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Okay. So firstly, I apologise for my long absence. I've been sort of busy with real world things as well as a number of side projects for various things and I may have become obsessed with a 90s cartoon. But I'll talk about that later, because this is a sort of...sober post.

For those not aware, allegations have been surfacing over the past few weeks, culminating in the past few days, that comic author Brian Wood serially harasses women at conventions, despite having a public reputation as a feminist ally. These allegations are troubling, upsetting and not fun. My opinion of the industry response has been...mixed. I am not an enormous Wood fan myself, although I did respect his attitudes on many things from afar and currently buy at least one of his books (about which more below).

This is a story that I've been following since the beginning, but one which has developed in fragments. As a result, when the story proper broke yesterday, it was no longer clear why this person, why now, why in this way, or even, what exactly had been asserted and when.

I've decided to put together a resource timeline, with editorial commentary, followed by my own thoughts.

So, this whole thing starts somewhere entirely different. This whole thing starts because The Buy Pile (a column on Comic Book Resources) alleged that Pretty Deadly (an Image title written by Kelly Sue DeConnick - who also writes Captain Marvel, and drawn by Emma Rios) was so bad, an employee of his local comic shop tore it up in front of customers. This created its own controversy, with threats from Image to pull the store's supply, an apology from the store (where they disputed that the book was destroyed), and a response from DeConnick which I think it is important to link here because she makes the point that this story takes away from the fact that Pretty Deadly sold out its print run - sold better than anyone expected - and that should be the real story here.

So I don't like that I have to go reference all this, but it is, alas, relevant background.

Anyway:

October 24 2013

A twitter discussion is started by Ales Kot (Shadowman, Suicide Squad) querying whether there was a misogynistic component to the destruction of Pretty Deadly (as described above). Brandon Graham (Prophet, King City) joined the discussion and insulted Brian Wood, claiming that he was his "platonic ideal of a fake feminist."

Bleeding Cool collected the tweets in this article.

Graham is aggressive and blunt. He talks shit about more than one creator, but Wood is the only one he calls out on misogynistic grounds. He seems overly defensive when the issue of his own comic book comes up. He does, however, also make some valuable points about how breaking into the industry is skewed towards having the right contacts and knowing the right people, and the way that can be crippling to diversity and fair opportunity. I suppose I point this out because Wood is "only" a writer, but many of the commentaries on the situation reference, with authority, that that is not a position without power, particularly for someone of Wood's reputation.

October 25 2013

Graham unsurprisingly takes a ton of heat for shit-talking Brian Wood, seemingly out of nowhere. Tess Fowler steps in to defend him.

Fowler is an artist who has illustrated a handful of comics, primarily for Zenoscope, but by her own account is no longer working in the traditional comics industry. She seems to have moved into the world of graphic design, while pursuing her interest in comics through viral success with her artwork on social media sites, and plans to launch her own webcomic. This is her official website.

Her tweets in defence of Brandon Graham were collected in this Bleeding Cool article on October 28 2013. The article also includes an additional statement made by Fowler to Bleeding Cool. In it she alleges she was propositioned by a writer feigning interest in her work during a San Diego Comic Con, that he was married at the time, with a pregnant wife, and that when she did not show up to his room, the next day he publicly humiliated her on the convention floor. She alleges that he subsequently insulted her art and appearance in private messages over social media. She states that she is not the only person he has done this to.

It is important to note that Fowler did not, at this point, name Wood explicitly, she simply referred to "the man" and "a writer" that Brandon Graham called out for misogynistic behaviour. Since Graham only called out one writer, the implication is clear, but Fowler does not use his name, and his name appears nowhere in the Bleeding Cool article. This is quite possibly to avoid litigation, however, the fact remains, one would have to have read both articles to draw the connection, and since the comments section of this second article was disabled (though that was quite possibly a mercy because otherwise I might have tried to read it), there was nowhere to point it out.

The story is not picked up by any other major comics news site.

30 October 2013

Tess Fowler posts some more thoughts on her experiences and on the comics industry in general. These tweets have been collected here by Multiversity Comics.

This is a more broad-based call for people in the industry to be proactive in policing this sort of behaviour within the industry, but she also clarifies a few points. She adds that the man in question wrote his room number on a piece of her art. She adds that she did not come out with this earlier because she didn't want to be labelled "THAT" girl. She adds that she felt more comfortable doing so in defence of a man who had said it first. She also states that she is no longer in a position to be hurt by making these accusations public as she has left mainstream comics. In her own words - "I’m so far out in left field I can’t even see the stands." She reiterates that she is not the only person with stories like this, but clarifies that she is not calling for a boycott of this author, she is calling for more responsible behaviour and dialogue about culture change within the industry.

Fowler still does not name Wood explicitly.

1 November 2013

Comics Alliance refer to the ongoing story by linking Bleeding Cool's original article in a weekly news roundup and offer some discussion. Wood is not named.

13 November 2013

Tess Fowler explicitly names Brian Wood as the person who sexually harassed her at a con. For the love of your sanity, do not read the comments, but The Outhouse has a coherent record of her twitter feed.

She implies her reason for naming him is that there are "too many stories in my inbox about ONE man."

Earlier in the day, Wood himself tweeted Every "I met Brian Wood at a signing and he was a dick" comment = me not matching a stranger's expectations of my extrovert-ness. It is unclear whether this is a reference to the ongoing situation, or whether it was responsible in any way for Fowler's decision to name him.

14 November 2013

The Beat picks up the story. Heidi MacDonald states that she reached out to Wood for a comment and that he declined to comment. Wood disputes this but it seems like it may be a semantic distinction between Wood specifically replying with "no comment" versus Wood not responding and therefore, by default, declining to comment.

Edited to add: A commenter has noted that apparently the Beat article originally stated that Wood said "no comment" and the wording was changed after his tweet. I cannot personally verify this and the article doesn't note that it was edited in this way. However, the substance of the dispute still appears to centre on how, specifically, Wood did not comment. Edited 17 November 2013.

The article in question is interesting reading and quotes an insightful piece by former Dark Horse editor Rachel Edidin about culpability in the industry. The article is also unambiguous in its condemnation of the behaviour of which Wood was accused. It does, however, I think, make an odd assertion that the situation is a human one, not one unique to the comics industry. It's certainly true that this incident is not unique to the comics industry, but the wider point raised (and indeed acknowledged by MacDonald who is quite definitely arguing in favour of accountability and positive change) was that this is not an isolated incident, or even a problem unique to a specific individual.

I have been mostly collecting articles I could find from major news sites, but I feel it's worth linking a column by Paging Dr Nerd Love - an advice columnist for geeks. It lists a truly abhorrent number of incidents (anonymised) that the author has heard of, first hand.

If true, respectfully, this is not a problem that every industry has to this degree. Sure, there are industries where it is also an endemic problem: tech, gaming, probably a number of others. But this level of sexual harassment is not considered normal in academia or healthcare or fucking farming. And not just the incidents, but the apparent protection of those responsible. This is a comics problem and I don't think denying that does anyone any good.

The Mary Sue linked to The Beat article in a daily news post, but did not offer much additional commentary.

G Willow Wilson (Air, Ms Marvel) writes an insightful article on the situation and posts it to her tumblr. In it she makes clear that she has had no personal negative dealings with Wood, but talks about her perception of the broader industry. It is reblogged without comment on Wood himself by Brian Michael Bendis (Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man) and Gail Simone (Batgirl, Secret Six) (and possibly others, tumblr reblogging is hard to follow...)

15 November 2013

Brian Wood responds.

He acknowledges making a pass at Fowler "about 8 years ago". He says that he immediately regretted it and apologises for its tackiness. He says that he believes she is wrong about his motivations, that there was no implication of quid pro quo, that he had little clout in the industry at the time, and that when she declined that was the conclusion of the matter for him. He requests that no one respond to her negatively. He says he is responding now because it has begun to affect people who it should not affect, including his family. He invokes his daughter as a reason he is invested in an honest conversation about the broader issues continuing to take place.

Now, everyone and their mum starts posting articles about it.

To an extent I understand. It was probably extremely difficult to juggle the legal situation before Tess Fowler actually named him, and once she had, there was a short period of time between her public announcement and Wood's official response. To give the comics press the benefit of the doubt, they may have been waiting to see if there would be one.

However, it's not without issue that Wood's reaction is what now frames the issue. I think the Comic Book Resources article provides an excellent case study.

In its original form, the article excerpted parts of Fowler's statements, then excerpted parts of Wood's response, then stated that it had reached out to Fowler for comment but posted the entirety of Wood's response, below, for reference. Despite numerous articles that have collated her tweets in their entirety, CBR linked only to those extracted within the body of the article. No complete account from Fowler herself is presented.

This is a greater problem because while the excerpts mention Fowler's assertions that Wood made a pass at her and later insulted her over the internet, they crucially fail to mention Wood yelling at her in public, on the con floor, about standing him up. The aspect of public humiliation is fairly key in that 1) Wood makes absolutely no mention of it in his apology, indeed he claims that after she declined he considered the matter closed, implying that there was no further interaction on the subject and 2) it is very clearly behaviour that cannot be chalked up to poor judgement at a party while inebriated, as it happened in the cold light of the following day.

Further, closing with Wood's statement and a comment that they have reached out to Fowler implies that Wood has been more forthcoming. It implies that Wood's comments are the story, and Fowler may wish to comment.

Later in the day, the article was updated to acknowledge the fact that Fowler did indeed comment via her tumblr. Her response is three-part, comprising a summary of "how we got here," her response, and the most detailed account, to date, of what transpired between her and Wood. Only the two paragraphs of her response are included in their entirety in the CBR article. The tumblr post is linked, and also extremely long, so I will give benefit of the doubt with regards to their intentions. Nonetheless, the article on the most popular comics news site remains devoid of a complete account from Fowler's own perspective and still doesn't mention the key issue of public humiliation the following day.

It's also worth noting that this more detailed account makes it clear that Fowler told Wood in no uncertain terms that the fact he was married with a child meant it was unacceptable to be flirting with her, twice, and that he ignored her ("that's between Wood and his wife," being a common defence offered when Wood's marital status was brought up as a moral issue, when a more correct assertion would be, "that's between Wood, his wife, and the third party he's trying to bed," and we now know that the third party was not happy about it). Another point to make is that Fowler dates this as SDCC 2007. That is about six and a half years ago. Wood stated "about eight". The conflicting date is most likely innocent, but it's relevant because of Wood's assertion that he had little industry influence at the time. It's irrelevant because even in 2005 Wood likely had enough influence to engage in a power play while drunk at a convention, but by 2007 "DMZ", his breakout work, was well established and had been in publication for over a year meaning that Wood was most definitely not in the "little influence" phase of his career.

At this point I'm not going to try and list all the major articles that have been written on various sites as the story is now well and truly out there, and regardless of some of the negative reactions along the stereotypical lines one would expect, there is a lot of positive discussion too. ETA: By not listing all the major articles, I mean articles written about Wood's statement specifically. I go back to linking articles that cover further developments below.

16 November 2013

Anne Scherbina tweets in response to Tess Fowler implying she also had a creepy encounter with Brian Wood that he later implied she instigated.

Edited to add: In the comments of the Dr Nerd Love article referenced above (during discussion on the article from The Beat), Farel Dalrymple related that he witnessed Wood behaving in an inappropriate manner towards a woman who was with him at a convention. Farel Dalrymple is an alternative comics creator, who also has some mainstream credits to his name.

The comment permalink unfortunately links to the entire comment thread, so searching for his name using your browser's search function may be the easiest way to find it. I will also quote his comment here:

"sadly, i witnessed it firsthand. i always thought he was pretty cool until he started sending sleazy texts to a girl he just saw me with at some show. he was married and had a kid at the time. "my wife doesn't understand me" was one of his pathetic "pick up" lines. i don't mean to crucify the guy. shit, i aint perfect and have done a lot of things i am ashamed of, but come on, i was standing right there, dude. laaa-ame."

This was posted using his Facebook account. Edited 17 November 2013.

Edited to add: Bleeding Cool reports on the matter (their first piece since the original coverage of Fowler's anonymised report at the end of October), but I mention it here specifically as it appears to be the only mainstream article to include Scherbina's initial tweet in its coverage. Edited 19 November 2013.

18 November 2013
Added to this entry on 18 November 2013.

Anne Scherbina posts a detailed account of her experiences with Wood to a tumblr that appears to have been created for the purpose of sharing the story. This is notable because after her original tweet to Tess Fowler, it seems Wood contacted her and she includes details of that correspondence; it is clear that Wood's unwillingness, in Scherbina's eyes, to take responsibility for his actions added to her motivation to share her story in detail. She also notes the fact that she did not, at first, realise she was the only other person who had been willing to come forward and therefore was not expecting this level of attention.

To summarise the event, which occurred in 2002, Wood propositioned Scherbina late at night, outside, in an empty public place. Scherbina noted that Wood had a girlfriend, which Wood dismissed as an issue, and Scherbina, who noted that she felt uncomfortable and pressured, declined. The matter was dropped. In the text of an email from Wood which Scherbina provides, he asserts that he did not have a girlfriend at the time and that he thought the only reason things hadn't progressed further was the public nature of the location; he had not realised she felt uncomfortable.

Wood later shared this story with others, reversing their roles, saying that Scherbina had been the one making advances, and he was the one who turned her down. Wood makes no comment on this part of her story in the correspondence provided by Scherbina.

At some point after this, Wood was at the DC offices, where Scherbina held a position in retailer services. Seeing him in the office is something she describes as unusual, but interactions were friendly. He later sent her a message via IM saying that he had not expected to drop by. Scherbina joked that she could have "shown him the storeroom". Scherbina describes that she was comfortable joking in this way because they had established that nothing inappropriate was going to happen between them. As a reader, I also drew context from her earlier descriptions of the social environment where suggestive jokes were considered normal and reacting poorly to them was a sign of being "boring".

Later that day, a rumour appeared in an online gossip column (Lying in the Gutters, that would later form the foundation of Bleeding Cool, but which was hosted by CBR at the time) that "the girls at DC retailer services were giving out a lot more than posters in the storeroom." Scherbina states this was particularly embarrassing and hurtful as everyone knew she was the only person who held that position. She asked if she could refute it but was advised by DC to let it blow over. In terms of publicity, it seems the rumour sank quickly, but it continued to have an effect on Scherbina's employment. She was not formally reprimanded but she found printouts of her online posts in the office printer: she was being observed. She was not given any new responsibilities. She left DC comics shortly afterwards.

With regards to this incident, the email from Wood describes it as a "dumb error". He states that he did not name her, but also that he did not realise that a single employee ran the DC storeroom. He says he had no idea that it had gotten her into trouble and apologises.

Brian Wood offers no insights into his motivation in choosing to slander an office employee by implying to the industry press that she was handing out sexual favours in the stock room.

Anne Scherbina states that her decision to publish these emails and such a detailed account was motivated by her dissatisfaction with her communication with Wood via email.

ETA: On this date, Brian Wood briefly locked his twitter account, although I do not know whether that was before or after this account of events was made public. This tweet suggests it was to gain some measure of privacy. It's worth noting I do not personally think that a brief locking of his twitter is worth much comment; it was added to the timeline when it looked like he might have permanently removed his social media presence, but I didn't want to outright delete it from this entry without comment. Edited 19 November 2013 for clarity with regards to what happened.

ETA: This article includes a screencap of a tweet that seems to have since been deleted, but adds additional context to the tweet linked above. It also includes some very angry commentary I do not find particularly useful, but it is the only place I can find an archived screenshot. Wood says that there have been numerous comments implying he abuses his daughter but that after he locked down his twitter he was accused of having something to hide. I am very glad that I have not seen anyone making these allegations because they make me extremely uncomfortable - they are obviously inappropriate and unnecessary. I am critical of many things regarding the way Brian Wood has handled this situation, but locking his twitter as an emotional reaction to suggestions that he abuses his child is not one of them. I do not believe the suggestions in the linked commentary that he is attempting to leverage the situation into sympathy for himself as the tweet was swiftly deleted and there has been no further public comment on the matter from Wood. Edited 20 November 2013.

ETA: The Mary Sue offer a collection of links, including links to Anne Scherbina's statement, but without editorial commentary. It is similar in function to the Beat's coverage (see below). Edited 19 November 2013.

ETA: The Examiner, in its Indie Comics News section offers a summary of events from 16 - 18 November 2013, published 18 November 2013. It offers an extremely cursory overview. Wood's statement is linked but Fowler's is not (only her tweets). It is understandable that the article might have gone to press before the Examiner became aware of Anne Scherbina's statement, but I am concerned that Fowler's own words appear nowhere in the article. The incident is described as "an experience where she was hit on by a big name writer as a novice artist years earlier at a convention", with a link to the Outhouse's collection of her tweets naming Wood. But the tweets are not, themselves, quoted, and I think most would agree the quoted text does little to present the full context of Fowler's situation. Considering Fowler's own detailed statement was released three days before the publication of this article (and only hours after Wood's statement, which does appear), I see no reason why it could not have been, at the very least, linked. In addition, the article ultimately takes the view that the situation is "he said/she said," and notes immediately afterwards that nothing Wood did was illegal. I feel that is a problematic placement for an otherwise factual statement.

The only positive thing I can think of to say about this article is that - despite doing an appalling job of explaining why this event was an example of inequality in the industry - the article does not, in fact, deny that inequality exists and actually calls for greater discussion on the issue.

It's also worth noting that the Examiner is not a newspaper - it hires local writers to "blog" about specific issues, and operates on a pay-per-click model. That's not a judgement, I'm simply mentioning it because those not familiar with it might see a name like "The Examiner" and assume it's the online wing of a printed newspaper. It's not and I record it here mainly because it's the first article I've come across on a site not geared towards us geeks. Edited 20 November 2013.

ETA: The Comics Journal links to The Beat's summary of the controversy, Wood's statement and Fowler's response. This is linked in the site's "Blog" section which customarily features a brief roundup of news from elsewhere. It is a two-sentence paragraph that provides little contextual information (referring only to a "recent online controversy"). The Beat's article was also linked on the 15th under similar circumstances. Both are buried in the middle of larger blog updates.

I feel the general lack of coverage offered by TCJ (as of this update) is notable not only because of their standing in the industry, but also because of a recently professed desire to address criticism of their inclusion of women. Arguments about the house style of TCJ's reporting seem somewhat spurious when a special comment was provided on the treatment of women in the industry less than a month ago. To talk, then, about the need to address such issues, only to largely ignore this story, now, seems strange to me. My hope is that substantive coverage is forthcoming and I will get to eat crow. Edited 23 November 2013.

ETA: Rather amusingly and slightly embarrassingly, the above is incorrect, there is a third blog entry that includes roundup coverage, including the existence of a second set of allegations. This was posted on 20 November. It is in the same style as the previous coverage. As I said, I feel like a bit of a dork to have missed that because I was really combing through that site, specifically the blog entries. My apologies.

However, I still feel my broader point holds. So I'm eating...half a crow? Maybe just the beak? Edited 26 November 2013.

19 November 2013
Added to this entry on 19 November 2013.

The Outhouse and The Beat both cover Scherbina's allegations.

The Outhouse criticises the mainstream comics' coverage of the story.

The Beat's feature - Kibbles 'n' Bits - covers the developments in the story as part of a wider look at sexual harassment within the industry and the stories that are beginning to come to light as a result of recent events but not specifically in relation to Wood himself. These include accounts from Maria Huehner and Rantz Hoseley.

(In the interests of, well, honesty, I guess - The Beat links to this entry as a resource in understanding the ongoing situation. A few other websites and a number of people on twitter have also shared this link. I was honestly not expecting that kind of attention; the thought that this may be useful to a broader spectrum of readers is humbling and gratifying and I hope I don't fuck it up.)

Anne Scherbina tweets, in reaction to someone querying where the Lying in the Gutters column that hosted the original rumour could be found that Rich Johnston had told her he remembered it but could not locate it.

Rich Johnston tweets, in response to a query about whether Lying in the Gutters would be issuing a public apology, that he had already issued a private apology.

Comics Alliance's former Editor in Chief Laura Hudson returns with an editorial about the broader issues, including discussion on the prioritisation of male voices in verifying the existence of sexual harassment as an issue and details some of the inappropriate behaviour that she has experienced during her career.

On a personal note, the article does not explicitly draw the parallel, but I couldn't help thinking that the way male voices add validity to misogynistic and sexist issues is not unrelated to Brian Wood's reputation as a feminist. I don't mean anything broad or sweeping with that. I just mean, specifically this man in this place in this situation. Now that his reputation is under attack, it's sorrowful to think how eager we were to give it to him.

20 November 2013
Added to this entry on 20 November 2013.

Bleeding Cool covers the subject of sexual harassment in the industry, excerpting from Anne Scherbina's statement, Maria Huehner's anonymised statement and several well-known, or previously documented historical cases. It is notable because Rich Johnston addresses his role in the Lying in the Gutters portion of Anne Scherbina's story as well as commenting on his own past behaviour and encouraging self-reflection.

Gail Simone replies to a query about Brian Wood by stating her support for the women coming forward and that she feels she is not in a position to say more without causing pain due to confidences entrusted to her and a belief that more dialogue between Wood and Fowler may yet occur.

The Atlantic cover the story. Unlike the piece on the Examiner, this is a much more thoughtful and well-rounded account of events on a mainstream website. It also deals with the issue in the context of the wider discussions currently circulating, tying in an earlier piece on The Beat about the lack of female contributors to The Comics Journal, and their response.

ETA: Janelle Asselin, former DC editor (still involved in the industry professionally) shares her experiences of harassment in the industry as well as thoughts on the problem generallyon her personal tumblr. No one is named.

It is reblogged by several industry professionals including Gail Simone, Greg Pak and Kieron Gillan, although again, that may be an incomplete list because tumblr reblogging is hard to follow. It is also worth noting that her tumblr does not include her real name, but it widely known to belong to Janelle Asselin. It shares a username (gimpnelly) with her twitter account, which does provide her name in the header (as well as a link to her infrequently used professional tumblr). Her twitter account also directly links to this tumblr post.

It's important to note that this account is not directly relevant to the ongoing allegations regarding Brian Wood. However, as this story is developing into a wider discussion on industry culture, as it provides context about the environment in which the Wood allegations took place, and as I have linked to most of the other new, anonymised accounts emerging in the contexts of other articles (above), I thought it important to include this. Edited 23 November 2013.

21 November 2013
Added to this entry on 21 November 2013.

Brian Wood engaged in a short discussion with @feministallies which is chronicled here on Storify. The discussion centres on relative power in relationships. Wood restates his position that he does not have the level of power that is being attributed to him, but agrees that questions of perception and privilege are valid issues to raise. He states that he has further apologised to Tess Fowler in private. Fowler confirms this via her twitter. Since I have not found anywhere that has collected these tweets so far, I will reproduce her short statement with links:

Since Brian discussed it on Twitter I guess it's ok for me to mention it: After reaching out to him I did get a very specific apology... He said it was "not for publication", and so I didn't because I wanted him to feel safe enuf to go further. I feel it's necessary to... openly acknowledge this, for the sake of all the women talking about their own experiences right now. To me, what he accepted ownership of.. felt genuine. It felt like a step in the right direction. Granted it was a small step on a long road but I believe in positive reinforcement For if we hold their feet to the flames forever, we will not have allies, but ashes.

Wood locked his twitter and has so far not unlocked it. ETA: It was unlocked as of 24 November 2014.

ETA: Marjorie Liu (X-23, Astonishing X-Men) comments on the broader situation on her Facebook. Again, this is included for wider context, and represents another professional acknowledging that she has been harassed and that it is an unspoken but widely known fact. Industry professionals Christos Gage and Dan Slott comment in support. Edited 23 November 2013.

22 November 2013
Added to this entry on 23 November 2013.

The Comics Reporter reports on the issue. It provides an extensive list of resources to learn about the ongoing situation, followed by some broad thoughts. In it, Spurgeon expresses his own uncertainties about his qualifications to talk about the situation, but also the necessity of trying. He addresses the reasons why The Comics Reporter was so comparatively late in addressing the issue, and that he hopes to report further on the issue in the future. One of his primary concerns is the blurring of the public and private spheres and queries whether a partial contributing factor to this problem is the comic industry's resistance to professional standards across the board - to quote:

Comics industry culture is defined by a tremendous, constant smearing of professional and personal lines, as well as a general anti-authoritarian distrust of even recognizing the value of having the lines in the first place.

(Again, I feel awkward either mentioning or not mentioning this: I'm British, we're good at that, but this article links back to this timeline as a valuable resource. As before, I am honoured that people are finding it useful and will do my best to keep it so).

26 November 2013
Added to this entry on 26 November 2013.

Because I have been editing and amending this timeline as new developments became apparent, it seems appropriate to note that this story seems to have concluded, for now, so barring major future developments, I will not be updating this timeline further.

However, on a personal note, I will add that Mike Cooper of Eleven-ThirtyEight (a Star Wars site to which I contribute), has a piece that I found interesting, particularly the way it queries whether there is potential for Wood's continuing presence in the industry to provide a positive function, if this scandal haunts his reputation. If it prevents the topic from being buried. A question of, to use his phrasing, professional penance rather than execution.

29 November 2013
Added to this entry on 10 December 2013.

No, nothing new, but I wanted to link to the Comics Journal's column It's About Goddamned Time. It names no names and is more of a general satire piece but it's pretty obviously about the Wood situation despite the humorous disclaimer at the top. It doesn't include any new information but I was pretty mean to TCJ and my perception of their coverage further up this timeline, so it doesn't seem right to leave this out just because it went up after my arbitrary cut-off date.

Related developments not specific to Brian Wood.
Added to this entry on 21 December 2013.

As noted above, it was not my intention to continue updating this timeline barring further major developments. This has not happened with regards to Wood specifically, but in recent days, there have been some major additions to the ongoing conversation about sexual harassment in the industry. Given the difficulty (and in my opinion uselessness) of attempting to separate the Brian Wood story from its wider context, and given how closely they followed the Wood fiasco, I'm going to provide at least a basic overview:

18 December 2013
Cartoonist MariNaomi relates the story of how she was sexually harassed while on-stage as part of a panel at a comic convention. She does not name the man who harassed her.

19 December 2013
Scott Lobdell (Teen Titans, Superman) outs himself as the person responsible with an apology published via The Beat. While I agree with Heidi MacDonald's editorial comments that Lobdell choosing to acknowledge this and apologise is a step a positive step, it's worth linking to this piece by Rachel Edidin, former editor at Dark Horse which provides a compelling breakdown of the problems with both Lobdell's apology and industry reaction from both MacDonald and Mark Waid (who commented on the article).

Unrelatedly, at The Comics Journal, an anonymous female cartoonist discloses a strange, possibly drunken letter hitting on her as a result of seeing her headshot while researching another woman he was due to interview.

Further personal thoughts.

What makes this difficult is Brian Wood's reputation as a feminist. Well, what makes this more difficult. Fowler is not calling for a boycott but understandably some have reacted by stating they no longer feel comfortable buying his work.

What worries me is that whether it was cynical marketing, because competent women is his particular fetish, or because he genuinely holds feminist beliefs and doesn't see the conflict in his own behaviour, Brian Wood writes successful comics about women and has helped several women establish themselves in the industry. Becky Cloonan, for instance, has benefited from her association with Wood and is now a respected artist in the industry, having done fill-ins for Greg Capullo on Batman.

Brian Wood currently writes an all-female cast on X-Men, which I think was an important statement from Marvel. It's a popular comic, and if it tanks, who wins? That's a genuine question; I'm not entirely happy with the idea that because he's exploiting a vacuum, he's untouchable either.

On a level I don't really think holds as much weight, but is certainly dear to my heart, he currently writes Star Wars (that's the comic's title, it's just called "Star Wars"), which has been an unexpected runaway success, selling double or triple the numbers of any other Star Wars title. This matters to me because Dark Horse currently holds the license for Star Wars but with the Disney sale, I think it's likely that absorbing it into Marvel is being considered. I'm invested in that not happening as I don't think Marvel's track record lends itself to licensed comics so I'm invested in Dark Horse proving itself the better steward. Obviously that isn't as socially important as the representation of women, but on a lesser scale it demonstrates the same principle - boycotting Wood isn't without wider and potentially damaging effect. Whether it hurts the women who work on his titles, the representation his books offer, or a publication house's ability to do interesting things with a franchise I adore...

Similarly, Dark Horse and Dynamite recently announced an inter-company crossover between Conan (written by Wood) and Red Sonja (written by Gail Simone). Simone is a writer I want to support. Red Sonja as written by Simone has the potential to fix many of the sexist problems that plagued the character in the past and really elevate her into the kind of icon I would like her to be.

I suppose what truly bothers me is the implication that Wood has been like this for years and it's simply an open secret. It's probably as good a place as any to link to Rachel Edidin's thoughts. She is a former editor at Dark Horse (the company where Wood works currently) and has been staunchly in Fowler's corner from the beginning of this debacle. Edidin left Dark Horse earlier this year (though Wood was working there at that time) but to my knowledge has not edited any of Wood's books specifically. Regardless of her connections to Dark Horse specifically, she is certainly qualified to comment on the culture of the industry generally.

I'm genuinely not sure whether or not I can comfortably continue to buy Wood's Star Wars, but to be honest, a large part of that is because I feel it's the last resort I have in an industry that is apparently without basic standards of professional decency.

There are plenty of writers who are talented assholes. Wood is not, to my knowledge, pulling an Orson Scott Card and using his wealth to finance hate groups.

If this were an industry where sleazy behaviour resulted in internal action - harassment suits, suspension, if necessary, termination, rather than blacklisting the women bringing it to their attention, we wouldn't have this situation.

I suppose what I want isn't Wood fired from his books, or for those books to fail, it's for Wood to be held accountable for his actions. Whether that involves removing him from any of these titles is a matter for his publishers; not every sexual harassment case is settled by terminating the guilty party.

But the idea that for Wood this is, apparently, habitual, genuinely disturbs me.

I'm not sure what to do.

And that's completely aside from just being so damn disappointed. I wasn't personally an enormous fan, but his name meant good things to me. All of the above just makes me feel defeated. Maybe that's why I spent my evening sorting out this timeline. It does nothing except offer a chance for me to catalogue the sequence of events with a few personal comments, but that is, at least, something I can do that may help others just finding out about this. Because it's a sea of...not misinformation, but incomplete information. Few of these articles provide a coherent timeline, and because so much of it developed on twitter, details, like what Wood is accused of, why Fowler is speaking up now, years later, even who's been involved in the conversation, are all muddied.

This isn't complete, but it is, I hope...completeish.

ETA: As I reference above in relation to several articles, but also as I do not want missed by the majority who will not slog through it all, this timeline got a lot more attention than I ever imagined it would. This was surprising and humbling. I hope that it has been useful to you. If you have comments on its content or accuracy, I would be glad to hear them.

Comments

( 54 comments — Leave a comment )
kuwdora
Nov. 17th, 2013 03:59 am (UTC)
This is a very informative post, I appreciate that you took the time to write all this out. As I am not an avid comics reader or follow things happening in the industry, i'm merely on the sidelines on twitter watching this unfold without proper context. so thank you.
beccatoria
Nov. 17th, 2013 07:39 pm (UTC)
Very glad it helped - that's what I was hoping to do - provide context for people who just saw me and/or others babbling about it in fragments on twitter. Which is great for keeping in touch with people but terrible for nuanced conversations...
ladymercury_10
Nov. 17th, 2013 04:25 am (UTC)
It's been hard to know what to make of all of this lately. Thanks for putting together such a thoughtful and informative post.
beccatoria
Nov. 17th, 2013 07:40 pm (UTC)
No problem, I'm really glad that it helped provide some context. I agree, it's very hard to know what to think or do. :(
spiralsheep
Nov. 17th, 2013 09:48 am (UTC)
I've only read one-and-a-skim of Wood's comic books "for girls" and I hated them both because of the creeper misogyny (and racial sereotyping). It's extremely rare* I use the word "hate" or give a wholly negative review to any work of fiction but Wood earned it twice in a row.

* IIRC those are my ONLY such reviews in the last two years and probably longer.


Edited at 2013-11-17 09:48 am (UTC)
beccatoria
Nov. 17th, 2013 07:43 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I knew him by reputation until I started reading his Star Wars comic which has been okay, but also I'm fairly badly behind so I've only read a handful of issues. And it's...well, it's franchise writing and for a highly archetypal era of the franchise. I'll be interested to go read your reviews - as usual, it seems your insight put you ahead of the curve on public opinion. ;)

I was going to try Mara based on various recommendations, but now I think I'll be giving it a miss. In some ways it's unfortunate; I'd like to support Ming Doyle as an artist, but, well. See above. And doubly so now I know your opinions on the actual content of his narratives.
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(Anonymous)
Nov. 17th, 2013 03:54 pm (UTC)
'No comment'
Hi. In the original post on the Beat, Heidi did indeed write 'no comment'. Which is what Wood referenced. It was only after his tweet that she changed it to 'declined to comment'. However she didn't add any footnote to state that the article was changed/edited. This isn't me choosing a horse in this race, just someone who followed the story as it was building and read the article early when it barely had any comments. Notice an early comment posted also echoes the 'no comment' phrase.
beccatoria
Nov. 17th, 2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
Re: 'No comment'
Noted, I will shortly be editing the post to add some further detail and will add your observation.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 17th, 2013 05:46 pm (UTC)
Great read! But I think you should add that Becky Cloonan won the Eisner Award for a self-published mini-comic. That speaks to not only her development as an artist, but signifies a change in the industry.
beccatoria
Nov. 17th, 2013 07:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I completely agree that Becky Cloonan is hugely talented and that the industry is starting to get better about acknowledging women and women publishing in alternative ways. I'd also add G Willow Wilson's Eisner nomination for her first ongoing - Air (although that was a traditionally published comic).

This is, of course, broadly relevant to what we're discussing, particularly given that Tess Fowler seems to have abandoned mainstream comics.

However, I don't want to distract from the focus of the timeline, so I will probably not add it to the body of the post. Thank you for mentioning it here, though.
beerbad
Nov. 17th, 2013 08:56 pm (UTC)
Blerg. I really love his X-Men book.
beccatoria
Nov. 18th, 2013 09:17 pm (UTC)
Yup. It basically sucks. I haven't read that book, but I did hear good things.
majestik7
Nov. 18th, 2013 02:05 pm (UTC)
Suave Neanderthal Culture
Well, I'm a relative newcomer to these shores so I'll try not to be too long winded in expressing my thoughts on the whole Tess Fowler/Brian Wood situation.

There's no doubt that Brian Wood's acted in a manner that was totally unacceptable towards Ms.Fowler and it's fine that he's finally stepped up to the plate to acknowledge some level of wrong doing but herein lies the problem.

His "apology" didn't really come across as being that genuine as he seemed to spend more time talking about how badly his family and friends were being affected thus necessitating his finally commenting on the situation to spare them discomfort. He more or less shaped the narrative to give the impression of some guy who'd maybe had a bit to much to drink thus leading him to make a socially inept pass at a lady he found attractive.

Tess Fowler's extremely detailed account of the events that allegedly happened leading up to the encounter, helped to fill in a lot of the blanks embodied within Wood's apology thus giving a clearer indication as to what really went down.

Based on what's come to light so far, I can't in all honesty see myself buying anything written by Brian Woods again for the foreseeable future because I really have a problem with throwing money at people who behave in a hypocritical manner.

Hopefully, he will learn something valuable from the crap storm of his own making that's landed in his lap but I for one, am very happy that Tess Fowler stepped up to the plate and handled her business thus shining a spotlight on a suave Neanderthal culture fueled by sexist attitudes, that's been a plague upon the industry for such a freaking long time.
beccatoria
Nov. 18th, 2013 09:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Suave Neanderthal Culture
Thanks for taking the time to comment. I also hope that this situation will lead to improvements in the industry, although I suppose the cynical part of me worries nothing will. Still there are a lot of good conversations going on now too, and your point about "suaveness" not really hiding the ugly underside of misogynistic behaviour is a good one.

I share your hope that Wood will also change his behaviour in light of this. It seems as though the story is continuing to develop as someone else has now come forward with a detailed account. I suppose we'll see how far it's going to unravel...
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(Anonymous)
Nov. 18th, 2013 02:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you
This was a great overview, thank you so much for taking the time. I really appreciated the links to the stuff I'd missed, like the Graham Twitter smacktalk that got the snowball rolling, and also the posts by Dr. Nerd Love, Wilson and Edidin. I consider myself a feminist myself, but I've not as yet found myself in a non-internet situation where I've had the "opportunity" to take someone to task for their sexist behaviour. I guess I should be thankful I haven't.
I'd like to think that for every discussion like this that happens, I get just a little bit better equipped to step up when the day comes, I get just that little bit more knowledgeable, just that little bit more motivated to make a difference.
Edidin's bit about the conversations men should be having with men about these issues is spot on, and one thing I wish would get picked up on in the wake of this controversy. Preferably by comics professionals of as high a profile as Brian Wood. It's disheartening to hear those anecdotes about powerful industry figures with thick HR folders that don't get touched because of the entrenched power structures. That type of thing won't change unless people (men!) in similar positions of power take action and stick their necks out.
Sorry for the ramble!
- Karl Ruben Weseth
beccatoria
Nov. 18th, 2013 09:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you
You're very welcome, and I'm glad you found the article useful. There's no need to apologise for the ramble, that's what journals and comments sections are for, right? While I've been horrified, as usual, by the number of people victim-blaming or trotting out tired misogynistic stereotypes in reaction to this story, I've also been pleasantly surprised by the number of people I've seen around contradicting that attitude. Not enough, of course, never enough, but...maybe, maybe more than there were a few years ago? I hope, anyway.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and perspective.
snickfic
Nov. 18th, 2013 05:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for putting this all together. I've been following from the beginning, but explaining it to other people is tricky at best. I now have something to point them to.

I, too, am deeply disappointed, because I just recently got into comics, and Wood's X-men comic is the reason I'm even here. I love to bits and pieces what he's been doing with that book, and to have such a huge disconnect between the creative work and the RL behavior feels like a betrayal.
beccatoria
Nov. 18th, 2013 09:25 pm (UTC)
No problem - I'm really glad that it was useful to you.

I'm so sorry to hear that he was writing one of your favourite books. I genuinely consider myself lucky not to have been deeply invested in his work. A situation like this is just awful; I wish I knew what to tell you - there just isn't a good answer, however you cut it. :(
(Anonymous)
Nov. 18th, 2013 10:30 pm (UTC)
Grow Up
When you get a bunch of adults together in a strange town, people are going to try and hook up with each other. There is a great deal of hooking up at conferences, and amazingly there are women who engage in and enjoy this hooking up.

Sometimes people of both genders make bad passes at people of other genders. He had no power whatsoever over this woman. He may be a creep, but there is no legal issue here at all.
beccatoria
Nov. 18th, 2013 10:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Grow Up
Yes! You're right! Men and women do manage to hook up at conferences and enjoy it! Usually when one person is not interested, they do not then publicly humiliate that person and then personally insult them. But that's okay, talking about that part of the story is probably uncomfortable and threatening to your position.

He may be a creep, but there is no legal issue here at all.

Excellent, since it was not my goal to demonstrate a legal issue, I'm glad we can agree it makes him look creepy!

Although the new information from Anne Scherbina may put something of a hole in your claim that Wood had no power, and possibly in your claims he did nothing illegal (although I am not an expert in such matters), considering he directly and negatively affected her standing with her employer by spreading spurious rumours about her to the industry's press.
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shapinglight
Nov. 18th, 2013 10:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks for putting this together. Trying to follow the story in any kind of sequential order was pretty much impossible up to now.
beccatoria
Nov. 18th, 2013 10:54 pm (UTC)
No problem! :)
pocky_slash
Nov. 19th, 2013 12:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this overview--I feel like I tripped into this story backwards and have spent the past couple days trying to shake it out in order, and this really helped rearrange the story sequentially in my mind.

I've been so disappointed to hear about this because I'm such a fan of the all-female X-Men book and it's been so great to have a female-led X-title that's just the same as any other X-title. I feel like I'm in this strange position of trying to decide if it's worth it to cancel my sub for the book. I don't want to encourage deplorable behavior, but at the same time, I'd hate for sales to drop and for some dudebro in Marvel marketing to be like, "See? A female-led X-title doesn't sell!" you know?
majestik7
Nov. 19th, 2013 02:51 pm (UTC)
And that's part of the problem because Brian Wood is part of the "dudebro" posse he went to great pains to pretend he wasn't a part of.

Ultimately, it all boils down to personal choice as to whether readers decide to continue buying the book inspite of whatever personal feelings they may have about Brian Wood's conduct.

I doubt the book will be cancelled anytime soon.
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(Anonymous)
Nov. 19th, 2013 05:05 pm (UTC)
Great, thoughtful round-up
Thanks for this thoughtful overview.

I'm a woman, unashamedly feminist, and have been a comic book reader my whole life. I think the culture, the industry, and comic books themselves are in the middle of a change. It's exciting, but it takes a long time for anything as big as a culture to change course. I'm glad that Tess Fowler and others are making this conversation happen by sharing their stories. I appreciate it, as well as the larger issues they are raising. It has an impact on how quickly the change happens. Of course, dollars will always trump dialogue, but that's not something particular to comics. But the dialogue does matter.

I won't applaud the way that Brian Wood has tried to apologize, but I will say: it could have been worse. A couple of years ago, ten years ago, decades ago: it WOULD have been much worse, if it had happened at all. I also think think that it would be an incredibly difficult thing for someone to admit -- even to himself or herself, let alone publicly -- that he or she was a serial harasser and part of the problem. Especially if that person really thinks or believes that they are contributing a body of work that's positive or helping to ameliorate some of the problems. So I doubt we're going to get a satisfactory mea culpa here. But what we did not get is Brian Wood leveling accusations at these women publicly, or encouraging people to troll them, or dismissing them out of hand. I realize that's not perfect change, but it is change. And my guess is that this dialogue will follow him throughout his career, which is also a change.

So. How to reconcile the fact that Brian Wood is either a creep or a very immature and entitled dude who has taken advantage of the creep comic book culture -- which in my mind is enough parity that I probably don't need to separate them out, but oh well -- with the fact that I like a lot of his books? For me, I'm going to keep buying and reading the books of his that I like. He's writing some good and important books right now, and I believe he's writing some good and important female characters right now. And since dollars matter, I'm going to keep plunking my dollars down. I'm also pretty sure that my dollars won't be funding anything nefariously anti-feminist (unless, of course, Brian Wood is giving a part of his salary to Mark Millar or Frank McFarlane). I think that Brian Wood will have to think about his actions for a good long time while he's writing, and I'll have to think about the complexity of readership and fandom in the comic book culture while I'm reading his stuff. And that's really not a bad thing.

Thanks for providing this forum for my thoughts.
beccatoria
Nov. 20th, 2013 12:26 am (UTC)
Re: Great, thoughtful round-up
Hi and welcome! Thanks for taking the time to reply.

I think what bothers me most about Wood's apology is that it's so polished, so much better crafted than one might expect, but without actually saying much of substance. But generally I'm also uncomfortable assuming bad faith. I don't want to suspect that he's playing the angles here. The problem is - as with the decision whether or not to continue supporting him financially - that it's complicated by the fact he had such a feminist reputation and was then behaving in a way so contrary to that. It means I sort of can't see how to trust his statements again since I'll never know if they're sincere or demonstrating the same skill at presenting a persona he has apparently been demonstrating for some time now? (Perhaps a persona he even believes in, although I'm not sure how he reconciles the dissonance. I don't know him, is what I'm saying, but I'm finding it hard to reconcile his words with his actions).

I also agree about the issues around continuing to support his work. I feel a little self-conscious linking this as it does reference this timeline a fair bit, but I thought Tricia Barr had some very interesting thoughts on the politics of continuing to buy his work here at FANgirl blog.
nick_marino
Nov. 19th, 2013 09:38 pm (UTC)
becka, thx so much putting this post together! i've been following this whole thing since it started, mostly because it was popping up in my tumblr feed and it involved friends of my friends. i was surprised that it wasn't getting coverage on the big comics "news" sites but i was also genuinely confused about the facts and the timeline because everything unfolded in this odd trickle of information and opinion that was difficult to sort out. but you sorted it out so well! and your commentary makes it even better.
beccatoria
Nov. 20th, 2013 12:47 am (UTC)
No problem, I'm really glad it's proving useful to people. It at least now seems to be getting some decent coverage on the less corporate sites. But yeah, the whole thing was very fragmented for a long time.

I'm glad my commentary was something that made it better not more confusing! :)
metanewsmods
Nov. 20th, 2013 04:57 am (UTC)
Hey, can we link this at metanews?
beccatoria
Nov. 20th, 2013 03:32 pm (UTC)
Sure! :)
strannik01
Nov. 20th, 2013 05:04 am (UTC)
Thank you for putting all this together - and staying on top of the story as new developments emerged.

The incidents described seemed to have happened in the early 00s. I could imagine that Brian Wood changed since then and became more feminist. If Wood said - yeah, it's true, but I know better now - I think people would be willing to forgive him. But so far, he has responded to one allegation by implicitly denying most of Fowler's story and downplaying the fact that, even if his version is 100%, he was still perfectly willing to cheat on his pregnant girlfriend (which doesn't look good no matter how you slice it). He's yet to respond to the second allegation.

I am tremendously disappointed. A few years ago, he signed all my comics and we had a brief chat, which, in a weird way, makes the disappointment sting even more.

Until Wood responds to the allegations - and shows genuine signs of contrition - I'm not interested in buying any more of his comics. Because, at this point, I am uncomfortable with giving my money to the man Wood is turning out to be. And I will try harder to do my part to make conventions (and other comic events) safer to women and hold harassers accountable.
beccatoria
Nov. 20th, 2013 07:18 pm (UTC)
I can completely understand how having had personal interaction with him would make it more disappointing. You had a personal connection - however brief.

And I agree, these incidents were at least six years ago. He may have genuinely changed his opinions. What's saddening is that both of the women involved have said that if they felt his apologies were genuine that would have made an enormous difference to their decisions to make such detailed statements. Unfortunately, it seems that even if his politics developed, his personal actions did not reflect them. It's...a really sad and depressing situation all around.

And I will try harder to do my part to make conventions (and other comic events) safer to women and hold harassers accountable.

I think that's an awesome response to a shitty situation.
kadymae
Nov. 20th, 2013 11:42 pm (UTC)
I have know Brian Wood for many years now (we're not close) and I am extremely disappointed in him over this matter.

But this statement in particular pisses me off:
" that he had little clout in the industry at the time"

Horseshit. At that point in time he'd been labeled an up and comer, he'd had several Eisner nominations, he had already received a lot of acclaim over his (now iconic) Grand Theft Auto III and GTA: San Andreas designs.



Edited at 2013-11-21 12:57 am (UTC)
beccatoria
Nov. 22nd, 2013 08:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the comment. I certainly agree that even at that point in his career he had enough industry acclaim that it would amount to at least a perception of influence, but it's interesting to hear it confirmed from someone with more authority on the subject.

I'm also just...generally really sorry hear that you have a connection that makes this situation more complicated for you. As I said to others who have commented, I imagine this is much more difficult for people with longstanding and invested connections to his work. Although you were not close, I imagine the same thing applies. I hope whatever connection you do have to him survives in its positive forms, if you want it to.
majestik7
Nov. 21st, 2013 06:56 am (UTC)
Can't stop, won't stop.
A lot of people are really showing their true colors as far as this whole Tess Fowler/Brian Wood thing goes but none moreso than Wood's himself.

Dude was more than comfortable sitting back and getting all the accolades and praise for supposedly being this totally enlightened writer with a genuine interest in writing strong, competent female characters who weren't just there to be rescued from the clutches of villain's or sexually objectified by their male counterparts. But now we see, that some of his actions in the real world definitely don't match up.

His apologies reeked of a totally self serving level of hypocrisy that did more to on one hand acknowledge some level of improper behaviour whilst on the otherhand, painting the women he offended as being mistaken as to his motivation for approaching them in the first place.

Wood's "apologies" were text book excercises in damage limitation at best and clearly indicative of an individual who hasn't learnt anything from this ordeal other than to be a lot more discrete in future as far as looking for women to chat up at future conventions.

Can't stop, won't stop.

Indeed.
beccatoria
Nov. 22nd, 2013 08:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Can't stop, won't stop.
I'll combine my answers here - first of all, thanks for the additional information on getting banned from CBR. Your account certainly sounds worrying. I admit that's one thing that's always bothered me about forum atmospheres where the mods are active posters. It can be very conducive towards a good atmosphere - a sense of community, but you need a certain type of person to do that, otherwise, well, I've also seen mods descend into ugly behaviour towards individuals where there are grudges. Obviously, I'm not a part of that community, but your story certainly evokes those memories.

Regarding this, yes, I agree that his apology felt indicative of damage limitation. In the meantime, Fowler has noted on her twitter that he has also reached out to her privately with an apology that felt more genuine to her, which gives me mixed feelings. Not about Wood apologising privately to her, I think that is unambiguously positive, given her own statements about the nature of that apology, but more...it does make me consider the nature of public vs private apologies, their functions, what is appropriate to include. But I don't have any conclusions, and I stand by my original criticisms of his original apology.

Given his conversation with @feministallies (one of the most recent additions, above), while I appreciated that he was willing to concede the feelings of the power difference were genuine and required attention, I still have very mixed feelings about the fact he seems to believe that the issue isn't that he has the power, but rather that someone else feels like he does.

In some ways I feel uncomfortable talking about him in such personal terms; I don't know him, and I largely find this situation fascinating because it's just such a perfect storm of a case study for so many wider issues. But having stated that, I think that one, very personal reaction from Wood, is illustrative of SUCH a crucial misunderstanding. It's like a fundamental microcosm of the messed up attitudes that underpin so many fucked up interactions between groups: "I'm sorry you misunderstood reality."

Even if it's said with compassion, with a genuine belief that it's ones duty to consider that someone else is "misunderstanding reality"... That's really just noblesse oblige, right? It's better than not giving a shit, but it's not as good as considering you might be the one misunderstanding.

Anyway, I'm glad that Fowler has at least been able to communicate further with Wood in a way that was satisfying to her. That is a rare thing in these situations.
leonardthewiz
Nov. 22nd, 2013 06:59 pm (UTC)
Competent Women Fetish
"What worries me is that whether it was cynical marketing, because competent women is his particular fetish, or because he genuinely holds feminist beliefs and doesn't see the conflict in his own behaviour, Brian Wood writes successful comics about women and has helped several women establish themselves in the industry."

Can you elaborate on the "competent women fetish" mentioned here? (If this has been covered in the comments, my apologies)

Is the implication that he's writing competent or strong women characters just because that's what he believes people want to see, or because it would appear to be politically correct? (i.e.: as opposed to it being a byproduct of writing a large range of well rounded characters)

Thanks for the post - it's helped me sort through a lot of the little details that I think were glossed over previously.
beccatoria
Nov. 22nd, 2013 08:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Competent Women Fetish
I don't believe it has been covered in the comments, no, and certainly I'm happy to try and explain.

First I should probably clarify that this isn't specific criticism of anything Wood has written - I don't know his writing well enough to do that. It was mainly an attempt to acknowledge that could be a number of reasons why Wood's behaviour and writing don't seem to match up, and then a few hypothetical examples. I suspect the reality is far more complex (it usually is, right?)

I think what you describe in your comment is more what I meant by "cynical marketing" - as in, he thought he saw a way to make a name for himself. I don't think that's necessarily the same as thinking it's what would sell big numbers (I mean, the comics market itself disproves that), but I was referring to the wider idea of branding and being known for something. People do choose to be big names in niche markets sometimes. And sometimes it just happens because they like the niche.

By "competent women" being his particular fetish, I more meant...okay, so I don't know if you've seen some of the criticism sometimes aimed at Joss Whedon? Where people point out that he often seems to write tiny, often mentally fragile women who can kung-fu the shit out of you? (Buffy, River, Echo). And then the question is sometimes raised, is he attempting to do something feminist here, or is it just a byproduct of the fact he thinks tiny chicks who can kick your ass are super cool and sexy? That's what I mean.

If Brian Wood is writing a lot of women in positions of power because that's his particular narrative "kink", because that's just what he thinks is super awesome, does that matter, if it's still providing much-needed representation? I think that's a complicated question I'm not really looking to answer, but it does explain how a person (because again, I'm uncomfortable really speculating on Wood's work specifically without having read more of it) might write a lot of women without having particularly progressive attitudes in the real world.

Does that make sense?

Also you're super welcome and I'm glad it made sense.

Edited at 2013-11-22 08:40 pm (UTC)
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