Living in the slow-motion apocalypse may make it a little harder than usual to get into the Halloween spirit, but even COVID-19 can’t completely eradicate the Nerdoween triple-feature, hosted each year by the fine fellows from the Nerds of Nostalgia and Nightmare Junkhead podcasts.

Now in its sixth year, Nerdoween has become as much a part of my seasonal traditions as grinning pumpkins or spooky movies. Indeed, it always shows a few spooky movies, and I’ve gone every year.

And every year – with one exception – I have always been introduced to at least one picture that I had never seen before. The first year’s theme was “demons,” and I saw both the Lamberto Bava film of that name and also Night of the Demons for the first time.

The theme of the second year was “sequels,” where I saw both 28 Weeks Later and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 fresh. The third year was anthologies and managed only a single new-to-me film in the form of the very great Tales from the Hood (the other two were both favorites, however – Creepshow and Waxwork).

They followed that up with “sleazy sci-fi,” where they again managed only a single new-to-me flick, in that case the absolutely wild Xtro.

Last year’s theme was “killer nouns,” and it was the first year where I had seen every movie on the lineup: Maximum Overdrive, Cooties, and Arachnophobia. Which brings us to this year and Nerdoween 6(66) – the triple feature that almost didn’t happen because the world was coming to an end.

Suitably enough, the theme of this year’s triple-feature was the figure who could have been the architect of 2020 himself; none other than the dark lord Satan. And the guys at Nightmare Junkhead nearly managed a hat trick, going two-for-two with movies I had never seen before with our first two features.

We started with The Car, from 1977. Prior to last night, I was (somehow) unaware that the eponymous evil car in this film is overtly demonic, even if they never make even the slightest pretense of explaining its presence in the film.

I was also unaware that, in addition to James Brolin, The Car also stars Ronny Cox, of cops both Robo and Beverly Hills fame.

Then they followed that up with Evilspeak from 1981. If The Car was Duel by way of Jaws by way of The Exorcist then Evilspeak is Carrie + Satanic panic + computers.

A good example of the “movies from the ’80s that go completely bonkers in the last act” subgenre, as near as I can tell the director of Evilspeak had two main interests: People getting eaten by pigs and making Clint Howard sweaty and/or otherwise damp.

In his defense, people getting eaten by pigs is scary and so is damp Clint Howard. This was also an inadvertent (?) double-feature of movies featuring R. G. Armsrong. If the third film of the night had been Warlock: The Armageddon they could have been three-for-three.

Alas (?) it was not, nor was it something I hadn’t ever seen before – and really, a triple-feature of things I hadn’t seen before seems like an awful lot to ask. Instead, it was recent subgenre entry Ready or Not, part of the mini boom of “rich people are literal Satanists, actually” movies of the last few years.

I saw Ready or Not when it first came out and liked it then. I still like it, for most of the same reasons. Underneath its many very modern sensibilities, it has lots of delightfully old-fashioned deal-with-the-devil stuff going on that I adore.

Getting into the Halloween spirit may be harder than normal this year, but three Satanic shockers from the Nerds of Nostalgia guys always makes it a little easier…

Look, a lot has been going on, and it’s not about to stop going on in the immediate future. It’s already five days into the month of Halloween and you haven’t heard from me!

So, what have you missed? Well, the horror Storybundle from Word Horde that I mentioned last time is still going on, albeit not for very much longer. In fact, as I write this, you’ve only got about three days left to pick it up – just in time for Halloween!

Speaking of things that are arriving just in time for the spooky season, the first issue of Weird Horror is out now from Undertow Publications. You can pick up the first issue or get a subscription, because this issue and every subsequent issue will feature a column by yours truly! This time around, I’m writing about the Crestwood House monster books.

Plus, my two book-length collections of essays on vintage horror film are, once again, on sale for less than a buck on Kindle if you want some quick, hopefully-pithy guides to your holiday viewing. You can grab the first one on the cheap here and the inevitable sequel here. They make great trick-or-treat handouts! (They don’t.)

If you’re not feeling like putting up with me for that long, you could always pick up the latest issue of Exploits (an Unwinnable publication) and read my very brief thoughts on Junji Ito’s latest or my even briefer thoughts on the remake of Child’s Play.

If fiction is more your thing, there’s always the first installment of my occult cyberpunk novel Neon Reliquary, which is available now via the Broken Eye Books Patreon. Or you could put your money toward the Tales from OmniPark Kickstarter, which is back from the dead after an untimely COVID-related early demise!

It’s already funded, so you know you’ll be getting a book sooner or later, and that it’ll feature stories by Gemma Files, Brian Evenson, Jesse Bullington, and yours truly, among others. Also, the title of my story is “The Robot Apeman Waits for the Nightmare Blood to Stop.” If that doesn’t sell a copy, I don’t know what to tell you.

So, this has been less a countdown to Halloween and more a series of “buy my book” news flashes, but I promise that I have been preparing for the season in those ways that I can, and more festive content shall soon be on its way…

Yesterday was the official book birthday for It Came from the Multiplex, an anthology of stories inspired by ’80s midnight movies and the places where we watched them, edited by Josh Viola and released by Hex Publishing.

Back when I was first approached to contribute a story for this anthology, the plan was to release it in tandem with the Colorado Festival of Horror. Then 2020 happened. But, even if we’re stuck in our homes, menaced by an invisible threat and devastated by natural disasters, at least you can still read about movies and monsters and monster movies.

My story “Screen Haunt” follows a filmmaker whose best friend vanished years ago, making a movie inspired by notes in her missing friend’s journal, and maybe conjuring up more than just memories.

I’m far from the only name in the credits, though. My story is joined by tales from the likes of Betty Rocksteady, Stephen Graham Jones, Mario Acevedo, Steve Rasnic Tem, and others. Plus, the book looks amazing, with a cover by AJ Nazzaro and interior illustrations by Xander Smith.

While some copies have already made their way out into the world, you can order yours now by clicking right here.

Speaking of great-looking books, Word Horde always puts ’em out, and now you can try an impressive sampling of their titles, including my own Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales, on the cheap – while also supporting Planned Parenthood, if you feel like it!

I haven’t read all of the books included in this impressive Storybundle, curated by Molly Tanzer, but I can vouch for Word Horde, in general, and tell you that everything I have read from them has been imminently worth your time. (And I’m not just saying that because they often publish my stuff.)

Paying just $5 gets you a pretty nice spread, including John Langan’s must-read epic novel of cosmic horror, The Fisherman, as well as Nadia Bulkin’s bombshell of a collection, She Said Destroy, and three other titles.

For the full effect, though, and to snag a copy of Guignol, you’ll only need to pony up $15, which will get you Kristi DeMeester’s Beneath, Tony McMillen’s An Augmented Fourth, Scott R. Jones’ Stonefish, Livia Llewellyn’s Furnace, Molly Tanzer’s Vermillion, and others. It’s a hell of a deal, and should keep you in good, shivery stories long into the night for many nights ahead.

Speaking, as I was back toward the beginning of this post, of film festivals, we’re coming up on the Halloween season, and with it the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon. Normally, I try to make it out to the show, an event I love so much that it features prominently in the opening story of Guignol, but this year, the show is going online instead of in person, which has the advantage, for everyone who can’t make it out to Portland (which is currently on fire anyway), of being much easier to attend.

If you want to get your tickets and support some cool, weird cinema, you can do so by hitting up their Kickstarter, which is live as I write this. Because of the streaming nature of the event, airtime is at a premium, so I am not currently planning to do any panels or readings this year, though that’s subject to possible change.

What I am hoping to be involved in is the Screenland Armour’s annual Shocktober programming, which will be happening via a dynamic and mixed methodology in order to try to still have Halloween in the midst of social distancing.

I’ll have more news on that as it develops, but for Kansas City readers of “Screen Haunt” in It Came from the Multiplex, let’s just say that the Galileo theatre in that story may seem pretty familiar to devotees of the Screenland…

Did you ever wonder what a cyberpunk story written by yours truly would look like? Apparently the folks over at Broken Eye Books did, because they asked me to write one. Not just a short story, either. They asked me to write what technically qualifies as a novel, and now they’re serializing it for their Patreon patrons!

It’s called Neon Reliquary and, as I said on their site, what led me to agree to the project was a desire to focus on the “punk” part of that portmanteau. By that I don’t necessarily mean leather jackets and bright green mohawks so much as I mean something that’s “deeply suspicious of capitalism, imperialism, fascism, and rich old white guys, as all good cyberpunk should be.”

The pitch that I sent them began – much like Blade Runner – like a classic film noir story. “You are Soma Caldwell, an operative for Eidolon, the corporation that is the only employer, the only government, the only law in a city where the sun never shines, surrounded by an endless expanse of darkness that is peopled by unstoppable monsters. It’s been this way for as long as you can remember. For as long as anyone can remember. The city is a perfect machine, and you’re the implement that helps keep it running smoothly.”

But then the story begins to fray apart at the edges, shedding its skin, becoming something different. This is still me, after all, so this is an occult cyberpunk story, filled with mysticism and half-glimpsed monsters – and those seen in all their monstrous glory – and every bit as beholden to William Hope Hodgson’s The Nightland as it is to Neuromancer.

The installment that’s currently up on the Broken Eye Patreon is Act One of three that are planned, and I hope that you’ll stick with us for all of them. I’m not going to swear that I’ll stick the landing, but I have big plans and, if I do my job right, they may not be what you’re expecting at the end of this chapter…

Look, I don’t understand it myself – and, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t really tried very hard to understand it because most days just doing what I’ve gotta do to get by is enough – but reading has been really tough during the pandemic.

I don’t have any idea why (see above), but my to-be-read pile has basically not budged one micron since lockdown began. Ditto with writing fiction, for the most part.

Oh, I’ve been working, still. I’ve been freelancing at about the same pace I was before. I’ve read for work; done some copyedits that I was contracted to do. I’ve written nonfiction: articles and columns and also been working on some other … let’s call them projects. (Mostly homebrew game stuff no one will ever see.)

But when it comes time to actually put digital quill to page and write a story that I don’t already owe to anyone? It just hasn’t been there. Normally, that’s the horror of the writer, right? That we’ll wake up one day and it’ll just be gone. We won’t be able to do it anymore. There won’t be any stories there.

Yet, for whatever reason, I’m not too scared this time. This doesn’t feel like the end; it doesn’t really even feel like a dry spell. It just feels like the end of a long day of work, when you’re not feeling up to even watching a movie or anything more than staring at whatever happens to be on the TV at the moment.

So far, I’m okay with letting it just be that. With letting what I have to do to keep the lights burning and food on the table be enough. With my recent spate of dungeon crawl board games and D&D reading being what I do to keep out the dark, for the time being.

So far, so good.

“We live in anxious but oddly well-lit times.”

Emperor Cupcake on Letterboxd

Is it deeply strange or merely apropos to be having the Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird in the midst of all this? [gestures around at everything]

Whichever it is, that’s what’s happening. The Symposium was originally slated for earlier in the year, right as the pandemic was getting into full swing. Naturally, the folks behind the Outer Dark were wise enough to postpone until August when, wouldn’t you know, the pandemic was still in full swing.

But when the going gets weird, the Weird go virtual, so we’re still having the Symposium, just remotely via Zoom calls and the like. Last night, Tyler Unsell and myself live-tweeted a viewing (my second in 48 hours, because I am good at things) of The Beach House, followed by a special live episode of the Horror Pod Class.

As bad of an idea as that sounds, it was actually a blast, and I think I enjoyed it more than a regular episode because it was really fun to interact with comments from the peanut gallery in real time. (If we missed your comment – like the person who wanted to know what we were drinking – sorry about that, we’re new to the format. I can’t speak for Tyler, but I was drinking boring water.)

Hopefully, we’ll be doing more live shows going forward.

In the meantime, the Outer Dark Symposium is going strong all weekend. Hopefully, you’ve already got your membership but, if not, you can get tickets, see the full schedule, and learn more at the website.

Aside from last night’s live-tweet and kickoff episode, the only thing I’m officially taking part in is a round table discussion on the State of the Weird, where I’ll be keeping my mouth shut and letting smarter people like Chesya Burke, JS Breukelaar, Larissa Glasser, Tonya Liburd, and Julie C. Day talk.

But there’s plenty of cool programming going on, including panels, readings, short films, and more. There’s even a virtual tour of the Silver Scream FX Lab which, having been there in person at last year’s Symposium, is worth the price of admission all by itself.

If you’ve never attended an Outer Dark Symposium before, this is your chance to see what all the fuss is about from the comfort of your own couch. And if you’re coming back for your second or third or more time, I’ll see you all on Saturday night, if not before!

(I won’t actually see you, but you’ll be able to see me, for which I apologize in advance.)

“If it can happen to the gerenuk, it can happen to you.”

In case you were concerned that I was abandoning my core brand with all this recent talk about Dungeons & Dragons and board games, I lately learned that there was a 1962 episode of the show Route 66 in which Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Lon Chaney, Jr. guest star as themselves.

Better still, I learned that it’s currently on Prime. So, today I watched it. Please bear in mind that I have never seen even a single other episode of Route 66 – which a little sleuthing tells me was a show in the same “semi-anthology” format as series-creator Stirling Silliphant’s other famous series, The Naked City, with a couple of recurring characters but stand-alone stories driven by the guest stars – and, indeed, didn’t even know the basic plot of the show before I sat down to watch this episode.

The episode, which is set and shot outside Chicago, originally showed on October 26, 1962. Its dual plots involve our two ostensible protagonists (played by Martin Milner and George Maharis) taking jobs as “junior executives in charge of convention liaison” at a hotel where a secretary’s convention is being held along with a secret meeting between Karloff, Lorre, and Chaney (as well as Martita Hunt from Brides of Dracula playing their legal advisor) so that the trio can plan a new series of horror films they will be producing.

Peter Lorre is convinced that the old ways are the best ways and wants to create new movies in the classic gothic style, arguing in favor of monsters in which people can see themselves. Karloff, on the other hand, doesn’t think that anyone will be afraid of the creaky old monsters, and wants to create new, “adult” horror. (“My kind of horror is not horror anymore,” Karloff would lament just six years later in Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets. “No one is afraid of a painted monster.”)

In fact, this episode of Route 66 makes a good thematic double-feature with the much more serious Targets, which tackles a similar question with regards to the efficacy of classic horror and comes to very different conclusions. Dedicated readers no doubt remember me writing about Targets in the past, and recognize the above quote as the source of the title of my second collection.

This episode, titled “Lizard’s Leg and Owlet’s Wing,” came out just six years before Bogdanovich’s film, but a world of difference has elapsed in those six years. If Targets is a film about how horror cinema – and the nation – changed from before the ’60s to after, then “Lizard’s Leg and Owlet’s Wing” is an episode that sees that change coming, but still takes refuge in the comforts of what was.

Not that this is a thematically-dense episode. It’s a confection, and mostly an excuse for Karloff, Lorre, and Chaney to have a blast – which they do, from Chaney’s weepy temper tantrums when people aren’t afraid of him to the recurring gag that people are afraid of Peter Lorre, even when he’s not trying.

“You’re the spitting image of Peter Lorre,” the desk clerk tells him, as he’s checking in incognito. “A bit insulting, isn’t it?” Lorre replies, as only Lorre can. Later, as Chaney in his wolf-man getup is frightening the secretaries and causing them to faint, three of them faint dead away upon catching sight of Lorre just standing there like normal.

“I think I resent that,” Lorre quips, aridly.

It’s also a piece of horror history – even while it’s really nothing more than a piece of horror ephemera. Karloff dons a cut-rate version of the Frankenstein’s monster makeup for the first time since 1939, and we get to see Chaney done up as the mummy, the wolf-man, and even a take on his late father’s Hunchback of Notre Dame.

It’s hard to believe that it’s August 2nd already, as I write this. The pandemic – and with it the rest of the garbage fire that is 2020 – has been … having an effect on my overall life and output, to be sure, and rarely an altogether positive one. (When I told my therapist – via a Zoom call, of course – that I had spent a few days freaking out the prior week, she was like, “Only a few days?! Bravo!”)

As someone who already worked from home, I am far from the hardest hit by this slow-motion apocalypse, but it’s also impossible to be an even remotely empathetic human being and not feel the miasma of strain that currently grips the world.

I am proud and envious of the folks who have turned this time toward productive ends by writing their novel, carving through their to-be-read pile, or even just watching a lot more movies; even while my own TBR pile gathers an ever-deepening layer of dust and the very notion of putting words on the page carries a kind of low-key existential dread.

To my own surprise, I haven’t even watched that many movies during the lockdown. In fact, June was the lightest month since I started keeping score several years ago, with only ten movies watched. Part of that can be chalked up to the (hopefully temporary) death of movie theaters and breakdowns in the supply chain for new review titles, but a part of it is just how I’m coping with [gestures at everything].

July picked up a bit, thanks, in no small part, to Arrow Video’s Shinya Tsukamoto collection, my review of which should be dropping any day now. At ten movies all by itself, it basically guaranteed that I was going to at least eclipse June’s paltry sum.

I’ve still been writing, of course, just not a lot of fiction. My last post was partly about my new gaming column for Unwinnable, and I also wrote about getting into Dungeons & Dragons during the plague times for our local dirtbag/cool kid newspaper The Pitch. (Observant readers may recognize a thinly-veiled version of The Pitch as The Current in my story “The Red Church.”)

This is probably my first byline in an actual print newspaper since college. Like most writers my age, I entertained some fantasies about one day being a journalist, mostly when I was in high school and later a bit in college. Even by the time I was in college, though, the future of print newspapers was already pretty close to utter collapse, so I kinda wrote off the notion of that ever coming to pass. Every once in a while, we get a nice surprise, instead of just a box full of the plague.

As you may be able to gather from that, I’ve been spending a lot of the pandemic getting really into games that I mostly can’t play right now. In addition to D&D, I finally took the plunge on Descent: Journeys in the Dark, a game I’ve been wanting to try for years, just in time for it to probably go out of print, it looks like? (Speaking of, if anyone happens to have the Stewards of the Secret expansion for it, I would love to take that off your hands.)

So far, for a game that I basically haven’t played, I’ve really been enjoying my time looking at and thinking about playing Descent, anyway. I guess there are worse ways of coping…

Apparently, I am a writer of nonfiction these days.

That’s not completely fair. I’ve had new stories in The Weird Fiction Review and The Willows already this year, and It Came from the Multiplex is coming soon, not to mention my story “The All-Night Horror Show,” which went live at The Dark and got a “recommended” from Paula Guran in Locus. I’ve got new stories coming out in Ben Thomas’ OmniPark anthology and some other places I can’t yet name.

But I also can’t deny that I’ve been publishing a lot more nonfiction of late. Besides my usual movie reviews – which, for various reasons, have actually dried up a bit due to the pandemic, but there are more in the wings – I’ve also got a column in Michael Kelly’s forthcoming digest-sized Weird Horror mag, the first installment of which is about those Crestwood House monster books.

And that’s not even my only new column! Those regular readers of this here blog may remember a while back my mentioning a new monthly column that I had coming out over at Unwinnable called “I Played It, Like, Twice,” in which I discussed the joys and sorrows of really wanting to be into board games, but hardly ever playing them.

As it did with most everything else in the entire damn world, the pandemic changed plans for that column somewhat, but I’ve still been writing it, and given that the announcement was a few months ago, I’ve written a few of them!

The first installment discussed playing Horrified during the pandemic, while later installments covered the difficulties I ran into with the rules for the otherwise-admirable Vast: The Mysterious Manor and the pleasures and perils of Rum & Bones, a pirate-themed game of shoving piles of minis around.

Though playing board games is necessarily a different proposition in this brave (?) new world we find ourselves in, I’m still plowing ahead with the column and also I’ve recently gotten really into Descent, in spite of not having yet played it even once, so expect some more about that in the future …

It would be easy – altogether far too easy – not to post this. The events I’m talking about are a week old and, with the world on fire, a week may as well be a thousand years in internet time. But not posting something like this is what helps it to keep happening, so here it is…

For longer than I’ve been a published writer, Mike Mignola has been the biggest influence there was on my work. His own work on Hellboy changed the way I thought about horror, folklore, weird fiction, and what I could accomplish with all of the above. If it weren’t for Mignola, I would have a very different career, to say the least.

What’s more, over the years, I was lucky enough to get to know him a little, and we became, if not friends, then at least friendly. He commented on my Facebook, we chatted at conventions and sometimes talked via Messenger. He has always been nice to me, and has always seemed like a genuinely decent person.

All of which makes what is going on right now so much more difficult. Last week, Shawna Gore came forward with a brave testimony about Scott Allie’s mistreatment, harassment, and sexual assault of her while they were both editors at Dark Horse.

For those who don’t follow the Mignolaverse doings as closely as I do, Scott Allie was Mike’s editor on pretty much everything he did for nearly a quarter of a century, and continued to work on Mignolaverse titles after he was no longer acting as an editor at Dark Horse.

Everyone, including Mike, immediately did the thing you do when something like this happens, which is, unfortunately, all too frequent nowadays: They posted that they believed Shawna, that they had no idea how bad things were, that they were severing all ties with Allie going forward, the whole nine yards.

You can read Mike’s post about the matter on his website at the moment, and the official response from Dark Horse on their Twitter. As almost always happens when this happens, though, Shawna’s testimony wasn’t the end of the story. Instead, it opened the floodgates.

That’s the thing about these situations. There are always floodgates. The hand-wringers and the whatabouters will fret endlessly about a false accusation (which are vanishingly rare anyway) destroying the career of a “good man.” But when these things come to light, it almost always exposes, not a single instance of poor judgement or misconduct, but a known pattern of behavior stretching back years.

John Arcudi and Guy Davis both came forward, publicly stating that Mike and Dark Horse knew about Allie’s behavior and chose to do nothing. Those aren’t just random names. They’re both folks who had worked closely with Mike and, by extension, Allie for years. Guy Davis even says that he quit comics over it, and his timeline certainly adds up.

What’s more, this isn’t the first time that Allie has gotten into trouble about this. Back in 2015, he sexually assaulted comic writer Joe Harris – who readers of this site may know as the guy who wrote the 2003 movie Darkness Falls – while drunk at a convention.

When that story broke, Allie’s history of misbehavior and harassment burst out of the whisper network and became public knowledge. Allie blamed alcoholism and went into rehab, or so the story goes, and everyone seems to have been all-too-willing to accept that explanation, and assume that Allie had done enough to make amends. Until, of course, it all came out again.

When confronted with these things, Mike has unfortunately either remained silent thus far or dug down behind his website statement. There are people saying that Mike absolutely knew more than he’s letting on, and other people saying that he was intentionally kept from the truth by Allie and others. For every person saying, “you knew, I told you,” there is someone else saying, “I kept it from you because you and he were friends.”

Even if we believe – as I am inclined to do, because of my own biases and blind spots – that Mike didn’t realize the extent of the problem because he couldn’t see it due to his biases and blind spots, as he claims in his website statement, we are still faced with a serious problem.

This sort of situation is exactly what allows these crimes to continue year after year, claiming victim after victim. The good ol’ boy network that makes it too easy to turn a blind eye when the rumors are about someone with whom you are on friendly terms, or who has always treated you well. It’s a set of biases and blind spots that we all have to work harder to interrogate and avoid.

I’ve also seen a number of people who worked with Allie saying that he was – as so many predators and abusers are – good at hiding and manipulating. “And he was so, SO good at using us against each other. And at cultivating relationships he could use as shields,” Jay Edidin posted on Twitter. “If you worked with him and didn’t see this: that’s not your fault.”

Creator Michael Avon Oeming shared a lengthy thread about being manipulated and lied to by Allie, about his regret over not realizing how bad things were sooner. Colorist Dave Stewart – who is nearly as synonymous with the Hellboy books as Mike himself – posted that he had to “dig around” to learn about Allie’s transgressions.

So, maybe Mike genuinely didn’t have any idea. I want to believe that he didn’t, so badly. But even if that’s true, we’re still left with this: cutting ties with Allie now just isn’t enough.

“Comics need to do better,” Mike writes in his website statement. “We all need to be more accountable.” That starts here and now, not the next time.

As one of the most successful independent creators in the business, Mike had – and still has – the power and position to help make a real difference in this toxic culture of enabling predation that exists throughout comics. He chose not to act earlier. He needs to take drastic action to help now.

What’s more, however culpable Mike may or may not have been, Dark Horse is much more so. If Mike probably knew – or turned a blind eye without knowing what he was turning it to – then Dark Horse had to know, and willingly covered for Allie, continuing to employ him for years after his behavior was already public knowledge in 2015.

As part of their public statement, Dark Horse said that they were going to have a “zero tolerance” policy going forward, to which someone on Twitter immediately pointed out the name of another known harasser who works for them and said, “So they’re fired now, right?”

Here’s the thing about adopting a “zero tolerance” policy: it implies that you previously had a “tolerance” policy, which, in this instance, was obviously the case. A zero tolerance policy, like firing Scott Allie and not working with him again, is the bare minimum here. Both Dark Horse and Mike need to do more than the minimum.

We want to believe the very best about those companies and people who create the stuff that we love, the stuff that means the most to us. But we need to base those beliefs on who they actually are and what they actually do, not any affection we have for them. They need to be worthy of our admiration.

The last line of Mike’s website statement says, “As a creator I need to do better, I need to set a better example, both in the stories I tell and the people I choose to tell them with.” He’s right. Let’s hope that starts now.