If you read my blog regularly, you’re probably aware of how I hired comic book artist Tess Fowler to illustrate and paint a cover for my next Doc Wilde novel, of how that turned out to be a very expensive mistake when Tess utterly flaked on the job and kept my money, and of how she publicly (and privately) libeled me after the fact.
This was what she told one editor who asked her about the matter:
“You’re referencing a disturbed man who fired me from a job and then went out of his way to tell a string of lies about me on the internet. He stalked me by phone and internet even as he was about to be committed. I am afraid of him.
“This is a person I have called the police about on more than one occasion. And I am deeply fearful of his lack of stability.
“Thank you for completely wrecking my day by bringing up a person who I look over my shoulder for when I leave the house. If you choose to pursue anything involving him don’t come to me.
“This is a person who had every opportunity to rectify a situation he created. And chose to torture me. Please do not ever write me again.”
This is such complete bullshit that it’s comical. I have chronic depression, and have fought a terrible battle with it for years. She tries to use that to gaslight me, to cast me as unhinged and dangerous. I did not stalk her, I barely even tried to convince her to return to work once it became plain she wasn’t willing to do so. I have never been “committed.” And she never called the police on me, or, if she did, she’s clearly the crazy person here. (To see more of her nonsense about me, check out this post.)
I offered a full account of working with Tess here, built from our actual correspondence, in order to show exactly how the project fell apart and just how difficult she was to work with. My primary motive was to try to help others avoid being victimized as I was. And, indeed, over time, I’ve been approached by others who have also been ripped off by Tess Fowler, some professional, some just fans who commissioned her to do some art for them that they never received.
The latest victims I’ve heard from are Kurtis Wiebe, the creator of the esteemed comic book Rat Queens, and his wife, Shannon. Kurtis hired Tess Fowler to replace the original artist on the book and apparently had an experience that was agonizingly similar to my own. Eventually, they had a very public falling out, and Tess went on the warpath to slander and libel and gaslight both Kurtis and Shannon, threatening to ruin Kurtis’s career by showing him to be “the worst man in comic books.”
Kurtis hasn’t chosen to share his full account publicly yet (I hope he does at some point), but Shannon shared her side of the sordid tale in a lengthy comment on one of my previous posts. Here’s that comment in full because I felt it needed more sunlight than it was getting lost as it was in a comment section under an old post. Much of it is all too familiar…
“Tim. Wow. Do I ever know what you went through. I haven’t said anything public about this but I feel like this is a place perhaps where people can tell their own stories, the struggle of feeling like you don’t have a voice, like everyone’s turned against you not just with dealing with the likes of Tess Fowler but with online bullying and slander and the damage it leaves behind.
“This is going to be a VERY long post.
“Since Tess Fowler seems very adamant in wanting to speak honestly about her involvement in the comic book Rat Queens, let’s do it. Let’s actually be honest about what went down.
“Though I can’t comment on all the particulars of Tess’s working relationship on Rat Queens which lead to her being off the book (those are circumstances that Kurtis wishes to remain professional about), I will talk about the impact of what she said on Twitter and to media sites has had on our careers and family; whereas, I have not witnessed Tess taking one iota of risk for making these unsubstantiated claims, if anything she has greatly benefited.
“For example her social media following has more than doubled and is flooded with support as well as job offers. Kurtis has lost jobs directly because of Tess’s statements. This is fact stated in e-mail. (I wish to keep the parties involved secret) as well as a public boycott of his work and of mine as well by association as my clothing line is tied to his creative titles. These are our incomes and livelihoods that we have built ourselves from the ground up and worked hard for.
“There are also a surprising amount of what I would describe as mean spirited tweets and messages sent towards him that has had me think about about things in a different way… There has been something more then just a disapproval of an action but a real revelry in the misfortune of another. There was a tweet by one women at a local con who passed by Kurt’s table and had a few nasty things to say. There’s a sentiment of ‘Let’s try and ruin his career and then we’ve won.’ Won what? I’m not really sure. This was far from the worst tweet we saw, but it made me suddenly regret being somewhat public on the Internet. As a mom keeping my family safe is always at the forefront of my mind and the sudden realization that this person, who I or my spouse don’t know but wants my spouse to be unsuccessful, for what ever reason, lives in the same city as me sets off a kind of anxiety in my deep brain functioning that I just can’t control.
“I’m currently writing a article with the help of one of North Americans leading experts in personality disorders. I’ll admit the situation with Tess has contributed to my thoughts in this article. But so has a past long term relationship and dealings with other people in my life, as well as years studying psychology post secondarily. I still worry about publishing this article because people might want to make the connection with Tess and the article. I worry about everything I do on social media now… So I will address the article I’m doing now even before I publish it.
“Do I think that Tess is a has a malignant personality disorder ?
“I have NO idea. Someone would have to look into her past and see if there is a consistent pattern of behaviours in order to even suggest that.
“Is she a harmful person with what I witnessed in her involvement with Rat Queens?
“She threatened to expose Kurtis for being ‘the worst man in comic books’ and ruin his reputation because she didn’t get what she wanted, that being more control of Rat Queens in some way in the future. She then followed through on her threats in part by publicly making false claims about her termination that she knew without a doubt where wrong. And I truly believe that she would have made worse false claims if she could have.
“That’s extortion in my books .
“She went out of her way to do what she could to purposely harm another for the benefit of herself. So yes, in this instance that would be the very definition of a harmful person.
“I don’t doubt that she will try and attack my credibility for saying this about her. Nothing she could say about me no matter how far fetched would surprise me at this point.
“I’m very passionate about the subjects of equality, social responsibility and human rights and I take the actions that I can to help my communities. I’m also a Canadian indigenous women (that being Metis which means one of my birth parents is full First Nations), so I have some pretty clear personal examples for the importance of the concept of intersectionality. That being said I really don’t know how she will be able to claim that I am a false ally or sexist like she has done with Kurtis.
“I used to believe that Tess believed in some of the same things as I do in regards to human rights but now I know that I just fell for her con. She weaponizes social issues and uses them for her own self advancement. And it works . How do you think we even found out about her in the first place? It wasn’t for her art at first. This is a woman whose moral compass points in a completely different direction than my own and maybe that’s why I believed her for so long. It’s just really hard for me to imagine that someone would continually baldfaced lie about such important things.
“Though people that actually know Kurt or his work thought what she was saying seemed way out of character for him, she somehow still managed to do a good job of really sullying his reputation with very few publicly questioning her. This is the same man behind a book that was first turned down over and over for being too female-centric and told that it wouldn’t sell when he began this journey. He didn’t care if it would sell or not, he believed in his story and kept pushing till a publisher took a chance on it and it’s been sheer hard work through so many obstacles that it has gotten it to were it is now.
“Tess did not create the characters or any of the stories of Rat Queens. She drew them for a few issues and for reasons that only Kurtis is at liberty to disclose was decided to not be the right fit for the book or a working relationship.
“In a string of messages ( the same ones that she threatened Kurtis to say that he’s worse then a sexual harasser), she said she decided she wouldn’t ‘ruin’ Kurtis and ‘wouldn’t say anything for now’ after he told her that he wasn’t sure at that time if the book would ever come back and probably be canceled. He was out of steam with dealing with all of Tess’s constant drama and was really not proud of the last issue and didn’t know if he could bring it back to where it was in quality before. Tess seemed fine for the moment with no longer being on Rat Queens… but what we were not getting in that message was the ultimatum that she wouldn’t proceed with character assassination as retaliation ONLY if no one else was on it either. If it just ceased to go on without her.
“After the message where she said she was ‘fine’ with the announcement of the hiatus, Kurt stopped responding to any communications from her but then ended up getting a angry e-mail from Tess when she discovered that Kurtis was testing an artist she knew from our online community for a Rat Queens web comic to try and get back on track. That was the same time that Tess publicly claimed she was pushed out to make room for Roc Upchurch. After Kurtis made his public statement that this was not what was happening, Tess went on to claim in media publications that Kurtis was lying and that she was told by both the publisher and by Kurtis himself that Roc Upchurch was coming back.
“Those statements were false.
“Nothing was said to Tess that could even be confused as that fact by the publisher or Kurtis. It isn’t the plan now nor was it then, and Tess was not lead to believe that; she knowingly completely made it up and ran with it.
“That is it. Those are the facts.
“There are no two sides to this story except someone who continues to lie and someone who dos not and just wants to write a book that means something to him and the fans.
“We both first learned about Tess online after she started drawing a ton of Rat Queens fan art and we saw her as a woman who had been blacklisted in comics for daring to speak out against harassment in the industry. We both thought it was unfair and that Kurt should try and give her a chance if he could. They worked on a couple of pitches and she drew a one shot Rat Queens that Kurt wrote that went well as far as I know. She has a great knack for likenesses and I still really really enjoy a lot of her pin ups and splashes. That is me trying to separate the art from the person and just appreciate it on its own, which is very hard to do sometimes. I don’t take it personally when people we know that also know a bit of the background celebrate her art publicly. There no angry emails going to them asking why they are supporting a harmful extortionist. Because I don’t believe that’s what they’re doing. Liking someone’s art is not taking a side.
“We can’t control everyone’s thoughts and actions on the Internet. That’s ridiculous. In high schools in my home town they are teaching that it takes the power away from a internet bully if they don’t have a following to bring attention to their harmful messages. They will be bullying in a vacuum. We need to learn this lesson as adults as well .
“I wrestled for so long time with coming forward and saying anything to anyone negative towards Tess. I was concerned with my own actions causing harm in any way. I’ve now become unconcerned with protecting Tess’s reputation any longer.
“Enough is enough.
“She’s harmed us enough. Anytime any of Kurt’s projects get any kind of notoriety online, the tweets keep coming where she alludes without naming the sexist comic creator that hired a women to just cover up that he’s a harasser. Then she just lets the fans go on to make the connection to Rat Queens. She’s pushed her way into both Kurt’s and mine online communities and is taking every opportunity with anyone she sees self advancement with, in what now looks like a campaign of flattery, just like she used to do with us. (Everything I did or said was just soooo great and wonderful!) It won’t stop either. It seems like she’s addicted to the attention and the feeling that she has the power to burn the book and/or us down. She (and her followers) just have to keep reminding people not to buy a book that she’s no longer part of. Or support us in any way in anything we do. I mean, who cares if people actually really enjoyed it, that must be taken away from them too.
“I’m done. I’m out of empathy. There’s no more excuses.
“In an environment where we are supposed to be able to talk about abusive people without the same fear of repercussion as in the past, it’s time people start to look at who the real Tess Fowler is. People who have come forward privately are scared to say anything about her publicly. Why are we scared to defend ourselves against this person? If you have been publicly falsely slandered, extorted, stolen from, or have been harmed by this individual, I hope I help you feel the confidence to come forward too.
“#silentnomore #onlineBullying #comics #HarassmentinComics”
Here’s the full list of my previous posts related to what might be termed the “Tess Mess”:
Please feel free to spread the word.