Last month, the comics industry faced yet another reckoning of accusations of pervasive, systemic abuse of creatives of marginalized genders, in some ways sparked by a series of allegations against writer Warren Ellis. Now, those who say they were affected by Ellis specifically have established a space to share their stories and call for him to help dismantle the industry’s systems of complacency.
Allegations about Ellis’ grooming of women over an extended period of time—cultivated through his personal forums, at one time seen as an important network for up-and-coming creatives to get into the comics industry through its connection to Ellis, and through social media—first emerged in early June alongside of reports of misconduct by other industry individuals, including former Comic Book Legal Defense Fund executive director Charles Brownstein, creator Cameron Stewart, and former Dark Horse Comics editor Scott Allie.
Multiple women began sharing stories of how Ellis (best known for his comics work across major publishers, including the highly influential DC Comics cyberpunk series Transmetropolitan, and recently as the writer behind Netflix, Powerhouse Animation, and Frederator’s Castlevania animated series) established multiple, often contemporaneous relationships with young women, physically and online, positioning himself as a potential mentor in the comics world.
Several days later, Ellis released a statement in which he acknowledged that he had “made many bad choices” in his past but stated he both “never consciously coerced, manipulated, or abused anyone,” nor did he consider himself “famous or powerful.” He added that “It had never really occurred to me that other people didn’t see it the same way—that I was not engaging as an equal when gifted with attention, but acting from a position of power and privilege. I did not take that into account in a number of my personal interactions and this was a mistake and I own it.”
Today, however, additional testimonials from over 30 people have been posted together on a new website, SoManyofUs.com. In the testimonials—now from a group of 100 total—the writers say they were victimized by Ellis across decades. As well as serving as a space for Ellis’ alleged victims to share their stories, anonymously or otherwise, the site also notes that in the wake of his statement, Ellis—who has faced little in the way of punitive response due to the accusations, outside of DC Comics pulling a two-page story from its Dark Nights: Death Metal Legends of the Dark Knights anthology—has, according to the statement on the site, continued to enact manipulative and predatory behavior against women.
“Even as we compiled our stories, Warren Ellis contacted a few of us with sterile, performatively apologetic missives, which acknowledged little of the realities of his conduct,” a lengthy statement shared by over sixty signatories, reads in part on SoManyofUs.com. “These texts and emails did not express self-reflection, acknowledgment of the harm his actions cause, nor desire to change his behavior. He also posted this public statement on June 19, 2020. Following that statement’s publication, he continued to send sexual messages and overtures to people as recently as July 2020.”
The signatories hope that by establishing an online presence for survivors of abuse—for now as they pertain to Ellis specifically—they can put an end to Ellis’ alleged “pattern of behavior,” to provide a place for victims “to be supported, validated, and angry; a place to process, question, and unpack their experiences; a place to be listened to, where self-care, empathy, and mutual aid are of the highest priority,” and for the systems in the comics industry and beyond that allowed Ellis to act upon these alleged behaviors to be dismantled and overhauled. “We do not want to see one abuser removed only to be replaced with another,” the statement continues, “which is why we are adamant that the systems that allow these patterns of behavior to carry on unchecked be destroyed.”
The group behind SoManyofUs.com also hopes that, in part, Ellis will help in the destruction of these systems of power. In a simple list of demands of the writer that concludes the statement, the group calls to hope that there is “possibility of a mediated transformative justice action” with the writer, calling on him to acknowledge his “actions in their entirety,” “patterns of behavior,” and that he “has callously hurt people,” as well as to help the group behind SoManyofUs.com in their aid of tackling the systemic issues that created a toxic environment for people of marginalized genders in comics and beyond.
The statement adds, “We believe it is important to amplify awareness of a pattern to change the culture of complicity. Emotional abuse, despite not being criminalized in many places, should be recognized as a real and lasting violation.” It also noted that Ellis is not the sole creator of his works, and that part of the process in seeking justice for his abuse should not involve tarnishing the works of artists, colorists, letterers, editors, animators, and other producers.
Ellis himself has yet to respond to the establishment of SoManyofUs.com, or the requests made by the site’s signatories and had not made further comment on the allegations beyond his initial June 19 statement. However, in a new Guardian report today from Sam Thielman tied with the launch of the site, Ellis gave his first public statements about the allegations since going silent on social media. Ellis continued to deny that he had consciously abused the scores of women he has acknowledged having relationships with (many of whom were not aware that Ellis was in relationships with multiple women at a time) outside of his open relationship with his longterm partner.
“What I have always tried to do is make sure other people feel protected. I have been asked for discretion, and I have asked for it. Some of the personal work I have to do now is about bad or limited communication in my life,” Ellis told the Guardian over email. “I’ve never tried to hide my relationship status. I am in an open relationship with my partner. Like many long relationships, ours has had troubled times, including brief periods of separation.”
The writer did acknowledge that there is a “differing of perception” between his own recollection of these relationships and the others involved in them and that he is currently “been listening to it” while also considering therapy. But whether or not Ellis will take up the signatories’ requests on SoManyofUs.com, to both mediate with them and help to address the systems in place within the comics industry (and beyond) that allow powerful men like himself to see incidents of the actions described by the testimonials as a “differing of perception,” remains to be seen.
Just as some of the people involved in SoManyofUs.com have hoped for, the writer has not faced immediate punishment by his employers. In fact, Ellis has yet to face much in the way of professional repercussions due to the allegations. He continues to write the ongoing Black Label series The Batman’s Grave for DC Comics and is presumably still involved with the creation of the confirmed fourth season of Castlevania, as neither Frederator Studios nor Powerhouse animation have released statements in the wake of the allegations, original or recent.
“Our aim is not to see Warren Ellis punished, we are here to look forward,” the group wrote. “We tell these stories so that anyone can recognize the dangerous nature of this type of behavior and protect themselves and others.”
In the wake of SoManyofUs’ statement, io9 reached out to Ellis’ representatives to see if he had additional comment. We also reached out to DC Comics, Frederator, and Powerhouse as well. We’ll update this post when and if we hear back.
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