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In a tumultuous week in which allegations of sexual misconduct against well known comics figures poured out on social media, former Dark Horse editor in chief Scott Allie was once again the subject of assault allegations.

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The story came this time from Shawna Gore, a former publicist and editor at Dark Horse. In (CW: assault) a harrowing account on Twitter, Gore laid out a history of sexual assault and harassment that lasted for 14 years, beginning with a van ride with fellow Dark Horse colleagues during which Allie sexually assaulted her. The harassment continued for her entire career at Dark Horse:

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Over time, Scott’s physicality with me and pressure to be sexual with him continued, but it became part of the fabric of our everyday existence. I learned how to live with it.

Allie was previously the subject of abuse allegations in 2015 when it was reported that he bit and groped male comics creator Joe Harris at the Hilton bar in San Diego. Allie’s actions at that time were partially attributed to a problem with alcohol. While Allie stepped down from his position as editor in chief, after entering rehab he was kept on as editor of some of Dark Horse’s most prominent books, including Mike Mignola’s Hellboy series, and Gerard Way’s Umbrella Academy.

While numerous past and present Dark Horse employees had complained about his behavior, it was widely believed that the now sober Allie had turned a corner by addressing his substance-abuse problems.

However, Gore’s account makes it clear that the issue was not just alcohol, as her assault took place when he was sober.

As someone who suffered physical humiliation at his hands more times than I can count, and whose career was impacted in numerous ways by his turbulent feelings towards me– none of which involve his drinking problem– I am speaking up now to say that Scott has not changed because he has not yet addressed the things he has done that were not related to drinking. He has done no work. He has paid no dues. And his actions over the long span of his career have deeply  impacted the work of industry professionals who deserve better and deserved to be believed. 

Allie started working at Dark horse in 1994 and was named editor in chief in 2012, with a move to executive senior editor in 2015. He stepped down from that post following reports of the Harris incident, and left the company in 2017 but continued to freelance edit titles and co-write BPRD: The Devil You Know with Mignola.

Even in a span of days in which industry notables Warren Ellis, Cameron Stewart and Jason Latour were accused of alleged abuses, the Allie story immediately stunned the industry. Shortly after Gore’s story was posted, Mignola announced he was severing ties with Allie, and Dark Horse soon followed, although, notably, their tweet stated “Dark Horse supports Mike Mignola and this decision. More to come.” with no mention of Gore.

Many Dark Horse employees also took to Twitter to detail more accounts of abusive behavior by Allie. Former editor Jim Gibbons declared that “Scott Allie is far and away the most despicable, abusive, and awful person I’ve ever worked with. The amount of trauma he’s caused the people who have worked with him is extreme.” Another former staffer wrote that “Scott Allie’s continued abuse of staff was an open secret employees were actively discouraged from speaking about at Dark Horse. While head of editorial, he was not allowed to have women in his office w/his door closed bc he repeatedly shouted or otherwise harassed staff to tears.”

Jay Edidin, another former Dark Horse editor, wrote several lengthy Twitter threads about Allie. They are quoted here with his express permission.

Whether or not other DH folks knew about this shit, Scott’s lack of boundaries and the extent to which he used his position to manipulate and punish women in editorial who didn’t do exactly what he wanted were common knowledge while I was there. Scott Allie cost Dark Horse Comics an entire generation of up-and-coming female editors; and an entire generation of female editors their comics careers.

Here are some things I have never said publicly:
-Scott is why I left Dark Horse.
-99% of what I’ve said obliquely about grooming, toxic work environments, and abusive mentors is about him.
-I am STILL concerned about how saying any of the above may impact my ex’s career at DH.
It is impossible to exaggerate the amount of institutional power he had at Dark Horse, how systematically he undercut and in some cases destroyed the careers of the women around him, or how little DH cared. Understand: You are seeing the tip of the iceberg. The intersection of having worked at DH and the kinds of journalism I’ve done mean that people come to me with stories. I’m not going to share those; they’re not mine TO share. But know that there is so. Fucking. Much. More.
One of my more vivid memories of my time there involved another assistant editor mentioning how helpful they’d found a book on emotionally abusive relationships as a framework for navigating DH professionally.
(I wonder how many women Scott helped break into comics over the years, only to subsequently do the professional equivalent of leaving us chained up in its basement.)
A few more things: If you know me, it should tell you something that *I* felt like this was stuff I couldn’t talk publicly about and am physically shaking typing out even now. I can’t overemphasize how effectively Scott manipulated the power dynamics in that editorial department, or how vulnerable the women he recruited were. We were all very young–early 20s–felt super lucky–and, critically, had very little experience in professional environments.
I was 23 and Autistic and moved across the country and it was my first job outside of academia; and the stuff he did was so normalized that it took YEARS even after I left to step back and recognize what was retrospectively a long linear pattern of grooming and retaliation. And he was so, SO good at using us against each other. And at cultivating relationships he could use as shields. If you worked with him and didn’t see this: that’s not your fault. And, g-d, he was so good at convincing us that we were the problem. It was like being locked in a room where the floor was randomly electrified and being told over and over that you were the one setting it off.
Anyway. If you were a creator I worked with at DH and you want to talk about any of this or verify versions of things he told you, i can try to do that? i know of a handful of people he specifically lied to about me or projects involving me, + some i pretty strongly suspect.

After her statement, Gore, a respected editor who is currently senior editor at Oni Press, was showered with support from the comics community after coming forward. But soon, many other professionals spoke up condemning the fact that Dark Horse and Mignola had continued to work with Allie despite seemingly well-known problems with abuse.  In fact, when the Harris incident was reported, it included many statements from past and present Dark Horse employees with similar accounts of Allie’s misdeeds. A sample.

Scott’s conduct at conventions and in other professional settings is widely known within Dark Horse, and many have witnessed it directly. Several staff members have gone through internal channels to stem the behavior and have been met with assurances that the problem is being properly investigated and taken care of, but no further action has been spoken of, and greater emphasis is routinely placed on the need for employees’ silence. The lack of visible reprimand leads us to fear Scott will continue to hurt people.

After widespread outrage over their continued relationship with Allie after the Harris incident, both Mignola and Dark Horse released longer statements.

Mignola posted on his website:

About Scott Allie—

Scott was my second editor on the Hellboy series at Dark Horse. He was only meant to be my temporary editor, just for the one comic (THE CORPSE) and a more senior editor was supposed to take over after that. But, as the story goes, he saved me from making a rather big mistake on that one comic and I requested that he stay on as my regular editor, and we ended up working together for something close to 25 years.

From the earliest days I heard stories of his drunken behavior at conventions—stupid stuff like jumping fully clothed into fountains. It was joked about and I was not aware that there was anything at all more serious going on.

The drunken incident in 2015 made it clear that there was a much more serious problem that needed to be dealt with. I spoke to him about it. Others spoke to him about it. He agreed that the drinking was a problem and we were all led to believe he was getting help for that. And to the best of my knowledge he DID get help for the drinking problem. 

Around this time I started to hear rumors of other past incidents—alcohol-fueled behavior that seemed limited to drunken, juvenile pranks. There was nothing specific and I never heard the names of any specific persons involved in these other incidents. I continued to write these off as just more of his stupid drunken episodes. I became aware that some people did not like working with Scott. While our working relationship had always been good I know his editorial style could be aggressive and off-putting and I honestly believed this, coupled with the past drinking problem, was the reason for the trouble. The truth of course is that after a very long and very productive working relationship I did not want to believe there was anything more to these stories. I was blind because I wanted to be blind and that’s on me and it’s something I have to live with.

After the news about Cameron Stewart and Warren Ellis broke last week, Scott’s name started to bubble up on social media again. Until yesterday I had never heard about Scott’s assault of Shawna. I wish I had known.  I understand there are many reasons why no one would approach me with something like that—the shame and embarrassment of course and, sadly the perception that Scott and I were good friends. Had I heard any of what I’ve heard in the last 24 hours I would have severed all contact with Scott Allie at once.

But where there is smoke there is almost always fire and after a while there was so much smoke—clearly I had to finally take a hard look at the situation, had to contact some friends and associates, people who had been close to Scott and find out what had really been going on—and I was horrified but what I started to hear. I wish I had asked this questions much sooner. After so many years I wanted to give Scott the benefit of the doubt—as the son of an alcoholic I wanted to blame the booze. I was fooling myself and I will regret that forever. My heart goes out to all his victims. And Shawna—I have known Shawna almost as long as Scott and have always considered her a good friend– and now to discover that she has been living with this all these years — I am heartbroken. And of course I am furious at Scott and at myself for not realizing what was going on so much sooner.

I’m writing this now because I need to address Scott’s victims. Their stories need to be heard. They need to be believed.

Comics need to do better. We all need to be more accountable. All companies need to have responsive HR departments. Companies need to recommend training about what to do when they hear about assault, harassment, or inappropriate behavior from co-workers or colleagues.

As a creator I need to do better, I need to set a better example, both in the stories I tell and the people I choose to tell them with.  

M

Late yesterday a statement from Mike Richardson was released:

Statement from Mike Richardson re: Scott Allie in full below.

I believe Shawna Gore. I want to sincerely apologize to Shawna. To my employees past and present, I am also deeply sorry for decisions I have made that have allowed so much hurt, anger and sadness. 

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It was quickly pointed out that these policies are generally already legally required and that Richardson had made similar pledges in a statement in 2015.

It would be impossible to capture all of the responses from comics industry figures, but one seems worth noting. Artist Amy Reeder had a pointed reply to Mignola:

You were the reason he still had a job, they feared repercussions from you. Maybe he manipulated you, I don’t know. All I heard is, they couldn’t fire him because it’d cause Mignola to leave and the entire company would fold. It was tough to hear that about a fellow creator.

In my own piece about Allie’s 2015 incident and the comics industry’s history of toxic harassment, I wrote:

I also know that someone with a history of blackout drunk episodes of harassment should not be made editor in chief. That is a social position, a leadership position and it needs someone who can handle that part of the job. Allie is no longer EIC so maybe things are being righted.

Joe Harris going public with this incident is powerful because we know he wasn’t “wearing a short skirt” or “asking for it.” He was just doing what is part of a freelancers job description: socializing with other industry professionals in a relaxed setting. It’s ironic that this incident, of all of them, didn’t even involve a female employee. I did not know of the history of [Allie’s] problematic behavior that Janelle reported on. But if even half of it is true, then this man should, for the good of himself, Dark Horse and the comics business, have never been put into a leadership position in this industry.

While abuse of power is by no means limited to comics, we’ve put far too many abusers into positions of power in this industry. But comics do have one thing that many other industries don’t: a powerful sense of community and (if I may allow myself one shred of an optimistic thought in these dark days) an overall desire to do well by that community.

I’ve been on the phone, on DMs, and Zooming with countless industry colleagues over the last few days, and if there is one thing I’m certain of, it’s that everyone I know is doing a lot of soul searching right now. Myself included. I don’t know how I could have helped Scott Allie’s victims more in the past when management seemed intent on ignoring the real human cost of his actions.

But we can try our utmost to make sure that there are no more Scott Allies in the future. And it starts with all of us asking for accountability from those more powerful, and acting with compassion and respect to those less powerful. I stand with Shawna Gore.

If you are a U.S.-based victim of sexual assault in need of help, contact RAINN at 800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. Richardson needs to leave Dark Horse, or the company needs to close. At this point, they have proven that they can’t be trusted and don’t have their employees best interests at heart. it’s a failure all the way at the top, and the lack of accountability here is frightening. I know I won’t be supporting them any longer.

  2. Denis: Calling for Dark Horse to close up shop is a bit much. At a time when the industry’s second biggest publisher is actively looking to pull out of the direct market, killing a company that by most metrics is a top 5 publisher is extremely short sighted.

    In no way am I downplaying what happened here, but I don’t want to see another comics publisher close up shot at a time many smaller publishers are probably hanging by a thread. Scott Allie has damaged the industry enough, lets not let the idea of “revenge” hurt retailers, creators, etc. further.

    The thing to remember about people like Allie is that they manipulate people. In no way am I “forgiving” people like Richardson & Mignola, they deserve the consequences of their (in)actions. But calling for a comics publisher to close completely as a result of this is CancelCulture at its worst and is, frankly, extremely short-sighted in my view.

  3. ” I was blind because I wanted to be blind and that’s on me and it’s something I have to live with.”

    I think that statement sums up how every man and woman in positions of power choose to deal with high performing employees and collaborators who are problematic, abusive towards others and all around terrible humans. As long as they deliver the goods professionally they’re seen as too valuable to lose and anything will be enabled and swept away. Corporate world to small time indie comics. We need to fix that and change our mindsets about talented people being too valuable to ever be held accountable.

  4. 1) Never trust a man with a perm.

    2) This is why I have no compunction about pirating comics.

    3) We need stories like this about individual comic shop owners and employees. The harassment in that realm of the industry is monumental. In many shops, owners or employees will begin to openly masturbate behind the counter if a female enters the store. Social movements like this need to protect working class women, not just those with creative jobs. MeToo’s biggest mistake was that it never addressed the waitresses and bartenders that get harassed on a daily basis. There was never a discussion about eliminating the tip wage (which essentially promotes sexual harassment). The comic book world can’t make the same mistake. It needs to become safe for women to even enter a comic shop, to go to a convention, and it currently is not.

  5. Rodney: Any Comic Shop that isn’t welcoming to ALL customers is going to die a swift death shortly anyway. I don’t mean to say that to downplay your comment or anything like that, but the reality is that the comic shops who are able to sell to as wide of an audience as possible are best set up to confront the current and future economic reality of book retail. Comic Book shops who do not promote a welcoming environment to all fans/customers were already going the way of the dodo, but the pandemic is likely to speed that up considerably.

  6. Mike, that’s not really true. Outside of major metropolitan areas, comic shops often have a local monopoly; If you want to buy comics at a brick and mortar store, there’s only one option within reasonable driving distance. And since the overwhelming majority of comic shop customers are male, a store’s treatment of women doesn’t make much of a dent in the bottom line.

    As men, we don’t really get to say “women aren’t treated badly at comic shops” because we have never been in a position to experience it.

  7. “As men, we don’t really get to say “women aren’t treated badly at comic shops” because we have never been in a position to experience it.”

    If I’ve never seen a woman get treated badly at a comic shop, I’m allowed to say so. This whole “X doesn’t get to say Y” garbage needs to stop.

    And one of the underlying problems here is that comics, like a lot of entertainment, is a transactional relationship business. You don’t get jobs based on merit or any sort of critical evaluation process. You get jobs because of who you know or who you are, which is what enables all of this bad behavior.

    Mike

  8. All this concern about the industry’s harassment and exploitation of women would be more convincing if the Beat would stop hyping the T & A comics from (mostly) Dynamite: Bettie Page, Dejah Thoris, Red Sonja, Vampirella, etc.

    What a shock that comic-book guys see women as sex objects, and as prey, when they grow up with a steady diet of that sort of trash.

    The Beat should refuse to run articles promoting those comics.

  9. Sorry MBunge, simply because you, a man who has never had to worry about sexual harassment in a nerd setting, have never seen a woman being treated badly doesn’t mean it’s not happening. You don’t get to dismiss literally thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of stories that women have told about being treated poorly in nerd spaces. Your opinion on whether or not it’s happening carries zero validity, because you have never been and will never be the target of it. All you have to do is shut up and listen to the (entirely too long) line of victims who are currently speaking up. Dismissing them is a big part of the problem. At this point, it’s simply willful ignorance, and should not be tolerated. Learn, and do better.

  10. Chris: Never did I say “women don’t get treated poorly in comic book stores”. That’s putting words in my mouth that simply aren’t true. I have little doubt that women have been treated poorly by some comic book shop owners and/or employees, as men and women get treated poorly in a variety of customer-facing businesses.

    What I am saying is that the comic book shops that have that kind of attitude or encourage/tolerate that behavior are dinosaurs that will be out of business sooner rather than later.

    Still, no comic book retailer is a monopoly now. If a female fan is treated poorly she has a plethora of options to still read comics. Comixology, mail-order, trades through book stores, etc. I’m not excusing that behavior, but your post makes it seem like if a female fan wants to enjoy this hoppy she has no recourse but to keep going to the very store that makes her feel uncomfortable or like crap and that just simply is not true.

  11. George: I doubt very highly men decide to treat women like crap because of a cover of Red Sonja. Stop with this cancel culture mindset. Men who treat women like crap, usually do so because as a child/teen they witnessed that behavior and it was considered “normal” in their minds.

    Do I love the T&A covers that Dynamite does? No, but I find it funny that you seem to think that comics written by the likes of Mark Russell and Christopher Priest are outwardly hostile to women. Especially since anyone who has read an interview of Russell or Priest (or read any of their prior works) would understand they are two of the most open-minded writers in this industry.

  12. “All this concern about the industry’s harassment and exploitation of women would be more convincing if the Beat would stop hyping the T & A comics from (mostly) Dynamite: Bettie Page, Dejah Thoris, Red Sonja, Vampirella, etc.”

    Have you ever READ those comics? They’re actually pretty good with strong female characters who stand up for themselves and overcome usually male adversaries.

    And I hate to break it to you, Chuckles, but MEN LIKE LOOKING AT ATTRACTIVE WOMEN. Women also like looking at attractive women. That’s not me saying that. That’s literally every product that’s ever been made and sold saying that. Go check out how much female skin gets shown off in your average issue of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, or any other female-oriented magazine.

    Mike

  13. “Learn, and do better.”

    Do you think anyone reading your pathetic virtue-signaling lectures is going to be persuaded by being told to “shut up and listen?” You don’t actually care about any of those women or their problems. They’re just an excuse for you to polish up your little self-righteous halo.

    And by the way, there are literally thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of stories out there from men who claim, WITH JUST AS MUCH EVIDENCE, that they were brutally screwed over by their ex-wives in their divorce. The suggestion that women are the only ones who get treated badly in life or in comics is genuinely moronic.

    Mike

  14. Mike W: I don’t what else to say. Richardson is the founder, publisher, and figurehead of Dark Horse. As pointed out above, he made similar promises when Allie’s behavior was first brought to light years ago. he still paid the man as a freelancer and essentially sheltered him from consequences. In doing so, Dark Horse lost great talent, and caused pain to many more. This isn’t about revenge, this is about routing out bad actors in the this field. If Richardson won’t accept full responsibility for this and step down, the publisher has to go. Also, the DH playbook of licensed, foreign, and creator-owned has been followed by Boom!, Oni, IDW, and Dynamite. I don’t think the industry would feel the loss of DH quite as hard as you seem to think.

  15. IDW appears to be in rough financial waters. They may pull out of it, but I’m not at all certain of that. Oni might be safe, but without the Rick & Morty books who can say for sure? Dynamite seems fine, Boom! appears extremely healthy.

    Still losing Dark Horse would hurt the industry, they remain one of the stronger indie publishers going right now and have strong brand recognition, even amongst the DC/Marvel only crowd.

    I think Richardson needs to make changes, but I would rather he step back than close the company. Perhaps Karen Berger would be interested in taking on an expanded role as the new CCO/face of the company?

  16. I wonder if MIgnola or Richardson could do something real to help these victims that have come forward? You know, such as pay them work on a comic book? Pay them for a new comic of some sort? Both men supported years and years of abusive behavior, both men have apologized (just as Richardson already did in 2015), so now how about something real? Words are easy, and often aren’t enough.

  17. It’s like cops: You can have all the proof in the world showing the problems but as long as those in power choose not to — or can’t — hold them accountable, well, pretty much nothing’s going to change.
    Dark Horse’s zero tolerance policy: I mean, god, you need a formal policy (specially after implementing said policy a couple of years earlier) not to fucking assault people? Really? And I don’t mean in a #MeToo era, I mean EVER.
    As for alcoholism: Sometimes you quit and get sober, and sometimes you quit and your left a dry drunk which to say sober but still with the problems created by drinking. So Allie being sober doesn’t really eliminate that as a factor (but just makes it a different problem causing his behavior.
    It’s a complicated world with no simple answers. But it starts with open eyes.

  18. No trial, no hearing just “We believe Shawna” Not the most fair or impartial way to make a decision, but at least they aren’t calling for him to be executed. It might be right and true, or it might not be. But sooner or later one of these accusations is not going to be true, so where will that person go to get his life back? Or is it simply that all men who are A) Men and B) in Power are automatically guilty? Makes me wonder who in the industry isn’t doing this?

  19. Being an alcoholic and sexually assaulting woman and treating employees like dirt are not mutually exclusive behavior. The people at dark horse kept blaming it all on his drinking because it looked sympathetic and keep the money rolling in. Which is what they we’re worried would stop every time these allegations popped back up. You don’t need to be drunk to assault someone. And it demeans everyone who’s ever struggled through a substance abuse problem and never behaved this way by continually bringing up they thought it was the booze.

  20. Mark – interesting take-away you have regarding Scott A.
    You’d be one of the yanks rolling up in Dachau in 1945, and going: “these German soldiers haven’t done a thing as far as I am concerned, until there’s been a trial and a hearing. Even H-man himself in his bunker is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law!”
    Idiot!

  21. Hey Mark, how did you get to the bottom of this page and completely avoid the majority-male creators whose testimonies are recorded here, to pretend this is all about the one woman creator who reignited the controversy surrounding Allie that should not have waved away by a false appeal to alcohol abuse?

  22. No, Remco and Salah, I read the whole thing. That being said I’m going to keep pointing out that mob justice isn’t justice at all, not in the long run and sooner or later the idea that the accusation is automatic proof is going to hurt an innocent person. And yes Remco, there has to be -and there was- due process. One of the reasons for the trials at the end of ww2 was that when the Germans were rounded up the question of what to do with the came up. Stalin had the idea of just killing them all, this would allow him to kill anyone he wanted (which he could sort of do anyway) and make sure that the only ones left were the ones who would form communist governments loyal and obedient to him. Churchill realized what he was up to and that is one of the reasons the trials were held, bringing into focus that these were not monsters, merely men and women who found an easy way to be evil. Read the ‘Banality of evil’ sometime. If you’re going to drag historical analogies into a conversation then you should know a bit of history.

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