull list will increase.
Like I said at the beginning, if I realized I was rationalizing as I wrote this, I’d own it. I believe I have done that. I left the beginning in because it seems dishonest not to. It would feel like lying, like editing the record to show that I was on the correct side all along, when the truth of the matter is that writing about it clarified my thinking and showed me where I needed to be.