Small Press Expo Launches Legal Aid Fund To Help Cartoonists In Recent Lawsuit

by Hannah Means Shannon

Small Press Expo has announced that they’ve launched a Legal Aid Fund, with $20,000 immediately available by donation, to help cartoonists who have been the target of a recent defamation lawsuit. A “legal aid fundraising vehicle” has also been launched and will continue to operate.

The fundraising vehicle, administered by SPX, and created in consultation with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, has been established to help defray the cost of legal representation for the eleven members of the indie comics community named as defendants in an ongoing lawsuit.

SPX generated the first $10,000 donation and will set aside the $10,000 that it usually gives to the CBLDF each year to support this new fund.

The defamation suit has been launched by Cody Pickrodt, a publisher and cartoonist accused of rape and sexual harassment, among other things, and the suit is directed at 11 people who “either made those allegations or denounced Pickrodt while commenting on them”, according to The Comics Journal.

The defendants include: Whit Taylor, Laura Knetzger, Emma Louthan, Emi Gennis, Ben Passmore, Hazel Newlevant, Tom Kaczynski, Jordan Shiveley, Morgan Pielli, Josh O’Neill, and Rob Clough.

The CBLDF will continue to provide legal and fundraising consulting to the defendants in this case.

The group of 11 defendants has put together a statement for this announcement:

As artists, writers, art educators, comics critics, and small independent publishers, many of whom rely on freelance work to pay our bills, a lawsuit like this is going to put an enormous financial strain on all of us. Simply put, we can’t afford to fight this without help. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our community, and are especially grateful for the generosity of SPX to provide us with financial assistance. We also appreciate efforts by the CBLDF and other institutions and individuals who have provided additional fundraising support and legal advice.

Warren Bernard, Executive Director of the Small Press Expo, says:

For many years, SPX has quietly extended financial support to cartoonists in need, but there is no being quiet about this case. Our community must come together in support of its members who are facing unprecedented challenges—and to defend the kind of community we wish to be. From the very beginning, our two organizations agreed that we must do whatever we can to help.

Christina Merkler, President, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, adds:

We came together on a solution that makes the best use of the strengths of each of our organizations to support the members of our community in fighting this lawsuit. The SPX special fund will help by providing immediate cash, a structure for raising more money if required, and continuing access to experts that will help those in need.

For more information on the CBLDF, visit their website at http://www.cbldf.org. For more information on the Small Press Expo, please visit http://www.smallpressexpo.com.

If more information becomes available about donating to this cause, we’ll make sure you know here on Comicon.com.

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