Ben Templesmith Responds To Criticism Over Warren Ellis and Fell

Yesterday, Bleeding Cool reported on Ben Templesmith announcing the return of the much-delayed Fell, written by Warren Ellis, as a planned graphic novel from Image Comics. At the time, Templesmith didn't mention refer to the issue that it is currently one year after multiple allegations of sexual harassment and grooming by women and non-binary individuals were made against the writer Warren Ellis, with dozens of accounts gathered together a month later on the So Many Of Us website. While the website specifically stated that there was no wish to see Ellis punished, Ellis did withdraw from a number of creative projects, including a new Batman series with Declan Shalvey. DC Comics continued to publish his Batman: The Grave series, drawn by Bryan Hitch and Netflix put out one more season of his work on Castlevania. But aside from a teased return of a newsletter, And now it seems Image Comics is going to conclude the publication of Fell as well – just with over a decade gap.

Warren Ellis And Ben Templesmith To Complete 'Fell' At Image Comics
Ben Templesmith Responds To Criticism Over Warren Ellis and Fell

Many comic creators and commentators reacted negatively to this news and many shared a link to the So Many Of Us website. Here are a few examples;

  • Tara Ferguson: Because you all seem to have such short memories.
  • Chris Arrant: Regarding Warren Ellis, this must be remembered and reckoned with:
  • Gwenda Bond: Today's supporting fact that "cancel culture" is mostly not a thing and especially not a thing that happens to white men: Image and Warren Ellis
  • Paul Allor: The hardest possible pass on anything new from Warren Ellis.
  • Tim Hanley: Disappointed at today's Warren Ellis news, but not surprised. Comics gonna comics. The industry loves to protect predators, and offer them unlimited chances to return. Anyway, read this if you haven't yet.
  • Graeme McMillan: I could be surprised that Image is publishing Warren Ellis, but I was distracted by all the new Brandon Graham comics they've been publishing. Something else I'm curious about: How do other Image creators feel about the company publishing Ellis? Will any of them speak out? Pull their books in protest?
  • J.A. Micheline: Image has published Brandon Graham's comics for the last 5 months of this calendar year. The Warren Ellis return is not just within their repertoire, it is a specific and ongoing feature of their repertoire.
  • Saha Horrocks: People surprised that Image is continuing their relationship with Warren Ellis must have missed that they just put out Brandon Graham's new book a few months ago. They also brought Brian Wood back a few years ago too.
  • Ales Kot: People in comics love to have opinions on whether Batman eats ass but the timeline gets curiously quieter anytime there's a new reason to have a conversation about how the industry enables abusers
  • Jeffrey Brown: I still have problems with Brandon Graham & Warren Ellis And even Howard Chaykin. And Geoff Johns & many others For the suspect sh-t that they have done.
  • Kim O'Connor: re the Image Comics announcement: it has long been clear that many industry players will never change. The question is what, if anything, you wish to do about it
  • Alex De Campi: Substack, Fables, the WhiteGuysners, Fell, Tapas hiring a known creeper… it has been… oof, a helluva few weeks to be a woman in comics, an industry which clearly does not give the slightest sh-t about our safety or wellbeing. Publishers please find one (1) spine , perhaps you could share it amongst yourselves the way the Norns shared one eye.
  • Jennifer De Guzman: Here's some lines I heard about publishing known abusers: "Yeah, he's a creep, but he's a GREAT writer." "You're pretty outspoken, so we're concerned about your ability to work with creators like [abuser]."
  • Matt Miner: I won't ever buy another Warren Ellis book. Or Brian Wood. Or the dude who wrote that book that killed Vertigo.
  • Augie de Blieck: Look, you can go after Image for publishing a Warren Ellis book. That's a perfectly valid and defensible position… …until you claim Image is doing it to make more money for themselves. Then you just don't understand how Image works and you lose all credibility.
  • Valerie D'Orazio: I just had this horrible realization that Warren Ellis literally taught a whole generation of new comic creators who idolized him how to treat women
  • Nicola Love: Less than a year ago, more than 60 people accused comic book writer Warren Ellis of manipulative and predatory behaviour. Those people deserve support and solidarity that, for the most part, they have not been shown today.
  • Christopher Helton: It is kind of ironic that people are concerned with Ellis finishing a story, considering how many unfinished Warren Ellis books litter the comics landscape. I wonder if he finally recovered his hard drive?
  • Zac Thompson: The comics industry can't just allow Warren Ellis to come back as if *nothing* happened. We MUST to be better than that. We can't ignore this:
  • Jeremy Fuscaldo: If there is anyone working at Image Comics who is angry about Warren Ellis representing your brand and you're unable to say anything, you're not alone. If any when you're ready to speak up, take your time in doing so without pressure. And remember to take care of yourselves. Dear Image Comics leadership, By hiring a known abuser, Warren Ellis, in the entertainment industry, you are making it an unsafe environment for all victims of abuse. Please do the right thing and discontinue your working relationship with him. #MeToo #RemoveWarrenEllis
  • Fangirl Smash: If you're working with Warren Ellis again, I'm promptly dropping every single title of yours that I buy, including by my beloved faves Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, and so many others. You don't deserve my money.
  • Adam Tsalmoth: Who would've thought that Image, the company that gave Roc Upchurch a new gig last year, would also be the home of a new Warren Ellis book? It's like there's, a whatchamacallit, a pattern!
  • Trevor Vanas: Eric Stephenson likes to talk about how Image Comics is the future of comics and acts better than the Big 2 but then defends publishing creators who do icky things.
  • Alejandro A. Arbona: I've been open about this before on twitter (the social media of record) but I'll say it again: regardless of which comics I've enjoyed in the past (Planetary) or not enjoyed, Warren Ellis sucks sh-t, on a personal level, and I f-cking detest him, on a personal level

While at the time Ben Templesmith has not mentioned the issues with Warren, after someone person posted critically to his Patreon, Templesmith responded "I just can't subscribe to a permanent social and economic living death for anyone, outside of criminal matters. What's between you all & him is your personal business & I wish you all well in those dealings. Everyone will be free to not buy the book, ignore his further works, ( & mine) deride them & pass judgment economically. I know some people will never be happy, or healed. I've dealt with abuse & manipulation myself, so I empathize with those affected. I also believe in redemption & that he's capable of making amends, growing from his actions & hopefully becoming an example of change in a community that desperately warrants it." To date, there has been no response from Image Comics or commentary from Warren Ellis, not even to confirm Ben Templesmith's announcement.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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