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Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Resigns, Following Pressure From Comic Creators

Charles Brownstein has resigned after 18 years with the organization.
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; Brownstein: Joshin Yamada
Charles Brownstein has resigned after 18 years with the organization.

Charles Brownstein has resigned as the executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a position he held for 18 years, as the result of renewed pressure from the comic book industry surrounding a sexual assault from 2005, The Hollywood Reporter can confirm.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization focused on the protection of First Amendment rights of comic book creators, publishers, retailers and readers. Its current board of directors, headed by Discount Comic Book Service owner Christina Merkler, includes Reginald Hudlin, former DC president Paul Levitz, and Gene Luen Yang. Its advisory board includes Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, Chip Kidd, and DC publisher Jim Lee.

Brownstein assaulted comic book creator Taki Soma at Mid-Ohio Con in November, 2005, in an incident that was reported to police without leading to an arrest. (A contemporaneous report a police spokesperson suggested that an arrest was not pursued for lack of corroborating evidence.) Brownstein, who characterized the incident as “a stupid, drunken prank, of which I’m ashamed,” remained in place with the CBLDF following what was described as an independent investigation carried out on behalf of the organization.

This weekend, posts on social media brought the matter back to the fore in the light of recent revelations regarding sexual predators in the industry, leading to a number of creators, including Batman writer James Tynion IV and Immortal Hulk writer Al Ewing, calling for Brownstein’s resignation.

In a statement, the CBLDF board said, “The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has accepted the resignation of Charles Brownstein as Executive Director, effective immediately.

”Our organization exists to serve the comics community and the First Amendment, and we can’t do that without an open and honest discourse. We believe our organization’s management and staff should be representative of and responsive to the community they serve. As we move forward, it will be with a renewed focus on accountability and transparency. And as we plan for the future with new leadership in place, we will work with our staff and human resources experts to continue developing policies that will make us a stronger organization.

”We hear and understand the concerns of our community and recognize that this is only a first step in building greater trust and understanding regarding our mission and how it is carried out.”

Brownstein had worked with the CBLDF since 2002. Beyond that position, he has also served as chair of the Banned Books Week Coalition, and as president of the Freedom-to-Read Foundation.

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