One month ago, writer Ales Kot took artist Mitch Gerads to task for supporting "American Sniper" Chris Kyle. In a long series of tweets, a theme emerged; a call to action:
Speak out? Stoke the fire? The Outhouse was happy to oblige. That's the one thing we're best at. So when Ales Kot implied that writer Nathan Edmondson might be a homophobe...
We reported on that too, and we asked Edmondson to comment on it (he ignored us). Ales Kot wanted the fires stoked, to expose sexism in the industry. Kot told journalists to dig and uncover the truth, taking a journalist from a site called Vixen Varsity to task for not digging into the story:
Kot wanted journalists to uncover something, but so far, a month later, nothing concrete has surfaced about Edmondson or Gerads beyond the fact that they appear to hold conservative political beliefs. There are no specific accusations of wrongdoing that anyone has been able to turn up on the people Kot mentioned, and Kot hasn't mentioned anyone else. We don't know where to look.
Kot continued to tweet, encouraging people to speak up and go public:
And again, that's where we can help. We can report on what Ales Kot says, slap a loud headline and a catchy graphic on it, and reach a bunch of people. We love an opportunity to expose abusers to the public. We're totally on board! Just tell us who to expose.
It seemed, to us, that Kot had promised to do just that, when he tweeted:
That was one month ago. A "massive abuser" is "on the prowl in comics," Kot said, something that no one thinks should be allowed to continue. And Kot seemed to want this story uncovered, to want person outed publicly. As do we. "If no-one comes out in a month, ask me again."
And so, here we are a month later, stoking the fire, fanning the flames, trying to act, as Ales Kot called on all of us to do just yesterday:
Silence is deafening. Silence is consent. Speak up. Act. We hear the call. The time has come to ask Ales Kot again, as he said to do if the abuser was not yet revealed. What does Ales Kot have to say?
Don't get us wrong. That you shared what you know with "people who deal with these things professionally" is a good thing, honestly, and we respect your choice to not put your own career, or the identity of victims, in jeopardy by naming him publicly and facing potential retaliation and legal trouble. Sharing that info with lawyers or the proper authorities is the right thing to do. You're absolutely right when you say that silence is consent. It's the responsibility of anyone who knows about an incident to report it, and we have no issues with you going that route.
But "linkbait?" What exactly is the difference between your tweets and our articles, and how is this not exactly what you asked for? Is the deafening silence of the rest of the comics media on the fact that there is someone alleged to be "a massive abuser on the prowl in comics" preferable to a parody website earnestly bringing attention to the issue in a faux-sensational way? If you didn't want people to be riled up about this, why did you tweet the way you did?
We honestly don't get it. Maybe we misread what you were trying to say.
If you've gotten the impression that we're flippant about this, Ales Kot, you've got us wrong. We may be goofballs, but we're dead serious about exposing sexism and racism in comics, and if we knew the name of this person and the deed they committed, we would publish it, right here and right now (while respecting the privacy of the victim). And then the rest of the media would publish it as well. If the information comes out eventually, we still will.
But folks, it doesn't look like that's going to happen this weekend. Hopefully someone is doing something about it behind the scenes, but we know all too well that the industry has a history of trying to cover things up. We'll continue to keep and eye on it and look into how else we can make a difference.
In the meantime, I'll echo Kot's other advice to comics pros, because a misunderstanding between us about intentions doesn't change the goal we share:
Our door is always open. May the bridges we burn light the way.