Today, Marvel released their solicits for June, including the Secret Wars title X-Men '92 written by Chris Sims, his first official work for Marvel Comics.
Sims, longtime Senior Writer at Comics Alliance, and comic book writer in his own right, has had a problem with fellow writer/blogger Valerie D'Orazio. He really didn't like her Punisher book Butterfly, but it went a lot further than that. When D'Orazio published her memoir Goodbye To Comics in the mid noughties, talking about her own experiences in life and in the comic book industry, especially the sexual harassment she was a target of, Chris Sims was one of a number of critics.
Many of those words seem to have been scrubbed from the internet but you can see remnants in other conversations. As part of another blogger discussion about her in 2008, he appeared saying "Did somebody ask for a villain? 'Cause I'm here." In 2009 we have "I'd really like to hear more about noted feminist leader Valerie D'Orazio getting two women fired from a Marvel book, but I don't have the ten bucks to read about it in her bestselling memoirs." And in 2010, he wrote,
The fact that I don't personally care for D'Orazio is one of the ISB's worst-kept secrets…. but if Marvel wants to hire loudmouthed comics bloggers to write their comics, that can only be a good thing for me, so good on her for getting the work. But even so, the antipathy's there, and along with the fact that there's nothing to keep me from swallowing my own tongue and dying when the inevitable rage-induced aneurysm hit, it's one of the reasons that I'm opting out of reviewing Punisher Max: Butterfly this week, as you can never really trust someone with an axe to grind.
But for a few years, there has been a blissful silence on the matter. Until Valerie, inspired by the solicitations for X-Men '92, started tweeting, and posting comments sent by Sims to her ex-husband David Gallaher.
Chris Sims has now made comment via his blog,
If you've been reading my work for long enough, then you probably remember that I had what I used to refer to as a "feud" with Valerie D'Orazio a few years ago. That's the wrong word, since it was more one-sided than anything else, and I was in no uncertain terms the aggressor and a complete jerk. I was needlessly harsh about her comics work, I left jerky comments on her site, I talked trash here and elsewhere, and while in my head I justified it as as purely being critical of her writing, I know I stepped over the line into making it a personal attack more than once. What I said is a matter of public record, and frankly, my intentions at the time don't change what I actually did. At best, I was making someone's life harder when I had no reason to, and at worst I was giving others a reason to do the same that went far beyond just me being an asshole and contributed to and validating the harassment of both Ms. D'Orazio and of women in general. When I finally realized that, long after I should've, I stopped, and I've tried to be better going forward. I've never apologized for it, for the simple reason that I don't think I have the right to insert myself back into someone's life when I've treated them as poorly as I did to her, but I regret what I did. This is not a plea for forgiveness, or a clean slate. If what I did changes how you feel about me and my work, that's completely understandable; I was wrong, and in every way the bad guy. In the few interactions that I've had with Ms. D'Orazio, she has treated me far better than I would have if the situation was reversed.
Valerie followed with other tweets.
And a longer explanatory post on Tumblr, in which she concluded,
The irony that Marvel hired the man who ring-led the harassment against me over my Punisher comic is not lost on me. Neither is the omni-present victimized crying Batgirl image I've been seeing all day today…or the fact that Sims had once left a message on my blog that said "Are you going to CRY, little girl?"
I think Sims totally has the right to write his X-Men comic, which apparently is set in the "Golden Age" of the 1990s—this is the exact period of time I STOPPED reading the X-Men and began to notice a distinct "women not allowed" vibe in comics. For a living I help others tell their unique stories in comic book form—and every story is important.
Actually, I feel quite relieved that this all allowed me to finally talk about the trauma I have experienced; I literally feel much better having done it.
But one thing still bothers me…
Chris, you said you thought I was the WORST person to write the Punisher.
But I have to disagree. Frank Castle is one hard-ass stubborn Italian who doesn't take shit from NOBODY. And he had a pretty good memory, too. Who knows? Maybe the experience, in the end, made me a stronger person.
As a declaration of interest, Chris Sims doesn't seem to like me much either.