DC Entertainment imprint DC Vertigo has canceled comic book series Border Town effective immediately, with all orders for the unreleased issues 5 and 6 being canceled, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Those issues will not be published, and all issues already released are also being made returnable, according to the publisher.
The publisher has not commented on the reasons for the title’s cancellation, but it coincides with the release of a statement by toy designer Cynthia Naugle in which she wrote about being “sexually, mentally, and emotionally abused” by an unnamed figure later identified on social media — and seemingly confirmed by Naugle via retweets — as Border Town writer and co-creator Eric M. Esquivel.
Since Naugle’s statement went live, 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.”
Border Town was the debut title for this year’s relaunch of the DC Vertigo line, with the first issue being rushed back to press after selling out. The series had received much critical acclaim and had already appeared on a number of best-of-2018 lists from media outlets.
Esquivel provided the following statement to 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.
Dec. 14, 4:50 p.m. Updated to include statement from Esquivel.