Image Comics Releases Statement on Warren Ellis Return Controversy

Earlier this week came the surprise reveal from comics artist Ben Templesmith that he and writer Warren Ellis would be reuniting to conclude their Image Comics series Fell after a thirteen year hiatus. News of Ellis returning to work for a major publisher was a surprise to many readers and creators as it had been one year since accusations against the author were publicized on the website SoManyOfUs.com. On that page, a collective of "over sixty women and non-binary individuals" revealed a history of reported power abuse by Ellis that was done "for the purpose of serial predatory corralling, emotional manipulation, and grooming." Days after Templesmith's announcement of Ellis returning to Image Comics and public outcry against it, the publisher has finally responded.

"This week's FELL announcement was neither planned, nor vetted, and was in fact, premature," Image Comics wrote in a tweet. "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."

In a moment of clarification to io9 about their statement and the verbiage "anything further" a representative for Image clarified to the outlet that this applied to "anything at all—including the return of Fell." It's also worth noting that Image's latest statement comes into direct contradiction to one they released to io9 earlier this week that in part read: "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."

On the SoManyOfUs.com website they detail a 20+ year history of Ellis "using his celebrity status and vast public platform as catalyst and shield to manipulate and groom targets under false pretenses, and to coerce private pornography and sexual exchanges." When news of Ellis returning to Image became public they released an update on June 23 noting that Ellis had not taken responsibility for his behavior nor attempted contact to begin making amends. A subsequent update on June 24 revealed that Ellis has come into contact with the website to open a dialogue, which they've accepted.

Ellis offered a larger statement in his newsletter Orbital Operations, writing that this week's unplanned announcement was another example of his "lousy judgment" and that he realized attempts at making amends at this specific juncture "makes it look like the only reason I'm speaking at the moment is to serve that project." Ellis wrote that this wasn't true and added it's "about me trying to make things right—regardless of how it looks for me or how good or bad the timing is."

The writer also specifically made note to readers of his work that have spent time defending him online, adding: "Please don't defend me anymore. Change doesn't happen overnight -- I'm at the start of a long road, and it's not a road with a defined end - and it doesn't happen in a vacuum. If you want to support me, then support efforts towards transformation of communities, industries and workplaces."

When the SoManyOfUs.com collective first published their statement last year they noted four specific things that they'd like to see Ellis do, including: Acknowledge his actions in their entirety; Acknowledge his pattern of harmful behavior; Acknowledge that he has callously hurt people; and Contribute to transformative work to dismantle the systems which allowed this to go on. It would appear those steps are finally being taken.

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(Cover photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images/Image Comics)