Following allegations of sexual abuse against Border Town creator Eric M. Esquivel, multiple sources reported today that DC Comics has announced its plans to cancel the series - which had been one of the major titles behind the publisher’s push to revitalise its Vertigo imprint.
Earlier this week, toy designer Cynthia Naugle published a blog post titled “X, my experience with my abuser” in which she detailed being “sexually, mentally, and emotionally abused” by an unnamed former coworker (who was her work manager at the time), who’s now in the comics industry.
Naugle describes how, for months, her abuser would put her in socially uncomfortable positions, constantly pressure her for sex, and at times become violent with her. She also said:
“3 days ago, I sent him a very long email about what he did to me. It was basically this post.
He responded in less than 5mins. He apologised, said he remembers things differently, and he’ll never see me at any of the same conventions, and he’ll remove me from all social media [sic], and he’s there if I need to talk.
It took him less than 5 mins to read, process, and respond to a very long detailed letter. It took me months, and many rewrites to figure out how to say what I wanted to. Reliving it all, having to go to therapy, having to tell my family and friends about this, talking to the other women he’s hurt, and he barely skimmed through it.”
While Naugle never directly named her abuser, Esquivel’s name soon began floating around in comics circles on Twitter and Naugle retweeted statements positing that she was, in fact, speaking about Esquivel. Following Naugle’s statement, Border Town artist Ramon Villalobos and colorist Tamra Bonvillain have both spoke out and named Esquivel in statements of their own and expressed that they believe Naugle.
2 days ago, I was first made aware of the experiences shared by Cynthia Naugle about her relationship with Border Town writer Eric Esquivel. The way he treated her was disgusting and inexcusable, and issue 5 is my last issue working on Border Town.
— Tamra Bonvillain (@TBonvillain) December 13, 2018
DC has yet to put out an official statement explaining exactly why Border Town has been cancelled, but between Esquivel having gone dark on social media as more people have come forward with stories of their own about off-putting interactions with him, it stands to reason that the decision was driven by these revelations and subsequent fallout.
We’ve reached out to both DC and Esquivel directly for comment regarding this story and will update if and when we hear back.
Esquivel responded to io9's request for comment with the following statement:
“I was recently accused of misconduct by a former romantic partner. Not recent misconduct. Misconduct which allegedly happened many years ago. Out of respect for her and our prior relationship, I will not publicly name names.
I’ve taken a few days to respond, because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t talking over anyone. We’re in the midst of a very important cultural conversation right now. One I wholeheartedly believe in.
Never in my life did I expect that I would become one of the accused. I will not speculate as to her motivation for making these reckless allegations, but I want to make it clear that they are false. Though our relationship was unconventional, we always treated one another with dignity and respect.
I heavily encourage, and will fully cooperate in, any forthcoming independent investigation of these claims, which I am confident will show that I have been falsely accused.
I have been notified that DC Vertigo has cancelled the book I was working on. My heart breaks for the book’s supporters, and my creative collaborators. They don’t deserve to be negatively affected by this unfortunate situation.”