Alex DeCampi On Wonder Woman, The End Of Sensation Comics And Wider Issues Of Sexual Harassment
Alex De Campi is a fearless comic book creator. Which means, until recently, she was a penniless comic book creator. Blotting her copybook at Marvel when she walked off the Scorpion series citing problems with the chosen artist (who was later replaced before the book launched). And at DC, well, she criticised the dress sense of a now very senior editor indeed. Despite that she managed to utterly innovate in the digital comic sphere, with Valentine, a layered comic book that fits the mainstream model acceptability of what a comic should look like, melding the worlds of art and commercial expectation. What Marvel now call an Infinite comic and what DC call a DC2 comic, at Bleeding Cool, we call a decampi comic, after its format's inventor.
She then wrote one of the most depraved (and funniest) comics of recent times for Dark Horse, Grindhouse. While simultaneously writing one of the sweetest, My Little Pony: Friends Forever for IDW. And then merging the two approached (and stealing a little of the relaunch thunder) with Archie/Predator, for Dark Horse/Archie and launching a great new Image series, No Mercy.
Which means it's about time to burn those bridges again, with the cancellation of the Wonder Woman digital first comic Sensation Comics that she wrote for. The same comic – though with a different writer – that just had Wonder Woman officiate in a same-sex wedding and make headlines as a result. The right sort of headlines? She writes an article on Tumblr, which I quote from below,
Sensation is edited in a special projects/digital office, an office which is sadly under-utilized in the internal turf wars of DC and faces shutdown/restructuring as a senior male staff member finds it unnecessary… despite the plaudits its books (including Sensation) have achieved.
The main Wonder Woman comic is part of the Superman office. Now, the Superman office allegedly employs no women, and a cursory glance over the mastheads of several Superman titles and Wonder Woman seems to confirm that allegation. The reason, I've been told by several people who work or used to work at DC, is because one of the most senior editors is a sexual harasser with multiple incidents on his HR file. I don't use "alleged" here because at least one incident (grabbing a woman's breasts) happened publicly at a corporate social gathering with multiple witnesses. There was also something about sticking his tongue down an artist's girlfriend's throat when the artist was in the bathroom. Again, public gathering.
It is not known to me whether the no-chicks-in-Supes-office diktat is the preference of the harasser, or whether it's the HR department crossing its fingers and hoping to Jesus they don't get hit with a liability lawsuit so big it's visible from space. This guy was kept in the move to Burbank despite his record – allegedly because he has blackmail on one of DC's most senior staff members.
But it's not like she's restricting this to DC Comics, oh no.
I'm also talking about it because man, I am sick to death of corporate comics telling me they caaare about me and my lady-dollar as a reader, and then continuing to employ / protect known harassers. Kids, there are five known big-name, vindictive harassers in comics, and about three bad drunks. Two harassers are writers employed by DC; one is a DC editor; two are writers employed by Marvel.
And it's not even just the big boys. Alex is all for equal opportunities.
Indie comics are not perfect – at one of the companies I work for is a Bad Drunk, who again has done harassing shit (to other men, though het) at public social events. I believe he's been taken aside by HR and told "ginger ale or GTFO", but I don't want your take-away to be that DC/Marvel Bad, Indie Good, cuz it ain't that clear cut.
She contextualises all this, and realises the impact of making these statements publicly. Even if she does not name the people, she names the companies, which for them may be worse. Some of the people she talks about have been reported widely, some as Bleeding Cool blind items. Unlike some recent reportage elsewhere that I investigated and found wanting, in this case much of what she talks about has been confirmed to me directly as well. And, more importantly, while these things happen, nothing at the companies in question seems to be done about it by senior management where she lays a share of the blame. And yes, I have questions in with the usual representatives.
But Alex also decides to get in before the usual criticism.
(also, inb4: "I've worked with everyone in that office and they are absolutely lovely and committed to world peace and hugging squirrels" "she was asking for it" "misandry!" "but Gail Simone!" "she couldn't take a joke" "I love current Wonder Woman, shut up bitch" "you're just sour grapes, f-ck u" "where is the PROOF, does anyone have videos or pictures" "men can be victims too!" "they just put a black woman in Superman, sit down, it's all good now" "u can grab titty and be a good editor too!")
I have known Alex De Campi for over fifteen years. Not only is she a very fine writer and innovator, her passion for the medium and creativity is evident in the way she cares about it all. She has a very annoying tendency to be right about most things but, as with Cassandra, it doesn't always turn out well for her. If you are smart, you employ her, if you are even smarter, you listen to what she says. And then you read her comics and feel clever, amused, moved, dirty, turned on, whatever she wanted you to feel that particular morning. Whether it's her own characters of trademarks for toys, there are few better writers in comics right now. All these are reasons to hire her, not to blacklist her.
But she, and I, know exactly what is more likely to happen. You can read her Uncanny Valleygirl columns for Bleeding Cool, where she laid out the possibilities for digital comic books that some smart people are finally waking up to, right here.
But you really should read her Tumblr as well. And then hire her.