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Image Comics Responds to Controversy Over Writer Warren Ellis

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For years, fans of Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith’s comic Fell have waited for the creators to resume work on the acclaimed, unfinished crime series. But with Ellis now facing numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, news of Fell’s return has met with considerable backlash online. Now publisher Image Comics has confirmed it won’t be publishing new issues of Fell.

Image issued the following statement to IGN:

“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.”

Ellis, the creator/writer of Netflix’s Castlevania series and comics like Planetary, Transmetropolitan, and Red, was accused by multiple women of predatory behavior and sexual misconduct in June 2020. The website SoManyOfUs.com contains several dozen testimonials, with many detailing incidents of Ellis sending sexually explicit messages or using his position to pressure them into sexual relationships.

Ellis has largely disappeared from the public eye since these allegations surfaced, deleting his Twitter account and ending his long-running email newsletter Orbital Operations.

In a now-deleted statement, Ellis wrote, “I have never considered myself famous or powerful, to the point where I’ve made a lot of bad jokes about it for twenty-odd years. It had never really occurred to me that other people didn’t see it the same way — that I was not engaging as an equal when gifted with attention, but acting from a position of power and privilege. I did not take that into account in a number of my personal interactions and this was a mistake and I own it.”

While Netflix recently released the fourth and final season of Castlevania and DC completed publication of Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s The Batman’s Grave, Fell would have been the first new work from the writer since these allegations came to light. However, Templesmith’s announcement of Fell’s return was met with a great deal of criticism online, including from fellow comic book creators like Nocterra writer Scott Snyder.

In a statement released on June 23, So Many of Us wrote,

“When we published SoManyOfUs.com on July 13, 2020, we expressly did not want to ‘cancel’ author Warren Ellis. Rather, we shared constructive ways to address the all-too-common issue of powerful men’s abusive behavior. We challenged people to rethink past actions and to consider how—and why—they may have facilitated harmful behaviors and environments. We called for openness, accountability, and growth, extending an offer of working with Ellis on some form of transformative justice. Since his public statement a year ago, to the knowledge of these authors, Ellis has still not taken direct responsibility for his destructive behavior nor attempted to tackle the circumstances that allow such behavior to go on unchecked both on and offline.”

The website updated its statement on June 24, revealing that Ellis has now reached out to the group in the hope of creating “a mediated dialogue.” Ellis has also published his first new newsletter in nearly a year, writing, “I have, of course, been silent and isolated for too long, and should have addressed things sooner and proceeded with more speed. I apologize.”

Ellis’ latest statement seems to preclude the possibility of any new published work for the foreseeable future. Fell may one day return to the stands, but both its publisher and creators have acknowledged now is not the time.

Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.

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