HeroesCon is held in Charlotte, North Carolina every year. It’s most recent was only a couple of weeks ago, but it’s been running since 1982.
2011, an Australian comic book artist and illustrator was attending HeroesCon, her first American comic book convention. She woke in her hotel room at 2am, to find a male comic creator she’d met that previous day, naked, in her bed, with his hand grabbing her crotch, inside her underwear, penetrating her.
That was Eric Basaldua, comic artist of note and a guest at the show.
The creator froze, before escaping from her hotel room and running downstairs to reception to report what had happened.
There was no sign of forced entry, the hotel ran a familiar system of magnetic keycards, she had not given hers to anyone, and the doors were of the slam-shut variety.
Visibly shaken, she tells me that all the hotel staff would do was assure her that they hadn’t given her hotel key card to anyone else. She states that they didn’t offer to report the incident, they didn’t offer to remove Eric from her room, so she spent the rest of the night, awake in the room of a friend of hers at the hotel, in shock. The friend verified Eric was indeed in her room – and wasn’t moving.
I have also spoken to her friend who verifies the account, and who identified that Eric was indeed naked in her bed – and wasn’t moving.
I have had no response to press inquiries made to the hotel or the chain, made over a number of weeks.
The artist did return to remove her items from the room, where she found – and kept to this day – rings that Eric had, presumably, removed before getting into her bed.
I talked to Shelton Drum, organiser of the show, who confirmed the account as given to him by the artist in question several months later, when she felt she could talk about the incident, and that Eric has not been invited to the show since.
I talked to Eric Basaldua who claims to have no memory of the incident.
I have, however, been able to verify this Facebook message to the artist in 2011, before she blocked him, which appears to back up her claims.
He has attended the show since, as a guest of others. He was intending, it seems, to attend Heroes Comic Con last weekend in that capacity but, after I made enquiries, he chose to attend Denver Comic Con instead.
The artist is very clear that she had not been drinking before she went to her hotel room. She did not give her hotel key card to anyone else. She did not leave the hotel door ajar. She did not open it to anyone. She did not give Eric her hotel room number, She has no explanation as to how Eric ended up in her bed.
Eric offers a possible explanation, that somehow – and he doesn’t know how – he was able to enter her room believing it to be his, and went to bed without knowing she was there, and grabbed her as one might a pillow. But this is supposition, as he does not have any memory of what may or may not have happened.
It is also worth pointing out that the hotel room had two beds, and the artist was in the furthest one from the door.
Eric admits he was an easy drunk back then. Both his accounts and those of others back up that he was not violent, even then. But he was a larger, more dominant presence. He admits that he has offended some women through his drunkenness but has sought them out to apologise in the years since he was sober.
But for the artist , this severely tarnished her experience of such shows and of fellow comic book artists. She did not report the incident any further than to the hotel, as she believed they were dealing with it, before returning home to Australia, and tried to get on with her life. But it is still something that lives with her, every day, to this day.
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