‘Clarence’ creator Skylar Page removed over sexual assault and mental issues

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201407041428 Clarence creator Skylar Page removed over sexual assault and mental issues

The close-knit LA animation community has been rocked this week by trouble at Cartoon Network’s show Clarence, where creator and show runner Skyler Page has been removed from his duties following an assault on an Adventure Time staffer and what friends are calling a mental breakdown.

The public uproar began earlier in the week when Adventure Time storyboard revisionist Emily Partridge posted some oblique tweets about mental illness not excusing bad behavior. Then illustrator Maré Odomo posted this on Monday:


This created a lot of hubbub. Soon after, Partridge confirmed that she was the victim:


This was supported by many others in the industry, including Adventure Time’s Pendleton Ward, Ryan Pequin, and Steven Universe (and cartoonist) Lamar Abrams who wrote:


As this escalated on Twitter, Partridge confirmed that Cartoon Network was aware of the situation and was dealing with it. Matters became far more public yesterday when Cartoon Brew wrote a story that confirmed that Page had been removed as showrunner from Clarence. While his behavior against Partridge was the last straw, it seems that he had been acting very erratically due to mental health issues for a long time, with reports he had been hospitalized earlier in the year for the same issues. A friend of his named Jeff Rowe has written much more about Page’s mental state:

Skyler is currently in the hospital receiving treatment for mental illness. Specifically a form of Bipolar 1 that results in prolonged psychotic episodes, not sleeping for days, and erratic, sometimes frightening behavior that mimics schizophrenia.  On the same day the assault happened, Skyler also walked through the streets shirtless screaming at cops. I saw him try to smoke cigarettes through his nose and drink days old olive juice.  He popped in and out of different characters, and answered questions with riddles.  And the next day, when me and another close friend drove him to the hospital to get him treatment, I sat with him for hours in the Emergency Room as he sat strapped to a bed singing They Might Be Giants songs and talking like a cowboy.  I don’t know if he was cognizant enough to see that I was crying. It was one of the saddest things I’d ever seen. Here in front of me, was a guy I had known extremely well, but was obviously “not home”.  When I talked to the doctor and learned more about his specific illness, and that he would be coping with it for the rest of his life, it broke my heart.  Again, here was someone who was like a brother to me, and I just got told he may never be the same again.


And Emily Quinn, another Adventure Time staffer has confirmed all this:

As someone who has dealt with mental illness both in myself and with members of my family, and as someone who has been watching Skyler continuously dig himself into a hole, I’m glad this is being talked about. I know people will be upset, but the goal of this is not to be stigmatizing for other people with mental illnesses. There are thousands of people with mental illnesses who would never hurt a fly. However, just like you can’t generalize that EVERYONE with a mental illness assaults other people (sexually or otherwise), you also can’t generalize that everyone with mental illnesses do not. Some people do shitty things regardless of a mental illness.

I’m not using his illness as an excuse, I’m not minimizing his actions in any way shape or form. It’s still a despicable thing that Skyler did (both this time and times before). However, people need to know what else has been going on. Skyler was put in a position of having his own show, let the power go to his head, and was completely unable to emotionally handle the pressure. He has had episode after episode, and the studio did not know how to handle it. They eventually took him off most creative aspects of the show, but not entirely. The first time he was hospitalized, hardly anything was changed when he came back. They just assumed that since he was out of the hospital, that it meant he was “cured.” I was LIVID. No mental illness magically gets “cured.” But because there is such a stigma around mental disorders, nobody higher up knew how to deal with it. That’s a problem.


While this kind of thing—a showrunner falling to mental breakdown—is unusual, it isn’t the first time it has happened. Hwoever, it is probably the first time that this kind of scenario has played out in the extremely close knit and PUBLIC forum of Twitter and Tumblr used by artists and animators in this age group. While Cartoon Brew used the word “exclusive” the while thing had been playing out on both those platforms for days before Page’s ouster was reported on. The extremely frank tumblr posts are another thing you would not have seen in past scandals.

For the moment, it seems as if the attack on Partridge has been dealt with in the only way they could at Cartoon Network. And she seems to have a powerful and supportive network of friends to prevent her being ostracized for what was clearly not her problem. Let’s ope it stays that way. N the meantime, here’s some artwork by the very talented Partridge via her Tumblr.

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