Earlier this week, we reported on the arrest of artist Roc Upchurch of the hit Image Comics series Rat Queens after Bleeding Cool broke the story. Though some readers have claimed that the matter was private and should not be reported on, we believe that a criminal matter that has been publicly commented on by both parties involved is of interest to our readers and it is our duty to report on it. For more on why something like this is "news," I recommend this post by Megan Purdy at Women Write About Comics. We don't take joy in reporting on things like this. I'd love to never have to write a report like that ever again. Nevertheless, The Outhouse will never shy away from reporting on something because we like the people involved, like their work, or just find it unpleasant.
Anyway, Rat Queens writer Kurtis J Wiebe has made a statment on his blog, and announced that Upchurch will no longer be drawing the book. Here is his statement, reprinted in its entirety:
This is a difficult and upsetting statement to write. I couldn’t have imagined something I love so dearly would become connected to domestic violence.
After a few days of reflection and going through a roller coaster of emotion, I’ve realized I’m not angry about this revelation. I’m deeply saddened. When you work with someone so closely on a project that is so personal, you are much more than creative collaborators, you become friends that feel like family. I have a lot of love for Roc Upchurch, I’ve spent a lot of time with him, at conventions and signings and quiet times over dinner when the crowds have gone away. Shannon and I have spent time with his wife, whom we admire greatly. With everything that has happened, I still care about and love Roc and my greatest hope is that in all this there is an opportunity to find help and for healing to take place in his family. They are never far from our thoughts.
I’m not a stranger to domestic abuse. I know that keeping abuse a secret and being afraid to speak about it are why so many people suffer in silence. It is a topic that needs to be openly talked about and there needs to be a feeling of safety and acceptance for those that come forward with their stories. It is why I am addressing this news rather than burying my head in the sand.
I know many readers are asking the ultimate question: What now? I was on vacation with my family when the news broke and I’ve spent the past few days debating what to do. Rat Queens has always meant a lot to me. I’ve poured my heart into the series, and through it I’ve shared my life, revealed my fears and insecurities and it’s helped me cope with lifelong struggles of body image and confidence.
I want you to know that Rat Queens means the world to me on a personal level and my mission for the series is unchanged. I want to write stories about women that I see in my everyday life, about friendship and to make comics that include and embrace diversity.
As of today, Roc Upchurch will no longer be illustrating Rat Queens. This is going to be a transitionary period for the series as we rebuild and prepare for a new start. I am committed to Rat Queens, to stand by what it has always been praised for and to prove to the fans that they weren’t wrong in loving it.
Thank you for your understanding in this difficult time.
Kurtis J. Wiebe
As a Vancouver resident, I encourage contacting Domestic Abuse Services to learn how you can get information about abuse or make a charitable donation.