Hannah-Means Shannon, a Senior Editor for the famous sci-fi and fantasy comic book magazine Heavy Metal, has resigned from her position at the publication due to being the target of an alleged “bullying campaign” which aimed to push her to engage in unethical editorial behavior.
On October 29th, Shannon posted a lengthy post to her Facebook page bearing the headline “Hannah Means-Shannon Gives Notice At Heavy Metal Due To Bullying.”
Shannon’s post begins by recalling the recent departure of CEO and co-owner Jeff Krelitz and her slow realization that he had not resigned, but had in fact been removed due to an “intense conflict between the partners at Heavy Metal over the future of the company.”
“On October 22nd, editors at Heavy Metal received a memo stating that CEO and one of the owners of the company, Jeff Krelitz, also our day-to-day boss, had resigned his position at the company.
I continued with my editing duties alongside my Managing Editor Tim Seeley and others, but found myself increasingly faced with administrative duties that were not included in my contract due to the changes within the company.
Sometimes this extra work resulted in several more hours per day. When I asked that I be compensated for the extra time I was spending on these non-contracted duties, I was told by owners Paul Reder and Llexi Leon that the company couldn’t commit to extra pay at that time and that they hoped I would continue to do the extra work anyway.
Meanwhile, it became clear to me that Krelitz had not resigned, but been removed, and there was an intense conflict between the partners at Heavy Metal over the future of the company. However, I wasn’t permitted to have any formal communication with him to help with the transition of his many projects or outstanding business that affected me as Senior Editor.”
Shannon then describes how she was then aggressively pressed for documents “relating to a series of projects in development at the company” and after refusing to provide “any materials not yet under contract” was accused of “withholding information”:
“On October 27th, I was asked to hand over all documentation relating to a series of projects in development at the company, to which I complied same-day. Over a rapid fire series of e-mails I was informed that my documentation was not sufficient, asking me to provide more documents for these early stage projects.
The problem was those documents were not in my possession, and to my knowledge didn’t exist. When I explained that there were no further documents, the line of questioning didn’t stop there. Relentless e-mailing, sometimes quite aggressive, came in from Llexi Leon, questioning and pushing me to find development materials for these projects.
When I pointed out that any materials not yet under contract were owned by creators, and not by the company, and therefore were not in power to deliver, the questioning became even more intense and pointed, suggesting that I was withholding information.
I brought all this to the attention of my Managing Editor and asked that he be included in these conversations, since they were making me uncomfortable. He proceeded to confirm my statement that we did not have possession of the materials they were looking for.
I explained the terms of creator ownership, in the absence of contracts, and was told by Leon that they needed the materials only to assess the existence of projects, however also wanted to take possession of the material and prevent competing companies from developing similar projects based on the pitch materials creators might have created.”
She then explains that her “ethical lines” were being pushed, as she “was being asked to contact creators in good faith, solicit pitch materials from them, and turn them over to the company for use in whatever way the company saw fit without contractual obligation.”
She then asserts she “was targeted not only because I was seen as the only person who could provide the information that the company wanted, but also because I had worked for someone who was now in disfavor.”
“My ethical lines, already being pushed, were crossed at that point. As someone who comes from creator-owned comics, I won’t compromise ownership of materials that are not under contract with a company. I will always be on the side of creators and their legal status in comics. I was being asked to contact creators in good faith, solicit pitch materials from them, and turn them over to the company for use in whatever way the company saw fit without contractual obligation.
However, I was targeted by the owners of Heavy Metal, following the removal of Jeff Krelitz, to be forced to hand over materials that they felt should be in the possession of the company, whether there was legal claim or not.
And that targeting to receive information was relentless, detailed, and eventually became obvious as a bullying campaign to try to force me to comply. It began once my day-to-day boss was removed and was contingent on the conflicts that Paul Reder and Llexi Leon felt to be ongoing with Jeff Krelitz.
I was targeted not only because I was seen as the only person who could provide the information that the company wanted, but also because I had worked for someone who was now in disfavor. Rather than being allowed to continue my job unimpeded, as I was originally promised, I was constantly interfered with, creating a climate of isolation and fear.”
The post concludes with Shannon stating that she “no longer [felt] it [was] a safe environment for me to do my work” before apologizing to “all the creators that I have worked with and was currently working with that this has happened” and that she could not resolve the conflict with a Human Resources department because “Heavy Metal doesn’t have an HR department or an HR officer.”
“I have been the predominant editor of content on issues 294, 295, and 296 of Heavy Metal magazine, personally editing between 70 and 120 pages of content in each of those magazines. I was also the predominant editor on the highly successful Soft Wood #1, editing 100 of its 120 pages of content.
But I’ve been hounded from my job by bullying and I no longer feel it is a safe environment for me to do my work.
I’m sorry to all the creators that I have worked with and was currently working with that this has happened, but please understand that bullying cannot be tolerated in the work place, and particularly as a female editor, I cannot let it continue.
If you’re wondering why I don’t speak to HR to resolve this issue, Heavy Metal doesn’t have an HR department or an HR officer. I have no recourse.
I have given my notice at Heavy Metal and will continue wrapping up my projects for 10 days from today.
Heavy Metal has yet to publicly respond to the allegations of bullying.