Chris Sims, announced last week as the writer of Marvel’s X-Men ’92 digital-first series, publicly apologized Tuesday to Valerie D’Orazio after the blogger and former DC Comics editor called him out for years-old online harassment.
“I was wrong, and in every way the bad guy,” he acknowledged on his personal blog.
D’Orazio, a writer who rose to online prominence in late 2006 with “Goodbye to Comics,” a memoir that shone a harsh light on comics culture and her experiences as an assistant editor at DC, took to Twitter early Tuesday to criticize both Marvel and Sims. “Because of the actions of this person — who is now writing the X-Men for Marvel Comics — I have been diagnosed with PTSD from cyberbulling [sic],” she tweeted.
In a subsequent blog post, D’Orazio stated she was bullied online between 2007 and 2010, and claims Sims “ring-led the harassment” against her at the time of the March 2010 release of her Punisher MAX: Butterfly one-shot.
“The irony that Marvel hired the man who ring-led the harassment against me over my Punisher comic is not lost on me,” she wrote. “Neither is the omni-present victimized crying Batgirl image I’ve been seeing all day today … or the fact that Sims had once left a message on my blog that said ‘Are you going to CRY, little girl?’”
“I had several cyberbullies during that three-year span, but Chris Sims was one of the worst,” D’Orazio wrote. “Not so much for what he said about me directly, but because he had a popular forum from which to direct harassment to me by many other people.” She said Sims recently emailed her ex-husband, writer David Gallaher, to apologize for his behavior.
A longtime senior writer for ComicsAlliance, Sims previously wrote the popular Chris’s Invincible Super-Blog, where he made no bones about his dislike for D’Orazio and her work. (“The fact that I don’t personally care for D’Orazio is one of the ISB’s worst-kept secrets,” he wrote in his 2010 review of Butterfly, which he summarized as “aggressively, pointedly mediocre.”)
In a statement posted Tuesday on his personal blog, Sims acknowledged that although he long referred to his “feud” with D’Orazio, “that was the wrong word, since it was more one-sided than anything else, and I was in no uncertain terms the aggressor and a complete jerk.”
“I was needlessly harsh about her comics work, I left jerky comments on her site, I talked trash here and elsewhere,” Sims continued, “and while in my head I justified it as as purely being critical of her writing, I know I stepped over the line into making it a personal attack more than once. What I said is a matter of public record, and frankly, my intentions at the time don’t change what I actually did. At best, I was making someone’s life harder when I had no reason to, and at worst I was giving others a reason to do the same that went far beyond just me being an asshole and contributed to and validated the harassment of both Ms. D’Orazio and of women in general. When I finally realized that, long after I should’ve, I stopped, and I’ve tried to be better going forward.”
Update (noon PT): ComicsAlliance has released a statement addressing the harassment that reads, in part:
We condemn this behavior without reservation. Online harassment is a serious problem, and in the comic industry in particular it has created a climate of hostility that alienates the marginalized and vulnerable, and damages us all. Harassment doesn’t always have its roots in conscious discrimination. Sometimes it’s simply a case of trying to take on someone you perceive as powerful, and not appreciating your own power, or that the other person has less power than you believed.
We would all do well to understand this. When we think we’re being righteous, often we’re only persecuting someone who does not deserve our venom.
In the statement, Editor-in-Chief Andrew Wheeler and Senior Editor Janelle Asselin also state that Sims’ initial apology followed a warning from Gallaher that “that someone was threatening to expose Chris as a bully following the news of Chris’s recently announced Marvel writing assignment.”
“Someone was targeting Chris not out of a sense of justice, but because they wanted to destroy his success,” the write. “The campaign may also have been one of several efforts we’re aware of to discredit ComicsAlliance.”
Update 2 (1:07 p.m. PT): Sims has posted his own statement on ComicsAlliance, titled “Being Part of the Problem,” in which he writes:
When you’re on the Internet, especially when you’re a straight white man on the Internet, you kind of feel like everybody’s dealing with the same stuff. Who cares if some dude’s being a jerk, right? You do you, focus on your work and just get through it. Except that assuming that everyone else is in your same position is not just ignoring that larger context, it’s refusing to deal with the privilege that you have. That is, after all, what privilege is — the assumption that everyone has a level playing field, and that we’re all reacting to similar circumstances. We’re not, and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re aware of that already. I wasn’t. And with regards to this specifically, I can tell you that the flak, insults and criticism I’ve had on my worst day are an unbelievably tiny fraction of what any woman blogging about anything in pop culture gets on an average day.