Writer Warren Ellis is one of those figures everyone who likes comic books is automatically a fan of, even if you've never bothered to read his stuff. Over the years Cracked has gushed about Ellis for stuff like having a badass Twitter account, retelling amusing behind the scenes stories, or starring in amusing behind the scenes stories and his actual writing work (which includes every episode of Netflix's Castlevania and the comics Iron Man 3 and Red are based on). His constant support of other artists and justified grumpiness at the state of our shitty world have turned him into a beloved internet icon. Aaaaaand he's a serial sex pest, apparently.
During a wider conversation about the many, many nasty abusers lurking in the magical world of comics, a few women confessed that they felt groomed and sexually manipulated by Ellis. And then more popped up. And then more. And then more. Over 60 women and non-binary people have come forward to share eerily similar stories about good ol' Uncle Warren: he'd find them online while they were young (as young as 19) and/or vulnerable, shower them with praise and offer to help them professionally, initiate a secretive sexual relationship, and ghost them when they tried to dial back the sexting or he simply found a new target. Not that he had trouble juggling relationships, since he was reportedly involved with 19 women simultaneously during one mega-horny point in 2009.
Nothing Ellis did was illegal, but it's still disturbing as hell. Many of the women say they were led to believe they were his only partner, only to find out now that they all got the same weirdly specific compliments, habit-forming daily e-mails, and shirtless selfies. Dude had a whole elaborate system for squeezing nudes out of young women, as if he'd never heard of Pornhub. These people thought they were consensually entering into a relationship with a great man they deeply admired, but is it really "consent" if half of what they knew about him is fake? (Starting with the "great man" part.) The stories are hard to read because there's so goddamn many of them and they're so similar. In fact, that's the name of the remarkable website collecting these testimonies: SoManyOfUs.com.
But the point of that site isn't to get Ellis fired from all his jobs and launched out of town on a trebuchet. They don't want his books to be pulled and burned, because that would harm the other artists involved ... and, you know, a lot of them are actually pretty good. Whenever something like this happens there's an impulse to say "Well, I never liked his work!" as if that meant anything -- Woody Allen wouldn't be less of a creep if he was still making funny movies, guys. They won't let Bill Cosby out of prison if you admit Ghost Dad is a masterpiece. Let's not kid ourselves, it is.
No, what the SoManyOfUs website seeks is to 1) prevent more people from being groomed and manipulated, 2) support those harmed by Ellis' careless digital philandering, and 3) let the rest of us know that this is a thing that happens so that we learn to recognize (and hopefully stop) it. They even say they're open to joining forces with Ellis to raise awareness of this problem. Of course, the first step for that would be for him to release a more convincing apology than the one where he claims he just never considered himself "famous or powerful." After all, who among us has never written lines that ended up in the mouths of Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman?
Top Image: Netflix