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.
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:
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.
We believe Shawna Gore. Effective immediately, Dark Horse Comics will not be working with Scott Allie now or in the future. We apologize to fans, creators and employees for all the damage and hurt Scott has caused. More: pic.twitter.com/kFWEqZUj6J
— Dark Horse Comics (@DarkHorseComics) June 25, 2020
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.
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.
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.