Ed Piskor exhibition postponed over sexual misconduct allegations | Pittsburgh City Paper

Ed Piskor exhibition postponed over sexual misconduct allegations

click to enlarge Ed Piskor exhibition postponed over sexual misconduct allegations
Photo: Courtesy of Fantagraphics
Self-portrait of Ed Piskor from Hip Hop Family Tree
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has indefinitely postponed a planned exhibit featuring art from Pittsburgh cartoonist Ed Piskor following accusations of sexual misconduct shared on social media this past weekend and Monday morning.

“The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust learned yesterday of allegations of misconduct made by an individual against artist Ed Piskor, whose work was scheduled to be on exhibition at 707 Penn Gallery starting April 6, 2024,” a spokesperson for the Trust told Pittsburgh City Paper by email. “The Trust takes the allegations very seriously and has decided to postpone the exhibition indefinitely.”

A Philadelphia-based cartoonist used her Instagram story last weekend to post screenshots from May 2020, when she was 17, showing Piskor sending inappropriate messages and asking her to stay at his home in Pittsburgh. While the story itself can no longer be accessed on her account, screenshots of her story have been widely shared and commented upon on social media. Then, on Monday morning, another woman shared her accusation against Piskor.

Piskor deleted his account on X, formerly known as Twitter, disabled comments on his Instagram, and has not commented publicly. Piskor did not respond to City Paper's requests for comment.

The leaked images of Instagram DMs from over the weekend show Piskor, after complimenting her artwork, writing, “Are you 17 or 18? Imma be so mad if you say 17 because this crushes me at that age.” He also appears to offer to let her stay with him, writing, “you can crash there if you ever wander into my side of the state for a few days” during a conversation about his home.

He refers to her as “good girl” and “naughty girl” in the leaked messages and wrote, “I feel like you’d be a good partner in crime. You’re not a snitch are you? If we robbed some banks you wouldn’t rat me out would you?”

In text provided in addition to the screenshots, the artist said she felt he attempted to “groom” her and called him a “creep.”

“This is not a ‘cancellation’ of Ed Piskor,” she wrote. “I’m just telling you the truth about this person. The truth that a lot of other cartoonists are AWARE OF! Who I know for a fact are aware of: That Ed Piskor likes YOUNG GIRLS.”

On Monday morning, another woman came forward, alleging in an X thread that Piskor asked for oral sex in exchange for his agent’s phone number. She also alleged, “I have recently learned that he was attempting to line up some of those ‘girls’ at that time and guess what? Today I learned some of them were minors.”

Hip Hop Family Tree, a retelling of hip-hop history that integrates superhero comics imagery, and began serialization in 2012, gave Piskor prominence in the comics industry. The postponed art exhibit features artwork from this series.

Piskor has since produced the Marvel Comics series X-Men Grand Design, a Fantagraphics-published exploitation horror comic called Red Room, and the ongoing comic strip Switchblade Shorties, which he self-publishes online. For years, he and fellow Pittsburgh cartoonist Jim Rugg have run the popular YouTube channel Cartoonist Kayfabe, in which the two analyze comics and interview creators.
click to enlarge Ed Piskor exhibition postponed over sexual misconduct allegations (2)
Screenshot from Cartoonist Kayfabe, April 9
Ed Piskor (left) with Jim Rugg
This YouTube channel has made the two well-known not just for their work but also as comic book industry pundits and gurus. The duo has courted controversy in the past. For issues of Piskor’s Red Room, Rugg created variant covers paying homage to classic indie comics, one, in 2022, referencing the beloved memoir Maus from Art Spielman about his father’s holocaust experience. The graphic violence featured in the image and the context of Red Room as a non-serious, shocking horror comic made many view it as being in poor taste. Rugg and Fantagraphics issued an apology, and Piskor didn’t comment.

Over the weekend, comics fans and professionals posted on social media about the leaked messages from the original accuser. On Sunday, she added an image with text to her Instagram story. “Woke up to see a lot of randomly terrible and unwarranted things said about me and my character so I am just taking a break from my phone and the internet for a long while,” she wrote. “Don’t know when I’ll return. I’ll see you around.”

On Monday morning, she added more posts to her Instagram story, explaining that she has been seeing more and more sexist and derogatory statements made about her online.

“I’m just trying to keep other highschool girls safe from feeling like they need to be considering or rather fucking manipulated into having sex with creepy older men because they have power over them,” she wrote in one of the posts.