DC Entertainment imprint DC Vertigo reportedly ha canceled comic book series Border Town effective immediately.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, all orders for the unreleased issues 5 and 6 of the comic book have also been cancelled. Those issues will not be published, and all issues already released are also being made returnable, according to the publisher.
While the publisher has not commented on the reasons for the title’s cancellation, THR adds that this coincides with the release of a statement by toy designer Cynthia Naugle in which she wrote about being “sexually, mentally, and emotionally abused” by Border Town writer and co-creator Eric M. Esquivel.
After Naugle’s statement went viral, both Border Town artist Ramon Villalobos and color artist Tamra Bonvillain released statements via Twitter on the subject, distancing themselves from the project.
“The way he treated [Naugle] was disgusting and inexcusable,” Bonvillain wrote, adding, “It shames me to have spent so much time and energy working with someone who is capable of such actions, and I’m sorry if the delay in response caused some confusion about my feelings.”
Villalobos tweeted a lengthy statement, which read in part, “Whatever this person felt and experienced is what matters the most and I want to be clear that I think dealing with abuse and making the comics industry a safer place is the most important thing to come from this. To know the art that I’m so proud of, and the world I have lived in and created for the last year of my life had brought so much pain to individuals frankly outweighs the joy I know it brought others and that is going to be something that is hard to reconcile.”
Meanwhile, here’s what Esquivel told THR in response to the series’ cancellation:
I was recently accused of misconduct by a former romantic partner. Not recent misconduct. Misconduct which allegedly happened many years ago. Out of respect for her and our prior relationship, I will not publicly name names.
I’ve taken a few days to respond, because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t talking over anyone. We’re in the midst of a very important cultural conversation right now. One I wholeheartedly believe in.
Never in my life did I expect that I would become one of the accused. I will not speculate as to her motivation for making these reckless allegations, but I want to make it clear that they are false. Though our relationship was unconventional, we always treated one another with dignity and respect.
I heavily encourage, and will fully cooperate in, any forthcoming independent investigation of these claims, which I am confident will show that I have been falsely accused.
I have been notified that DC Vertigo has canceled the book I was working on. My heart breaks for the book’s supporters, and my creative collaborators. They don’t deserve to be negatively affected by this unfortunate situation.