Earlier this week, we reported on the strangely missing threads about Eddie Berganza on the Comic Book Resources forums, which were a response to the naming of Berganza in tweets from people including Nick Hanover, Jennifer DeGuzman, and Janelle Asselin as a senior DC Editor with multiple reports of sexual harassment on his HR record which were responded to by DC Comics, allegedly, by preventing women from working in Berganza's department (a difficult to believe rumor that The Beat says is actually confirmed by multiple sources), in addition to a demotion that many view as a "slap on the wrist." The naming of Berganza was followed up by new allegations against a senior art director at DC Comics. After the missing threads were pointed out to the website's front page editorial department on social media, the threads were restored, with CBR Managing Editor Albert Ching stating:
CBR, which had at that point not run an article on the Eddie Berganza story that broke the previous week, published one later that day, which Ching said he had been working on since Thursday:
Just one day later, however, the website found itself the subject of another controversy. On Tuesday, Graphic Policy ran an editorial by regular CBR columnist Joseph P. Illidge. The editorial was generally positive-minded and non-controversial, urging fans to help guide the publisher through its moral troubles:
I have boycotted DC Comics before, but I will not do so now.
I know that heroes operate within their halls. People of bright spirits and the best of intentions write, draw, and utilize their artistic gifts to contribute to a mythology that has finally found global respect and greater impact along with its global visibility.
You and I, if we want a better comic book industry, can be the moral compass for this damaged company.
However, according to Graphic Policy contributor Elena Levin, the column was "too hot" for CBR, as she wrote on her Tumblr:
CBR was scared to run this column about harassment
Joseph Phillip Illidge is a renowned former editor at DC Comics who now has a column at CBR. This week's commentary was about the fact that DC comics continues to employ men who sexually harass women.
For some reason CBR decided not to run Illidge's column this week. I guess they're not a real news site. Thankfully my homebase @graphicpolicy stepped up and offered to run his piece. It is definitely worth reading because it is by someone who knows DC Comics inside and out and as a black writer and editor he has very valuable perspective to offer.
Nothing he says is particularly controversial. He's not making any wacky accusations. He's even against a boycott. He has some valuable points about DC's corporate structure that need to be addressed (that's why I posted this with a photo of Diane Nelson the President of DC Entertainment).
So why did CBR refuse to run his column about harassment?
Why indeed? Was it trouble in the ranks? Cover-ups? Payola? Blackmail? Well, it might have been a little bit more mundane than that. We asked Graphic Policy siterunner Brett Schenker about the editorial and how it came to end up Graphic Policy. Schenker told The Outhouse:
I saw Joe's Tweets about wanting to run the column and that it needed a site to run it. Alex De Campi was awesome and suggested us before I even had a chance to reach out to him. I jumped at a chance to run something Joe wrote. He's one of the folks I really respect and I value his opinion that much. And since I run and own the site, the decision and approval was rather simple. Their loss is our gain.
As Schenker said, Illidge, when originally looking for a home for the article, tweeted:
Asked if it was related to CBR's relationship with DC Comics, Illidge responded:
Today, responding to questions about the piece, Albert Ching said that it was Illidge's decision, not CBR's, to take the column elsewhere:
We reached out to Joseph Illidge, but he declined to comment on the reason the piece was not run at CBR. Illidge noted that he still writes for the website, and it doesn't appear to us that there's any bad blood between Illidge and CBR.
But CBR's troubles on Wednesday weren't limited to Illidge's editorial. In the Twitter thread to which Ching responded earlier, comics blogger Chase Magnett reported that moderators are continuing to remove individual posts on their forum related to the disappearing Eddie Berganza threads:
Ching responded, explaining that the original threads had been restored, but didn't mention the new deletions:
We reached out to Albert Ching for further comment, asking both about CBR's commitment to investigate the sexual harassment story as a whole, and on the deleted posts. He told us:
CBR will continue to investigate both the Eddie Berganza situation and the new allegations against a senior art director. If a post is deleted from the CBR Community it should only be for the same reasons a posts on any subject would be deleted.
In other words, it shouldn't be because the post makes CBR, or Eddie Berganza, or DC Comics, look bad. Ching also said he was looking into the reports of new deleted posts.
So what's the takeaway from all of this? Are big comics media sites trying to cover up this story on behalf of big comics publishers with whom they have strong relationships? It's actually not quite so simple.
It's not surprising that it would be more difficult to run an editorial about this topic at CBR than it would be at Graphic Policy (or at The Outhouse). CBR, which was recently purchased by Valnet Inc., is one of the biggest comics sites in the world. Graphic Policy is run, as he told us above, by Brett Schenker. It doesn't take a journalism degree to figure out that Graphic Policy can approve an editorial on a controversial topic more easily than CBR. Organizational inertia ensures that the larger an organization is, the slower it will be to pivot on an issue like this. While social media users and smaller websites could pivot quickly when Eddie Berganza was openly named, bigger sites like CBR, or Newsarama (which finally published it's own story yesterday), move more slowly.
That's not a bad thing. It's not a good thing. It's just the way things are.
The fact is, big comics sites are not going to lead on this issue, and we're not expecting them to. As we reported earlier this week, this story is being driven by social media, and even uncharted venues such as Patreon, with traditional media following. And that's okay. As long as traditional media does cover the story, they are contributing legitimacy and reach, and that's an important part of all of this. We all have our roles.
We're glad CBR has been actively responding to criticism and, where needed, setting things right, as in the case of those original deleted forum threads. We hope CBR, and other big comics sites (we're looking at you, ComicBook.com), will continue to investigate this story and help bring perpetrators of sexual harassment in comics, and the corporate structures that protect them, to justice, and create a comics industry that's safe for women and treats everyone equally.
That's something we all need to stand together and demand. And that's why we can't let this story fade away. Keep talking about it on social media. Keep writing about it on your blog or website. And keep holding the media accountable as well. If we all work together, we can make a difference.