Earlier today, BuzzFeed posted a story detailing several instances of women being harassed by DC Comics editor Eddie Berganza, who remained at the publisher despite many higher-ups knowing about the incidents.
Berganza has been an editor at DC Comics for more than two decades. In fact, when I started really paying attention to the staff boxes in the comics I was reading in the 1990s, Berganza’s name was one of the first that I really committed to memory. I was, after all, mostly reading Superman books and Berganza was the Superman group editor. He edited and guided most of the books I was reading for my first few years as a regular comics fan.
Reading the BuzzFeed article today was terrible, but it wasn’t really a surprise. Anyone who had been a regular reader of comics gossip site Bleeding Cool – or it’s pesky little brother, The Outhouse – has been aware of Berganza’s actions for a while now. Bleeding Cool’s owner, Rich Johnston, had outed Berganza a while back after vague details of a sexual assault at a convention started to circulate.
Like Harvey Weinstein and Louis CK and Kevin Spacey, Berganza’s sins for years have been an open secret at DC Comics, as BuzzFeed and Bleeding Cool have detailed. He not only kept his job, he was promoted to executive editor… until people started asking more and more questions about Berganza’s actions and he was demoted down to a group editor. The questions are even rumored to have driven co-publisher Dan Didio off Twitter.
The things that Berganza is reported to have done are pretty despicable. But what’s worse is how DC Comics seemed to go out of its way to address the issue without actually addressing the issue. No women in the Superman office. No more convention appearances for Berganza. These are band aids and doesn’t really do anything to solve the problem. But here’s the thing: we don’t know how DC Comics or its parent company actually addressed the situation, because company policy is to not discuss personnel issues. It’s a common practice out in the real world, but it means that we really have no idea how the situation was addressed, though the little things the publisher did to keep Berganza’s nose clean don’t make it easy to defend them at all.
There’s a quote from an unnamed former DC Comics editor toward the end of the BuzzFeed piece:
“[This] man made an error in judgment, but served his time and paid the penalty. The continued assault against him equates to a witch hunt, which is a problem that needs to be eradicated from the industry.”
Berganza having “served his time” may be true. But he didn’t really “pay the penalty” for his actions. I’d say that even one of the accusations against Berganza would be fireable offenses. Multiply that by three, four, five and he certainly would have been gone from any company, regardless of his talent, who he knows or how he carries out his duties. Berganza reportedly has been trouble-free for a number of years now, but it in no way should give him a free pass for his past actions.
Another thing I find disturbing, though, is that this story has been out there for a while now. When Bleeding Cool started reporting on this, Johnston’s posts were almost entirely ignored by other comics “news” sites. Places like Comic Book Resources and News-a-Rama had exactly zero posts about this, never once saying the name Eddie Berganza in reference to any sexual harassment allegations. Maybe it wouldn’t have meant anything. Maybe everything would be the same as it is now if these sites started to name names, but we’ll never know if it would have had any affect, because these sites make their bones by getting support and access from DC Comics and Marvel. The same reason many women decided not to speak up against Berganza.
It’s amazing that Berganza has managed to keep his job as long as he has with all these allegations. Just this morning, reports came out that Warner Bros. suspended THE FLASH and SUPERGIRL showrunner Andrew Kreisberg over allegations of sexual harassment from 15 women and four men. So how does Berganza still have a job? With the increased scrutiny over the issue lately, he may be on borrowed time. Somehow I doubt it, though.
UPDATE: DC Comics and Warner Bros. has issued a statement in response to the BuzzFeed article:
DC and WB are unequivocally committed to cultivating a work environment of dignity and respect, one that is safe and harassment free for all employees. We take all claims of harassment very seriously and investigate them promptly. Employees found in violation of the policies are dealt with swiftly and decisively, and subject to disciplinary actions and consequences.