“The companies see talent as disposable, because so many people want to break into comics,” Seidman said. While some individuals at a given company might fight for a creator, the corporate structure as a whole is completely unaccountable. “There’s no shortage of people to fill spaces. Once you get past the people they really want to keep because they mean sales, they don’t give a fuck.”
Economic exploitation creates the conditions for sexual exploitation to flourish, and the comics industry as it currently exists cannot address the one without tackling the other. Sexual harassment, in all its various forms, is not simply a social problem; it is theft—of a victim’s time, dignity, of their ability to create work in peace and pursue financial or social opportunities. Moreover, it is theft of a creator’s ability to pursue a livelihood in their chosen field. Harassers don’t simply prey on those made vulnerable by precarity: they actively make the spaces and institutions they inhabit more precarious, and keep workers disorganized and afraid to the company’s financial benefit. Think of it, if you like, as grooming on a grand scale: the cultivation of a workforce that can be trusted to go along with sexual and economic exploitation—to grin through clenched teeth, to say nothing out of fear—and drive out those who can’t.
Asher Elbein on.
This exact same atmosphere (of fawning over badly behaving superstars while treating everyone else like disposable churn) is also part of the reason I bailed on Big 5 publishing…