Tagged: Shelly Bond

Joe Corallo: Terrified

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.

To quote Sinead O’Connor, “Fight the real enemy!”

Martha Thomases: The Same Old Same Old

Superman Sex Discrimination

This has been a week of heart-breaking news, at least for me. No, nobody I know died (at least as of my deadline), but I hate all the stories coming out of DC Entertainment. No more Shelly Bond? Are they crazy? And Eddie Berganza? I remember meeting his cute kids. What the hell happened?

And that’s before we even get into conjecture about who this is supposed to be.

I don’t want you to think that by talking about Eddie’s kids that I am in any way suggesting that his accusers are lying about him. It’s difficult enough for a woman to stand up and make the accusation. No one does that for kicks. Rather, I’m suggesting that harassers (and their victims) are more complicated than just one type of action, no matter how vile. If anything, if we think that harassers and rapists and other creeps can only be entirely and stereotypically evil, we won’t recognize them in time to protect ourselves.

Instead, I want to talk about the institutional biases, assumptions that are so deeply ingrained in our culture that we don’t even notice them. In this case, it’s sexism, but we could be talking just as easily about racism and agism and homophobia. And I want to talk about it, specifically, in the entertainment industry, of which comics (especially DC and Marvel comics, both owned by major movie studios) are definitely a part.

Hollywood has a reputation for being “liberal,” whatever that means. People like Steven Spielberg and David Geffen and George Clooney raise a lot of money for Democratic candidates, and from this, we are supposed to infer that they are “politically correct” (whatever that means) in their personal lives as well. Maybe they are. I don’t know them. I do know that most business deals in Hollywood are conducted among people who feel comfortable with each other.

Most of us feel comfortable among people who are like us. It’s sad, but it’s true.

I’m not exempt from this. When I was a kid, I lived in a small Ohio city that was only 2% Jewish, but we all lived within the 16 blocks or so that I lived. It was quite a surprise to me to go to Connecticut and find out how many different kinds of Protestants there are. I didn’t even notice how Caucasian my freelance writing life was until I had to get a job doing events for a large department store and met African-American retail executives. When being around white people all the time is what one has always done, it’s difficult to notice how limiting it is.

In entertainment, cis white men (often from the same few Ivy League colleges) are used to being in meetings with other cis white men. They get each other’s references, because they’ve lived the same kinds of lives. That’s why their parents sent them to those schools, so they would meet each other and make friends and be successful together.

Hanging out, doing business with and generally only seeing people like yourself does not fill a person with empathy. To me, the best illustration of this is Swimming with Sharks. When I worked at DC, a friend was having a terrible time with her boss and I suggested we see this movie, since the reviews said Kevin Spacey plays the world’s worse boss and I thought that might make her feel better. Instead, Spacey’s character was almost exactly like her boss.

If your industry is based on an “old boy’s network,” intentionally or not, it’s very easy to decide that sexual harassment is just flirting gone wrong, no big deal. Or that it’s just some woman who was jilted and now wants to sue for a big payday. There are no women in the room to offer another opinion.

For the entertainment industry, it will probably take more than simple soul-searching to make the necessary changes. Even though Pitch Perfect 2 was one of the most profitable movies last year, and Selma got rave reviews, most studios give very few directing jobs to women, and two aren’t giving any. The number of women who can green light a movie is small. So is the number of women who can green light a comic book series.

What can we do about this? I would urge men who consider themselves to be allies to speak up. Don’t let your silence pass for agreement when you see shitty behavior.

It’s not easy to push people out of their comfort zone. Hell, I have trouble pushing myself to get into pants most days, much less notice how many important issues I’m not noticing. Part of the price of privilege is that I have to pay attention and deliberately seek out other points of view.

Am I successful at this? Not often enough. But every day is another chance to get it right.

Joe Corallo: Eddie, Are You Kidding?

Wonder Woman

A lot has happened recently at DC Comics. They’ve announced plans for their Rebirth which drew mixed reactions – including from myself a couple of months back. They went on to announce a talent workshop with the idea of being able to bring in some fresh faces in comics to help breathe new life into their properties. Then earlier this month they announced a new imprint called Young Animals headed by Gerard Way, which I and many other people praised. Things coming down the pipeline from DC Comics seemed to be showing promise and certainly the return of titles like Doom Patrol have me excited.

Then last Thursday happened.

First, news broke that Shelly Bond, Executive Editor of the Vertigo imprint who had been with the imprint since its inception, had been let go as a result of “restructuring.” Vertigo editors will now be reporting directly to the top brass at DC. Many creators who have worked with her expressed sadness in seeing her go and wished her luck in her future endeavors, which is expected. Then, something slightly less expected happened.

Not long after the Shelly Bond news broke, a discussion began on Twitter revolving around why DC would let go of an editor beloved by many while keeping an editor on board who has a history of HR problems and had openly engaged in public sexual harassment. The person in question was outed as Superman group editor Eddie Berganza.

The Outhousers were one of the first to report on this. They pointed out how Bleeding Cool reported on his very public harassment of a woman at Wonder Con in 2012 that led to a demotion shortly after. Recently, Janelle Asselin (as reported in The Outhousers link above) stated she had filed a complaint with HR about his behavior back in 2010 (she originally stated 2011 then corrected that in her tweets), that DC to her knowledge did nothing to remedy the issue, he got promoted and it helped prompt her to leave the company. We not only have her word to back up this claim, but the timeline also fits with the editor credits in the comics that were coming out. It’s important to note that no one from DC Comics as of the time I’m writing this has denied the claims made by Bleeding Cool or Janelle Asselin.

Additionally, other creators like Sophie Campbell have named Eddie Berganza directly as a reason she turned down a freelance gig on Supergirl. Others have come out saying that Greg Rucka has agreed to return to Wonder Woman only if he didn’t have to work with Berganza, and it appears that Berganza will not be editing the title but rather the Bat family group editor will. I have not seen any statements directly from Greg Rucka to back up if that is the full story. Additionally Alex de Campi has been cited as almost naming Eddie Berganza, and the person and their title that she describes in her piece linked does sound like it’s almost certainly Berganza, but stops short of naming him. Other outlets such as DC Women Kick Ass (where I found the above image from as it’s just perfect) have written powerful opinion pieces on this as well.

So why is Eddie Berganza still editing over at DC Comics?

Some may argue that Eddie makes money on the Superman titles while Shelly was heading an imprint that hasn’t been very profitable in a long time. It is true that Vertigo’s heyday was years ago, and DC Entertainment had recently dedicated a quarter million dollars in advertising for Vertigo with little to show for it. However, comparing Vertigo to the Superman titles is hardly an even playing field.

Superman has had other group editors while the titles were doing much better, like Mike Carlin, whose success with The Death Of Superman has yet to be matched, and that was over 20 years ago. And Mike Carlin did go on to become executive editor, like Eddie Berganza did, but certainly Mike Carlin had more to show for it. Eddie Berganza even oversaw a drastic drop in Supergirl sales under his watch back in 2007, in which he’d go on to pen an awkward column blaming the readers, and specifically women readers, for the books poor sales. Oh, and that incredibly embarrassing editorial mess where DC claimed that “Pakistanian” was a language? That was Eddie Berganza, too.

Certainly Eddie Berganza has done some good work though, hasn’t he? Well, yes he has. During his brief reign as executive editor we saw the implementation of The New 52. Love it or hate it, it did start as a financial success and not only created successful series with Geoff Johns and Jim Lee on Justice League, brought back Grant Morrison to Superman with Action Comics, launched Scott Snyder into comic superstardom with his run on Batman, gave Brian Azzarello a mainstream comics comeback with Wonder Woman, but it also brought back many older and experimental titles with surprising success such as I, Vampire, All-Star Western, and Animal Man which launched Jeff Lemire’s mainstream comics career.

Perhaps these successes have elevated Eddie Berganza to being someone that is viewed as an invaluable asset to the company, despite past shortfalls with titles such as Supergirl and editorial disasters like “Pakistanian.” The New 52 also saw the diminishing of the Vertigo line as titles that previously may have ended up there such as Swamp Thing and Animal Man went back to the main DC universe.

This is not written as a defense of the behavior being called into question. It’s just to highlight why he may still be there outside of legal reasons like his contract which may or may not be hard to do anything about, we don’t know. As Heidi MacDonald highlighted at The Beat last week, the idea that Eddie Berganza has blackmail on anyone is simply not true. However, Heidi did find that several sources confirmed to her that there was at least an informal policy that no women would work with him physically in the Superman office. Women were still able to work freelance on the books. This is a shocking and disgusting revelation, but also as it was a seemingly informal policy it’s hard to tell if any legal wrongdoing was actually done by this, and if women were denied equal opportunity. I suppose we’ll have to see if people come forward on that one way or the other.

Everything above this are the facts and insights from people close to this issue or have sources close to it. To help you understand where I’m coming from and what’s informing my thoughts on this, I’d like to tell you about some of my experiences which – to be clear ­– have all been outside of the comics community. Not because I want to, but because I think it’s important.

Over the course of my life I have experienced cat calling, including being cat called while on the phone with my grandmother as I walked down the street. I have had countless unwanted advances and I’ve been the victim of sexual harassment and sexual assault. I’ve been flat out asked if I’d be interested in sexual services for money, been groped, and more. I’ve been told by friends, good friends, about how so-and-so is just “handsey” or “that’s how they get when they’re drunk” or “that’s just their sense of humor.” I’ve way more often than not have been confronted with the notion that I should really be reflecting on my behavior before I jump to conclusions. That is not okay. It wasn’t okay years ago, and it’s not okay today.

I don’t like talking about this. Actually, I really hate it. I get anxious just typing this and knowing other people are going to read this. But it’s important for people to know that these things do happen. It’s important to understand that people allegedly committing sexual harassment or abuse aren’t a monolith. They are single, in committed relationships, have kids, have a loving family, have great jobs, great friends, they may know you, they may not. They aren’t everyone, but they could be anyone.

Pressing charges or suing aren’t always options. Just because I didn’t call the cops to have to sit there and be asked demoralizing questions doesn’t mean I wasn’t demoralized. Just because I didn’t decide to go into a long drawn out lawsuit to get my name dragged through the mud or worse doesn’t mean someone didn’t do something really shitty to me or anyone else. Dismissing victims for not pursuing legal action is narrow minded and needs to stop. And it’s certainly not appropriate with respect to Eddie Berganza, should these allegations bear out.

I’m writing this piece because I saw this story break, I think it’s awful, and it reminds me of things that have happened to me and to others I know. I’m writing this because far too often we feel it is only appropriate to discuss someone sexually harassing or assaulting someone if it’s just happened and not a moment later, and it’s not right. I’m writing this because it’s important to listen to victims because in this case it is not merely “he said she said” it’s “he said they said.”

I’m writing this because workplaces need to be safe spaces. If your company claims that diversity is important, that company has a responsibility to make the workplace safe for everyone. Having someone with a reputation like Eddie Berganza’s on staff while the Janelle Asselin’s of the world leave, or the Shelly Bond’s are let go, creates a less safe space. If you aren’t dedicated to making your company a safe space, then any talks about being dedicated to diversity is just that; talk. Which is especially troubling to think about when DC is currently running a Talent Development Workshop. How many women or other diverse creators have seen what’s been going on with DC since last week, seen the lack of a response from DC, and are now thinking twice about applying? How many people are now applying with the thought that if they end up making it far enough to get a freelance gig out of it that they’ll tell DC “just don’t make me work with Eddie Berganza?”

And I’m writing this because we need to keep discussing this. We can’t let this story fade away with last week’s news. We need DC Comics to know and understand that these are issues that are too important to turn a blind eye to. People need to make statements to address what’s going on.

Even if those statements come down to the fact that this is an issue that has been taken care of internally and that they pledge to be striving to make DC a safe space for its staff, it still needs to be addressed to their readers. DC Comics needs to know that things have changed since 2011, and this kind of shuffling around sexual harassers in the company and protecting them will not fly in the future.

I don’t know what the legal issues are for DC regarding this matter. I don’t know what Eddie Berganza’s contract states, or if these allegations have even been investigated. I don’t know if DC is even in a position to do anything about this situation at this time. But I do know that it’s important for us, the readers, to make sure that DC does not put their personnel or anyone else in this position.