Warren Ellis Responds to Accusation Backlash: ‘I’m at the Start of a Long Road’

Warren Ellis Responds to Accusation Backlash: ‘I’m at the Start of a Long Road’
Warren Ellis photographed in 2019, attending the Castlevania Spotlight Panel at New York Comic Con. (Photo: Craig Barritt/Stringer for Reedpop, Getty Images)

Warren Ellis, known for his work across Marvel and DC Comics and Netflix’s Castlevania adaptation, has made a new statement after a year of public silence following numerous allegations in 2020 of longstanding sexually predatory behaviour. The author has asked his fans not to defend his prior actions in the wake of a renewed backlash against him in the comics industry this week.

Ellis’ new statement can be attributed to more noise being made this week after his collaborator on the crime series Fell, Ben Templesmith, abruptly announced a return of the series (which has been on hiatus for 13 years) at publisher Image Comics. It was the first time the public became aware of major comics work from Ellis since allegations emerged this time last year from a group of 60 people citing over 100 testimonials accusing Ellis of grooming, manipulation, and sexual predation over decades, detailed on the website SoManyOfUs.com.

Though last year he put out a statement, the writer’s silence and lack of response to his accusers in the intervening time — even as they sought not to bar Ellis from the world of writing altogether, but offered the “possibility of a mediated transformative justice action” — was deeply concerning to many.

Late last night, Ellis responded in private to the team behind SoManyOfUs.com, requesting a meeting to converse with them. “I was made aware today of the offer of a mediated dialogue,” the author claimed as part of an email shared on SoManyOfUs.com’s updated homepage. “I am available at the above noted email address, to begin a conversation.”

But now Ellis has responded further and publicly, tweeting for the first time since late December 2020 — when he had announced a suspension of his newsletter, Orbital Operations — to share a link to a new edition of said newsletter. “I was made aware today of the So Many Of Us collective’s offer of a mediated dialogue, and have today asked their permission to enter that dialogue,” the newsletter begins. “Where that will take us, I’m not sure, but I know I want to make certain that I’m doing all I can to no longer be part of the problem or in any way still perpetuating the past. I hope these conversations will be ongoing and productive for all.”

The write also specifically addressed the people he hurt. “[Last year in my statement] I did my best to respond to the many accounts of my past behaviour, the harm I’d caused, and the negative effects of my poor judgments. As I have come to realise, that damage has persisted and left lasting scars for many,” he wrote. “In the past, I have been careless and unthinking in my personal relationships, and I again apologise without reservation.” He also acknowledged that his behaviour “has clearly affected individuals for years, and may even have inspired others to perform negative behaviour.”

Ellis additionally called on fans of his work to not attack his accusers and people critical of his behaviour in an attempt to defend him. “If you are a reader who supported me, then thank you, but please don’t defend me anymore,” Ellis added. “Change doesn’t happen overnight — I’m at the start of a long road, and it’s not a road with a defined end — and it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you want to support me, then support efforts towards transformation of communities, industries and workplaces.”

Ellis went on to acknowledge the abrupt announcement of Fell’s return at Image and his involvement with the work. “That was my mistake and the book was prematurely announced without Image’s input or knowledge. I should have brought up to [Templesmith] beforehand that I still had work to do to address my past,” he continued in part. “I should have worked with Image to make sure they were ready and comfortable to commit publicly to the project when I still had work to do to address my past. This is another example of my lousy judgment. I now add both him, and Image, to the list of apologies I owe.”

As well as opening dialogue with the collective at SoManyOfUs.com, Ellis’ stated plans going forward include continuing personal therapy, the expansion of his own personal charitable donations to causes that include “funding therapy for young women and supporting women in the workplace,” and a slow but certain return to public work, if not yet public appearances. “I will continue to work on new projects with only the collaborators who have expressed their comfort in doing so with me,” Ellis continued. “I ceased all public appearances, and I think I have a long way to go before such activities would be appropriate again. I am grateful to all my collaborators for continuing to associate with me, and for the difficult but instructive conversations we had to get to that point.”

Neither Templesmith nor Image Comics have released new public statements in the wake of the renewed attention. When previously contacted by Gizmodo to enquire about the publisher’s awareness of the allegations as well as the editorial decision to revive Fell in 2021, Image Comics declined to comment, only confirming: “Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith’s Image Comics series Fell will indeed return for its long awaited final story arc in graphic novel format. We will have more details to share about this very soon.” No further statements have been made by the publisher since.

Ellis, on the other hand, is prepared to make amends. “As I said before — I’m sorry I let you down, and I’m sorry I have failed the trust placed in me,” Ellis’ statement concludes. “I hope that, over time, I can earn back a little of that.” Time, as always, will tell of course.