Starting off at Graphic Policy earlier today with a piece written by Janelle Asselin specifically dedicated to allegations of harassment against former (and at the time of events in question) Editor-in-Chief of Dark Horse, Scott Allie, today the big topic in the comics industry has been sexual harassment. Asselin's article presented a clear statement on the record from comic creator Joe Harris narrating his experience of being inappropriately touched and bitten by Allie who appeared to be intoxicated. Harris said, regarding encountering Allie in a hotel bar:
Upon walking in, I noticed Scott Allie at the bar and thought to go say hi. I walked up to him and I extended my hand expecting to shake his… when, instead, he reached down and grabbed my crotch. Just went for it and squeezed. I was stunned, I guess? Not what I was expecting, obviously. Not what's ever happened to me at this or any other convention over many years. So I try to back away a little, still shocked, when he leans in and bites my right ear.
Asselin's article also presented statements by a single anonymous employee and a "group" of anonymous employees, as well as referring to many more general unnamed and unquoted sources, whose testimony, as a whole, suggested a pattern of inappropriate behavior from Allie, particularly in connection to inebriation. Asselin's bigger picture mission, as stated in the article, was to address silence surrounding abuse in the comics industry, stating:
We cannot continue this way and pretend that we are a community. We're not a community, not like this. We're a cult that's been told being in line is better than being treated like people, and so we sit silently and wait for someone else to be the one to step forward.
Asselin also questioned Dark Horse's role in addressing harassment in the company if there have been multiple incidents from the same employee over time.
Later in the afternoon, Scott Allie issued a formal apology for his actions via Comic Book Resources, saying:
I'm deeply sorry about my behavior at San Diego Comic Con 2015 and I apologize to everyone I've hurt. I'm completely embarrassed by my actions and how my behavior reflects on Dark Horse Comics, my friends and family. My personal approach and decisions for managing stress were bad. Dark Horse and I have taken the matter very seriously and since this incident, we have taken steps to correct and to avoid any behavior like this in the future. Although apologies can't undo what has happened, I've tried to apologize to everyone impacted by my behavior. To my family, friends, co-workers, and to the industry — please know that I am truly, truly sorry.
Regarding the challenges Asselin made to the way Dark Horse functions as a company, though, President Mike Richardson released a substantial statement still later in the day via The Comics Beat.
Richardson answered several points about how the company handles harrassment cases, saying:
I also want to make one thing very clear: Dark Horse as a company, and myself as an individual, take the kinds of inexcusable incidents reported by Ms. Asselin very seriously—doubly so when it involves one of our employees. In cases such as these, we have been proactive in our response, with a variety of professional services involved, all with the goal of changing behavior. Additionally, a number of internal responses are acted upon, including termination if such behavior continues. Under no circumstance is any individual "harbored." In this particular case, action was taken immediately, though we did not, and cannot, perform a public flogging, as some might wish.
I agree that harassment of any kind, routine or not, is unacceptable. It always has been. We at Dark Horse will renew our efforts to make sure that our company is never again mentioned with regard to this type of occurrence. As quoted in the article, our goal has always been to provide a positive, safe, and respectful environment for its employees, creators, and fans.
You can read the full statement here at The Beat, a statement in which Richardson does refer to Asselin's suggestions that Dark Horse might be permissive in allowing a pattern of harassment as "insulting".
While Janelle Asselin on Graphic Policy, and Heidi MacDonald in an earlier piece today regarding harassment in the comic industry, each pursue slightly different paths to making sexual harassment in the comics industry something members of the community can speak about without harmful affects on their careers and personal lives, one of the other points of contention seems to be whether a company, having addressed an HR situation where harassment complaints were filed, is obliged to share just what those corrective measures have been with employees or with the public.
Asselin seems to suggest that such information should be shared, whether it's a legal obligation or not, and Dark Horse in their initial statement, Allie in his apology, and Richardson in his statement, maintain that corrective measures have been taken, and that revealing their exact nature is not a matter of course for a company.