As of my typing up this column, DC Comics employee of over twenty years and Superman Group Editor Eddie Berganza has been fired from the company in relation to the sexual harassment and assault allegations raised against him for nearly a decade. This is in large part due to the Buzzfeed article that hit this past Friday, the amazing journalism of Jessica Testa, Tyler Kingkade, and Jay Edidin, former DC editorial staffers Janelle Asselin and Liz Gehrlein Marsham for speaking to Buzzfeed on the record, and all of the other victims who spoke anonymously out of fear of the very real fear of retribution. Since the release of that article, Molly McIsaac has also come forward about her encounter with Eddie Berganza’s sexual harassment.
Many people are rightfully asking why did it take so long remove Berganza when his sexually abusive behavior has been an open secret for nearly a decade? For better or worse, the answer is that in a post Weinstein world we are taking these accusations more seriously. This happened because Buzzfeed reported on it. When people tried to put pressure on DC Comics to act in April of 2016 in the aftermath of Shelly Bond’s dismissal – including myself – it wasn’t taken seriously outside of comics press and the story died in the wake of Dan Didio deleting his Twitter account and DC Entertainment honcho Diane Nelson sending out a memo assuring us that DC Entertainment cares about the safety of their employees. The memo didn’t even mention Berganza’s name. It was a heavy slap in the face to comics journalist, pros and fans all over that helped to reassert the notion that victims are the problem and abusers will always be protected until it is absolutely impossible to continue protecting them.
Make no mistake; DC Comics did what it did because there was absolutely no way to continue protecting Eddie Berganza.
As of my writing this, DC Comics has not addressed Bob Harras’ role in seemingly and allegedly ignoring filed complaints with HR and assisting in Berganza’s rise in the company at the expense of many women within DC and countless more that were denied opportunities as a result of his continued employment or didn’t even attempt to throw their hat in the ring because of Berganza’s presence. Nothing will salvage the comics careers of all of those women, some we know and some we don’t, who fell in love with these adored characters as kids and grew up to learn that you would need to be willing to endure sexual harassment, propositions, and compromising your ethics to work in – of all places – the Superman office.
And Eddie Berganza isn’t the only person to make that statement true.
An open letter to Dan Didio has been circulating for over a week that not only brings up Berganza, but Mike Carlin, as a known harasser that inappropriately touched a female staffer. Like Eddie, Mike has been both a Superman Group Editor and an Executive Editor at DC Comics with his greatest achievement being The Death of Superman. Mike Carlin’s name is printed in literally millions upon millions of comics. He’s had lines wrapped around stores waiting for his signature. Unlike Eddie, Mike was able to allegedly harass his way to further promotions. He was promoted out of the comics division and currently works as the Creative Director of Animation for DC Entertainment. As of this writing this there has been no indication that Bob Harras covering for Eddie Berganza or Mike Carlin’s alleged harassment are being looked into.
Comics professionals including Rafael Albuquerque, Gail Simone, Cliff Chiang, Tee Franklin, Lilah Sturges, Sophie Campbell, Tony Isabella, Kurt Busiek, Tini Howard, Sina Grace, Kate Leth, Amy Chu, Tamra Bonvillain, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Christopher Sebela, Matthew Rosenberg, Kwanza Osajyefo, Tess Fowler, Mark Waid, and so many more stepped up to make their voices heard in the aftermath of the Buzzfeed article dropping on Friday. This is important not only because we should be standing up for victims of abuse, but because comics professionals are terrified of retaliation against them by DC Comics.
I want to make this crystal clear to people reading, as fans and casual readers may not be aware of or understand the reality of all of this. Speaking out against the brass is more than looked down upon; it’s disqualifying. Rafael Albuquerque mentions this in his statement on Berganza. Other professionals including Kwanza made it crystal clear on Twitter that speaking out could mean getting blacklisted, but it would be hard if we all ban together. Maybe in a post Weinstein world speaking out to defend victims won’t get you blacklisted like it has in the past to rising stars like Nancy Collins, but I talked to many comics professionals off the record during all of this with Berganza and many freelancers are still terrified. That should be alarming, but also sobering to everyone reading this that standing up against serial sexual assaulters can lose you work, but turning a blind eye to victims can get you a gig on a Superman book.
We might have the power now to change the dynamics at DC Comics and much of the rest of the entertainment industry if not all industries. We may be at a tipping point where we will no longer be a society that protects abusers, but rather one that stands up for victims. We need to be that society, and we may not be there just yet but we might be close. The only way we can do it is if we stand together. They can’t blacklist us if we all protect each other.
Please read the first two installments in the series if you have not done so.
From Dream Killer 2:
Full discloser: For two decades I was not welcome at DC.
“What did you do?” I’ve gotten that question countless times. “What did they do?” Not as many have asked, but more than a few. What’s the difference between those who ask the first question as opposed to the second?
And why and how despite being blackballed by one of the big two was I able to not only survive in the industry but thrive?
What did I do? I refused to accept unjust treatment and called attention to it often. That was my right.
What did they do? They got fed up with dealing with me. That was their right.
I haven’t any idea rather or not I’m welcome at DC Comics these days. The perception is there is a feud between Milestone and me. DC is in a deal with Milestone, so that may mean I’m not a desirable. There isn’t a feud; there is an incident.
Milestone made what no one is disputing a real dick move. Not telling me they were moving ahead with plans without me was as fucked up as can be. Now add they were supposed to be “friends.”
That is as horrible a thing. An absolutely disgusting thing.
Well, to me it is.
Except for a few brave souls, there has been not a peep of anyone giving a fuck.
That’s OK. Pity isn’t my thing. My thing is to do what’s right. I’m doing that by not creating a front page Black vs. Black lawsuit and not detailing events that go back 20 years.
Milestone is the single most important event in the history of black comics. For over two decades I’ve led a campaign to keep Milestone relevant and make sure the phenomenal history of Milestone is correct and accurate. More people are aware Milestone is not owned by DC Comics and was Denys Cowan’s idea because of me.
I’ve devoted more to that effort than the three partners combined. My struggles to create opportunities for people of color in comics also dwarfs their collective work in that area. The talent program they now tout as their own was created by me, as was the universe for their most successful character Static Shock.
All of the above is easy to verify.
All that said, Milestone, the idea is more important to African Americans kids at large than anything I’ve done. A chance for black kids to see themselves represented fairly in the media is much more significant than Michael Davis.
Character counts in this world. Some think my character is lacking because I use words like fuck, shit and nigger in my written narrative. Many believe that somehow dilutes my good character. I think those individuals should get a clue.
Here’s a hard truth about this industry. People talk the talk, but few walk the walk. When it’s time for my annual San Diego Comic-Con party, everybody’s my buddy. When there was a rumor that Milestone stole its business plan a great many of my buddies were quick to co-sign that bullshit.
When my heart lay in a broken heap two years ago over the Milestone slight, there were those who said it was my behavior that caused Milestone to do me like they did.
Really? That’s the same behavior every single partner at Milestone as well as countless others benefitted from over many years.
I write and say what I think. When I think I’ve been used like someone’s bitch, I say so. I also say something when others are prescribed the same medicine.
Milestone’s treatment of me is relevant to the black comic book industry. How we treat each other is essential to future generations When black people are good to each other which is the vast majority of the time rarely does it make the news when those uncustomary moments are demonstrated black kids see integrity and leadership when bad it’s the lead story on Fox News.
Why use my account of the Milestone story when it’s so negative?
A few reasons. As said earlier it is only negative to me but used as the example why relationships are important it’s a grand one, and in the big picture, it’s positive.
I still support those books and the company. Regardless of what they did, I’m going to do the right thing.
That brings me back to DC Comics.
Dwayne McDuffie died in 2011. I was invited to I write a piece for the Static Shock tribute issue. My last published work in a DC comic was over twenty years ago. My exile ended officially two years before in 2009 when Diane Nelson took over as president. I’d met Diane ten years before that at Warner Bros and liked her immediately and vice versa. She assured me I was welcome back at DC and I have had a meeting there since.
That’s all cool on the surface but so is thin ice. Once you fall through, it’s colder than most can stand.
Let’s recap. I have an excellent relationship with the most influential person at DC Comics. Still, I don’t know my status. That’s because of Milestone. Why? DC has a relationship with Milestone in the bullshit world of Hollywood once you reach the boss and recount your tale of wrongful woe all is right in the world.
Why don’t I just call Diane and use her to pave the way for any project I may want to do at DC?
Respect for Dan Didio and Jim Lee, comics are their lane and going to Diane is as disrespectful as I could be.
Respect for Diane Nelson. Sidestepping Dan and Jim is calling them incompetent which they are far from being. Also doing so calls into question her judgment which I’d never do.
Respect for myself. I couldn’t sit in a room with Jim and Dan without addressing the Milestone elephant. Why resign them or me to that drama? If I weren’t already suffering from depression, that would do the trick.
That, boys and girl, is called knowing the game. Those who don’t shouldn’t play. So despite being blackballed by one of the big two how was I able to thrive?
Alternative means of finding distribution, budget and happiness.
The vast majority of top tier creators in the industry use one option.
There are numerous more, and I’ll touch on those next time. As well I will break down what option was preferred and why for the project I’m using for this series.
I’ve been in the game for a long time. What I use as examples are not intended as a ‘how to’ to get into the comics biz. If so the series would be named ‘how to ruin your career.’
The underlying point is to look at the big picture when entering this field. I believe with every fiber of my being one should always look to do the right thing. Comics are a very very small industry and to have a real shot, it’s counterproductive working on how well you write or draw without working on your relationships skills.
Put another way, when people tell who they are and what they are about, trust but verify.
Question 1: What’s the coolest part of the Wonder Woman myth?
That’s easy. It’s her invisible airplane. Hands down.
Question 2: What really cool looking merchandising item is coming to help celebrate (or milk) WW’s 75th anniversary?
Ummm… It’s her invisible airplane. Among everything else you can imagine.
Question 3: What crucial element of her saga is not in the upcoming Wonder Woman movie?
Oy. Please don’t tell me it’s her invisible airplane.
Just as I’ve grown comfortable recommending the otherwise dreadful Batman v Superman movie solely for the Wonder Woman scenes, DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson somewhat apologetically told People Magazine “There is no invisible jet. Not in this iteration.”
I wasn’t thrilled about the movie being set during World War I, even though it is being released in time to, ahh, celebrate the 100th anniversary of The War To End All Wars. Yes, kids, that’s what WWI was called. And, in that context, WWI was a failure. But I digress.
Then an old-timey 15-watt incandescent light bulb when off over my head. “Wait!!!” I said to me. “An invisible biplane!!! How cool is that???”
Evidently, cool enough for me to use six exclamation points and three question marks.
But such will not come to pass. No invisible plane, bi- or otherwise.
The invisible airplane is as cool as it is completely gratuitous. No, we do not need it. Just as Superman doesn’t need his red trunks, either, but you wouldn’t eliminate that world renown icon, would you?
O.K. That’s a bad example. I’m completely right, but it’s still a bad example.
This isn’t the end of the world, and sure as hell I’m not calling for a boycott of the movie or anything like that. For one thing, Gal Gadot was so … wonderful … in BvS that she deserves our attention, even if Warner Bros. does not.
And who knows? President Nelson talked about iterations. Maybe the invisible plane – invisible jet? – will get polished up for the Justice League movie.
Ha! Just kidding. When it comes to Warner Bros. big-screen adaptation of the sundry DC heroes, we can always count on the Demons of Burbank to screw the pooch.
I’m rarely impressed, but you wrote an impressive article. The attention to detail, footnotes, research and overall thoughtfulness you put into making your case was indeed extraordinary.
I’m a bit taken aback by your use of my article as the motivation to write yours. My article why are we still complaining about Dan Didio had little written about Mr. Didio. It certainly wasn’t a defense of his work nor a damning of it. He and others mentioned were only used to illustrate my outlook.
Much of what you wrote regarding my views and work can do with a bit of clarity. I fear what you’ve constructed in your narrative is somewhat unbalanced and frankly unfair.
For example, placing quotes around a word when no one is speaking gives the distinct impression you don’t believe, care or respect my resume. You choose to describe mentor as “mentor.” For the life of me sir I have no idea why you would cast such an adverse slight at me.
My Bad Boy Studio Mentor program has achieved a fair amount of success. By all means feel free to ask Bernard Chang, John Paul Leon, Shawn Martinborough, Aaron McGruder and Brett Lewis, who mentored them.
There are more whom you are welcome to request confirmation from; I’ve been very fortunate to have had a small hand helping numerous young men and women join our beloved profession.
You could also speak to Chris Claremont or director Bill Duke. Both called me looking for a talented young person to work with them.
That girl I referred to Chris was Ali Morales. Ali went on to become DC Comics and perhaps the industry’s first Latino woman editor. Tatiana El-Khouri started as Bill’s assistant and finished running his company; now she’s running her own.
Thinking of my Bad Boys (and girls) swells my heart and moistens my eyes. I dare say those who came from my Bad Boy program are some of the best of the best. It matters little what else I’ve achieved in life nothing compares with the love and pride I feel for them.
I’m sure you can now appreciate why “mentor” cut me to the quick.
Hopefully, speaking to any of the above will result in a bit of lucidity into my background If you ever see fit to write about my mentorship program again.
You sir, forgive me for saying so, were a bit heavy handed in your use of conjecture. Nonetheless, it’s not surprising you would write about me in such a manner.
Sadly, that’s the industry model these days. I wrote about such in the very article you referenced so often. The venom and hate displayed in comics today and my hope for a reversal of that trend was the point of my column.
Sir, when you have a moment I’d like for you to clear something up for me. I just can’t fathom why you would use my article to go and do the very thing I wrote may damn us and please spell your name phonetically so if we meet I pronounce it correctly.
And it’s all anyone is talking about.
I mentioned I consider you a wee bit unfair in your analysis of my words.
Please consider the following from my article: The movies making the most money are from our house. But we’d rather bitch about Dan Didio still running DC than applaud Eric Stephenson, publisher at Image Comics. Eric gave the greatest comic book speech since Uncle Ben told Peter Parker; with great power, comes great responsibility.
“I’d like to talk about the future, but first, we’re going to do some time travel, back to a time when there was no Internet, no Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram. A time when there were no comic book stores.”
That was Eric’s spectacular opening and it got better from there.
We should still be talking about it. The industry coverage of that speech?
Almost none. Perhaps if Eric had started his speech with the following, we would still be talking about it.
“I’d like to talk about the future, but first, we’re going to do some time travel, back to a time Dan Didio wasn’t screwing up DC, Marvel didn’t suck, and there was no Dark Horse because there shouldn’t be any damn Dark Horse.”
Yep, we’d still be talking about that.
I dare say with your musings put in the manner you put them, we are.
Mr. Khosla, I don’t know you but from your writings, it does appear you are an educated man. You certainly have a passion concerning comic books and I do believe you have comics’ best interest at heart.
I’m very much at my wits end pondering why you transformed what I wrote into something I did not write with your explanations.
I wrote: I once loved the comics industry with a passion almost incomprehensible even to myself but the industry I loved so is gone. What remains is a fat out of shape ghost of its former self. A snake oil salesman selling a yearly new everything hoping fans will consider it a glorious new tune.
You wrote: This is how we’re starting a defense of Dan DiDio – by having to acknowledge that comic industry under his supervision has become an “out of shape ghost of its former self.”
Uhm. Okay. Great argument.
And the victim of comic fans, according to Mr. Davis?
Mr. Davis, eh? If you insist of addressing me so formally, please afford me the courtesy of doing it correctly. I feel it’s only fair after your “mentor” slights you address me as Dr. Davis as I have a Ph.D., please forgive me for my rudeness if this offends you, it is not my intention.
The following is another example of the slanting of my words.
You wrote Mr. Davis continues by trying to identify the culprit – not Mr. DiDio, but of course, comic fans.
I wrote What slays me and I fear will destroy us all is how we see, speak and represent ourselves. Character assassination over a creative decision. Damning a company, creator or content because someone wrote or drew something someone took issue with, rumors perceived as news, news handled like press releases were all once virtually repudiated as just being silly.
The problem with comics is the fans are not nice enough to the people who make them.
That is patently unjust my friend and even more so given life for me these days have been incredibly unfair. I won’t burden you with my many tales of woe. However, I do think the following incident is somewhat appropriate to share with you.
Within the last year, I’ve lost three dogs. I cannot express to you the pain that caused me. No, you have not caused me any pain sir. That’s not the reason I’m sharing that with you.
After some time, I intend to get another dog. To that end it just so happens your article appeared on the day I was wondering when the next time I’d have to teach another little bitch not to shit in my house.
It seems that day is today and the time is now.
We interrupt this professional rebuttal for a word from the wrong nigga to fuck with:
Motherfucker, where the fuck did you see Dan’s name anywhere near the quote you used? Where did you read I blamed the fans?
Nowhere. It’s not there. You made that up.
I’m simply amazed how you pulled that “response” to my article off. No one points out the level of bullshit that you shovel down their throats. Sure, I’ve seen people disagree with you, but I have yet to see anyone take you to task for the little fact that nothing you contribute to me exists anywhere in the article.
Nowhere. Like the emperor, the little bitch has no clothes.
The industry is eating up what is the comic book equivalent of weapons of mass destruction. Just like Bush, you picked a target to attack because it was convenient and you made a convincing case by writing smoke and mirrored attack on me.
Just like Bush, there was nothing there. It didn’t exist it was all bullshit.
I didn’t defend Dan’s leadership at DC anywhere in my article.
I also didn’t dismiss Dan’s leadership at DC anywhere in my article.
I don’t write in riddles my friend; don’t write leaving room for interpretation and I don’t write in some vague style, so later I can wiggle out of what I said.
Within my writings there is no need for deliberation, you don’t have to ponder shit nor is there any reason to think there is a hidden meaning. I write what I mean; say what I mean. You used me and my work to advance your agenda.
That was a bad idea.
I could give you a list of people and companies who tried that and but for one they all wrote me a check. The one that hasn’t got a pass up to now.
Relax dude; I’m not going to sue you. You’re a hell of a writer. That’s not a backward dig I mean that. Where you need help is in reading comprehension
Help is here, Bitch. Get out a pencil and paper because you’re about to get schooled.
How many words were there between “I once loved the comic industry with a passion almost incomprehensible even to myself but the industry I loved so is gone. What remains is a fat out of shape ghost of its former self. A snake oil salesman selling a yearly new everything hoping fans will consider it a glorious new tune.”
And Dan Didio may be the most hated man in comics and for what?
The answer A. 325.
How the hell did you tie the two together? Oh wait, you used the weapons of mass destruction technique. Attack somebody who had nothing to do with the attack you wanted to make. Like Bush, you thought you could get away with it.
If I may paraphrase the immortal words of Bill Duke, bitch, you know you done fucked up, don’t you?
How many words are there in the entire article?
The answer is A. 2564
You gave every impression I’d devoted all my article to Dan. Apparently the people who backed you did not read what I wrote, or they are drinking the stupid flavored Kool-Aid.
Of the 2564 words how many words were written about Dan?
The answer is C. 190
I’ve heard about it but never tried it. How is the stupid Kool-Aid?
Using the following paragraph below show where Dan first appears.
“I once loved the comic industry with a passion almost incomprehensible even to myself but the industry I loved so is gone. What remains is a fat out of shape ghost of its former self. A snake oil salesman selling a yearly new everything hoping fans will consider it a glorious new tune.”
Where is Dan first located?
325 words before
325 words after
In the same paragraph
The answer is B – 325 words after the quote.
Can you get addicted to Kool-Aid?
When did Michael Davis stop working with DC?
He never stopped working with DC
The day DC realized he was black
The day he told a DC executive to suck his dick
The day he refused to shut up about how fucked up DC was treating him while at Milestone.
The day a VP at DC tried to prevent him from becoming President & CEO of Motown Animation and Filmworks
The day the Earth stood still
The day Abhay Khosla realized Doctor Davis has no goddamn reason to kiss DC’s ass, never has, never will.
The answer is late 1993. That’s 23 years.
Fun fact: E, F, G, and H are all true. You think perhaps there was no love lost between DC and me?
Rich Johnson changed my original title, which was “What’s Love Got To Do With it?” Why are we still complaining about Dan Didio is all Rich and being the Johnson that he is he knew full well someone would take his bait.
I like Richard. He’s an important part of our industry. He’s got his critics, but a man without critics is a man with no success. I let what he does slide because he knows his audience.
But, like anyone else if I have an issue with him I voice it, and I have two. Editing my work, so you get F**K instead of what I wrote and that so-called comics power list.
But I digress. Peter David! Hey! As always I look forward to seeing you at my annual Comic-Con party!
Your article paints me as defending Dan with a passion; I didn’t. In fact, I gave an example of how I stood by him when he was at ABC and he, for whatever reason, has not shown me the same courtesy since being at DC.
That to me is a dick move but if that’s how he wants to be let him be that. I got other shit to do, and I certainly don’t need DC Comics to pay my mortgage. Yeah, I’d like to work with them again and on paper, I should be.
I have a long albeit novel relationship with Dan. I met Diane Nelson when she was still at Warner Consumer products, and we still exchange the occasional email. Lastly, Jim Lee and I have been in business together it was Image who published my Machineworks imprint.
I think fondly of the 3 am meeting I had with Image at the Hyatt during Comic Con way back when. I bare no one at DC any malice, and I’m glad to see each of those people whenever our paths cross.
Fun Fact: DC Comics is still my universe of choice, and I’ve said that regardless of the state my relationship is with them.
But, like I said I got other shit to do.
Why’d you do it? Nothing in my article was interpreted correctly so again, why’d you do it?
The first step is to admit you have a problem. It’s the Kool-Aid isn’t it?
My clearly made point was this; all this negative energy spent on Dan would be best spent trying to create a forward movement for the industry. People have been trying to get Dan fired for well over a decade.
How the fuck is that working out for you?
I’m always amazed when someone’s goal in life is to fuck up someone else’s.
You’re like a guy who desperately wants to date a girl. When she repeatedly says no you set out to impress her even more. Flowers and candy don’t work so you post something sweet on her Facebook page a poem. Danielle is her name and your name for your little limerick.
She blocks you.
You then embark on a campaign to make her pay. Your poem becomes a book-length attack designed to shame, sadden and hurt her.
You post, The case against Dan Didio, I mean Danielle secure in the knowledge this will destroy her.
She laughs it off. She laughs you off.
Soon you realize a cruel irony. Like Baum’s Dorothy who wanted nothing but to find a way home, she realized the way was her.
She became her way home.
The thing most wanted from “Danielle” is what you’ve become.
A little pussy.
The truth that you damn well knew unless you’re a fucking idiot was Dan made a minor part of an extensive article.
Nothing you attribute to me concerning Dan, fans and my point of view is accurate. The article’s use of my work is not just inaccurate Zero is written remotely slightly, somewhat or vaguely like you describe.
I’m a simple guy I don’t write in riddles I don’t write with conjecture as my primary source. I never blamed the fans for anything.
Bottom line. If you want to pick apart something I’ve done, criticize something I wrote, have at it just don’t rewrite it to suit your personal bullshit.
I wrote While many in the industry continue to turn on each other, some even creating another tempest of hatred once the last storm has lost the wind that propelled it Len Wein just writes another story creates another character all done without a hateful word towards his fellow creators.
Did you skip over that?
You’ve just being a dick?
Pick a side, pussy? Dick? Which one are you? You can’t be both, unless you pronounce your last name Kardashian.
Oh, and one more thing about being a “mentor” you might want to check with Walt Simonson as well. Walt came to my studio to see how I ran my mentorship program after accepting a teaching position at the School Of Visual Arts.
Fun fact: Rosamond Bernier did the same when she decided to add a young adult series to her career. I never assume anything, but I have a feeling you’ve never heard of her.
Google her; that may give you a small window into who you’re dealing with and at what level I operate.
You’re passionate about the industry I get that. I’ll be the first to tell you I’ve made many mistakes, and I own up to them.
Many years ago I labeled Bob Chapman a racist. I was young and hotheaded and saw things through a lens of bigoted pain. Bob isn’t a racist he and his family are the salt of the Earth.
I wrote and published Bob an apology the very next week when I was proved wrong. When next I saw him I did so in person then I found his wife and then so again. I was young and hotheaded, but I was not stupid. I was wrong, and I owned up to it.
You are wrong. Do the right thing.
You may think I’m writing this in anger. I’m not, this is far from reaching my level of rage.
I’m saddened by the amount of work you put into this was used to fuel yet another fruitless attack on for better or worse one of the leaders of our industry. You’ve added another reason comics get no respect. Hollywood should be our partners, but instead, we are their bitch.
Lastly, if you want to get black boys into your van, it’s easy. Simply tell them you’re a little pussy.