When is a story not a story? When is the story about a story actually the story? Well strap yourselves in because you’re about to find out!

As usual because I’m a night time writer, the Outhouse beat me to the punch so you can hop over there for the basics. But here’s the bullet points.

• About a year ago, writer Ales Kot started sniping at writer Nathan Edmondson and his Punisher artist Mitch Gerads on twitter about supporting right wing, racist causes. Details of that were screencapped and written up here. Edmondson was also accused of writing a crappy Punisher. But in more serious allegations, as hinted at in the tweets at the Outhouse, is that Edmonson has harassing behavior in his past, although nothing comes up on his internet profile except involvement in a right wing organization called The Leadership Institute, and some youthful credit card fraud. Edmondson is said to be protective of his Google trail however, which is perhaps why everyone hinting and warning about him won’t go “on the record.”

In recent years Edmonson seems to have gone on the “that guy’s an asshole” list, at least as far as hanging out at cons goes. Despite all the talk of secrecy in comics, there is a pretty well known list of guys (and gals and doubtless some in between) who are on this list for boorish convention and barcon behavior. It’s not illegal or usually actionable, just annoying and openly gossiped about. And of course the problem with this list is that one person’s asshole is sometimes another person’s friend. And none of this means Edmondson is a bad person or shouldn’t be allowed to sit with anyone during lunch.  This isn’t illegal or even enough to get you removed from creative gigs although sometimes it doesn’t help. I do know people who aren’t worked with any more by publishers after years of being That Guy.

However, what if That Guy works for a comics publisher? Perhaps a story for another time.

ANYWAY back to Edmondson and my bullet points that are already out of control. Although this is all non actionable stuff, the rumors go that Edmondson had acted in a more harassing way while freelancing for several publishers, and this behavior was known by all of them. Again just an unproven  rumor, not fact.

• Yesterday Edmondson was announced as the writer on Red Wolf, the revival of a Native American Marvel character, part of their diversity campaign. This immediately drew a lot of online alarm both because part of the “rap sheet” on Edmondson, and because white guy writing indigenous peoples character. AGAIN. The addition of a NA cover artist, Jeffrey Veregge, seems like a nice gesture, but many people were mad that a) someone with Edmondson’s checkered past had been given a gig on a “diversity push” comic and b) that a non indigenous writer had to be put on it at all.

• Now the bullet points are going to get a lot harder because the story now fragments into a zillion directions. Perhaps we should start with this piece by Loser City’s Nick Hanover, A Chorus of Silence: On the Impossibility of Reporting on Chronic Abusers in Comics, where he explains that he and a fellow LC contributor have worked for years on a story that would bust some of this stuff wide open:

For two years, David Fairbanks and I have been investigating predatory figures in comics. We can’t tell you specifically what about. We will probably never be able to tell you anything other than the fact that it involves allegations of sexual harassment, creative theft, nonpayment of collaborators and other bad behavior. That’s because the comics industry refuses to treat victims with enough respect to support them when they speak up about predators, who abuse their positions and instead of facing consequences for that are rewarded with lucrative gigs at major publishers. Like Marvel, which today announced that controversial comics writer Nathan Edmondson would be writing Red Wolf, a series with a Native American lead, featuring work and input from Native American creators, in turn angering industry figures aware of his alleged misbehavior:

Two years and no takers. Sobering, right? And here is some of the twitter chat about this matter, mixing the fact that Red Wolf is about a NA character with the Edmondson rumors.


Photo via Comic Related

• OK. So as you can see all of this is somewhat tied into the money and comics writing discussion we had earlier today. As Hanover wrote.

If the comics industry really, truly wants “proper” journalism and hard evidence of bad behavior by pros, then big comics creators and editors need to publicly promise to support victims who speak out. We fans and critics need to demand that key figures need to “support” victims in ways that go beyond shallow social media boosterism and buzzword heavy Tweets. They need to provide good comics jobs. They need to vow to employ whistleblowers, to defend them to other employers and force the industry to not restrict their careers. Maybe if enough pros promise that victims who speak out will never hurt for work in comics, then people will finally go on record.

Aside from the golden era when Michael Dean was employed by The Comics Journal solely to call people up and investigate things, there is no investigative arm of comics journalism at all any more. Rich Johnston, Tom Spurgeon, Comics Alliance and myself  all try a little bit here and there, but it’s mixed in with whatever else we do to make a living, so it’s not very sustained or focused in the way that it needs to be. I don’t want to romanticize the Ben Urich view of things, but when you want to be a great reporter like (to name an entertainment name, Kim Masters) you need time and funding and a dogged sense of what is the truth. As someone who was on the receiving end of Michael Dean a few times, and didn’t much like it, he was no poet, but he didn’t give up and he took notes.

I’m very sympathetic to Hanover’s piece, for reasons I’ll get to in a bit. But it does have what I see as a fatal flaw: there is absolutely no need to conflate, as he does, the “need” to support Red Wolf as an example of diversity, as opposed to supporting the work of someone who is on the Asshole (or worse) list. These are totally not related whatsoever, and saying that this is a “choice” of some kind is just an overinflated sense of “being an ally.” An audience that has a Pavlovian response to buy anything that smacks of diversity, no matter how cheesy, is just as ultimately forgettable as any other comics “trend.” And Zainab Akhtar just gutted this idea:

Cheryl Lynn Eaton (now not friends locked thank god) added:

• OKAY back to part two of all this, the lack of outlets brave enough to publish all the truth about the harassers in comics. Tom Spurgeon stepped up with this crowd pleaser.

BUT then like a party pooper he threw this in:


Funny how that tweet has far fewer retweets than the first one.

Comics other investigative reporter also stepped in:



So there you have it. I also reached out to several people said to have information on Edmondson and to date no one has responded, not even to deny it. I don’t doubt that Hanover and Fairbanks had some cooperation in their investigations, but apparently not enough to satisfy a mainstream publisher. As Tom alluded to above, you cannot publish these kinds of stories without names, dates, places and sources. As the disaster of the UVA rape story shows, when you disregard basics of reporting, you destroy the very thing you were trying to prove. Allegations need to stand up to a certain amount of scrutiny. I’m not saying it needs to be a full on nerd court with a trial and a jury, but it needs to be sourced and both sides need to be examined.

This “both sides” thing upsets some people. I’m not saying that a victim must be put on trial. But there is a wide open internet to publish blog posts, anonymous accounts and subtweets. Those can be just as effective or more effective than sourced journalistic reporting, as we’ve shown time and again.  But those tools can be used against anyone, justly or not. I’d hope that an intelligent, influential audience rises above the torches and pitchforks type of actions.

I’m not a fan of the comics industry’s long, long and WELL reported history of forgiving abusers and sexual harassment at every level. While I feel that comics is not the WORST business for this—hello internet start ups—it is probably the one that has been damaged the most by it. There is a slapdash  approach to human resources and human decency in the comics industry that has backfired time and again. And collateral damage is still coming in.

Now I know what you are asking right now: Heidi, why don’t YOU report these things? Simple. Time and money.  I do try here and there and will continue to try. There is a rather large story in comics brewing that I was going to report on until I was persuaded to let a larger site with more sources and resources, including legal backup, take the lead. That story has yet to appear anywhere. It is not easy, this stuff. It needs to be done properly.

But just as the Ents destroyed the dungeons of Isengard, this shit needs to be busted wide open.  The comics industry cannot fully move on to adulthood until its adolescent/frat house impulses are identified and put in their place. This may mean accepting that some of your buddies are engaging in unacceptable, perhaps actionable, behavior, and need to be held accountable. But that’s the cost of maturity.

• I’ll close this out with Tess Fowler, a past whistleblower who seems to have have (I hope) survived her actions to get a lot more much deserved work (including taking over Rat Queens, a series where the original artist was removed after his arrest for domestic violence.)  I think this is a good story in that Fowler’s considerable talent has won out, and she has seemingly moved on. I do not see whistleblowers inevitably being shunned, or harassers universally continuing on, but it isn’t as clear cut as it should be. She tweeted some thoughts on the whole matter that should serve as food for thought for all of us.


  1. As a artist in this industry. after a long day of work I like to wind down and read gossip and get into some mischief. Having been present at some of the alleged allegations of antagonism and first hand accounts not so nice naughtiness. The whole situation would be better presented in a comic book!
    The underhandedness, lies, corruption and betrayals, all within cliquish secret society’s would make for some damn good reading. We got the writers! let’s start lining up artists and making money instead of putting it out there for free.

  2. I really appreciated this break down of something I’d seen swirling around a lot on Twitter. I also agree with Spurgeon and appreciated the Rich Johnston tweets – it’s easy to toss around rumors on blogs, but I think everyone should hold themselves to old school journalism standards if they can, which means chasing leads, getting a source (even anonymous), and being confident before publishing allegations as truth. That isn’t to say this isn’t true OR that this story isn’t worth more digging, but I 100% agree with having reservations publishing allegations that aren’t directly sourced.

  3. I’m confused. Are you calling Edmonson a rapist?
    Or do people just not like him because he’s conservative? If so- YAWN.

  4. I’m gonna play devil’s advocate here (and frankly, I’m on the opposite political side of Edmonson) but:

    – isn’t all this a legal matter? We can talk how much we want about somebody’s behavior but if the victims don’t go to the proper authorities, what are theu searching for, another kind of self-justice?

    – what is the purpose of all this: to make it so that this kind of guy will never have any job ever available to him? Newsflash: if people can’t find a job and sustain a living, don’t expect their behavior to improve, it will not work! Now, I could understand if they guy was supposed to become the head of a firm with values opposed to his behavior, but here, he’s only writing a comics. Assholes and people who have been convicted can write comics, and I frankly don’t want to live in a world with, on one side “so called pure people who can work and do what they want” and on the other side “bad people” who can’t find a job and have limited freedom. People are not either 100% right or wrong.

    – on the fact that Edmonson is, as I understood it, a right-right wing guy, writing a comics on a native super-hero character. Well, let’s see what he’s gonna produce. If you make your memory time bubble work, you can probably remember how some others far-right writers have depicted for exemple how poor people were living in the streets, and they did it right. The guy can probably write something good, if he doesn’t let his political judgment take over. He’s a writer, it’s their job, they usually know how to do that. There are probably tons and tons of racist people handling a business who, in the context of their business, in their business relation to colored or foreign people, are not assholes and behave as they should, with all the courtesy they should. People are allowed to be assholes and racist in the privacy of their home, as long as they don’t hurt anyone.

    – so, this Edmonson guy has hurted some other people. Sue him for that, not for writing comics. He’s allowed to write comics, to have a job and make a living.

    Now, on the other side, because I don’t want to play devil’s advocate so much for someone who would have such an inapropriate behavior, it’s true that people who complain about such behavior for sure should not be put away or silenced, that’s a problem.
    And yeah, putting a far right writer on their first native ongoing super-hero serie in 40 years is either stupid from Marvel, or the controversy was exactly was exactly what they were searching for to advertise it for free. (even if I’m not sure that’s good advertising)

  5. @TheDudePerfect – I don’t see how you could genuinely read this article and think that it’s just about the guy’s political views. He’s been accused (unfortunately without specifics) of sexual harassment.

  6. “He’s been accused (unfortunately without specifics) of sexual harassment.”

    But he hasn’t actually been accused of that, apparently. People have talked about bad behavior in the comic business and then mentioned this guy’s name. That seems to be about it.

    And on another stupid subject, if stories about American Indians can only be told by American Indians then we can expect no such stories to be told. Should Steven Spielberg not have directed “Amistad?”


  7. Thank you for writing this, Heidi. I’m an outsider who likes to remain an informed consumer. I keep up here and on Comics Alliance and on Bleeding Cool (much as I loathe the sensationalist culture of the latter, there’s some genuine wheat in the chaff), because I want to make informed choices about the comics I buy. Sometimes that means making moral judgments based on where my money will ultimately be going, and that why I pay close watch to what little legitimate comics journalism I can find in the time I have to work with. Your work is pretty much the tops in my book, incidentally, and this article is the perfect illustration of why. I wish I had the teeth for journalism, but I can only wear so many hats, especially when none of them really provides particularly meaningful cash flow. ;)

    Down to the specifics here, everyone on the comments seems to be focused rather intently on Nathan Edmondson, and while he’s at the center of the article, it’s not about him at all. His story is certainly at the center of this, but seriously, read the article, the whole thing. This is a story about gossip, about the fact that this story *is* a void, either through lack of digging, people not asking the right questions of the right people, the right people not coming forward, or there not even being a story at all. It’s a snapshot of an insular industry that can’t progress, because it can’t talk about itself above a whisper. By all means, talk, but remember, this article is not fact regarding the writer in question. It says so itself many a time. It’s about the fact that the truth of the matter just isn’t coming to light, which is a damned shame if the cited rumors are true. As much as there’s a lofty cold, academic ideal to divorce the work from the artist, I can’t do so in good conscience. Maybe it’s a virtue, maybe it’s a failing on my part, but I don’t want my money going to someone who (insert specific act of unwanted advancement here, because I won’t feed into rumor-mongering by citing a nonexistent “for instance” out of a hat). But again, that’s all “if.” It’s all speculation without credible journalism investigating… credibly.

    It’s a very small pool of people with (as I understand it) a very small pool of resources, and that’s the problem. Credibility and integrity are at the heart of this matter, on all levels, from the rumors conduct to the reporting of it. And it’s eye opening and heartbreaking, all at once. Anyway… Bravo, Heidi, and thank you again.

  8. Thom – if this article isn’t about accusing Edmonson of ‘something’ which is heavily implied to be rape or sexual harassment but never explicitly stated (“Ha~! Take that libel!”) – then i’m not sure what it’s about.
    That’s all the article talks about.

  9. Jason – the only fact the article, it’s many links, and the Tweeters ever procure is “Edmonson is right-wing due to his former involvement in The Leadership Institute”
    If that’s the only fact, and everything else is heavily implied speculation (without an actual accusation, check yourself yo) – then I think it’s reasonable to conclude the sole Fact mentioned is possibly the reason for the continuance of the smear campaign.

    Jason- i hereby accuse you of burglary. Are you now, irrefutably, a burglar?

  10. I think the article was pretty clear and answered all of the questions from this comment thread.

    Nathan Edmonson has been accused of harassing behavior, but even if true it may not be criminal behavior. Immoral or disgusting perhaps, but not clearly criminal.

    After much digging, various comics journalists haven’t been able to get even anonymous confirmation that anything happened. The investigation continues, and maybe somebody will speak up. Hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know Nathan Edmonson, but in general such rumors are believable.

    Even if the allegations are true, there are only rumors as evidence. Considering the lack of evidence and the nature of rumors, they may be false. We’ve all seen rumors that were 100% false: high school was full of it.

    All this being the case (esp. even the rumors not necessarily alleging criminal behavior) then taking this to court makes even less sense. Xavier Lancel, you’re not doing much of a job as a devil’s advocate considering that Heidi’s article was essentially playing… devil’s advocate against assuming that Edmonson did anything.

  11. There is a native comic being published in the US right now, Magic Wind, a translation of italian Magico Vento series. It IS written by a white guy (not many native americans in Italy, you know), but deeply researched (yeah, they do that in Europe!) and quite excellent. Why don’t people buy THAT instead of complaining about Red Wolf?

  12. @MBunge – No one is saying a white person CAN’T write a Native character. But, if you want to do some research with me, we can find out how many white people in comics have written Native characters and compare that to how many Native writers in comics have written Native characters. I’m willing to bet those numbers are pretty disproportionate, and I don’t think that’s unfair to point out.

    Especially when Marvel themselves clearly knows this, and promotes diversity by having a Native American artist working on the book… as a cover artist.

    Sure, Spielberg can direct Amistad. The problem comes when we ONLY allow guys who look like Spielberg to direct stories about black history… which is what we did for a long damn time. Hence, problems.

  13. @TheDudePerfect
    No. That’s not all the article talks about; the article is a springboard for discussion about comics journalism itself. It is peeling back into the investigative process behind a very specific accusation and pointing out why nothing can explicitly be said or done. It addresses exactly what you’re criticizing it for every step of the way. I’m sorry if you take offense to its transparency.
    @Gene Ha
    Yes. Every word. Thank you.

  14. @Pedro – Better yet, buy Jay Odijik’s “Kagaki” or the Moonshot anthology ( ). Despite some of the hang-wringing going on in the Hanover article, going from the info available so far, Red Wolf sounds like pretty weak tea if indigenous representation or the support of Native American artists is a primary concern wrt putting down money for the book.

  15. Gene Ha is on the money.

    I don’t care what ethnicity the person writing about Native Americans is. The more diversity, the better. There are a lot of stories about straight white guys out there.

    Edmomdson…I’ve read a lot on this story and I don’t like what I’m reading. The guy’s character has been assassinated because of some stuff he MIGHT have done. Which stuff? No one knows. I have no doubt companies are protecting white straight dudes, but I’m also not entirely comfortable with everyone agreeing this guy is a POS without saying what he actually did. If I were to avoid every book written by someone who might have done something awful, I wouldn’t be buying any books. I’m not defending the guy, just saying talking about the bad stuff someone heard this guy might have done is kinda hard to get behind.

  16. We’ve let Frank Miller get away with this for forever, but Miller changed comics for the better.
    What has Edmondson done?

  17. @Thom. you write: ‘By all means, talk, but remember, this article is not fact regarding the writer in question’ – yet it seems pretty clear you’re going to boycott his work. Or am I misreading? (And what do you mean, you’re an outsider? Your context would be appreciated.)

    And you cannot be serious, saying this article isn’t about Edmondson, the rumours are the thread that runs throughout it. I’m really uncomfortable about someone being named, while no one is willing to come right out and make a specific accusation. Edmondson may be a deeply unsavoury person; no one is offering evidence, but that’s certainly the impression this piece gives. How would you feel, Thom, if you were the person this article was ‘not about’?

  18. Hi, Martin. By “an outsider,” I mean just that. I’m a consumer of comics, not an industry professional. My day job involves book distribution but has nothing to do with comics specifically, and I moonlight on stage and serve on the board of a local theater company. I can send you my résumé if you like, but it hardly seems relevant. ;)

    And I mean just that when I say the article isn’t about Edmondson. It’s about how information is gathered and how it’s reported. Read the whole thing through, Heidi pulls the F for Fake trick by taking the rug out from under the rumors right on the middle of them. And I’m not boycotting his work specifically; I’m sorry if I gave off that impression. I probably would I’d he were convicted of something or if there were truth behind these rumors, just like I’d probably boycott Alan Moore if it came out that he was slaughtering kittens en masse in his basement. I don’t seek Mr. Edmondson’s work out generally, but I enjoyed the heck out of his Black Widow run. Lion’s share of my enjoyment goes to Phil Noto, admittedly, but I was riveted beginning to end.

    As for how I’d feel being the focus of a hypothetical exercise like this, I’d probably feel pretty low. And I know low (who doesn’t?). But I’d hope to see the truth of it. Maybe it would give me cause to step forward about my guilt or innocence, apologize for what and to whom I should apologize. Maybe use it as a platform to address some truly appalling behavior that is so widely accepted that people don’t even bother to hide it behind closed doors. But then, I’m the kind of person who cries “Mea culpa!” over spilled milk; that’s just my personality, some (most, I imagine) are more private.

  19. @thom Thanks very much for the reply, heaven knows why I didn’t simply see ‘outsider’ and realise what you meant. It’s been a long life…

    I’m definitely in favour of dodgy behaviour being discussed and stamped out; I do, though, think everyone could be having the same discussion without naming names. The article here, for me, has the vibe of ‘we’re not saying he did anything, but by God, we’re going to let you know people are saying he’s done something’. Which may not be the intent (I’ve huge respect for Heidi and this website) but I don’t think I’m the only person – also an outsider – taking that away.

  20. I agree with Shane Davis. The article seems to be about a lot of rumor. The Chris Sims thing a while back had links to actual bad behavior. This is just a bunch of people talking about stuff they heard. Did I miss something?

  21. @Shane Davis

    He committed the greatest crime of all: Being conservative.

    The “progressive” left-authoritarians who dominate the US comic industry just can’t handle the idea that someone might disturb their community’s ideological purity.

    So he must be purged.

  22. Amazing work, Ms. MacDonald. You really have the perfect blend of (1) furthering and legitimizing the smearing of a guy who the mob is after and (2) maintaining a sheen of deniability that you are doing so.

    And at the end of it all, you NEVER answer the question “is this actually a bad guy”? All you do is host the unfounded claims of rumor-mongers and poop-flingers without holding them to any standard of proof or honesty. How bad is it? You make Rich Johnston look like a paragon of journalistic integrity while you happily further the meta-narrative that nobody but member of a certain race, gender, or sexual proclivity may permissibly write about that group. If you are not an approved storyteller, you can either applaud and praise the group to shut the hell up.

    You, the publisher, and you the creators, should think twice about telling stories that “we” think you don’t have permission to tell, because otherwise “we” will destroy you with the help of people like Ms. Macdonald, who lends her Publishers Weekly-affiliated credibility to the smears and broadcasts them to the industry at large. You become toxic, she gets hits. And all with complete deniability, because The Beat is just convering a controversy, right? Further, you can protect your friends who behave badly, so people had better smooch Beat backside, since omissions don’t tell a story and you want to be an omission, right?

    You are teaching a master class in the art of underhanded social warfare in the internet age. If I wanted to do this to people I didn’t like, I would hire you guys in a red hot second so you wouldn’t have to keep begging for Patreon donations. Too bad there’s no one I particularly want to drive out of the comics industry, there’s got to be a way you can effectively monetize this amazing technique and platform.

  23. Is Edmondson really such a star that anyone with any information would refuse to share it? Having read stuff by Hanover in the past, he (like Kot) definitely has views opposite those of Edmondson (assuming that he is as right wing as claimed) so until there’s more information revealed, it does seem to be a bit of “Let’s Dig Up The Dirt On The Right Winger”. Right leaning views aren’t particularly welcome in the comics blogosphere.

  24. I think Kot and Hanover do the issue of sexual harassment a disservice by associating whatever Edmondson did or didn’t do with his membership in a conservative group. Sexual harassment and or predation is unethical, illegal and has no place in any quarter of society. Being a member of The Leadership Institute is a matter of choice, and while you might find the group’s causes noxious, (which, for the record, I do), they aren’t engaged in predatory or illegal behaviors or actions. This is true even if we accept that the group is anti-gay, which is ignorant and mean and contributes to a climate of fear, but is nevertheless legal. By associating charges of sexual harassment w/political affiliation Edmondson’s critics made it easy to argue that this whole thing is a whisper campaign motivated by a political agenda. I worry that if legitimate accusations do come out they might be ignored for that reason, which would be a shame.

  25. This article is such inside baseball, I can’t imagine anyone being interested but comics pros and “super fans” whose lives revolve around attending conventions.

  26. the comic creator world leans decidedly liberal.

    some white guy who is also a conservative is writing about a non-white.

    this is unacceptable to liberals.

    any other questions?

  27. From what I gathered so far, this Edmondson guy is an asshole. He’s got some pretty nasty views on things that matter to me, and so, unfortunately, Marvel decided to hook up with a writer who I won’t be supporting, regardless what comic he’s been hired to write.

    If this is what Marvel wants, then this is the bed they lay on. I’m sure I can find another book to spend my money on.

  28. “You wouldn’t ignore that behaviour because people of colour are still hugely under-represented in comics. You would, rightly, call it out”

    So, the comic industry not only protects known criminals, allowing they to walk away with their crimes (crimes we don’t really ever name or describe), but it’s also only in the case of white criminals? Dammit, I just learned that the big two were like the organized crime, now I learn it’s even worse, they’re like a neonazi mob.

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