Goodbye To Comics #9:
So my boyfriend of a handful of weeks, Donovan Paul, expresses concern that he will get blacklisted from comic work if certain people know he is connected to me.
Looking back on it now, I would have just dumped him then and there. At that very moment.
Oh, you don't want to be seen with me because it will "hurt your career?!" Well fuck you!
But at the time I was in love with Donovan, and so I took what he said very very hard.
I couldn't believe that after three years since I stood up for my rights in the comic industry, I was still "the Jonah" -- persona non grata.
It was like I was OJ...only instead of killing two people with a really big knife I had the temerity to be harassed and react to it like a human being who possessed at least an ounce of self-respect.
And I thought: "here is the man of my dreams" -- you know, the one who broke my vagina -- "and I ruined it by not playing along with the system!"
All the self-hatred flooded back.
I remembered a conversation I had with an old boss of mine about my situation. A long-time veteran of the comics field, he said that unfortunately I was "ruined" in the industry.
"Do you know what a 'Jonah' is," he asked. "Ever read 'Billy Budd?'"
He went on to say that a Jonah was the person who was blamed for everything, the untouchable, who everybody shunned and sacrificed so they would not get "bad luck by association."
He also said I strongly reminded him of "Rose Kelly" from the movie "From Hell," and suggested that it might make me feel better if I viewed the movie. Which I never did, afraid that I would see a scene of Kelly lying in her own blood with her ovaries ripped out.
But it was only until Donovan expressed concern that I might kill his career merely by association that it really hit home to me what being a Jonah meant.
In the Bible, Jonah is sent on a mission by God. But Jonah doesn't want to carry it out. So he flees on a ship in the opposite direction from where God wants him to go. So God plagues the ship with storms until the passengers get so upset that they throw him overboard. Then Jonah gets swallowed by a fish and spit up on the shore of where God really wanted him to go.
I'm on that shore, and I'm covered in ambergris.
Ambergris smells like shit, by the way, but ironically is one of the most important ingredients in making perfume.
Out of the 60 or 70 people I worked with at the theoretically-named Gilgongo! Comics, I have contact with none of them that are still working there -- only former employees. During the worst years of my life, when I was basically struggling for my life and livlihood, only the freelancers that I worked with ever checked in to see how I was doing. Inkers that I worked with maybe once or twice emailed me out of the blue to say "hey" and to express their appreciation for my work with them.
I was also put in the uncomfortable position of having big-name artists and writers contact me, and express confusion over why I had suddenly "disappeared" from Gilgongo! Comics. Especially with the female creators, it would have been soooo tempting to spill everything to them, to tell them my real story. But then they would be in an uncomfortable position. And it was hard enough as it was to be a successful woman in the industry.
And then there were half-truths and all-out lies spread about why I left. I wondered how they started. I wonder who told them to save their own ass.
"Oh, the stress of working at Gilgongo! was just too much for her. She was very fragile."
And WHY exactly was it so stressful? When I have had positive reviews for every other job I had since I was eighteen years old, never unable to complete any assignment? When I had so very recently received an award from Gilgongo! Comics itself for a job well-done?
My whole point is, if you're going to say "she was stressed out, she couldn't handle it," why not say EVERYTHING, including the "why"? Why destroy my reputation? It may have just been "politics" for some people, or even misguided loyalty for a friend, but it was my LIFE!
But as noted in an earlier posting about my conversation with a boss about the theoretical "Melia Bratton," most female accusers, if you believe the gossip, are either "sexually confused" or have some sort of other mental difficulty.
Here is a related theoretical scene (theoretical as in "OJ Simpson is theoretically a multiple murderer"):
I'm having lunch with an comics industry legend. Five minutes into the conversation, he finds it important to say the following, out of nowhere:
"You know, (BLEEEP!!) had accused me of sexually harassing her. She made a really big stink about it. But she's a very, very troubled woman. Vindictive and bitter. It's very sad. So if she tells you anything...well, just take it with a grain of salt, that's all."
Weeks later, I run into (BLEEEP!!!) in the washroom. I look at her carefully, like a specimen, as if I might be able to detect simply by sight what an alleged whackadoodle she is. But she's just a woman, calm and collected in a simple but elegant brown shirt, skirt, and patterned stockings. She nods and smiles at me and leaves the room, a folder full of writing tucked under her arm.
But there was something about that particular woman, Ms. BLEEEP!!!, that struck me, that very silently creeped me out. Seeing her face again in my mind, I now know what that was.
She looked like a middle-aged version of me. I can only hope that at her age I can look so tranquil, a sheaf of paper with one story or another that I wrote myself in my hands.