Brandon Graham on why he doesn’t want to work for DC

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In a series of Tumblr posts Brandon Graham reports his experiences working on an 8-page Madame Xanadu story for Vertigo’s House of Mystery Halloween Annual in 2010:

It was an interesting experience. The editor was super heavy handed. but missed some basics ,like I was never told that the kids I drew were meant to look like Akira old/babies. I just drew them as kids.

 I got asked to do a lot of layouts— I think it was 16 pages of layouts for an 8 page story or something. That kind of thing just makes me second guess my own work. I feel like I’m fairly competent as a storyteller but I was being asked to make changes that I thought made the storytelling weaker. —Maybe it’s just that I’m coming from more of a manga background and not a Vertigo aesthetic.

After that I also colored a Ulises Farinas story for Vertigo—I was always amazed at how much they paid and Vertigo’s ability to hire good artists and still put out books I wouldn’t take for free.


Ouchie. In a later post Graham clarifies that he doesn’t hate DC or Vertigo but “I think mostly they just don’t do stuff that’s my scene. ”

This is sort of a dog-bites-man story — even at a “creator focused” imprint like Vertigo, there is often more editorial guidance than out in the wild blue yonder of Image and elsewhere. Of course, Vertigo itself isn’t even doing much creator-driven material any more, but given Graham’s success outside the Big Two, where that model even fits any more is open to question. It’s also another example of a good paying gig going away and DIY taking over.

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Comments

  1. DIY is nice. At one time I thought it was the only way to go, but now I see it’s not for everybody. I think many creators enjoy being edited, and supplied script/plot instead of figuring it out for themselves.

    Personally, since I’ve moved into DIY my work has improved, I feel like I have a voice, my income has improved, and the fact that I need to create in order to pay bills results less fear of failing.

  2. jonboy says:

    I hate working for “The Man” too, but I got bills to pay and kids to feed.

    BTW – “This is sort of a dog-bites-man story” – But any chance to post an article about how corporate comics = bad and Indy comics = good, by all means, let’s publish it, right?

  3. Brandon Fraser explained his experiences very well, but it is obvious that he hasn’t learned how small the (ANY) industry is. It’s not great for your reputation to embarass former employers and colleagues.

  4. Many creators simply have limited choices. Many creators prefer freelancing. I still freelance when a personal project is going to take a few years to prepare before selling.
    I think Brandon brings up good points about why he works in the market he does, but doesn’t begrudge anybody else from doing it differently.
    If an article can offer some light on the market that helps other creators figure out their own niche, or give them confidence the better.

  5. The Beat says:

    Toby — thanks for the insightful comments.

    Al@ When did the star of Monkeybone speak up about cartooning?

  6. Al™ says:

    Ha ha, good catch Heidi! And knowing me (okay, you don’t) I had to Google Monkeybone. Good for another laugh, I’m sure!

  7. mario says:

    this snippet:
    “It was an interesting experience. The editor was super heavy handed. but missed some basics ,like I was never told that the kids I drew were meant to look like Akira old/babies. I just drew them as kids.”

    Shouldn’t that have been written in the script?

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