Naming Names

The Comics Journal finally names names in the groping scandal that’s resulted in lots of chest-puffing and finger-pointing online.

As much as organizers have worked quickly to research the legalities of the [Friends of Lulu “Empowerment” Fund] and place it on firm ground, it’s hard to deny that it has come about out of desperation; it is the result of a profound wish to have something good come out of the sordid misery that in tiny increments and one unretractable leap has overtaken the lives of at least two people. One of these people is Taki Soma, a 30-year-old Minneapolis-based beginning comics artist (Silent Forest for Silent Devil Productions, The West Side for Redoubt Studio). The other person is Charles Brownstein, who as the devoted and energetic executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, is a highly respected figure in the comics industry.

Although this is a terrible situation all around, I applaud the Journal for its in-depth journalism (no pun intended) and its willingness to go on the record instead of making allusions that were subject to misinterpretation (and the resulting likelihood of the wrong people being “identified”, an element covered in their thorough story). They also report why charges weren’t filed — and it’s not because of the situation crossing state lines.

The information [the Ohio detective] provided solved the mystery of why the case had been closed and no witness reported, but raised an even bigger mystery. According to the un-redacted report, at the end of Soma’s account of the incident to police, her last words were that she did not want to pursue criminal charges. To police, that meant the investigation was over.

Because of the continuing questions this report raises, I cannot in good conscience support the FOL fund. Right now, the outspoken Vice-President who’s been publicizing this case has said that “all monies given to the fund will be used in Taki Soma’s civil case, paying for legal advice, representation, and any other associated fees that may arise.” Her experience sounds as though it was terrible for her, and I hope that she’s able to get the resolution she needs… but I don’t wish to take sides to such a degree in this kind of situation. (Not to mention that the fund doesn’t square with what I know of the FOL’s legal status and mission as a non-profit, and it seems to need a lot more support and planning than it got at its start.)

The Journal piece is must reading, so go now before they take it offline.

One comment

  • Jackie Estrada

    As one of the founding board members of Friends of Lulu, I recall that under the type of nonprofit charter we chose, we would be unable to set up something like the proposed fund. FoL is an educational nonprofit. As such, we weren’t even able to donate to the CBLDF without violating our charter. I haven’t been involved with FoL for several years now, so it’s possible that subsequent boards changed its type of nonprofit status but that would be pretty difficult.

    Jackie Estrada

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