As the ongoing examination into gross sexual harassment across multiple corners of the entertainment industry continues, more incidents of abuse in the comics industry are coming to light. Now, a familiar name at Dark Horse Comics has had their relationship with the company severed entirely after facing a new allegation.
On Wednesday, writer Shawna Gore accused former Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie of sustained sexual abuse during their shared tenures at the publisher, across 14 years. Gore’s account includes multiple incidents of Allie approaching Gore with unwanted sexual advances, both physical and verbal, as well as an explicit recounting of an incident where Allie allegedly groped her. The opening of Gore’s statement, which is graphic, can be read in full below (the rest are threaded on Twitter).
I have made the decision to come forward with my own experience of abuse in the comics industry. I am not the one at fault and the shame I have felt is not mine to carry.
I was assaulted, harassed, and retaliated against by Scott Allie during our tenure at Dark Horse. pic.twitter.com/78El6VDbb4
— Shawna Gore (@ShawnaGore) June 24, 2020
We have reached out to Allie regarding this and the termination of his work with Dark Horse, and will update this post if we hear back from him. He has not put out a public statement as of publishing.
After Gore came forward publicly, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola shared his support for her, declaring that he would not work with Allie again. “I believe Shawna Gore,” he wrote. “Given what I have read today, I will be discontinuing working with Scott Allie.” Dark Horse itself shared Mignola’s statement indicating that stance applied to the publisher as well — “Dark Horse supports Mike Mignola and this decision,” it read. However, it took another two hours for Dark Horse to release a brief statement confirming that it had severed ties with Allie permanently.
“Effective immediately, Dark Horse Comics will not be working with Scott Allie now or in the future,” Dark Horse’s statement reads. “His removal from every Dark Horse project will be followed by sincere and active change. … Dark Horse Comics will dedicate itself to ensuring that this will not ever happen again within our company.” The statement concludes: “We can and will do better” — but this is not the first time Dark Horse has been pushed to publicly address its continued relationship with Allie.
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
In 2015, after reports of multiple instances of sexual misconduct, Allie released a statement saying: “I’m deeply sorry about my behaviour at San Diego Comic Con 2015 and I apologise to everyone I’ve hurt. I’m completely embarrassed by my actions and how my behaviour reflects on Dark Horse Comics, my friends and family. My personal approach and decisions for managing stress were bad. Dark Horse and I have taken the matter very seriously and since this incident, we have taken steps to correct and to avoid any behaviour like this in the future. Although apologies can’t undo what has happened, I’ve tried to apologise to everyone impacted by my behaviour. To my family, friends, co-workers, and to the industry — please know that I am truly, truly sorry.”
At the time, Dark Horse Comics founder Mike Richardson released a statement to The Beat, which in part read, “In this particular case, action was taken immediately, though we did not, and cannot, perform a public flogging, as some might wish.” Although Richardson said action had been taken, Allie continued as an editor for Dark Horse, transitioning from editor-in-chief to the role of executive senior editor in 2015, before departing Dark Horse as a full-time employee in 2017, continuing to work with them since in a freelance capacity.
Richardson’s lengthy 2015 statement also attacked writer Janelle Asselin, whose report at Graphic Policy about the alleged incidents of Allie making sexual advances at a Boom Studios Comic-Con party prompted the statement in the first place. Richardson added that “[Asselin’s] assumption that my longevity somehow ‘embeds’ within me an attitude of inappropriate permissiveness is not only wrong, it is insulting,” before vowing then, as it does now, that Dark Horse would renew its “efforts to make sure that our company is never again mentioned with regard to this type of occurrence.”
Now, five years later, Dark Horse’s name is again mentioned in connection to Allie’s alleged abuse — which is apparently what it took for the company to oust him. On Thursday night, both Mignola and Dark Horse (once again via Mike Richardson) released extended statements on the decision to sever ties with Allie, attempting to explain why the revelations from past years did not prompt them to take meaningful punitive action sooner (many in the comics community have made their displeasure at Richardson’s inaction known).
Mignola notes in a statement posted to his official website that he’s worked with Allie for close to 25 years. “From the earliest days I heard stories of his drunken behaviour 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,” Mignola wrote. “I spoke to [Scott] 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.”
It was a belief that Allie was working to correct his behaviour that Mignola says led to him continuing their working relationship during their time at Dark Horse.
“Around this time I started to hear rumours of other past incidents — alcohol-fuelled behaviour 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,” Mignola continued. “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.”
“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 behaviour from co-workers or colleagues,” Mignola concluded. “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.”
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. Continued: pic.twitter.com/iiVNu4Xi9g
— Dark Horse Comics (@DarkHorseComics) June 26, 2020
Also last night, Dark Horse released a second statement to Twitter that re-iterates similar points from Richardson. “I knew he had problems related to alcohol. I also knew he was extremely harsh with those employees working under him,” Richardson’s statement reads. “I allowed this behaviour to happen. I tend to think I can fix the behaviour of people. I thought this with Scott, that I could in some way fix him and change his behaviour. A horrible mistake on my part that caused harm that can never be undone.”
The statement continues with a four bullet-point plan for how Dark Horse will address harassment and abuse cases at the company going forward, including a no-tolerance policy applying to both full time and freelance employees, mandatory classes to train staff in dealing with reporting harassment, and regular meetings with staff “to evaluate how successfully we have achieved our goal of maintaining a safe and harassment-free workplace.” It also promises that Dark Horse’s management will “ensure no one will suffer retaliation” for coming forward to report incidents.
While these are important steps, it remains to be seen what actual change will be brought at Dark Horse and why these steps were not instituted five years ago, when allegations were first levied against Allie. Once again, those in the comics community are holding Richardson’s feet to the fire.
If Dark Horse wants to “to make sure that our company is never again mentioned with regard to this type of occurrence,” as Richardson stated in 2015, it has to act on its plans much quicker and decisively this time around.