Image Comics releases statement: Fell return on hold

Comic News

After a firestorm of controversy surrounding what seemed to be Warren Ellis’s return to comics, Image Comics has released a statement regarding Fell, Ellis’s potential comeback vehicle.

It reads:

This week’s Fell announcement was neither planned, nor vetted, and was in fact, premature. While finishing Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith’s Fell is something we’ve been looking forward to for years, Image Comics will not be working with Warren on anything further until he has made amends to the satisfaction of all involved. It is our sincere hope that the conversations that are beginning now will result in positive changes for everyone. Please visit SoManyOfUs.com

The statement is somewhat at odds with one that Image had previously released to various outlets, including Gizmodo and The Hollywood Reporter. 

Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith’s Image Comics series Fell will indeed return for its long awaited final story arc in graphic novel format. We will have more details to share about this very soon.

If the details are that the announcement was “neither planned, nor vetted,” it all adds up; otherwise, it seems that the publisher finally bowed to public pressure to disavow publishing Fell until Ellis had done more work to make restitution to his accusers.

Image’s statement came after several prominent Image creators spoke out publicly, including James Tynion IV: 

I can’t in good faith support new work by Warren Ellis, and so I won’t. I’m disappointed in Image for publishing it.
When the news started coming out about WE last summer, I was so sure that he was going to be the sort of person who was going to pull a Dan Harmon, own up to his shitty behavior in a public way and carve his own path forward. But he didn’t.
I was doubly sure because the brave folks who came forward at http://SoManyOfUs.com laid out such a clear path for him, one literally tailor made for the kind of humanist he always purported to be. But he didn’t.
Last summer was so shitty in so many ways, and I just wanted to believe that somebody I respected as much as I did was going to be who I wanted them to be.

But he wasn’t.

It’s another case of heroes faltering. Of the institutions that made me want to work in this industry not living up to the version of them in my head.

Like so many other times working in this business, I was deeply disappointed, and still am.

And Scott Snyder:

A year ago when the revelations about Warren Ellis came out, we removed him from the Death Metal books in the hopes that accountability would be taken, amends made, and comics would move forward and be better through difficult but crucial good work.Clearly that wasn’t the case, and for that reason I can’t support Ellis’ projects old or new. Instead, I’d point you toward the people striving to make the industry better.

It also followed an essay published yesterday here on the Beat by industry consultant Tara Ferguson that read, in part:

From all of this, a very grim picture is being painted. As a woman who works in the comics industry, I am suddenly feeling very unsafe. I can guarantee I am not the only one. If Warren Ellis is allowed to walk back into this industry as though nothing has happened, welcomed by one of the biggest and most respected publishers, then the state of this industry is far far worse than we all ever imagined. If the cis het white man who commits travesties is given a free pass, that completely changes the playing field for those of us who admittedly already didn’t feel completely safe at the best of times.

The controversy began on Monday when artist Ben Templesmith wrote in a Patreon post that he would be finishing Fell, a collaboration with Ellis, after a 13 year hiatus, and the publisher would be Image.  The outcry on social media was immediate, pointing to the So Many Of Us website that contains testimony from more than 60 female and non-binary people attesting to Ellis’s predatory behavior over a period of 20 years. Many pointed out that the authors of the site had given Ellis a way to attempt to make amends by engaging in mediated dialog, something he had not chosen to do.

Yesterday, So Many Of Us updated to say that Ellis had at last reached out to try to begin that process.

Author Warren Ellis reached out to this collective for the first time today. We will update this site when appropriate as we attempt to begin a transformative justice journey. For full transparency, (with permission) we’ve included his message below.

And Ellis released a statement with more expressions of regret and acknowledgement of the harm he had done and mention of steps he was taking to try to make amends. He also wrote of Image and Templesmith:

I have, of course, been silent and isolated for too long, and should have addressed things sooner and proceeded with more speed. I apologise.

All of this should especially have been addressed before word of a new project came out via my collaborator. That was my mistake and the book was prematurely announced without Image’s input or knowledge. I should have brought up to him beforehand that I still had work to do to address my past. I should have worked with Image to make sure they were ready and comfortable to commit publicly to the project when I still had work to do to address my past. This is another example of my lousy judgment. I now add both him, and Image, to the list of apologies I owe.

You can read between the lines of all of this some bad communication, some things awkwardly not discussed, and, overall, the very mistaken idea that things had cooled down, all was forgotten and the coast was clear.

Thanks to measured calls for a way back that takes the victims into account, and – above all – the statement by the victims that they are open to such actions, we have perhaps made as much progress as we can in all of this. Ellis has begun therapy and the journey to mediated restorative justice with those he harmed. Image has acknowledged that those victims should be heeded and that Ellis needs to do the work before he can be welcomed back. It’s still not a great second act, but it’s a start.

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