I will be taking a pause on social media. Friends, text me if you need me.
This is not easy for me to write. I would have loved to just sit in my studio and draw today. The comics industry is challenging enough on its own, and I never want to add to that, but I feel in my heart if I do not say something it will be adding to the challenges but in a worse way. The things I have to say are meant to reflect the behavior of one man.
I have personally forgiven Jason Latour in the past for the circumstances I am about to discuss, and he has apologized for making me feel uncomfortable; however, I cannot speak for everyone and apologizing also means attempting to correct your behavior. Seeing accounts from these women coming forward clearly shows that the corrections aren't being attempted, which is why I am writing this. I am seeing these accounts and I see myself in the women who are writing them. I am writing this not to throw anyone under the bus or to encourage hatred, but to put a moment of misbehavior into the public eye, so that some change can come from it as well as state clearly that I do believe and admire all of the brave souls for coming forward and wholeheartedly believe in our right to do so, and stand with them.
I have known Jason for over ten years. I met him when he used to come into the sandwich shop where I was employed to work on Daredevil: Black and White #1. I was excited about this because I was in school at the time studying Illustration to be a comic artist, and also because he was talented and enjoyed talking about comics. I was friendly with him and a few times made him a sandwich or dessert and sat with him on break while he talked about his process or the industry.
On June 4th, 2011, it was the night of the Heroes Con art auction. I was sitting with a group of friends, to the left of the main entrance of the Westin lobby, on a bench. Some friends were sitting on the floor and a friend of mine was sitting next to me on the bench. Jason walked over and told me he was going to go to his car, and asked if I wanted to join him. Jason was staying in a room at the hotel, and he had also been drinking, so with that knowledge and the way he was talking it was clear to me he wanted to fool around. I never saw him in this way, as I had so far viewed him as an older professional in the industry. At this point in time he was 34, when I was just out of college at the age of 24.
I know not everyone dates the same way, but on a personal note even as a single woman, I never saw these after-con events as a reason to hook up with anyone. You are at these events with tons of people you could potentially work with in the future. Never once did I view it as a party where I could throw all caution to the wind. Yes, your friends are there, but they are also your peers and future co-workers or bosses. And now, after enough situations have occurred like this one, where someone either messes with my drinks or grabs me or so on, I have learned to travel these events with friends I trust, to stay in groups, and to stay alert always in the back of my mind.
So Jason asked me to go to his car. I declined. He asked me again if I would like to go with him to his car. I declined again. I started getting nervous. The group next to me was still deep in conversation, mostly with their backs turned toward us. Jason sat down on the right of me, and talked to me closely about me being attractive. Then he grabbed my head with both hands, so hard that the best I could do was turn my head to the side so when he tried to make out with me, he missed my mouth and instead kissed my cheek. Then I remember I froze, he let go, and I leaned away from Jason and fully leaned into the back of my friend on my left, who was still deep in conversation and joking with my friends sitting on the floor. Jason left. I remember looking around, and no one had seen this happen, so instead of interrupting a conversation to explain this event, I just stayed quiet.
The next day at the con, I walked by his table to see what he had to say. He apologized for making me feel uncomfortable. He said he couldn't remember what had happened but he was sorry. He was drunk. This, I realize now, is a running theme with Jason for years. “I know it's no excuse, but I was drunk at the time” is in itself an excuse.
Since then, I have made it a mission to warn women at these parties to stay away from Jason while he's drinking. I have warned friends and I have warned strangers. Other than that, in the social circles, I have tried to act like nothing happened. Because these moments are scary, and awkward, and honestly, I hate thinking about them. I want everything to be okay. So instead I internalize and change my behavior and become more wary towards men.
The post Jason made on June 17th about Cameron Stewart made me angry, because I see him as part of the problem in my own life. Things have definitely gotten better over the years, (though I have also grown up, gotten married, and gotten work,) but for a long time I was scared to be around him, because I was worried it was going to happen again. When someone has intentions this convoluted, and acts on them to that degree, it is a chaotic thing.
Jason and I had a four-hour conversation on June18th. I had told him his post made me frustrated. I had to remind him what he had done, and he felt bad about forgetting it happened. He told me he thought he was joking around, which at the time he absolutely was not, but I forgave him. Then he went on to further explain why he wrote the Tweet, saying that because their books came out at the same time, people were expecting him to post about it, which I don't know why he would assume that.
He also explained how he dates. He says he tells people that if they want to date him, he lets them know right away up front that there are no strings attached. He also stated that he only dates women in the industry because other women don't know how to talk about art. At the time it was a lot to take in, but now that I have thought about it, that is straight-up a red flag and I'll explain why.
Like I said, I am not trying to tell people how or how not to date in this industry. But I know that if an adult man who is well-known in an industry only dates young women starting out in that industry, there is potential to misuse that power over women. Whether he intentionally does it or not. That is predatory behavior. It has a rock-star and groupies vibe, but the people that the rockstar treats like groupies are actually female artists trying to work their butts off to make it in an already difficult industry. The problem of a male creator only hooking up at cons is when he starts thinking that all women are there for the same reason. That every professional woman you come across could be yours for the taking if you only say the right lines or tell the right jokes.
Cons and events like this are still places of work. They can be really fun, which is a nice perk of working in such a fun industry sometimes, but the fact they are places of work should not be forgotten.
A part of me really hurts coming out about this. Because in that phone call, I told Jason I would not say anything about that night in 2011, because it was just between us. But now that there are multiple women coming forward, and even some of my friends coming to me with stuff they have endured, it is no longer just between us. Women of harassment not only have to endure the moment but all of the feelings of guilt for either saying something or staying quiet. I am not doing this maliciously or with ill intent, but this behavior absolutely needs to stop. I am so sick of it. We all are.