After an Internet post alleged misconduct by one of its employees, Dark Horse Comics is at the center this week of an ongoing online discussion about sexual misbehavior in the comic book industry.
It started when Graphic Policy published Thursday an article by Janelle Asselin accusing longtime Dark Horse editor Scott Allie of "misconduct at conventions and other professional settings." Asselin quoted anonymous sources who allege Allie was "known" for "out of control behavior while drunk," and she included one named source — cwriter Joe Harris, who alleged on the record a seemingly drunken Allie "grabbed" his crotch and bit his ear at during a BOOM! party at San Diego's Comic-Con International in July.
Other unnamed sources allege that Allie was so drunk that night he was "crying" and allegedly licked the face of former Dark Horse and Oni Press employee Tim Wiesch. (Wiesch hasn't confirmed the report, but some websites have noted that he posted on Twitter the night of the party, "maybe you shouldn't lick someone's face at a comic con," although Wiesch didn't direct the Tweet toward any named individual.)
At the time of the incident, Allie was editor-in-chief at Dark Horse, after having served as editor of critically acclaimed creative efforts at the company like Hellboy and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But in September, Allie was removed from that position and replaced by Dave Marshall. Dark Horse said the editorial shake-up would allow Allie to "refocus his efforts as executive senior editor."
The same day as Asselin's article, Allie issued a statement on Comic Book Resources, saying:
"I’m deeply sorry about my behavior at San Diego Comic-Con 2015 and I apologize to everyone I've hurt. I'm completely embarrassed by my actions and how my behavior reflects on Dark Horse Comics, my friends and family. My personal approach and decisions for managing stress were bad. Dark Horse and I have taken the matter very seriously and since this incident, we have taken steps to correct and to avoid any behavior like this in the future. Although apologies can’t undo what has happened, I’ve tried to apologize to everyone impacted by my behavior. To my family, friends, co-workers, and to the industry -- please know that I am truly, truly sorry."
Asselin's article also called out Dark Horse as a company for allegedly ignoring Allie's behavior and "harboring" him.
Dark Horse president Mike Richardson released a statement Thursday via The Beat stating that Dark Horse has an open-door policy that encourages reporting of misconduct, and responded directly to allegations concerning the company by saying:
"I also want to make one thing very clear: Dark Horse as a company, and myself as an individual, take the kinds of inexcusable incidents reported by Ms. Asselin very seriously — doubly so when it involves one of our employees. In cases such as these, we have been proactive in our response, with a variety of professional services involved, all with the goal of changing behavior. Additionally, a number of internal responses are acted upon, including termination if such behavior continues. Under no circumstance is any individual 'harbored.' In this particular case, action was taken immediately, though we did not, and cannot, perform a public flogging, as some might wish."
The allegations have renewed public discourse on various comic book-related websites about the history of sexual misbehavior in the comics industry, as the demographic of both readers and creators has grown more and more diverse over recent years.