Comics Disassembled: Ten Things of Note from the Past Week in Comics, Led by An Unfortunately Common Tale

Let’s get straight into this week’s edition of Comics Disassembled, and it begins with an unfortunately common tale.

1. On Ed Piskor

It should be a shocking thing when a comic book creator (or anyone, really) faces allegations of grooming and/or sexual misconduct. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in, as we’re reminded of all too regularly. The latest to do so is cartoonist Ed Piskor, as an artist who was 17 at the time of Piskor’s earliest overtures to her via Instagram’s direct messages — in which he called her a “naughty girl,” offered for her to stay with him if she was ever in his area, and asked her whether she was a “snitch” or not, amongst other things — shared the conversations she had with the cartoonist online via screenshots of their chats. Piskor was around 38 at the time (this was back in May of 2020), but according to the artist, he had continued to message her up until recently. It’s undeniably creepy and wildly inappropriate behavior for someone 21 years her senior, or really any age, to be honest.

As is often the case with this sort of behavior, it does not seem to exist in isolation. The Beat reported that several other women shared stories of Piskor’s inappropriate behavior on social media in the days that followed. None of this has been responded to by Piskor — although there is a Twitter account that seems unusually invested in defending him in hyperspecific ways, like making regular references to Pennsylvania’s age of consent, and his father and a defense lawyer did provide comment about the situation to Pittsburgh TV station WTAE — as the cartoonist quickly erased or limited his social media presences. He even, for a time, took down the YouTube channel Cartoonist Kayfabe he shares with cartoonist Jim Rugg. It’s now back up. His response hasn’t been to add clarity or apologize for his actions but to avoid responsibility completely. While there likely won’t be a legal response to this, because, as Heidi MacDonald noted in the comments of The Beat’s article, nothing Piskor did was technically illegal, it’s the type of behavior that should not be tolerated — whether you’re a successful cartoonist or anyone, really.

And it’s clear it isn’t, at least to some degree. Besides the understandable response Piskor has earned for his behavior on social media, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announced it had “indefinitely postponed” a planned exhibit of the cartoonist’s work after these accusations surfaced, while his publisher Fantagraphics told WTAE that it “has no future projects in the works with him” (which may just be a fact and not a definitive statement going forward). I’m sure those won’t be the last dominos to fall in this story — and unfortunately, it’s also not likely to be the last time this sort of thing comes out — but it’s something that will be explored further as more details arrive.

2. My Chemical Bromance, Continuing

Who doesn’t love a lasting friendship, or one that’s also an ongoing creative partnership? I know I do, and it’s one that continues onwards for writers Gerard Way and Shaun Simon. The pair behind The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys are reteaming for a new six issue miniseries at Dark Horse Comics called Paranoid Gardens. It sounds pretty wild, and it has an incredible artist to ground that insanity in Chris Weston. So, what’s it about? Instead of trying (and failing) to explain, here’s the solicit:

“Loo is a nurse at the most bizarre care center around. The staff are not entirely human, and the cases are downright unearthly. Aliens, ghosts, superheroes and more creatures plague its hallways as doctors and patients and the hospital itself seem to be somewhat self-aware. Loo believes that despite a recent failure at her job she’s been given some sort of higher calling in this mysterious place and decides to rise to the challenge. Along the way, she must fight her way through corrupt staff members, powerful theme park cults and her own personal demons and trauma to meet this challenge and discover what secrets the gardens hold.”

Yep! Sounds pretty weird. But if we’re being honest, Way and Simon’s history in comics is filled with some strange concepts that end up working out pretty well in the end. A big part of that are their artistic partners pulling it all together, and Weston is going to be a perfect fit for grounding that story while somehow also amplifying it to the max, especially with Dave Stewart coloring and Nate Piekos lettering. But these comics, particularly Way’s, work because he’s gifted at blending bananas concepts with real humanity and fun. The Umbrella Academy is a perfect example of that, but don’t forget Way isn’t just The Umbrella Academy and My Chemical Romance: The guy co-created Peni Parker with artist Jake Wyatt! He can make a big idea work, and Paranoid Gardens is as big and bonkers as they get.

Given that it’s a six issue miniseries, I’ll likely be waiting for trade when it launches in July. But I am genuinely intrigued, as I’m curious if they can make this concept land. I’ll give them this. They have a better shot than most would. This one has a lot of potential.

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