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:
YES. LET’S TALK ABOUT CHARLES BROWNSTEIN https://t.co/sYRY7xE8NI
— Jennifer de Guzman Strikes Again (@Jennifer_deG) June 19, 2020
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.
The CBLDF relies on support and signatures from creators. For the last few years I have responded to those requests by saying I cannot support the fund as long as Charles Brownstein is in charge. I suggest other creators do the same until he is removed. https://t.co/POky4Mer11
— James Tynion IV (@JamesTheFourth) June 19, 2020
Taken steps on this behind the scenes, but I'll say it publically – I won't be doing anything else for CBLDF until Brownstein is gone. And even then, I'll need to be convinced the organisation as a whole is worth supporting.
— Al Ewing Writes Comics (@Al_Ewing) June 21, 2020
I’ve done the same and will continue to do so until Brownstein is no longer heading the CBLDF. https://t.co/2fQ2i44Haa
— Pia Guerra (@PiaGuerra) June 20, 2020
I stand with @takisoma.
— David Marquez (@DaveMarquez) June 21, 2020
With every fiber of my being and as loud as I can scream it, I wholeheartedly stand with @takisoma and the other victims of the abuse that came from CBLDFs Charles brownstein and those that protected him all. these. years. https://t.co/t2SY8oS7eu
— BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (@BRIANMBENDIS) June 21, 2020
A little ashamed to admit that this is all news to me but good to know, moving forward I will not be supporting the CBLDF. https://t.co/t1t2JYReeP
— Wilfredo Torres (@mightyfineline) June 20, 2020
one hundred percent. it seems there is an unending supply of disgusting men in comics:( i am so sorry Taki and all his victims had to deal with this and the CBLDF's nothing response. shameful.
— Marc Andreyko – Writer of Stuff (@marcandreyko) June 21, 2020
Yeah, Charles Brownstein needs to go. Can't support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund until that happens… and even after that, a strong rehaul of appropriate practices will need to be the immediate next step. Otherwise we need a new organization. https://t.co/Xkax1vltIW
— Aleš Kot (@ales_kot) June 20, 2020
I just learned today about Charles Brownstein’s past actions and I am deeply disappointed that he is still in charge of the CBLDF. I very much appreciate the work they have done on my behalf, but I will no longer work with them as long as Brownstein remains in charge. https://t.co/1FYTtvXfIb
— Lilah Sturges, Kindness Lady (@LilahSturges) June 20, 2020
— Jamal Igle, ANTIFA Shop Steward, Local 2814 (@JAMALIGLE) June 21, 2020
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.
I've been living under a rock for years since MS diagnosis, been quiet for so long. Then this, and others I'll retweet and comment after this, I feel strength from and wow, I'm ready to emerge from under the rock. Thank you. https://t.co/MsVnEW7UAT
— Taki Soma (@takisoma) June 21, 2020
Yes. There were other victims. I know them. They have my support.
I can't thank Brian enough for this. Thank you. https://t.co/Bk8ncV5H1W
— Taki Soma (@takisoma) June 21, 2020
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:
He harassed me 10+ years ago when I was deputy dir. Of the CBLDF over my severe illness & subsequent Crohn's Disease diagnosis to the point that my doctor advised me to quit. I resigned w/ a detailed letter to the board. No response from any of them. 1/
— Mike Scigliano (@mikescigliano) June 21, 2020
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.