In the wake of last week’s spate of sexual misconduct accusations and revelations within the comics industry, allegations made back in 2006 against Comic Book Legal Defense Fund executive director Charles Brownstein have resurfaced. As a result, numerous creators have taken to social media to rescind their support for the CBLDF, and to denounce the organization for having taken no action against Brownstein in the nearly 14 years since the sexual assault allegations were first made public.

Brownstein’s name came up again on Friday when writer Jennifer de Guzman, in a discussion of revelations regarding the actions of creators like Warren Ellis, retweeted a thoroughly-investigated Comics Journal article from 2006 that detailed Brownstein’s alleged sexual assault of cartoonist Taki Soma:

Following de Guzman’s signal-boost for the article, dozens of creators retweeted the piece, saying they were pulling support for the CBLDF, with some saying they had done so privately years prior in response to the allegations.

https://twitter.com/MrTylerCrook/status/1274406137635332096?s=20

For her part, Soma, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2017, tweeted about how the bravery of those coming forward with their own stories of assault, grooming, and misconduct have given her the courage to be more vocal about what happened to her. Soma also indicated that she knows of other victims of Brownstein’s behavior.

In response to Soma’s account, Mike Scigliano, who served as CBLDF deputy director in 2008-09, also came forward, tweeting that he’d been harassed by Brownstein over a chronic illness during his time with the organization:

Charles Brownstein has been the executive director of the CBLDF since 2002. According to the CBLDF site, Brownstein is also chair of the Banned Books Week Coalition, and a member of the Media Coalition board of directors (though a look at their site doesn’t show him listed). It’s unclear if any of these organizations are aware of the allegations made against Brownstein at this time.

The CBLDF is a highly-influential group in the comics industry, serving to protect the first amendment rights of creators, publishers, and retailers. Offhand, a list of the CBLDF’s current board members, which includes Reginald Hudlin and Paul Levitz on the executive board and co-chair Neil Gaiman, Jim Lee, and Frank Miller on the advisory board, can be found here.

UPDATE 06/22/2020 10:47 pm: Charles Brownstein has resigned as executive director of the CBLDF.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Glad to see The Beat finally admit this after covering for him for years. I guess you’re finally deciding to “make things better here and now”.

  2. So when does some heat start to fall on Jim Lee in all of this? He had to have known about Brownstein and even if he didn’t, he had to have known the damn company he runs employed Berzanga, Harras, Lobdell, etc.

    I can forgive Miller and Gaiman since I doubt at this point they have any strong connection to the industry and probably sit on the CBLDF board more as a title, than doing any actual work, but Lee sticks out like a sore thumb in all of this.

  3. Steve Flack: You have a link to support that. Admittedly, I don’t follow CBLDF news much, so in no way am I doubting it, just genuinely curious.

  4. Hmmm, well I hope one of the 5 (or so) remaining comics journalists dig into this. In no way am I saying I don’t believe the Gaiman accusations, but I don’t consider Twitter a reliable source of information. Certainly if true, it’s not a great look for Gaiman, Miller, Levitz, etc.,

  5. I stopped donating to the CBLDF around fifteen years ago when they threw their weight behind Christopher Handley, Seems like it was a prudent decision.

  6. With all of this going on and more and more revelations I wonder if any young female will ever want to be a part of the comic book industry. It’s almost akin to going into politics where ethics have to surrendered for the political career. I wonder if any career in comics can be built without running into something like this?

  7. Mark: I don’t think it will steer that many female creators away. I doubt the current generation of female creators wasn’t aware this stuff was going on when they were breaking in, only now with social media they have a mega-phone to bring attention these issues that previous generations of female creators never had.

    If anything, this could force the industry to act more professional and weed out some of these bad apples. Jim Lee being confronted on why he kept Bezanaga around and keeps Harras employed should only lead to a better environment for female creators moving forward.

  8. Just so we’re all clear, the allegation is that Brownstein got completely drunk off his ass and groped an adult woman in a hot tub 14 years ago?

    Mike

  9. The allegation is that 14 years ago, Charles Brownstein assaulted a woman, and never faced any consequences, and was covered up by some of the biggest names in comics.

    I’d say that’s a big allegation.

  10. Bigger names spent much longer covering for Julius Schwartz’s unwanted grabbing and kissing women young enough to be his granddaughters. I believe Heidi M. has mentioned this in the past.

  11. Damn, I love to see the Left eating it’s own! Still sad that anyone is ruined over a clearly coordinated media smear campaign by one woman.

  12. I’m sorry, but on Charles’ behalf – I think this is a big sham. EVERYONE knew about this incident fourteen years. It was widely reported and Charles had previously apologized for it and we all moved on. If this was taken to trial, it would be referred to as double jeopardy. Why do we have to relive through this bullshit a decade and a half later?

    I’m not on personal first name with Charles, but I do know of him and I remember him from the mid-nineties at several comic book industry related events in the Los Angeles area back when he used to publish his fanzine, Feature and back then he wasn’t in the greatest of health. He was severely overweight and he used to walk with a cane, but he always acted cordial and professional with whoever chose to interview with him and you never heard complaints about him then.

    Whatever health problems he had, he overcame his ailments and strived hard in life to get to the place where he is/was today. So why don’t some of you cancel culture lemmings take that into some consideration before going all mob crazy on him?

    ~

    Coat

  13. So, to be clear, 14 years ago someone got drunk and grabbed an adult woman’s breast. The police were called and said it sounds like a misdemeanor and asked the victim if she wanted to press charges, she said no. Now, 14 years later, people feel this person should lose their livelihood? This isn’t about justice, the police asked the victim if she felt justice needed to be served, she declined. But why should anyone be surprised that mob rule as decided to continue their favorite quarantine hobby of cancelling people. SMH.

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