Bleeding Cool has confirmed that DC Comics has cancelled the final fifth and sixth issues of the mini-series Border Town, published by DC Comics and Vertigo to much acclaim this year. Not only that, but all listings on Diamond's website for previous issues have been removed, scorching earth that this comic ever existed there or that retailers could reorder issues. (Update: upcoming issues have since returned, been removed, and returned again, but previous issues are still removed. This could be a cache issue, it should resolve soon.)
On the 9th of December, toy designer Cynthia Naugle posted an in-depth account of alleged sexual, mental and emotional abuse on Blogspot, regarding someone in the comic book industry, living in Tucson who had a Vertigo comic book launch this summer.
The person in question was identified on Twitter as Eric Esquivel, whose Border Town series launched from Vertigo Comics this summer. Others wanted to back her account up.
Subsequently, colourist on the series Tamra Bonvillain stated that she would stop working on the book.
With artist Ramon Villalobos issuing the following statement,
Out of respect for all parties involved, I wanted to stay quiet about this situation the last few days but I feel like I should take a moment to say my piece.
I have made it my practice to believe women, full stop. The bravery and strength it took for her to write that letter is probably not strength or bravery I may ever have. There had been vague rumors about Eric and his treatment of women and although I was given no real specifics, I insisted to Eric that he come clean to me and our team about any inappropriate interactions he may have had. I think now that I did not give enough weight to those rumors and I can't state enough how much I regret that. To the best of my abilities, I took the matters through the proper channels and DC/Vertigo handled it in a way that felt responsible and direct. I probably can't get into detail allowed me to get back to my job. I want to be clear that neither me, Tamra, or anyone in editorial knew about what came out and it's very disheartening to se information come out.
Border Town meant a lot to me because it was a confluence of so many of my interests. Elements of horror, comedy, teenage rebellion, latino culture, etc. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that I've poured everything I had into this and it is the best work of my relatively young career. It has made my life better having done it.
But this is not about me.
Whatever this person felt and experienced is what matters the most and I want to be clear that I think dealing with abuse and making the comics industry a safer place is the most important thing to come from this. To know the art that I'm so proud of, and the world I have lived in and created for the last year of my life had brought so much pain to individuals frankly outweighs the joy I know it brought others and that is going to be something that is hard to reconcile. There is no way to really make up of my shortcomings in this situation, but I hope in future actions I can find a way to show this is important to me. Thank you."
Esquivel is a writer of many comic books over the years, including Freelancers, Adventure Time and Loki: Ragnarok And Roll from Boom Studios, Wonderland from Zenescope, Legend of Oz: The Wicked West and The In Crowd from Big Dog Ink, Animal Jam from Dynamite, Yo-Kai Watch from IDW, The Blackest Terror from Moonstone and for Nicolodeon Magazine. He also wrote a column for Bleeding Cool in 2010 called Post-Modern Myths. This week he was also named Multiversity Comics' Breakout Writer Of The Year 2018.
Bleeding Cool EIC Kaitlyn Booth tells me that "Eric Esquivel was briefly a contributor from April to June 2010. This has not prevented a thorough investigation into this matter, which has been underway since December 10. This is an extremely sensitive matter and we are conducting a thorough investigation to make sure we have all of the facts at our disposal."
This is how the last issues were solicited.
BORDER TOWN #5 (MR)
(W) Eric M Esquivel (A/CA) Ramon Villalobos
All hell literally breaks loose when monsters from Mexican myth storm the gate between Mitclan and Earth, clashing with local law enforcement, racist gangs, and violent militias! Meanwhile, Frank and the kids confront Blake, now unspeakably powerful and possessed by the spirit of death itself! And finally, we learn the answer to the series' most burning question: Who is Frank's real dad?In Shops: Jan 09, 2019
Final Orders Due: Dec 10, 2018
BORDER TOWN #6 (MR)
(W) Eric M Esquivel (A/CA) Ramon Villalobos
His true father and special destiny revealed at last, Frank squares off in a final supernatural showdown against school-bully-turned-agent-of-death Blake in a battle for control of the border between worlds! No matter who wins, Devil's Fork, Arizona, will never be the same in this climactic issue of the first storyline in the hit new DC Vertigo series. MATURE READERS In Shops: Feb 06, 2019 SRP: $3.99