Update 5/22/18: Dark Horse Comics has reversed its policy.
Dark Horse Comics is one of the major players in the indie comics scene. Though it’s an indie, it’s published many comics you’ve heard of, including Hellboy, Sin City and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic series. However, in the industry, it’s also known for having what’s been called “the most explicitly bigoted in the industry” over the company’s decision to use a legal loophole to refuse to cover trans health care.
“Too bad your actual company policies are among the most explicitly bigoted in the industry, huh? Also, PLEASE tell me more about how ‘LGBT’ inclusive you are! Have you published a third story with a trans character? I mean, in addition to the one working-titled ‘Sex-Change Hitler’ that I had to work on?”
Edidin describes wanting to stay quiet about Dark Horse Comics, due to his ex, Miles Stokes, who works at Dark Horse. (The fear appears to be founded; Edidin says, “Hell, last time I tweeted something even obliquely critical about them, my EX-SPOUSE got called into the president’s office.”)
But Edidin also describes a culture of harassment at the publisher, writing, “Also, [Mike Richardson, founder of Dark Horse Comics] used to gossip about my personal life with my colleagues WHEN I STILL WORKED THERE. I know you’re very tall; but it’s still not the same view as the *actual* moral high ground.”
Edidin is not alone in calling out the harassment; in 2015, then-Editor-in-Cheif Scott Allie was accused of repeated sexual harassment. Allie stepped down in 2017.
But the biggest part of Edidin’s argument is how Dark Horse is using a loophole in Oregon law to refuse to fund trans health care as part of their insurance. Though in Oregon, it’s illegal to exclude transgender issues from health insurance, businesses that are “self-insured” are exempt from state laws.
As the Portland Mercury points out, most companies are “fully-insured,” which means the company pays an insurance prover to handle medical insurance claims. But self-insured companies, like Dark Horse Comics, operate their own health care plans, which does save money, but is also exempt from state laws, meaning companies like Dark Horse can pick and choose what they cover.
Last Tuesday, Dark Horse Comics responded:
Dark Horse Comics is dedicated to inclusivity and diversity of experience, ideas, and storytelling. Below, please find our statement regarding Pride and transgender inclusivity: pic.twitter.com/67OXDKtcNq
— Dark Horse Comics (@DarkHorseComics) June 12, 2018
Edidin wasn’t impressed, writing:
“Let’s see what’s missing from this picture:
- Specific language
- Any actual information
- Any accountability
- Any commitment to actual change
- Any concrete steps
- Any kind of timeline.
You have LONG since used up the right to any benefit of the doubt when it comes to acting in good faith on this.”
Edidin also says that while he worked there, he and other employees lobbied Dark Horse to change the policy. He describes going to Basic Rights Oregon and the ACLU; according to Edidin, the organizations “hadn’t seen anything like it in more than a decade.”
So far, beyond the June 12 statement, Dark Horse Comics hasn’t responded. But Edidin is still waiting. This morning, he wrote:
“Good morning, Dark Horse Comics! I am still eagerly waiting for you to adequately address any of this!
“And GOOD MORNING, comics community! In case you were wondering, YES, I would still very much appreciate you joining me in telling Dark Horse Comics that this will not stand. We need to see accountability, action, and a concrete timeline!
“I’m going to keep talking about Dark Horse Comics’ trans-discriminatory policies and practices until they change. I know it’s one place among many. But it’s the one I have the tools to challenge; and that I think we’ve got the collective power to challenge successfully.”
What do you think about Dark Horse Comics refusing to cover trans health care? Let us know in the comments.
Featured image from Zodiac Starforce #1, published by Dark Horse
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