So I’d written earlier that the UK comics writer Warren Ellis, was accused by a lady writer of exploiting her years before. Now, CBR’s got more on that emerging allegation, and at least 3 plaintiffs spoke up:
Ellis’ statement comes in the wake of writer-publisher Katie West’s allegations that he solicited her for nude photos and sent sexually suggestive texts when she was in her late teens and early twenties. West made the allegations on June 16 on Twitter, but has since deleted her thread. In its place, West posted a new thread, stating in part, “Yesterday I posted about men abusing their power in the comics industry to groom, emotionally manipulate, have sex with, or serially Bluebeard young women. My intention was to protect young women from being harmed by these types of men in the future… I didn’t say my personal experience with these men was abusive, I said they were all men who abused their power.”
Hours after West posted her now-deleted thread, The Parlour Trick creator Meredith Yayanos shared her own experiences with Ellis in a separate Twitter thread. “I need to quickly say something about my dear friend [Katie West],” Yayanos wrote. “She is one of the most ethical and compassionate people I know, and everything she is saying about Warren Ellis today is spot-on.” She also called out the people “actively defending a serially exploitative and emotionally abusive straight cis white dude with a long history of grooming, coercing, collecting, and using young women.”
Writer-editor Jhayne Holme also replied to West’s thread, with screencaps of emails Ellis sent her in 2009. “I stand in solidarity with [Katie West]. My #MeToo story of Warren Ellis is backed up with an archive of hundreds of emails and photos that spans years. We were prey yet didn’t know it, because we were so, so young,” she wrote.
The screencaps she included show two emails from Ellis. In one, he wrote, “39…27…38. I always said you had the body of a showgirl. Now you have the body of a GENETICALLY ENGINEERED showgirl.” In another, he said, “I remember how you moved under my hand.”
There is one part I take issue with. Even if that was meant as an insult out of anguish, why must the 2nd one call Ellis a “cis white dude”, as though his skin color and fact he’s a biological male matter? (This whole “cis” slang is honestly reprehensible too.) What, a guy pretending to be a woman can’t possibly be exploitive and abusive? That’s awfully naive when you start that kind of absurd virtue-signaling. Also, what about Bill Cosby, now biding his time in a prison circa Norristown, Pennsylvania? Or do these people intend to forget and obscure just how serious the now disgraced comedian’s crimes were?
Anyway, barring that silly comment there, what Ellis said about his hands in the emails certainly sounds creepy, and if he was taking advantage of the first accuser for photos that weren’t even done through the oversight of Playboy, of course that’s disturbing. The CBR article notes:
Ellis is a popular comic book writer, whose previous works include Astonishing X-Men, Planetary, Nextwave, Red and the “Extremis” story arc from Iron Man. Notably, his original series Transmetropolitan involved an often abusive relationship between its protagonist Spider Jerusalem and a teenage girl. In recent years, Ellis’ focus has shifted outside of comics, most notably his work as the writer and executive producer on Netflix’s popular animated series, Castlevania.
Regarding this, I noticed somebody said in the comments:
This makes me really sad. Warren Ellis is my all time favorite comic book author. Well… now I guess he “was” my favorite. I hope he is genuine in his appology. Although, the whole “I didn’t realize how famous and powerful I am” bit really reminds me of Louis CK’s “appology.”
I have a concern about something said here though. The article refers to “an often abusive relationship between its protagonist Spider Jerusalem and a teenage girl.” Are you talking about Yelena Rossini? Because that character is 24, not a teenager. What Ellis did is wrong, very wrong, but having false information in this article about child abuse could lead to people being suspicious about the rest of the article.
If CBR’s written inaccurate information, that’s irksome, but probably unsurprising, considering how badly they’ve plummeted in quality over the past decade when they were sold to another media source. That said, I’d previously mentioned the Kitty Pryde/Pete Wisdom affair in Excalibur, which Ellis wrote early in his career in the mid-90s. If memory serves, Kitty was characterized as something like 17 at the time, while Pete was at least a decade or so older. Now, if Ellis committed any misconduct, it’s not going to age well. I remember several years ago, I was at a convention where a paperback of Ellis’ work on Excalibur was on sale, and I’d considered buying it, but didn’t in the end. I can’t say I’m sorry now, and after this news, his run on the series will probably go out of print for a while.
All that said, if these were adult women (although the first one is said to have been a teen when they first met), is this actually as bad as we’re being led to believe? I came across pretentious Heidi MacDonald writing about this on Comics Beat, and there are some problems to how she addressed this, such as:
I’m afraid this simply isn’t a good argument. There are women who’re truthful about these issues, but there’s also those who lie, and the latter are what damage everything for the former. Some people in the comments made the following points:
You cannot “groom” adults. Stop using that term for people who are old enough to drink, smoke, or vote. It GROTESQUELY diminishes and trivializes children who have really been groomed by actual predators.
Wow. So it turns out the guy who had a decent amount of talent but built his career and persona on being “edgy” and “ subversive” and “pushing boundaries” didn’t conduct himself in his private life like a virginal high school freshman who just wants to hold hands? Shocking.
As someone who used to interact with Ellis online back when some of his accusers were probably in kindergarten, that apology is just sad. He’s either got a bad gambling/drug habit, made some spectacularly poor investments, or was never as successful as he pretended. Warren Ellis should have been able to write the best “sorry I’m an a-hole” statement of all time. That groveling mess of verbiage reads like exactly every other such apology ever made.
I can’t say I’ve seen many “apologies” by people like that which come off convincingly. Next:
Sorry, but I don’t think women should always be believed. There’s a long history of white women falsely accusing black men of rape and assault. In the past, this was used to justify lynchings and other racial violence.
I rarely agree with Mike, but he’s correct that it’s ridiculous to talk about “grooming” people who are legally adults. If grown men are having sex with underage girls (or boys), that’s one thing. But if they’re with women who are old enough to vote … sorry, it might not look pretty, but it’s not a crime.
In a perfect world, guys like Ellis and Stewart would be in long-term monogamous relationships with age-appropriate women. But that’s not the world we live in. And this is nothing new. Read up on Charlie Chaplin and his child brides.
BTW, it’s not just men who engage in “predatory” behavior. Every year, lots of female teachers land in jail (and lose their jobs) for having sex with underage male students. But the women Ellis apparently preferred were in their early 20s. They weren’t underage. They may have been stupid, but they weren’t children.
On this note, I wonder if MacDonald’s heard of Malka Leifer, a teacher at an ultra-Orthodox school in Australia who was charged with molesting at least 3 girls, and her Haredi clan’s leaders actually helped her flee authorities Down Under so she could try to take refuge here in Israel, exploiting a loophole in the law regarding mental illness she tried faking, while the then-health minister Yaakov Litzman, reportedly belonging to the same clan as she was part of, appears to have tried to falsify medical reports in her favor. Some private investigators blew the lid off the smokescreen, and the judge in the case ruled there’s enough evidence to determine Leifer’s fit for extradition back Down Under. The point is, much like the one given above, there’s women who’ve committed obscenities against other women and girls too, and MacDonald’s not really considering it.
If all these women were adults, and he had no influence or control over their careers then I don’t see the problem. Being a shitty person is not a crime.
Of all the allegations, the first one is certainly troubling, but if the rest were adults, then the accusations do seem exaggerated.
So what we are seeing is that Warren Ellis was a player who seduced women using his position and the charisma created by his reputation and influence. That makes him unethical, but it is done thousands of times. In the end it comes down to the women appear to have been adults. This is why we teach our daughters to beware men in power trying to seduce them, because the men are only interested in sex. This is something to be disappointed in Ellis, but it shows a lack of moral character, not a true menace.
I would argue that loving sex in itself isn’t wrong, so long as both ends are consensual. It definitely wasn’t in many of Harvey Weinstein’s violations, and he was one man in a very big power position, until he was finally brought down 3 years ago, and imprisoned this year.
I was never much of an Ellis fan, and I don’t particularly want to defend his deplorable behavior, but it is correct that “grooming” isn’t the correct word (although it is clearly an extremely fashionable word these days, being bandied about to violently that the word has become really creepy, and hence probably too volatile to be applicable here). I think we’re really talking “seducing”. As it appears, he basically slept with his groupies, just like a rock star (do we cancel all of those as well?), only with additional bits of deceptive sweet-talking, letting the female fans think that the relationship was deeper and more emotional than he really intended it. As I said, deplorable, dishonest, manipulative and unendorsable behavior, but not (yet) illegal, and not amounting to assault. It still takes two to tango. Feelings are hurt, but which woman hasn’t had that happen to her before? Lots of “normal” men are like that; in regard to women they are driven by physical rather than emotional gratification. The main problem is that men and women can’t communicate very well, and don’t understand each other very well.
Sadly, this often works to the disfavor of the woman, who is burdened with many unnecessary insecurities by society. Look at the standards for monogamy vs. polyamory and promiscuity – most women want monogamy most of the time, but this is an idea that the patriarchal society has inculcated in them in order to control their sexuality and confine them to the domesticity of the nuclear family. There is never going to be gender equality until women has as free, passion-driven and uncontrolled a sexuality as men do, so it is actually in all our interests to stop having monogamous expectations. What we need more of is honesty, love and tenderness. Free love is the way forward; the freedom to love more than one person at a time. Jealousies only come from insecurities. I realize a lot of women are simply too insecure and lacks the confidence to engage in polyamory, but it is this insecurity that we must fight by increasing gender equality and agency, and fighting toxic masculinity. But the way to fight it is not to be pro-monogamy. The way to fight it is to undermine the patriarchy as a whole and give women more power, better wages, fewer burdens, more confidence. Ultimately, the female of the species need to be the selector in the process of natural/sexual selection, not the selectee.
Well, I suppose that’s a good enough argument there (except for the part about “toxic masculinity”). And in all fairness, if Cameron Stewart was involved with women who were adults/legal age, those in themselves are not felonies, so it’s only in the case of those who were teens that moral questions must be raised. I know that in Canada, the legal age is 16 in many provinces, and in several US districts, it’s the same, so again, depending how you view this, it’s a question of morality and taste. But given that these are writers and artists who pandered to some very low denominators through the entertainment products they were putting out, that’s why it’s hard to feel sorry when the leftist ideologues they were pandering to wind up turning against them later on. What we certainly have here is a case of leftists being devoured by their own, unable to recognize that no matter how tasteless their pandering, it won’t prevent them from being dumped by the roadside by the liberal ingrates later on.
It’s possible the women accusing the two are doing it out of jealousy and revenge for not being monogamous with them, and honestly strange that the left suddenly believes monogamy is crucial in a heterosexual relationship. But, if anything, it all stems from the irrational atmosphere that’s risen in the wake of MeToo, where a woman can now apparently accuse a man superficially without due process, but if the liberal defendants here don’t want to confront how their own politics have led to this, they’ll never solve anything.
Meanwhile, Games Radar just reported that DC’s withdrawn a story Ellis wrote for an anthology:
DC has pulled a planned Warren Ellis/Jim Cheung story from the August 4 Dark Nights: Death Metal – Legends of the Dark Knights #1 anthology.
“The previously announced two-page story in Dark Nights: Death Metal Legends of the Dark Knights #1 by Warren Ellis and Jim Cheung will be replaced with a two-page story written by Marguerite Bennett and illustrated by Jamal Igle,” reads the announcement to retailers in an email sent out Friday evening.
[…] Ellis is currently writing DC’s The Batman’s Grave and is writer/executive producer of Netflix’s CastleVania. His previous comics work has been adapted into feature films and TV episodes (including his Iron Man ‘Extremis’ arc that formed the basis of Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3), and at various times he has overseen publishing imprints for Marvel Comics, DC, and Avatar Press.
Don’t be surprised if the Bat-book he wrote will be canceled, and if the IM story will lapse out of print. The 3rd IM movie may have been crummy nearly a decade ago, and this is certainly not going to make it any better. Ellis may have allegedly apologized for any misconduct he allegedly committed, but not everyone’s buying it, and his career may be getting washed up for the meantime.
Originally published here.