Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

December 20, 2013

MariNaomi Writes About Being Harassed During A Convention Panel; Harasser Scott Lobdell Apologizes

The cartoonist, artist and essayist MariNaomi wrote a first person account of being harassed during a comics convention panel that everyone tangentially involved in comics should read here. The person doing the harassing was later identified as the mainstream superhero writer Scott Lobdell, who apologized in a statement published here.

Together with the letter published at from a cartoonist who received an aggressively solicitous letter from a fellow professional, MariNaomi's piece should signal an end to most attempts to paint comics' failures in this area as simply flashes of bad decision-making in a social sphere from outliers conditioned by quirky comics culture to believe certain behaviors justifiable. The letter is an awful thing in and of itself but it also represents likely hundreds if not thousands of similarly conceived and toned e-mails sent and received. MariNaomi's experience was awful in and of itself but it also represents hundreds of uncomfortable experiences you can see referenced on a lot of cartoonists' twitter feeds and other accounts the week following every sizable show -- and even more that are never referenced at all.

I'm sorry both of these things happened, both for the experiences as described and for the unwanted intrusion that comes about with having to process it. I'm glad these two incidents of many were brought forward in this way, and applaud those that did so.

I hope that rather than dissecting these events or using them as a platform to place ourselves into a fictional construct whereby there was a different outcome or however folks express their anger that we also consider the broader issues in terms of how we all participate in a culture of harassment: from horrifying incidents like these to even mostly benign elements of that culture like the general attention paid young female industry members and cartoonists by older males to all the things in-between, like the reluctance to call into question the behavior of friends and business partners in the moment. We can all do more. As a set of public professional events I hope that all conventions have a harassment policy in place by 2014 and that each one is publicly endorsed by the show-runner; I hope that all companies and entities will revisit their harassment policies to see if they're doing the best they can in that area. I think that's a start, not a solution. There really are no solutions, but a set of reasonable standards backed by a sub-culture's collective will can change things for the better. Because every incident is important, that also means every improvement is a positive.
posted 1:54 am PST | Permalink

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