Eric M Esquivel, writer of the acclaimed new DC/Vertigo comic series Border Town, was identified this week in an account of sexual abuse, which has spurred his collaborators to announce their departure from the title.
The accusations originated Sunday in a blog post by toy designer Cynthia Naugle, who recounts her experience with a former co-worker at a Tucson, Arizona, comic shop. She only identifies the subject as "X," but the detailed account of abusive and harassing behavior, including sexual assault, clearly notes the man has a current Vertigo series.
People familiar with Esquivel's work history connected the dots, and quickly identified him as the unnamed subject. Since then, the response has been rapid and multifaceted. Esquivel appears to have deleted most of his social media presence, with the exception of his Twitter account, which has been locked from public view.
CBR has contacted Esquivel and DC/Vertigo for comment.
In the days following Naugle's post, other members of the Border Town creative team stepped forward to condemn Esquivel. Colorist Tamra Bonvillain made it clear she was immediately cutting ties with the comic once her contract is completed for work on Issue #5.
2 days ago, I was first made aware of the experiences shared by Cynthia Naugle about her relationship with Border Town writer Eric Esquivel. The way he treated her was disgusting and inexcusable, and issue 5 is my last issue working on Border Town.— Tamra Bonvillain (@TBonvillain) December 13, 2018
Artist Ramon Villalobos published his own statement shortly thereafter. Along with his own rejection of future work on Border Town, he noted previous "vague rumors" about Esquivel's objectionable behavior. However, he said it was presumed by the creators that disciplinary action by DC had satisfied all parties involved until Naugle's post went public.
CBR has since learned that DC informed retailers of the series' immediate cancelation. Issues #5 and #6 will not ship to retailers at all, and the previously published issues are now returnable.
UPDATE [Dec 15, 2018]: While CBR has yet to receive a comment from Esquivel, he has responded to a similar request from i09, stating the following:
“I was recently accused of misconduct by a former romantic partner. Not recent misconduct. Misconduct which allegedly happened many years ago. Out of respect for her and our prior relationship, I will not publicly name names.
I’ve taken a few days to respond, because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t talking over anyone. We’re in the midst of a very important cultural conversation right now. One I wholeheartedly believe in.
Never in my life did I expect that I would become one of the accused. I will not speculate as to her motivation for making these reckless allegations, but I want to make it clear that they are false. Though our relationship was unconventional, we always treated one another with dignity and respect.
I heavily encourage, and will fully cooperate in, any forthcoming independent investigation of these claims, which I am confident will show that I have been falsely accused.
I have been notified that DC Vertigo has canceled the book I was working on. My heart breaks for the book’s supporters, and my creative collaborators. They don’t deserve to be negatively affected by this unfortunate situation.”