TMZ: Archie Comics co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit liked to yell out words for genitalia

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Oi. Think Archie Comics is a place where no one ever says a bad word? Think again.

As revealed by TMZ, Archie Comics has filed papers alleging that co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit has been harassing employees and should not represent the company at San Diego Comic-Con:

Archie Comics Publications has filed legal papers against co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit — claiming she has a history of bullying and sexually harassing employees … and she must be stopped! According to the lawsuit, filed yesterday in NY, several employees have lodged complaints about Nancy’s “offensive” behavior … including one time in 2009, when she barged into a meeting and “pointed to each [attendee] and said, ‘PENIS, PENIS, PENIS, PENIS’ and then walked out.” Nancy allegedly pulled the same “penis” stunt again in 2010 — but this time she also screamed out, “My balls hurt.” Archie Comics claims it hired an outside firm to investigate the allegations — and the company recommended Archie cut ties with Nancy ASAP.


Silberkleit inherited half the company upon the death of her husband Michael in 2008. The other half went to Jon Goldwater. Nancy has been prominent in media coverage of Archie’s evolution to a modern media company, but as shown by this piece from last year, she had problems with what she perceived as a male dominated enviroment:

“I’m a mother coming into a very male-oriented business,” Silberkleit said. “I’m not getting any support. I felt very alone.”

When she confessed as much to the photographer shooting new corporate portraits last summer, he lowered the camera and said, “Do you know Gert Boyle?”

As soon as she picked up Boyle’s book, “One Tough Mother,” Silberkleit knew she needed to meet the woman in those combat boots.


Developing…

Comments

  1. Tintin says:

    OMG it’s Rule 34 Ari Gold! I…kinda love her.

  2. They’re mad at a woman for claiming that “her balls hurt”? The “penis” thing could potentially be read the wrong way, but I really think this woman was just being silly and letting out a bit of humor.

    I’ve had friends, both male and female, in high school and college who like/liked to do the same sort of thing for an immature laugh. I think that’s all this is.

    Of course, this says nothing about her tone of voice during the “penis” outburst, which really makes all the difference in that case, but in the context of the claim, being listed alongside “my balls hurt”, that just makes me believe it was just some poorly-thought-out humor and that people were just looking for an excuse to be mad at her.

  3. Shinigami says:

    @Totz the Plaid
    Regardless if any of that was intended as jokes or not, you do not burst into a meeting shouting “penis” (if it wasn’t the writers’ meetings of course XD) and that kind of inappropriate behavior could hurt the Archie brand if she stormed into an investment-meeting and out of context just say/shout “my balls hurt”. A big company as they are does not want an unreliable representative and thus she’s better off not being there at all and pursue something else where she may shout profanities at people in suits all day long ^^

  4. I think she was just trying to remember the phrase “…mightier than the sword!”

  5. … then why didn’t these men storm into her office and shouted “cunt” at her?
    god, men have become such pussies.

  6. comicsatemybrain says:

    @ mario:

    Because she was their boss.

  7. Sean D. says:

    I now look forward to a flash mob performance of the Asylum Street Spankers’ “Scrotum Song” during the Archie panel at San Diego.

  8. I dunno, I think there may be the case of a lede being buried here. Especially if Silberkleit is the force behind the recent modernization (some may call it liberalization) of Archie Comics over the last few years.

  9. Glenn Simpson says:

    @comicsatemybrain:

    Then why didn’t they just laugh at her silly ass?

    Men are certainly allowed to allege sexual harassment, but unless it’s something really invasive, I’m not going to have a lot of respect for them.

    If she asked a female employee to have sex with her, or if she required a married male employee to have sex with her, that’s another story. But just yelling “penis” isn’t really hurting anybody who has any self-respect.

    If they don’t like the fact that she’s yelling at them, then they should raise an issue, but it’s not “sexual harassment”.

    For that matter, what they are describing could be more appropriately described as “anatomical harassment” – just because a penis is used in sex shouldnt’ mean that every reference to it is sexual. It’s also used to urinate.

  10. Aarrgh says:

    @Mario, I think that the equivalent would be “vagina” not the word you used.

  11. AArgh, no: what she did was not a vagina-y thing to do

  12. She obviously said that because everyone in the room was male, and she was sick of being the woman trying to get accepted into the Boys’ Club. I have often wanted to walk into a comic book store and say the same thing. Read that piece from last year! I understand Archie is trying to prevent her from coming to Comicon (which obviously they can’t do). I hope to see her on the floor and give her a thumbs-up.

  13. They file a suit accusing the only woman executive with “penis taunting” just weeks ahead of SDCC? Gawd, they might as well go to the show w/great big “Kick Me” signs taped to their backs…

  14. hikaru says:

    Monday news headline: “Archie CEO Diagnosed with Tourette’s”

  15. Why do women constantly engage in this sort of behavior? I think the answer to this kind of tastless nonsense is fewer women in comics.

  16. OtisTFirefly says:

    @Glenn

    >>>Then why didn’t they just laugh at her silly ass?

    Men are certainly allowed to allege sexual harassment, but unless it’s something really invasive, I’m not going to have a lot of respect for them.

    If she asked a female employee to have sex with her, or if she required a married male employee to have sex with her, that’s another story. But just yelling “penis” isn’t really hurting anybody who has any self-respect.>>>>

    But why should the goose and the gander be subject to different rules and attitudes? You think women are going to watch a man come into a room and yell “vagina vagina vagina vagina!” and not head for the nearest lawyer or Human Resource Officer? I’m sure there are some, but most (I’d bet) are not going to turn to each other and say “Let’s just laugh at his silly ass!”

    (Yes, I know I know women hold fewer high-level jobs and are more subject to harassment, but this country will NEVER get it together until the rules apply to EVERYONE, not just the victim d’jour.)

    @Trina
    >>>She obviously said that because everyone in the room was male, and she was sick of being the woman trying to get accepted into the Boys’ Club. I have often wanted to walk into a comic book store and say the same thing.>>>

    You sound like Candy Crowley… I saw her make comments ON AIR decrying the “old boys network” and how evil and wrong that was, and then go straight into how we all need to get a “girls network” going to shift the power.

    So a “boys network” is wrong and evil, but if the role reversed tomorrow, a “girls network” would be just dandy? Yep… people wonder why discrimination and bias and bitterness and still all around….

    Because, as we all know, two wrongs make a right… right?

  17. I don’t understand why people can’t figure out some behavior is just plain unprofessional & uncalled for in a work environment. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or woman or if you are “just kidding” or not.

  18. Snikt Snakt says:

    “including one time in 2009, when she barged into a meeting and “pointed to each [attendee] and said, ‘PENIS, PENIS, PENIS, PENIS’ and then walked out.”

    Maybe she was doing a ‘head count’ when she did this? LOL

  19. danmazur says:

    I met Nancy Silberkleit earlier this year when she spoke at the New England Comics in the Classroom Conference, and I was terrifically impressed. For those who don’t know her story, she was a public school art teacher who inherited the job of Archie co-CEO when her husband — the son, I think, of the company’s founder — died, just a few years ago. It seemed like a miracle that someone like her should be running a company like Archie comics — long-time purveyor of stereotypes, not least gender stereotypes, to impressionable minds. Her whole mission was to have the company provide real educational and social value to young readers. So I’m open to any interpretation of this story that favors Silberkleit, and Trina’s sounds the most likely. Even so, it’s troubling. If there is a boys’ club culture at Archie, or sexism, or just resistance to the kind of positive initiatives that Silberkleit is pushing, the behavior ascribed to her doesn’t sound like either an appropriate or, more importantly, effective way of dealing with it, especially from a position of strength. It suggests that she is meeting with a lot of resistance, and perhaps not holding up too well under the pressure (she had no business experience prior to taking on the position a few years ago — though I guess public school politics can be pretty rough too). And it sounds like her opponents are fighting back pretty hard — I would ascribe the charges less to thin-skinned males than to hardball corporate politics. I could be wrong about all this — basing it on a very brief exposure to Silberkleit in a public setting, and a few sketchy facts from a wire service report. But I hope that whoever cares about these issues can find some way at least to let Silberkleit know she has moral support in the comics’ community!

  20. anybody going to ask that del rio kid who did the sabrina manga, or that one lady who writes archie comics barbara sumthing about this?

    i know that holly golightly disappeared from the josie and the pussycats stories over night and wondered if something had gone down there other than the usual dan decarlo style authors rights/work for hire crud.

    but for a company that publishes what amount to girl comics (hell the only girl comics in the western world for ages.) they dont have lots of girl artists/writers one can point to.

  21. Ned End says:

    It is too bad she doesn’t work for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund instead. She probably could have actually grabbed a few crotches and still been able to attend San Diego while being investigated. Penis name calling gets called “sexual harassment” but tit-grabbing turned out to be just fine and dandy!! Comics are certainly a wonderful industry.

  22. Steve G says:

    Jon Goldwater is up to no good and has been since day one at the helm. The company has been turned on it’s side and Mr Goldwater has gotten his employees to take sides in an effort to take control and throw Nancy out. Additionally, artists such as the legandary Stan Goldberg have been tossed aside (after 40 years) as the ultimate Archie Ambassador for no apparent reason. Goldwater will run the company into the ground and that is the ultimate shame of it all. Nancy has to hold her ground (this lawsuit will never stand), put a plan into place to have an equal voice and restore a sense of sanity and direction (including hiring back Stan Goldberg) into Riverdale once more.

  23. Is this the same Jon Goldwater who tried starving Dan DeCarlo out of the business when he wanted money from Josievand the Pussycats movie? Without context, I’m inclined to stick up for Nancy.

  24. Duane T says:

    This guy is Jon G the co-founder’s son, who had never been involved in the company until adopted brother Michael’s death. The dad (actually a “John”) was the one who Dan DeCarlo dealt with.

    The top guys (now all diseased) were never great sweethearts to anyone. They’d talk to workers in the office but look right though them on a public street. Never met people like that before. Can the current crop of apples fall far from the old trees?

    They think they know what they’re doing at Archie, but it seems they’re just fishing in all directions to go cheap but reap new profits.

    The series of Archie “marriage” books by Stan Goldberg brought the company a ton of new interest. Clearly, his art was a huge, publicly-appreciated part of the Archie brand. He did uncompensated appearances and signings (as always) for the company to boost those books’ sales, and then it was bait-and-switch. He’s out and a new pool of artists who can’t come close to his level are in, with second-rate experiments on new styles and approaches rampant. Change can be good but only when it’s not stupid. We’ll see how they weather their own storms.

    As far as the “penis” scandal is concerned, the company’s past higher-ups experienced far stronger sex-related allegations, so how squeamish can the current bosses really be over this little “shocker?” This lawsuit could simply be a power play so only the boys can have their way there again.

    Same with the mental states and employee treatment of the bosses in days past. They weren’t so brag-worthy before she got involved either. Should descendents of pots call kettles black? And in court?

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