Creative Team Quits After BORDER TOWN Writer Accused of Sexual Misconduct

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Profile photo from Esquivel’s now private Twitter account.

Another incident of abuse has arisen in the media, this time involving Border Town writer/creator Eric Esquivel. The Vertigo series had been acclaimed, but its continued publication is questionable after the rest of the creative team has quit the book.

Over the weekend, toy designer Cynthia Naugle posted a harrowing account of her abuse at the hands of a man she called “X”. According to her post, “X” began an abusive sexual relationship with her when he was her manager at a comics shop in Tucson, AZ. You can read the entire account in the link, but trigger warnings are definitely called for, as the extreme physical and emotional abuse she describes is truly disturbing.

While Naugle did not name “X” in her blog post, the details matched only one person: writer Eric Esquivel. Naugle later confirmed his identity with other sources. According to her post, she had written to Esquivel to confront him about his actions, but his reaction was to write a hasty and trivial apology. He then deleted all of his social media accounts except his Twitter, which he turned private. It was after this that Naugle took her account public.

As the account circulated on Twitter, several other people stepped up to say they also had had inappropriate interactions with Esquivel and that rumors had been circulating about him for a while. In addition, several incidents involving misconduct by Esquivel were posted on Facebook, adding to the picture of someone whose troubling behavior had been circulating for some time.

Border Town launched earlier this year to general acclaim. Drawn by Ramon Villalobos with colors by Tamra Bonvillain, the series dealt with racial tensions, a supernatural invasion and the Latinx experience. While Esquivel has been on the comics scene for quite a while, the book was seen as a huge break for him. As year-end lists were compiled, he was being named a future star.

All of that has ended with the growing list of misconduct by Esquivel.

While neither DC nor Esquivel has responded to the allegations, on Wednesday night Bonvillain and Villalobos spoke out on Twitter and announced they were leaving the book. Bonvillain announced that she would no longer be working on the book after issue #5 and hinted that it probably wouldn’t go on much longer.

 

 

In her Twitter stream, Bonvillain also revealed that Esquivel had been the subject of a prior complaint.

Artist Ramon Villalobos also spoke out:

And Bonvillain continued:

And asked if the book would be cancelled she wrote:

According to Graphic Policy, SBI Press, a small publisher that recently put out work by Esquivel, has severed ties with him and they confirmed to The Beat that they will be making a statement.

DC Entertainment has had no public response to the allegations, not even a “we take these accusations very seriously and are investigating” type of statement that has become a boilerplate in the #metoo era.

We’ve reached out to DC for comment and will update when and if they respond.

In conclusion, industry professional Tea Fougner wrote an excellent Twitter thread about the difficulty of dealing with the abuser in our midst whose behavior is masked.

The fact of the matter is that the people who are most vulnerable to predators are also often the people who are least likely to have accessed a whisper network– new to a community, friend group, or industry, with fewer connections and more impressions yet to be made.
They’re often people from marginalized groups who don’t feel as comfortable in the social circles used for communicating about these things, or who have a harder time finding their way in.
And if someone new has a question about a person who has more power, or more friends, or is better reputed than they are, they’re not going to necessarily know who they can ask without taking a major social– and even career– risk.
It is SO important in creative communities to help newcomers feel safe and comfortable and respected and heard– and not just feel that, but BE that, and have the resources to address it if at any point they aren’t.

The courage that it took Naugle to speak out about this is immense and as an industry we need to support her and other victims without reservation.