Chris Roberson no longer writing FAIREST arc

201204201329 Chris Roberson no longer writing FAIREST arc
Unsurprisingly, after his public statement on not working with DC over their ethical practices towards creators yesterday, it turns out Chris Roberson’s arc on FAIREST, the FABLES spin-off, will not get written.

Roberson had been slated to write a a story for FAIREST that would have been drawn by Shawn McManus, his CINDERELLA collaborator.

Really no surprise here…I doubt Roberson was surprised either.

Comments

  1. Has Shawn McManus drawn any of iZOMBIE?

    Chris’s main collaborator on the book is Mike Allred. Shawn’s been doing the backup “Oz” series in FABLES.

  2. (Hey, that’s linked to the Cam Stewart post, not the Roberson one)

  3. I remember that back in the 1980’s the official DC policy (as stated by Dick Giordano) was that freelancers could speak out against the company, but editors couldn’t (this is why editors such as Mike W. Barr and Marv Wolfman were fired). Some things have certainly changed for the worse since then.

  4. Turkish says:

    Well there’s “policy” and then there’s pissing people off until they find an excuse to get rid of you.

  5. Tim Pilcher says:

    Sort of inevitable, but there’s a certain irony to this article.

  6. AndyG says:

    What??? DC *retaliating* against someone? No way! Next you’re going to tell me they actually DO have a blacklist.

  7. blacaucasian says:

    If I ran a company and someone accused me of being unethical, I probably wouldn’t want them to work for me either. I don’t see the problem. According to Rich Johnston, he’s being paid for the completed work on this arc. If it’s his right to not want to work with him, isn’t it the companies right to not work with him as well?

  8. patrick ford says:

    Is it just possible Roberson is pleased he is no longer bound by a prior agreement with DC?
    It’s amazing how DC and Marvel fans are consistently smarter than Roberson, Alan Moore, the Kirby heirs, Marc Toberoff, etc. etc.

  9. Realitätsprüfung says:

    No no – DC is evil because they should keep paying and working with disgruntled employees taking them to task in the press.

    Because that’s totally how the outside world works.

    Oh and look – there’s ANOTHER unicorn! Yay, that’s the third one today!

  10. RegularSyzedMike says:

    “Oh no! Not in the Briar Patch!”

    -Chris Robertson

  11. jonboy says:

    That’s not a unicorn. That’s a quadricorn….

    But yeah, DC has every right (and obligation to the rest of their employees) to wash their hands of this guy. Consider everyone working at DC and WB who are more than content, but actually happy to be there. And this one guy pisses all over the company, and the company should still gives him work?

    um. no.

    If someone at my job ran around telling everyone how horrible the company is, I’d be pissed if they kept their job.

    There are hundreds of talented people out there that would love to have a job writing at DC. Give the job to one of them.

    This entire thing just smacks of an incredible amount of immaturity on Chris’ part… He forced DC’s hand…

  12. john layman says:

    Question: Should DC fire/not hire anybody who speaks up and says Before Watchmen is a idea that perhaps is an ethically dubious endeavor? Should DC fire/not hire anybody who speaks up in support of the Superman creators, and the notion they got a bad deal? Should creators speak up when they feel their colleagues are/have been treated poorly? Or is the expectation creators should keep any opinions to themselves, especially if they expect to get DC work in the present and/or future?

  13. I’d say this is a bit more than having an opinion–he’s calling the entire company the scum of the Earth.

    While I’m not sure that I entirely agree with him, Roberson has the right to his choices, and I admire him for standing firmly by his convictions.

    But by the same token, you can’t really blame DC for not supporting the person slagging them by giving him work. Hey, at the very least, this saves certain people a very awkward conversation the next time Roberson called the offices. ;-)

  14. Brian Wood says:

    Isnt all he said was that DC was less ethical than others? Is that the same as saying they are all the scum of the earth?

  15. Brian Wood says:

    Reading back over his statements, I’m struck at how calm and reasoned they are. And tame, especially by internet standards.

  16. Cameron Stewart says:

    Yeah, it’s actually ridiculous to say that he was calling DC “the scum of the Earth” and “pissing all over them” or whatever other hyperbole is being attributed to him. He made a very calm and reasoned statement that he no longer felt comfortable working for them. He went out of his way to say that his personal relationships with his editors were great, he didn’t condemn anyone for working for or supporting DC, he didn’t encourage anyone to join him in taking this action. He made a personal decision. Where is this vitriol coming from?

  17. joe.distort says:

    i have to say, seeing the way things are going with the market, employer relations, the average tone of ‘fan’ reaactions etc, etc etc that i am grateful that there are even people who still want to make comics. even some folks i have disagreed with in the past about stuff seem like friggin heroes this week compared to the wave of garbage they have to deal with

  18. Cameron Stewart says:

    @jonboy: “If someone at my job ran around telling everyone how horrible the company is, I’d be pissed if they kept their job.”

    So if someone in your office felt like there was something unethical or problematic within the company, they should just keep quiet about it? Or they deserve to be fired? What if that person was you? What if you saw something that you felt was out of line or made you morally uncomfortable – wouldn’t you feel like the right thing to do would be to draw attention to it, without feeling like you had to risk your job to do it?

    I don’t understand this “keep quiet or you get what’s coming to you” mindset, and I think that it’s actually kind of dangerous.

  19. As an outsider, I’ve always maintained some disbelief at the notion of how petty and vindictive and ugly the U.S. comics business — and DC in particular — can be.

    Well, not anymore. The whole WATCHMEN business is already making them look incredibly bad, and this reaction to a well-articulated decision by a creator with legitimate ethical concerns only adds to that poor image.

    All the best to Chris Roberson. He seems like a swell fellow.

  20. Matthew Southworth says:

    I don’t have any real knowledge of the situation, but it seems to me it’s possible that the Fairest decision was reached BEFORE he made his comments, and it’s just now being pointed out. He did say “I won’t be doing any more DC work”…

    So the point being “iZombie is canceled, not doing any more DC work”…”by the way, Fairest is not happening, either”. Not “iZombie is canceled, not doing any more DC work” and DC then saying “hey, fuck you, we’re not doing Fairest, then”.

  21. And yet JMS said it was okay to screw Alan Moore because people in comics just get screwed, thereby admitting it was a screwing. And he still works for DC! Incredible! I hope he has a backup job.

  22. Cameron: that is the actual culture in corporate America.

    Not joking, I refuse to tell anybody where I work. For these sorts of reasons.

  23. Jesse says:

    Don’t see where the controversy is. He makes a calm statement that DC considered his services were no longer needed.

    He works for a company based out of an at-will state and just as he has every right to say “I never want to work for DC again”, DC can go ahead and say “I never want to work with Chris Roberson again”.

    It’s not like this was DC going on their twitter and ranting that Roberson is one of the most unethical creators they’ve ever worked with.

  24. Jesse says:

    And to all the creators commenting here, so if you owned a company and were spending a healthy amount of money to market a new property (in this case a Watchmen prequel world), how would you react when a worker under your employ goes out, unprovoked, and started voicing how unethical a company you were and damaging your investment?

    Brian Wood, how would you feel if one of the artists on a book you were writing went out and said “In a better world, characters like those in Local would be owned by a more ethical person, but sadly not in this one”

  25. blacaucasian says:

    The way people are speculating, I’m starting to think DC is actually run by the Illuminati.

  26. If Brian Wood had acted unethically, then I imagine he’d be expecting it…:)

    Knocking a former employer out of anger/frustration/bitterness is one thing. That’s not what this is. Calling them out for being unethical is something else altogether. It should be applauded.

    DC have acted unethically towards Alan Moore and a lot of other creators over the years. I don’t think even DC really dispute this. Some of their most successful and profitable talent have essentially been punished for doing what they’re supposed to do really well. Quitting your job and then calling them out for being unethical is 100% the right thing to do. If that is the reason he left, then he has a responsibility to speak up about it.

    That saying about how all it takes for bad things to keep happening is for good men to say nothing springs to mind.

  27. Christian says:

    @The Beat – they don’t have to worry about firing JMS. They have to worry about keeping him on the project long enough to see it completed.

    Speaking of which, if I were Chris Roberson, instead of pulling some 75 year old grievances from my backside as to why I’m quitting, I’d instead cite how screwed over he was by that whole Superman: Grounded arc. Not only did JMS still get a majority of the payment for Roberson’s writing but look at the cover. Even the second volume, entirely written by Roberson, says “Grounded: By JMS”

    I’d quit over that. Not some trumped up age-old nonsense that will never be resolved amicably.

  28. Cameron Stewart says:

    @Jesse – I’m not surprised DC reacted that way, and they certainly have every right to do so.

    What concerns me is the number of people – fans, mostly – who seem to be almost *angry* that Roberson said anything in the first place, or who attempt to dismiss his concerns by saying “well he was a nobody” or “he’s just bitter because his book was cancelled” or whatever other bullshit is being said to deflect from considering the issues raised.

  29. Ed Brubaker says:

    Heidi – JMS’s backup job is being a multimillionaire.

  30. RegularSyzedMike says:

    I’ve said it before…I think a lot of these fans’ venom comes from a “I WANT MY TOYS NOW!” place. They seem to be willing to throw anyone under the bus that even APPEARS to get in the way of their 50 yr. old super heroes and action figures…even if they created them.

    Consume at all costs!

  31. Jesse says:

    His views don’t represent everyone else’s but he’s free to espouse them. However he needs to prepare for the consequences.

    I think everyone else needs to quit taking sides in this scenario because I think that both sides dealt with this situation the right way and there’s no need to vilify either side.

  32. blacaucasian says:

    @Cemeron Stewart – I know my intention was not to dismiss his concerns, but rather his reasons for doing what he did seemed more suspect then he was leading on. If he had these ethical issues with the company, which he noted writing off when he first starting working for the company, why did it happen to come to a head after his book was cancelled and not when this Watchmen book was first announced 4 or 5 months ago. And, if the David Brothers article was what sparked his decision and tweets and statement, why not call out the unethical behavior of all the publishers, as Brothers does in his article, instead of just DC.

    People are clearly talking about him in the last two days a hell of a lot more then they were before he made the statement. I’m not even necessarily saying his choice and timing of the statement isn’t well-placed for him. I actually think it was a very smart and sly move for him as a freelancer.

    When I first read his statement I said it would hold a lot more gravitas for me if he had come out with this decision and statement a lot earlier then he did. I still stand by that statement.

  33. Joe Lawler says:

    @Ed Brubaker: Do you know what the hours are like? I’m thinking of changing fields.

  34. horatio weisfeld says:

    It’s not like this was DC going on their twitter and ranting that Roberson is one of the most unethical creators they’ve ever worked with.

    >>

    Yeah– but what they do is … NOT seem to make profit while they pay freelancers something more and more resembling “slave wages”. I know people right now, working full time on top DC books, who are making something like $400 @ week.

    The above wouldn’t be so bad if one could at least argue that DC was profitable, and so “that’s capitalism”… but in fact this (loser) devision seems to exist to pump tons of cash into advertising their loser business – ever raising startup costs for new entities and so keeping smaller businesses, who might actually be able to build a honest to god profitable model and pay decent wages, out of the game.

    Corporate Socialist “financial creations” like DC Comics + a market controlled by a single distributer have robbed all dignity from mainstream comics.

  35. Cameron Stewart says:

    @blacaucasian – But see, you’re ascribing all kinds of motives to him that you can’t possibly ascertain from such limited information. Even just then you called it ” a smart and sly move” – implying that it was calculated to bolster his career. Why can’t it just be taken at face value that he no longer feels comfortable working there, and that he finally felt compelled to quit?

    (as for why he didn’t call out all the publishers, instead of only DC, I’d guess it’s because he was only working for DC.)

    I have precisely as much information as you do, so I can’t definitively state his motives either, but the subtext to your (and others) statements is decidedly slanted in DC’s favour, and suggesting that he has calculated ulterior motives. Why is that? Why default to suspicion of him and defense of the company?

    I’m not one of those “always side with the little guy” people, because I think that occasionally the little guy gets it wrong too, but in this case I’m baffled by the opposition.

  36. Cameron Stewart says:

    Once again, I see no harm or foul on either side here – a guy made a calm and reasoned decision to part with a company he no longer felt comfortable working with, and said company responded by cancelling the remainder of the work they were doing. Unsurprising and perfectly reasonable.

    What confuses me is the fan backlash against him and why he’s being pilloried so.

  37. Shawn Kane says:

    The great thing is that if you like Chris Roberson’s comics, he’ll make more. The bad thing is if you want to read his Superman or Fables, it will never happen. If you want to read DC Comics and don’t feel for the plight of the creator, you’re seen as a bad person to some. If you crucify the writer for not wanting to do corporate work anymore, you’re seen as a bad person to some. It gets ridiculous after a while. Read what you want, boycott what you want, enjoy what you want. When Dan Didio and anyone involved with Before Watchmen do something truly evil they’ll deserve my ire. Personally, I’m not reading it but I’m not on my high horse begrudging those who will. Marvel has been screwing Jack Kirby’s legacy for 50 years, the only reason I quit reading their comics is because they’re crappy and unoriginal these days. I’m not a person that has the ability to draw or write professionally. I feel for the plight of the creator and they have their right to do anything they want. But to the indignant fanboys, just give the negativity a rest for a while and be as classy as Roberson was. He was saying what was honestly on his mind about DC. If you like it or if you don’t like it, he’s not telling you what to read or not to read.

  38. Dennis V. says:

    Good for DC. And good riddance Mr. Robinson… don’t let the DC door hit you on the ass on the way out.

  39. Chris Hero says:

    I am *really* tired of people rationalizing Roberson’s decision by making up what he thought or ascribing motives to him. He’s a real guy we can actually ask.

    I just don’t see why people are siding with DC on this. A guy made a decision to no longer work with a company and very politely and calmly said why. Any anger directed towards him by readers is just weird.

  40. blacaucasian says:

    @Cameron Stewart – I guess we just disagree.

    I’m not trying to be pro or slanted towards DC in my criticism of him and what he said.

    The full context of what he said on Twitter directly pointed towards the David Brothers article, with him saying they summed up his opinions perfectly. This seems to be left out of most of the recounting of his tweets. David Brothers article is very incendiary and full of, at least in relation to the Alan Moore situation, full of “facts” that best as that I can see come directly and only from the mouth of Alan Moore himself via recent interviews conducted and not backed up by any other sources. That, taken in context with his words, led me (and only me) to believe that there may be more to it then just the face value of the statement. Since a huge part of David Brothers article also related to how Kirby’s family has been treated in relation to the Avengers, I would think if his feelings were this strong, his opinions would relate to Marvel as well, although point taken that he was only working on DC projects at the time.

    I fully acknowledge now, if I didn’t before, that it is speculation and my opinion, and my intention was never to present it as the fact of Chris Roberson state of mind. I also don’t see any problem presenting some skepticism when some one is being heralded by many others as entirely altruistic.

  41. “What concerns me is the number of people – fans, mostly – who seem to be almost *angry* that Roberson said anything in the first place”

    This concerns me too, but does not surprise me one bit. It’s the kind of world we live in. People have been conditioned to actually empathise with giant faceless entities like corporations. Most people are probably pissed because how dare they speak against the giant corporate wheel that has been giving them things like cool Batman comics for decades, when Chris Roberson is just a replaceable spoke that dared to question the direction of the wheel.

    It strikes me that a lot of people that are speaking against Roberson could be doing so to justify the fact that they are, for lack of a better term, addicted to DC comics. It reminds me a lot of when you hear how beaten wives defend their husbands because they can’t escape and remember how nice things used to be in the beginning. Excuse the slightly insensitive comparison there, but it’s just what the mentality reminds me of.

    Hell, I wish I could stop reading things from both Marvel and DC and give more of my money to the smaller fish that actually embrace creators putting new ideas out there. Though if Image comics keep going the way they are, that idea seems more and more feasible every month. They are having a hell of a year already and it’s only April. I know they are almost up there with Marvel and DC in terms of mainstream in the industry, but from all I hear about them actually embracing creator rights I think they are getting the balance between mainstream and indy just right.

  42. Apollo9000 says:

    Whatever you take on the situation, I think anyone can appreciate the level headed honesty that Roberson displayed in his statements. Comics ( and business in general) could use more honesty.

  43. With great respect to everyone here arguing for Roberson and the creators…if you have $5 to spare, go donate to the Sparkplug IndieGoGo campaign. There is not a better thing you could do than donate to a company that ALWAYS put the creator first and was beloved because of it.

    The karmic options are strong!

  44. swampy says:

    America hates whistleblowers

  45. Mark_S says:

    Trashing your employers publicly as you hand in your resignation is incredibly unprofessional, even if its done in a calmly worded letter. He could have kept it private and between his bosses, but i can’t see any reason to air all that in public other than to make a big scene on your way out of the building. Because its too difficult to tweet to your fans “irreconcilable creative differences”?

    I agree with his message wholeheartedly, but airing it in public like that was pretty dumb especially in an industry that is so small and has so few opportunities to get a steady paycheck…but hey its his career.

  46. Cameron Stewart says:

    @Heidi – done and done

  47. @Cameron Stewart. A lot of comic fans aren’t really comic fans. They are superheroes by DC/Marvel fans. *Anything* they think might get in the way of them producing decent books for them to read is attacked with hostility.

    Chris Roberson withdrawing his services is one of those things. Even if they never read/liked his work, he might have one day written something they would have. And god forbid if anybody else agree’s with him and walks away from DC too.

  48. Brian Wood says:

    @Jesse “Brian Wood, how would you feel if one of the artists on a book you were writing went out and said “In a better world, characters like those in Local would be owned by a more ethical person, but sadly not in this one””

    Thrilled to answer this. Putting aside the fact that Local ended six years ago, this is how I would feel: If I wasn’t acting unethically, I would be confused and hurt and would talk to Ryan to see what the problem was. If I knew I WAS acting unethically, I’d be embarrassed and worried about negative attention, and I’d like to think I’d try and make it right rather than try and retaliate against Ryan. At the worst, if I was really a dick, I’d just keep quiet and wait for it to blow over.

    I wouldn’t be in a position to fire him either way so your comparison is faulty.

    But, if I WAS at fault and I was that much of a dick, and Ryan chose to call me out for it, well, I’d have it coming, wouldn’t I? Unethical behavior should be called out. I would expect you, Jesse, to have my back in public for it.

    And I somehow don’t think you would.

    b

  49. Chris Hero says:

    @Mark_S

    Roberson didn’t trash his employer, though. First, Roberson wasn’t an employee of Warners, he was an independent contractor. Second, he didn’t trash Warners, he simply gave his opinion on why he would no longer wish to work with him.

    Do people understand comic creators aren’t employees?

  50. Brian Wood says:

    “Do people understand comic creators aren’t employees?”

    On work for hire projects, we’re basically employed on a script-to-script basis. Zero security, the employer/client holding all the power.

    b

  51. Brian Wood says:

    @ Adam “People have been conditioned to actually empathise with giant faceless entities like corporations. Most people are probably pissed because how dare they speak against the giant corporate wheel that has been giving them things like cool Batman comics for decades, when Chris Roberson is just a replaceable spoke that dared to question the direction of the wheel.”

    Worth reposting that bit. Hard to name another entertainment industry where people would happily stab the content creator in the neck out of support for a label.

    b

  52. @Jamie Coville

    Well said, I couldn’t agree more. I’m getting quite sick of all the DC/Marvel fanboyism. I read comics from both publishers, but I couldn’t imagine taking the side off a company over a creator that seems to be highlighting a genuine issue with things that go on in the industry.

  53. Mark_S says:

    @chris hero

    1. Sorry but i disagree. A polite and calmly worded middle finger, is still a f#ck you no matter how you spin it.

    2. yes i understand that comics creators are self employed contractors who sometimes work with corporate america, but are not necessarily a part of it.

  54. @Mark_S

    “Sorry but i disagree. A polite and calmly worded middle finger, is still a f#ck you no matter how you spin it.”

    Maybe DC have acted in ways that justify a middle finger being thrown their way? And that the fact the middle finger was thrown at them from within their own stable might highlight how big an issue this is to some people?

    If I were DC, I’d take note of this.

  55. To the Jonboys of the world. I’m sure you never sat around the break room at a job comparing notes with your co-workers on the foolish acts of your employer.

    Roberson’s response was much more dignified and principled than that. Was it meant to get attention? Sure. So is a comment on a news blog. Roberson was calm and matter of fact. I think his comments were far more measured than the ones JMS said on the Before Watchmen panel.

    I am gathering strength for my own Before Watchmen post, but the short version is that I agree with David Brothers and Eric Stephenson and so on. A world where keeping corporate trademarks running at all costs instead of maintaining relationships with the creators who created and revitalize those trademarks is a sad world full of cold corporate crap.

    Luckily in the comics world, we have MANY alternatives to cold corporate crap. I first met Chris when he was a small publisher himself, running a collective of SF writers. I have no doubts that he’ll continue to do creative things and find an audience for them.

    GIVE TO SPARKPLUG!!!

  56. Jesse says:

    @Brian Wood

    That question I posted was just referring to Chris Roberson’s Twitter message “Sorry. In a better world, characters like the Legion would be owned by a more ethical company, but sadly not in this one.” where I merely replaced Legion with a title that you had worked on (owned?). Not meant as a dig at you if you took it that way.

    I’m just saying that if you had a creator-owned title and BEFORE it came out (much like the Watchmen Prequels) your artist on the book bad-mouthed you and insinuated that they hated working for you, what would you do?

    Not if Ryan Kelly stated after the fact that he disliked working with you. If the artist of a book you had yet to release came out against you (like Chris Roberson’s Fairest arc which this is pertaining to) what would you do?

  57. Jesse says:

    @Heidi

    Personally, I think it’s a symbiotic relationship that both sides don’t fully appreciate.

    Sure the creators are making content but the publishers are also taking risks themselves by giving these writers/artists/etc. a shot and putting their product out there for the masses.

    Was iZombie ever going to be a guaranteed hit for DC? No, but they let Roberson and Allred put their baby out there for two years and took the risks of no sales on the book themselves.

  58. Mark_S says:

    @adam–why should DC notice? There is always a younger, hungrier, cheaper talent willing to step up to the plate and take your job. Thats true in almost any industry….ESPECIALLY pop culture and entertainment.

    I agree with everything Roberson said. I’m not buying those Watchmen books because of all that stuff, but burning your own bridge in a very small industry is almost a textbook definition of a pyrrhic victory.

  59. free willy says:

    Good on Roberson.

    It’s not that I hate hate hate DC or that I have stopped buying comics from them, but I wholeheartedly applaud those who at least speak out against their practices. We should at least be able to voice our opinions as well as withhold money from projects like Before Watchmen that are not only borderline unethical but simply lazy from a creative standpoint.

    So hats off to Roberson for taking the hugest stand of anyone not named Alan Moore.

    It’s very telling, by the way, to look at which comics sites aren’t even reporting this story. You would think this would be bigger news than a lot of other minute creative changes that take up the headlines of various comic sites. I know one site that has made Scott Snyder’s silly little Tweets headline news, but they aren’t reporting on this much bigger story. A certain site has made “AvX” their Pick of the Week, and another site has given “AvX” 4.5 stars, and yet neither of those sites dares comment on this news from Roberson. It is very obvious who is in it for the money and who still has integrity. Note that these same sites are all gung-ho about Before Watchmen simply because they love Darwyn Cooke unconditionally.

  60. Brian Wood says:

    @ Jesse

    My same answer applies. If I felt innocent of the charge, so to speak, I’d try and work it out privately, and hope we could continue to work together. If I knew I was guilty of the charge, I’d already be an asshole and who knows what I would do. Maybe I’d take a hard line and not want to work with him in hopes of mitigating any perceived “damage”. Maybe I’d try and correct my unethical behavior after being called out on it.

    My comment to you still applies also. If I was guilty, would you have my back because I was the “boss” in this situation (assuming I was, but I wouldn’t really be) and talk shit about Ryan on The Beat?

  61. Brian Wood says:

    @ Jesse “Was iZombie ever going to be a guaranteed hit for DC? No, but they let Roberson and Allred put their baby out there for two years and took the risks of no sales on the book themselves.”

    And for that risk they control the IP for iZombie for as long as they want it. They aren’t a charity – they’ll get more out of iZombie than the creators ever will.

    b

  62. Jesse says:

    @Brian Wood: I already stated that I had no horse in this race. Not sure why there’s this apparent hostility from you toward me on the matter.

    I already had wrote: “I think everyone else needs to quit taking sides in this scenario because I think that both sides dealt with this situation the right way and there’s no need to vilify either side.”

    Honestly, I’m not Chris Roberson and I’m not DC Comics. Why the hell should I be getting so pent up over this?

  63. Jesse says:

    @Brian Wood

    “And for that risk they control the IP for iZombie for as long as they want it. They aren’t a charity – they’ll get more out of iZombie than the creators ever will.”

    Sure but the creators from iZombie get a guaranteed paycheck whereas DC can take a possible loss if it doesn’t sell at all.

  64. Jesse says:

    If Allred and Roberson wanted complete control over the property they could have opted to self-publish. They could have opted to go to a smaller publishing house willing to fork over those rights.

    Instead they decided to work for DC Comics and DC said “OK, I’ll publish and market the book for you”. How are DC Comics the bad guy in this situation?

  65. I can’t help but laugh that the people who dismiss Roberson’s opinion because they don’t like his writing have such poor reading skills that they can’t even spell his name correctly.

  66. @Mark_S

    Apologies if that came out like an attack on what you were saying. It surprises me that you agree with what Roberson was saying but don’t seem to like how he’s gone about making his views public. For him to be making statements like this public he clearly believes this is an issue worth burning bridges over. I commend that, as like you point out it’s a small industry and could have impact on his being given work in the future.

    But if more people valued the same views and had the balls to speak out like this maybe the big publishers would have to think more about their ethics. I know they can just hire fresh blood that will fall in line more easily, but it would surely have an impact on overall quality if all the more experienced industry talent were to all take a stand. Imagine if all of DC/Marvel’s top talent all just decided to speak out, take a stand, and then move over to somewhere like Image comics. DC/Marvel could hire all the exploitable fresh blood they like, people would be buying a lot more Image comics from it all though.

    A lot of people know that you get good stories from following good creators, and not characters/publishers. I know that’s how I choose most of what I buy.

  67. Brian Wood says:

    @ Jesse “Sure but the creators from iZombie get a guaranteed paycheck whereas DC can take a possible loss if it doesn’t sell at all.”

    DC gets the IP no matter what. If iZombie was dead on arrival they could cancel it by issue 7 (which there is a precedent for), take a middling loss but still come out WAYYYY ahead by holding on to that IP forever.

    Having actually been in this situation, yes, DC are not bad guys for offering this deal. This deal solidified my career and I’ll always be grateful. I just hate when people like to position DC as some charity organization, or that they are doing creators some huge favor at their expense, when the deal so disproportionately favors them. Just acknowledge the facts. DC’s a corporation, they exist for no other reason that to enrich their bottom line.

    b

  68. Jesse says:

    I’m not denying that DC’s a corporation nor am I claiming that they are a charity organization. I specifically chose to refer to it as a symbiotic relationship and they both benefit from the deals that are made. But anyone willing to sign a deal with them should recognize that when they put their name on a contract.

    I mean, I’m sure if you spoke out against Marvel right now and they opted to let you go from your deal you’d totally understand where they’re coming from right?

    And to be honest, holding on to an IP really doesn’t mean a thing if it’s a middling property with no intrinsic value. I’m pretty sure Marvel Comics isn’t praising their good fortune for owning the IP to Brute Force.

  69. Jesse says:

    So question to all you creators, are you all sending royalty checks to the original creators of the books you’re working on?

    Anytime an artist does a commission for Wolverine should they be sending a cut to Len Wein, Herb Trimpe and John Romita Sr?

  70. HMcD: “And yet JMS said it was okay to screw Alan Moore because people in comics just get screwed, thereby admitting it was a screwing. And he still works for DC!”

    Exactly.

    Things have been like this, though, since forever. Back in the early 90s, I pitched something to DC. It was read. There was talk. And then, I mentioned creator’s rights – and suddenly, the ceiling caved in. I was bitch-slapped, roundly scolded & told in no uncertain terms that I was nothing but a lowly life-form, a sniveling worm whose work was not fit to line the bird cage of a pigeon fed Ex-Lax.

    All because I simply *asked* about copyright.

    Fans do not know how petty & vindictive some of their corporate idols are away from the hype pages & convention tables. If they did, there would be even less support for this dying genre than there is now.

  71. @Jesse “And to be honest, holding on to an IP really doesn’t mean a thing if it’s a middling property with no intrinsic value. I’m pretty sure Marvel Comics isn’t praising their good fortune for owning the IP to Brute Force.”

    IP’s can be revitalised, no matter how worthless they might seem at first. Whoever thought that Image could take Rob Liefeld Extreme imprint books like Prophet and Glory and make them into something worth reading. Prophet espeically, it’s become one of my favourite books currently being published.

  72. Jesse says:

    And revitalizing them is another expenditure that they have to invest and take a risk on.

    They have to pay new writers, new artists and then market this new book while taking on all of the publishing costs again without any guarantee on this relaunch either

  73. Brian Wood says:

    And all it takes is for one IP out of fifty to pay out and the whole group becomes profitable.

  74. Mike Lukash says:

    From my limited understanding, Time Warner has been trying to renegotiate royalty deals that DC had previously made. (Not necessarily DC Editorial, but the lawyers from corporate)

    Once comic movies were being made, the generous nature of Vertigo contracts were stopped by Lawyers at corporate level. The multi-media is the name of the game. Get them to buy the book, movie, toy, Soundtrack,DVD and video game!

  75. Nick Jones says:

    Man, if I wasn’t already buying everything that Brian Wood puts out, this thread would make me start.

    By the same token, I’ve never read anything by Roberson, but I’m going to buy whatever his next project is, just for the sake of supporting a guy who has both a well-developed set of ethics and an equally stellar set of cajones.

  76. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Jesse–the point is not what I or Brian or any other creator does with the money we make on a property, the point is that Roberson made an ethical decision. Whether you or I agree with that decision is immaterial, but I think it speaks well of those of us who aren’t him to assume he’s made the decision for the reasons he stated.

    W/r/t to the IP question–that’s all this is about. IP. Marvel may not be thrilled that Brute Force isn’t proving to be valuable, but they held on to fuckin’ Ghost Rider and made something out of that. Who would’ve figured there’d be a GHOST RIDER movie?

  77. Jesse says:

    @Brian Wood

    And the creators of that one IP can market their success into another more lucrative job. Why should the other creators for the failed 49 properties benefit for mediocrity?

    Look at yourself. You took your success with AiT and Demo and turned that into Local which turned into DC offering you a deal and then DMZ led to you back to working at Marvel on marquee books.

  78. Brian Wood says:

    @ Jesse “I specifically chose to refer to it as a symbiotic relationship and they both benefit from the deals that are made. But anyone willing to sign a deal with them should recognize that when they put their name on a contract.
    I mean, I’m sure if you spoke out against Marvel right now and they opted to let you go from your deal you’d totally understand where they’re coming from right?”

    I’ve never disagreed with any of this. In fact, your first part here is what I just got done saying.

    Although its worth noting that I have no “deal” at Marvel. Like I said, there’s zero job security as a WFH creator, like I’ve said. Which is just one of the reasons I dislike seeing freelance creators demonized for tossing pebbles at the giant behemoth that is a corporate multimedia conglomerate.

    b

  79. Matthew Southworth says:

    And by the way, Brian’s right: DC and Marvel are corporations, and their only purpose is to make money for their shareholders. That is not a slam on either company, that is the mission statement for a corporation.

    So ascribing moral or immoral motivations to them is completely immaterial–the results of those decisions may be positive or negative but morality is not the purpose. Increasing value for shareholders is the purpose.

    DC’s New 52 didn’t happen because someone thought it would be a great story; Cool Ranch Doritos didn’t happen because someone thought “you know what, these chips would taste fantastic if we put some ranch dressing in the mix!”; McDonald’s large sodas aren’t ENORMOUS because McDonald’s is nice and wants you to get more for your money. All of these decisions are made in order to increase market share and market value.

  80. Brian Wood says:

    @ Jesse, that is an insane distortion of my career, and I disagree with the entire premise of that post, but I’ll let it slide.

  81. Jesse says:

    @Matthew Southworth – No that’s not the point at all. Do not speak for me. I stated MY point as being that I think this is a non-issue.

  82. @Nick Jones

    Try Memorial from IDW, it’s a few issues in and is filled with imaginative ideas and concepts. Plus if you’re anything like me, you’ll be sold with the character that’s a talking cat called Shrodinger.

  83. Jesse says:

    @Brian Wood

    Apologies on the distortion but I thought a summary would serve better than having to go title by title throughout your career.

  84. I’m fairly puzzled by the responses that seem hellbent on reducing Roberson’s decision to economical terms or possible personal grievances.

    Roberson’s statement doesn’t say he was unhappy with how DC treated him personally; on the contrary. And he seems like a smart guy who’s well aware of the consequences of his actions. Clearly, whatever the financial and career disadvantages to him will be, he seems perfectly willing to accept the trade-off — not that this is any of our business, anyway.

    Is it so hard to acknowledge the notion of someone’s ethical concerns overriding those other aspects, and discuss it in these terms?

  85. Matthew Southworth says:

    For those interested in some of the larger ramifications of this discussion, I highly recommend the documentary “The Corporation” (I believe it’s available on Netflix Instant).

    It’s a fantastic movie and really helped me to see some of these things more clearly. Whether you’re pro-corporation, anti-corporation or somewhere in between, I think the documentary posits a number of interesting ideas that apply here.

  86. Brian Wood says:

    “Who would’ve figured there’d be a GHOST RIDER movie?”

    This is what I mean by my comment that all it takes is one IP to pay out. Who knows what’s going to happen? WB is holding on to thousands of IPs, both from DC and Vertigo, and sooner or later some of them will turn into fountains of gold. Sure, the original creator, assuming they are still around, will get a few bucks and bragging rights, but WB will always get the vast, vast, vast majority of the money and the glory.

    And just to head Jesse off at the pass, yes, this is the deal and everyone knows it going in. WB is in it for maximum profits, and the creators get a paycheck for awhile. I loved my DC paychecks, and love my royalty checks. The fact remains the real “winner” in this arrangement is always going to be WB, no matter what happens.

    b

  87. Matthew Southworth says:

    Don’t get bent out of shape, Jesse–I was responding to your question asking whether we should give Herb Trimpe money. That’s a worthwhile question, but it’s not what’s being discussed here. What’s being discussed is whether ONE person’s decision was ethical and sensible, not whether everyone should abide by that decision or a related one.

  88. Shawn Kane says:

    “A lot of comic fans aren’t really comic fans. They are superheroes by DC/Marvel fans.”

    This is me. I love the characters and enjoy reading their adventures when they’re comics that I like. I’ve tried to branch out over the years and find that outside of Fables, Hellboy, and Archie, I don’t really care for comics that aren’t about superheroes. I don’t read Marvel and DC exlusively. In fact, I barely buy any Marvel these days and for a guy who cut his teeth on his older brother’s Bronze Age Marvel comics, that hurts. I love Invincible from Image. I read G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and John Byrne’s Next Men from IDW. I’m looking forward to Trio from IDW. I look at every new title at my LCS when they come out. I checked out Saga, and it’s not to my tastes. I may eventually find something that I like, who knows?

    I read Watchmen when I was in the 10th grade in 1988. I never held it up as some holy grail, it was a really great comic that I wanted my friends to read. It has developed the reputation it has over the years because DC kept it in print. Before Watchmen doesn’t bother me because I won’t read it.

  89. Mike Lukash says:

    We should at least be able to voice our opinions as well as withhold money from projects like Before Watchmen that are not only borderline unethical but simply lazy from a creative standpoint.- Free Willy</i)

    At this point, I have very little interest in before Watchmen. I'm not buying until I hear if they are a good read.

    But that being said, the very nature of comics allow multiple takes by multiple artist/writers on a series, concept and characters. If they bring a new viewpoint or good story to the character-then everyone benefits.

    The Character of Batman has actually benefited from multiple viewpoints, and we've gotten some great stories and great art because of it.

  90. Brian Wood says:

    @ Jesse its not the fact you summarized, its that you are entirely wrong not just on chronology but also on my intentions and motivations. Just leave it alone.

  91. blacaucasian says:

    @Brian – is there ever a situation where you can see you would get back rights to those IP that WB now owns? Like that situation recently with Palmiotti and Grey and their Monolith book?

  92. Jesse says:

    I wasn’t stating anything about your intentions or motivations. I’m merely stating that you’ve built up your name value where it has become valued to DC and Marvel to reach out to you.

  93. Brian Wood says:

    @ blacaucasian yes, but DC has to agree to let the rights go. Which happens sometimes, but its rare. And honestly, if they are keeping DMZ and Northlanders in print, I’m happy to keep cashing the royalty checks. I have no beef with Vertigo, and I’m proud of the work I did.

    b

  94. @Jesse. But why are they taking that risk? It’s because they think they have a good chance of making money. A business thinking investing in something will make them money is not something you should feel any sympathy for. *Not* doing this regularly is very harmful for the business, as they can’t just depend on old successes to keep them profitable forever. I’m sure any executive that would propose this would be out the door in favor of somebody wanting to generate new/more money as well as keeping the old successes going.

    The business likely had a wide variety of things they could put their money in too. They chose that thing because it had a higher probability of success then the other stuff they looked at (or they had other personal reasons). No there is no guarantee for success and that is worked into the business plan. They already know how much money they are comfortable in losing in the project and have a cut off point if it gets to that point.

    When it does come to something new it’s not just the corporation out of money either. The creators, or freelancers in terms of a IP being brought back often do a LOT of background/preparation work in working out new designs, re-imagining things, etc.. that goes well beyond what they get paid for. If the projects a success they can make that money back over time. If it’s not, then that’s time/money lost they could have been doing something that generated money.

  95. Brian Wood says:

    And to add to @ Jamie Coville’s comments re: risk. Yeah, DC takes a risk on a title, they earn some money, and even if it fails they retain the IP. The same creators take a risk, earn some money, and if it fails…

    b

  96. @Mike Lukash. You are aware that Batman was a creator owned character and ultimately you got those great and different takes because Bob Kane allowed it? There is no “very nature of comics.” Comic are what people decide they want them to be, starting with the creators of those comics.

    Publishers for the most part want them to be something that continues to generate income for them. To that end they want comics to be serial fiction where you can exchange writers and artists like widgets and use a different bad guy and have non-stop profit generating paper (and now digital files) to sell.

  97. okay, I might have gone a little overboard with that last paragraph..

  98. And for some reason I’m doubting that Jesse would have Brian Wood’s *back* if the situation was laid out with Wood in that position.

    Sometimes the Internet is a mean place. Hah!

  99. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Jamie–no, I don’t think you went overboard at all. I think both companies would say something like “Batman is bigger than Scott Snyder” or “Superman has been around for 70+ years and is bigger than Grant Morrison and Rags Morales”, etc.

    The point being that the companies wouldn’t want to be dependent upon one creator for that IP, they want the IP to hold the value so they control it, not the other way around. I think your point is very reasonable.

  100. @Jamie Coville

    “okay, I might have gone a little overboard with that last paragraph..”

    Really? I think you were spot on. To the point where the publishers have to use tricks and gimmicks to keep you buying. Things like crossovers and events and tie ins, making you think you need to buy issues instead of actually making them really worth buying. I’m not saying they are never worth buying, but the really good ideas seem to be almost like fluke these days, especially things that are editorially driven stories and events. Got to keep churning it out! If they still aren’t selling enough, double ship it! (If you can’t seduce a large audience, f*ck the dedicated audience twice as hard!)

  101. Mike Lukash says:

    @Jamie Coville
    Batman creator owned?

    As far as I know, The Spirit was the only Golden Age character that was creator owned. Batman was created via partnership of Finger and Kane. Finger was not served well by DC.

    The only reason why Kane did better than any of the other Golden Age creator was his father was in the publishing business and pulled a few tricks on DC.

    As it were, Kane was a company man, who didn’t rock the boat nor bit the hand that fed him. His reputation as a creator/theif has taken several hits since his death.

  102. kingmaker says:

    Heidi , one question?
    the below quote is from the person doing the monthly DC sales examination. f-ing ridiculous , make you understand what side “the Beat” has in this “Dog and Pony Show”

    Marc-Oliver Frisch

    04/20/2012 at 4:10 pm

    “As an outsider, I’ve always maintained some disbelief at the notion of how petty and vindictive and ugly the U.S. comics business — and DC in particular — can be.

    Well, not anymore. The whole WATCHMEN business is already making them look incredibly bad, and this reaction to a well-articulated decision by a creator with legitimate ethical concerns only adds to that poor image.

    All the best to Chris Roberson. He seems like a swell fell”

  103. Travis M. says:

    Wow, great discussion, but it seems like Cameron hit the nail on the head like 20 posts ago. A dude decided he didn’t want to work for a company anymore, because HE felt their business practices were unethical (whether they are or not is almost immaterial to this conversation). Because he made those feelings so public, the company decided to part ways with him mid-project. There is (and should be) a constant debate about creators and their relationship to the corporations — but the termination of Roberson’s relationship with DC seems like a no-brainer at this point, and probably best for both parties.

  104. Matthew Southworth says:

    @kingmaker–talk about fucking ridiculous. Frisch’s sales examinations are about reading and interpreting numbers, not about editorializing their business practices. That he may have some ideological beliefs about how they conduct business is no more germane to those sales reports than if my accountant is a Christian conservative and I’m a liberal atheist.

    Stop looking for conspiracies; it’s not like the Beat doesn’t do plenty of stories on DC books, both pro and con.

  105. Chris Hero says:

    @Brian Wood

    Regarding my comment on WFH creators not being employees…I meant you guys don’t get health care or 401Ks or all the other extra compensation at-will employees do. You just get a paycheck based on each script you turn in. Once your contract is completed, your employment is over until the next contract is signed. So, if you or Mr. Roberson or whomever finishes your contract and then say, “I don’t wish to do further work with Company X because of ___ reason,” it’s different than if an at-will employee gives a 2 week notice and says, “This company is bad.”

    I’m just…at a loss with all these people saying a creator is disrespecting the company they just got done working for after the contract is over. If he was still under contract, I could maybe understand (but not agree with) that, but not when the contract is over.

  106. @kingmaker If you don’t want my opinion, don’t read my column. Simple as that.

  107. >> On work for hire projects, we’re basically employed on a script-to-script basis. Zero security, the employer/client holding all the power. >>

    But we’re still not employees. We’re suppliers.

    We make stuff and sell or lease the rights to it. The publishers aren’t our employers but our customers.

  108. I’ve been really iZombie and was looking forward to reading his Fairest story arc, but I think it takes guts to take a decision like that over principals and ethics. It’s putting his money where his mouth is. I wish him all the best and hope independently he creates something that I enjoy as much as iZombie.

  109. When I talked to Chris about the iZombie series, he was pretty straight about the origin of the title. That particular bit is toward the back of the interview.

    http://vimeo.com/33698420

  110. Turkish says:

    Brian Wood
    04/20/2012 at 6:35 pm

    @ Adam “People have been conditioned to actually empathise with giant faceless entities like corporations. Most people are probably pissed because how dare they speak against the giant corporate wheel that has been giving them things like cool Batman comics for decades, when Chris Roberson is just a replaceable spoke that dared to question the direction of the wheel.”

    Worth reposting that bit. Hard to name another entertainment industry where people would happily stab the content creator in the neck out of support for a label.

    b

    ——————————————

    Film…Television…all of them?

    Screenwriters and Television writers get less respect than Marvel/DC writers. The label that’s being supported is the movie or show in development. Most people don’t care that shows outlive their creators and that studios can make as many sequels to a movie as they want no matter what the original screenwriter has to say. As much as James Cameron’s originality has come into question in regard to his Terminator films and Avatar, he’s still waiting to get the rights for Terminator back almost 30 years later. A contract is a contract, and if you want to talk about rights, film and television typically screw over their creative talent more than comics.

    I’ve seen some references to something JMS said at a panel in regard to Before Watchmen. I’m not sure how that discussion is going to play out and it’ll probably be in a new post…. but here’s what I saw–He’s right. I may think less of him for being involved with this project just like I would think less of Alan Moore for making a Babylon 5 tv show without JMS’ approval, but being from television and film, JMS is used to seeing this type of behavior in action and in often more dishonorable ways. It’s just the way it is. Someone said something about funneling paychecks to Len Wein for writing Wolverine comics…well, what about Len Wein funneling his Before Watchmen check to Alan Moore (not that he’d take it.) They know it’s just the way it is, so they take the job they’re given and put food on the table.

    From my personal point of view:

    I’m not supporting Alan Moore-less Watchmen.

    I’m not supporting JMS-less Babylon 5.

    I’m not supporting Joss-less Buffy/Angel/Serenity/Dollhouse/Dr. Horrible.

    And they’re all owned by corporations that can do whatever they want with the property. It’s a choice. The only one that has to live with it is you. Same for Chris Roberson.

  111. Good thing I was already half into some wine when I read this…it’s sad.

  112. Chris Roberson is now officially my hero. There are still people with ethics in this business.

  113. patrick ford says:

    The idea publishers need to own IP because of the risks they take is historically BS. The most successful comic book publisher of the ’40s and ’50s was Dell comics which almost exclusively published comic books based on characters they not only didn’t own, but instead licensed.
    In book publishing Viking Press managed to stay in business without owning THE GRAPES OF WRATH, and Scholastic is doing quite well despite the fact they don’t own Harry Potter.

  114. patrick ford says:

    One of the more humorous aspects of these corporations vs creators discussions is the people who attack Alan Moore, Jack Kirby, or Chris Roberson, commonly ridicule the creators for having signed bad contracts. The attitude is “The corporation I worship (from the bed in mom’s basement sitting on a longboxspring) outwitted these chumps who aren’t nearly as smart as I am, so they should just grow up and deal with it.”
    Maybe Alan Moore was a fool to think for a moment, “They value me, they wouldn’t value The Watchmen more than the fact I created The Watchmen, and will create more things in the future. Maybe Alan Moore should thank DC for teaching him to never trust a corporation again, maybe we should all thank DC for telling us Alan Moore is something to be thrown away like a burnt out cigarette. Alan Moore has no value, The Watchmen is where the value is.
    What’s the proof of this? Watch the sales of the new “Watchmen” comic books.

  115. Back in the old days, I would have had something to say about this, but what’s it get me to take time away from making money with my own creativity now to address it? People believe what they want to believe. I’ll just say, ol’ Jesse, you seem sane and undistorted to ME. hee hee Rock right on, folks with your own point-of-view. All stories are true. You have a creator-owned contract and your stuff reverts back to you when the contract is over… what’s to dish about? That’s the *point* of creator-owned. God bless you, yes?

    I dunno. Maybe I have a different point of view because I am a creator *and* a publisher, and as a creator I get creators… but creators don’t get publishing because they don’t publish. It’s a funny old world, and people will dish, I suppose.

    Unmon said: “I do not ask you about fifteen days ago. But what about fifteen days hence? Come, say a word about this!” Since none of the monks answered, he answered for them: “Every day is a good day.” I’m too relaxed for comics, now.

  116. There are some very sad people commenting on this topic.

    Roberson gained major points with me for doing this, whether he’s an alien, failure, sex offender, or Bavarian pink knight. Cheers!

  117. @Jesse cc: Brian Wood MY OPINION

    Any successful creator cannot plan his career and say that he’s going to get attention from a book and turn that into DC work and turn that into movie work and turn that into, etc., etc.

    I used to think it was that way and it lead to total failure and insanity.

    Creators simply tell a story they think is worth telling. That seems to be the only way to do it. Otherwise, they aren’t in the moment connected with God.

    Does that make sense?

  118. James says:

    “We make stuff and sell or lease the rights to it. The publishers aren’t our employers but our customers.”

    So the customers cancelled iZombie!! haha…

    That is alot of non DC “pros” putting in their two cents. Except Cameron Stewart. I wonder who will be next to get the boot from DC??? ….

    Marc-Oliver Frisch has an issue with DC?!? What the?!? I’m in shock! From reading his monthly column you would never know! Its always filled with sunshine and lolliepops!…

  119. Yeah, the customers cancelled their order. Why is that funny? Have you been so conditioned to be an employ? You are made in the image of The Creator.

  120. James says:

    “So if someone in your office felt like there was something unethical or problematic within the company, they should just keep quiet about it? Or they deserve to be fired? What if that person was you? What if you saw something that you felt was out of line or made you morally uncomfortable – wouldn’t you feel like the right thing to do would be to draw attention to it, without feeling like you had to risk your job to do it?

    I don’t understand this “keep quiet or you get what’s coming to you” mindset, and I think that it’s actually kind of dangerous.”

    Maybe instead of posting it on twitter for all the world to read – he could of, I don’t know, spoken to his bosses about it maybe?? I mean, come on, his didn’t just bitch to his family and friends – hes telling the whole world! Theres a difference!

  121. James says:

    “Yeah, the customers cancelled their order.” – and DC cancelled it.

    “You are made in the image of The Creator” – what does that even mean?? Are you some born again christian??

  122. Chris Hero says:

    Wow. The Marc-Oliver is a monster meme is back in full force. I honestly didn’t expect that.

    @James

    DC, nor Warners, was Roberson’s employer when he made the remarks. This is what I mean when I said creators are not employees. Creators sign contracts to produce a certain number of pages. Once they’ve contractually fulfilled that commitment by either turning in those number of pages or having their book cancelled, their employment is over. It’s not the same thing as a salaried employee at a big corporation saying something derogatory about his company while still being employed by them.

  123. Mikael says:

    So the Beat is against the cold corporate world of comics – but not above helping to promote its comics/events/news stories for a few healthy clicks? Yea – that makes sense.

  124. kingmaker says:

    Same tired rant all the time , he really should just go away (or be fired , it pains me that he is paid for his hack jobs). It’s like the old Batman TV show. Tune in tomorrow , same time , same place.

    “Marc-Oliver Frisch has an issue with DC?!? What the?!? I’m in shock! From reading his monthly column you would never know! Its always filled with sunshine and lolliepops!…”

  125. What I’ve been saying on Bleeding Cool on this topic as it pertains to Roberson and others who constantly bring Moore’s contract with Watchmen, Kirby, the Siegels, etc is simply that to me its silly to constantly bring them up as it pertains to why Roberson left DC.

    Because what should really be focused on (and for the most part is) is making sure those events never happen again. Learn from what happened with Moore’s contract, and the Siegels, and Kirby and make sure creators today get fairer deals.

    Which they certainly do. But everyone keeps complaining about his this should all be retroactively included on all contracts now going back to 1938 in their righteous sense of vitrol.

    And that’s where the major disconnect to me is coming in.

  126. “Same tired rant all the time , he really should just go away…”

    Why are you desperately trying to derail a worthwhile thread with your insane bias against Marc-Oliver? Learn to TAKE HIS ADVICE and stop reading his columns if your panties keep getting all twisted up.

  127. kingmaker says:

    My bias , that is a joke. Do you mean the bias Marc-Oliver has against DC Comics, i mean seriously , having him on your side , really damages your side of a discussion. I believe in pointing out one’s bias , if they are going to comment on a thread.

    Marc-Oliver is the comic book equal of “Fox News” , you always know what side of the coin , he will choose. A point that when brought up at the recent Diamond Retailers Summit , when just mentioning his name , had retailers howling with laughter.

  128. horatio weisfeld says:

    A lot of people on this thread keep complaining about “corporations” which does not make any sense to me.

    Corporations are the American way. We can not do business (as far as I know) without entities having corporate shields. Artists and writers should, ultimately, all want to have their own companies — and in fact, the more successful ones usually do.

    The problem is we have HUGE corporate entities like DC comics trolling the landscape with anti-free market, anti capitalist models: Warner’s DC “division” does not make money – at least not as a stand alone entity – and so its only excuse for justifying its existence to its WB budget masters amounts to its forever digging its hooks into as much work by artists and writers as it can for the lowest possible price (after all: it afford to pay very well because it isn’t successful enough to generate profits).

    On top of all this, DC guards its (undeserved) market share with truck loads of advertising/marketing cash borrowed in a financial market that provides low interest mega loans to these big money losers while offering little or nothing to small startups (say, the one that might be created by most of the people reading this).

    DC comics is less like a free-market company and more like a Zombie bank that perpetually invests in slavery. It serves to re-dristbute wealth from the talented to the mediocre.

    Artists and writers should all want to start and own their own free-market, for profit companies — but should aspire not to create anti-capitalist perversions like DC comics.

  129. Chris Hero says:

    I hear you guys on the Marc-Oliver hate. I heard he punched a kitten once. Marc-Oliver is indeed a monster.

  130. >> So the customers cancelled iZombie!! haha…>>

    Yes. DC was Chris’s customer — they purchased scripts from him — and they decided that they didn’t want to purchase any more. That’s how it works.

    >> That is alot of non DC “pros” putting in their two cents.>>

    Not sure if that’s meant to include me, but I’m working on four DC-contracted projects at present. And freelancing is freelancing wherever you do it — if the publisher is not paying for your time and effort, but rather paying for the scripts or artwork you produce, they’re not your employer, they’re your customer.

    Just as the comics retailer is the publishers’ customer because the retailer is buying stuff, not hiring time. And the reader is the retailers’ customer.

  131. >> But everyone keeps complaining about his this should all be retroactively included on all contracts now going back to 1938 in their righteous sense of vitriol.>>

    I think if Marvel and DC grandfathered their work for hire creator-equity deals back to 1938, it’d cost them a lot less than the lawsuits, and it’d be a promotional asset, because people like Gary Friedrich, Marv Wolfman, the Siegel heirs, the Kirby heirs, etc. would be helping promote the movies rather than being the subject of press about unfair treatment.

    kdb

  132. Roberto Briceno says:

    I support Chris Roberson. For that matter, I support any creator that leaves under the DiDio/Lee/Johns/Harris regime.

  133. Kurt brings up a good point. Treating creators unfairly isn’t just unethical, it’s also ineffective. Imagine what Alan Moore, Jack Kirby, Steve Gerber and others could and likely would have created at DC and Marvel if they’d been treated appropriately.

  134. Excellent discussion!

    But one point needs some reiteration, it seems to me:

    THE BEAT is a hypocrite. stop running straight Marvel PR if you are so concerned about rapacious corporations. i know you hate DC for personal reasons, but really, Marvel is even worse.

    but those phone calls from david and arune really get you going, don’t they?

    hypocrite.

  135. “because people like Gary Friedrich, Marv Wolfman, the Siegel heirs, the Kirby heirs, etc. would be helping promote the movies rather than being the subject of press about unfair treatment.”

    —yep, that’s just what these films need to put them over the top!

  136. >> yep, that’s just what these films need to put them over the top! >>

    I don’t think it’s anywhere near as binary as you’re suggesting. It would be a plus in a lot of ways — even on the level of Marvel/Disney PR people planting feel-good stories about the creators seeing their creation on the big screen, which widens the good press. Any 10% of the promo efforts they make aren’t strictly necessary, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth doing. In part because you don’t know which bits will work. Disney clearly saw value in trotting out their creative heritage in the form of great animators from time to time; if they could do that with Marvel, they wouldn’t scoff at having one more reason to be on the Today Show or Good Morning America during the promo buildup as easily as you do, I think.

    Plus, as Marc-Oliver has indicated — would it be worth treating creators well if it meant Marvel wound up owning Darkseid? Or DC having a Watchmen sequel by Alan and Dave (something they’d talked about before things fell apart)?

  137. horatio weisfeld says:

    I think if Marvel and DC grandfathered their work for hire creator-equity deals back to 1938…

    >>

    Kurt:

    You’ve made Dave Cockrum’s day!

  138. James
    04/21/2012 AT 2:59 AM
    “Yeah, the customers cancelled their order.” – and DC cancelled it.

    “You are made in the image of The Creator” – what does that even mean?? Are you some born again christian??

    I’m trying to say that you’ve been put into a customer mindset. You defend companies and seem to be so sexually repressed as to think joy comes from violence and destruction. True joy comes from creation and love. Look at your life. How clean your consciousness is. How easily you can move your arms and legs. You are made in the image of God. We all are.

  139. Jesse says:

    More pathetic DC apologists. So addicted to your monthly characters that you piss all over artists, rich or poor. Let’s face it most of you don’t give a damn how the sausage is made you just want to eat it. I am also surprised Dido has not sent his bitch enforcer JMS out to trash Roberson. Although it so interesting to read Babylon 5 references, what a ground breaking piece of crap that was.

  140. jaroslav hasek says:

    if the comic book creator is the seller and the publisher is their customer then its pretty hard to consider the creators victims in any of their contracts. its hard to sympathize with someone who was ripped off when they were the ones making the sale.

  141. Jesse says:

    Nice job Jaroslav, see above.

  142. “its hard to sympathize with someone who was ripped off when they were the ones making the sale.”

    This type of comment always springs from a deep well of personal experience selling marketable talents on a freelance basis, I’m sure.

  143. jaroslav hasek says:

    @marc-oliver – yes, you are correct, it does. i have spent all my adult life selling my talents to companies on a freelance basis. its how a lot of people (most?) make their living. i have never been in a union and never worked ‘under contract’.

    but all i was implying is that framing someone’s employment in that manner doesn’t make their cause any more sympathetic, in my eyes, anyway. however i am still personally sympathetic to roberson’s regardless.

    i also don’t disagree with the analogy. in fact, if anything its applied too narrowly. everyone sells their services to employers, not just freelancers working in a creative industry. labor is a commodity, and everyone form the wall street banker to the hotel room maid can be considered producers peddling their wares to corporate customers.

    i know everyone is real quick to take ‘sides’ on something like this, it makes it easier to argue and cut down other people’s comments, but i assure you i am not in DC’s proverbial corner. however my comment was brief and lacking in context so i dont take any offense for people reading more into it than was my intention.

  144. >> its hard to sympathize with someone who was ripped off when they were the ones making the sale.>>

    Lots of people get ripped off when selling things, particularly when they have very little power to set the terms of sale. A historical study of farming would have lots of examples, for instance.

    But it’s easy to come up with reasons to be unsympathetic if you don’t want to be.

    Ed Brubaker noted a little earlier, on Twitter: “Remember when the studios were going to make a Buffy movie without Joss Whedon’s input, consent or involvement? I don’t remember a bunch of fandom saying ‘fuck Joss, he signed a shitty contract’ back then. That was certainly the studio’s position, of course, but Buffy fans were furious, as I recall. As they should have been.”

    kdb

  145. >> i have spent all my adult life selling my talents to companies on a freelance basis. its how a lot of people (most?) make their living.>>

    No, not most, at least not in the Western world.

    >> i have never been in a union and never worked ‘under contract’.>>

    Do you get paid for your time, or do you get paid for piecework? Do you get paid time off? Are your taxes collected out of your paycheck? Is there overtime pay?

    There’s lots of ways employment and freelancing differ.

    >> but all i was implying is that framing someone’s employment in that manner doesn’t make their cause any more sympathetic, in my eyes, anyway.>>

    I haven’t been pointing it out to “frame” it that way. I’ve been pointing it out because it’s the truth. Someone noted that DC used to have a policy that freelancers had leeway to criticize but employees didn’t, and that opened a discussion of which was which. I didn’t think that side conversation was about sympathy.

    >> everyone sells their services to employers, not just freelancers working in a creative industry.>>

    I don’t sell my services. I sell the result of them.

    >> labor is a commodity, and everyone form the wall street banker to the hotel room maid can be considered producers peddling their wares to corporate customers.>>

    Then you’re drawing a different distinction, but that doesn’t make the distinction I’ve been drawing meaningless.

    kdb

  146. Jesse says:

    Thank you Kurt. You are a smart guy and your work has certainly entertained me for years. Your thoughtful analysis here reinforces why you are one of the greats.

  147. jaroslav hasek says:

    @kurt – i know there are lots of differences between how office workers and comic creators are typically paid. i wasn’t implying that there are no difference or that any difference are meaningless. i dont think, however, that the differences are so great one needs to actually have a long history of working as a strictly defined creative “freelancer” to qualify to comment on it. perhaps marc-oliver or you disagree. thats cool. i also wasn’t directly responding to your post or trying to put any words in your mouth with regards to the creator/company-seller/buyer dynamic and how that might influence one’s opinion of roberson’s career moves. sorry for any confusion!

  148. “labor is a commodity, and everyone form the wall street banker to the hotel room maid can be considered producers peddling their wares to corporate customers.”

    But labor or services aren’t the issue here. Original and distinctive creations like stories, artwork and characters are.

  149. >> i know there are lots of differences between how office workers and comic creators are typically paid.>>

    It’s not merely how we’re paid, though. This is why I responded when you tried to apply the idea to “everyone.”

    Tom Brevoort is a Marvel employee. I’m self-employed, even when I sell a script to Marvel.

    I don’t think your characterization of what Marc-Oliver said is accurate, either, but I’ll leave that to the two of you to hash out, if you care to.

  150. Frank Juliano says:

    This dialogue on this thread has served as a great reminder to donate to the Sparkplug IndieGoGo campaign.

    …And to support the creator-owned works of C. Roberson, B.Wood, C. Stewart, & K. Busiek.

  151. jaroslav hasek says:

    @marc-oliver – sorry, still im missing your point then. we’re talking about original creations and “labor” was used to produce the original creations, right?

    @kurt – i dont see why the analogy doesnt work for “employees” like tom brevoort, and “everyone” else. tom is selling his services to marvel. its not the same thing as you selling an original story to marvel. and how marvel compensates tom is different than how they compensate you. we may not be thinking about the analogy the same way tho.

  152. BrianMc says:

    I like what Roberson did. I think he did it because it was the right thing to do, as he saw it. I think whether Roberson is “big” or not, talented or not, etc. are irrelevant. I just like that he put a paying relationship on the line to take a reasoned, politely articulated moral stand.

    Having enjoyed a number of his comics, I used the occasion of the internet catching fire in defense of DC Comics to go buy one of Roberson’s novels from Amazon. Seemed like a good, if tiny, reaction.

  153. Christian says:

    And once again the most exploited creative industry on earth reaps what they sow for never bothering to unionize like practically everywhere else on the planet.

    Although between this and the shrinking number of exclusive contracts (and the health insurance packages they entail) I wonder if perhaps this might someday soon change….

  154. Christian says:

    PS- don’t forget to donate to the HERO initiative as well, everyone. Sparkplug and IndieGoGo are great but let’s not forget about those that would dare to one day do the unfathomable and actually retire.

    It’s almost Con time again, can we get another Ralph’s reminder? Easiest way on Earth to donate. You can sign up for a free card BEFORE you go here: https://www.ralphsrewards.com/

  155. >> And once again the most exploited creative industry on earth reaps what they sow for never bothering to unionize like practically everywhere else on the planet.>>

    Independent contractors are barred from collective bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act. Organization like the Writer’s Guild and the Screen Actor’s Guild were grandfathered in when the laws were changed, so they get to exist, but at this point it would take a change in labor law to allow comics creators to unionize.

  156. I cancelled all my subs yesterday. I stopped reading all DC and Vertigo a few months back. Now I’ll just buy all my non-dc titles direct online. Screw my local shop if they make money on DC I am out there too.

  157. James says:

    “I’m trying to say that you’ve been put into a customer mindset. You defend companies and seem to be so sexually repressed as to think joy comes from violence and destruction. True joy comes from creation and love. Look at your life. How clean your consciousness is. How easily you can move your arms and legs. You are made in the image of God. We all are.”

    Wow! Based on my one comment you know my whole life do you? Stop projecting – At least I ASKED if you were some god cult freak and didn’t just state it. Although based on this, your second comment….

  158. @Kurt Busiek – if saying they are your customer instead of your employer allows you to produce scripts for them, more power to you. You go girl! I guess its your way of getting out of saying ‘I’m working for DC’, ‘I’m writing scripts for DC’, ‘I just got my paycheck from DC’….

  159. >> I guess its your way of getting out of saying ‘I’m working for DC’, ‘I’m writing scripts for DC’, ‘I just got my paycheck from DC’…. >>

    No, I say the first two of those. Not the third, because it’s a check, but it’s not a paycheck, any more than someone writing a check to the grocery store, or to buy comics mail-order, is writing a paycheck.

    I don’t say it as some sort of dodge, to cover up the truth. I say it as clarification, because it is the truth.

    It’s a distinction a lot of people gloss over, and then they assume that freelancers are doing the same kind of thing as employees, and they gripe that since their employer owns their work, why shouldn’t a comics publisher own everything the writers and artists do? And the answer is, because we’re not employees; we’re covered by a whole different set of laws.

    It’s a legal distinction in terms of what they’re paying for, but there’s more — if we were employees, there’d be tax issues, and overtime and vacation pay and all that. Even when I’ve been exclusive to a publisher, the contract isn’t an employment contract. It’s a contract that I’ll supply, and they’ll purchase, X number of scripts of such-and-such length over such-and-such time period, for Y dollars per page and various ancillary incentives.

    If I’m not their employee, there are a whole bunch of things they don’t have to do, that saves them quite a bit of money and responsibility. But the flip side is that they don’t control my time and can’t assume ownership of anything I do, not without a written deal, in advance.

    Similarly, Stephen King isn’t an employee of Scribner’s, and wasn’t a DC employee when he wrote AMERICAN VAMPIRE stories. He was selling them publishing rights, which is something different.

  160. @James
    Taking a swing at Kurt? I was wondering if you took Dido out of your mouth when you type or do you keep servicing him? You must be a great multitasker.

  161. @Jaroslav: “sorry, still im missing your point then. we’re talking about original creations and “labor” was used to produce the original creations, right?”

    My point was that your comparison is faulty, because ‘labor,’ as Kurt explains at length above, is not what comics creators are selling. Nor is payment the only issue, or even the main issue, that this is about.

    To put it simply, Alan Moore isn’t someone that once dug a ditch for DC Comics.

    (Although I’m not entirely sure Moore himself wouldn’t find that notion appealing in a symbolical way, at this stage. And if he did, he might have a point.)

  162. James
    04/21/2012 AT 9:58 PM
    “’I’m trying to say that you’ve been put into a customer mindset. You defend companies and seem to be so sexually repressed as to think joy comes from violence and destruction. True joy comes from creation and love. Look at your life. How clean your consciousness is. How easily you can move your arms and legs. You are made in the image of God. We all are.’”

    “Wow! Based on my one comment you know my whole life do you? Stop projecting – At least I ASKED if you were some god cult freak and didn’t just state it. Although based on this, your second comment….”

    I only know how you act on this forum.

  163. patrick ford says:

    This would seem fairly simple. It’s the same argument made by Toberoff in the Disney lawsuit against the Kirby heirs. A creator does not sell his labor. The risk the creator takes is he is not paid for his labor, he hopes to be paid for the fruit of his labor.
    The whole reason Martin Goodman went from having a large staff of artists and writers working on salary to a one man office consisting of Stan Lee, was so Goodman could purchase or reject freelance art and story. The freelancer takes the risk. The freelancer labors to produce art and story, and is not paid for his labor (or for the materials used). The freelancer still has to sell the product of his labor to get paid.

  164. Christian says:

    “Independent contractors are barred from collective bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act.”

    So don’t unionize. Lobby. It’s a step. And it’s better than throwing your hands up in the air everytime somebody gets screwed over and going “Whelp, whaddya gonna do?”

  165. What is with posters telling people what to do. Seems like every post is something like, “So lobby.” Maybe Kurt does not wish to lobby. I’ve read a bunch of his comments on this thread and don’t remember him saying he wished he could form a union. He just said he can’t legally do it. If you want to unionize creators, you’re welcome to do whatever you want, Christian, but can you PLEASE quit bossing people around?

  166. Kurt:

    “I think if Marvel and DC grandfathered their work for hire creator-equity deals back to 1938, it’d cost them a lot less than the lawsuits, and it’d be a promotional asset, because people like Gary Friedrich, Marv Wolfman, the Siegel heirs, the Kirby heirs, etc. would be helping promote the movies rather than being the subject of press about unfair treatment.”

    I actually agree with this 100%. I just look at the whole possibility of it happening akin to finding a real life unicorn and because of that, just think it should stop being brought up.

  167. James says:

    @Dom – Wow! So your saying that I’m a cock sucker? And by you way you word it, being gay is a negative thing that I should be ashamed of. So your basically a bigot. Are you a white supremist too? Is black bad?? Asian?? What about women?? They beneath you?? That is some classy fans Kurt has….

    Kurt is more than capable of defending himself. He doesn’t need a bigot defending him. Unless he likes your homophobia attitude. Which I’m hoping he doesn’t as I’d hate to stop buying anything he produces.

  168. James says:

    @Scott & Dom – you would be great friends! The bible basher and the bigot. Sort of goes hand in hand doesn’t it??

  169. James says:

    That sure is some classy posters you got on here Beat. I love the fact that because I don’t agree with what Roberson did. I am automatically:

    Pro DC – and having an affair with Didio.
    But that I am also sexually repressed as well.
    I crave violence and destruction above all else.
    And I’m a faggot.

    Haha… you gotta love fanboys and their comebacks if you don’t agree with them. If I wasn’t thick skinned, I’d probably commit suicide from the bullying hivemind nature.

  170. Shawn Kane says:

    Avoiding some of the hyperbole, I think these scenarios draw a line in the sand. The independent reader wants the pureness of the product and the “Marvel/DC” reader wants to enjoy the adventures of the characters they grew up on. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It can be. So Chris Roberson left DC and took a parting shot. So what? He’s still going to produce comics. If you don’t like what he did, don’t read his stuff. It’s his right to do what he did and your right to choose. If you hate the “evil” corporate comics, don’t read them. They’re not going to go away any time soon but at least they won’t get your money. I don’t see how this becomes an us against them issue.

  171. @James ?

  172. Synsidar says:

    Has anybody written a story which answers the question, “Why does Superman exist?”

    A Google search indicated that no one has. If writers could do stories which answered that question when asked about any superhero, then superhero fiction would be as vibrant as any other genre, and nobody would feel the need to work on corporate-owned characters.

    SRS

  173. “Why does Superman exist?”

    From a cultural/historical viewpoint, there is the upcoming:
    Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero by Larry Tye

    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/superman-larry-tye/1105608083?ean=9781400068661

    If you want it in a graphic novel, there is the Eisner-Award-winnning “It’s a Bird…” by Steven T. Seagle and Teddy J. Kristiansen

    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/its-a-bird-steven-t-seagle/1006178354?ean=9781401201098

    Of course, Superman is just part of the larger American monomyth. (Paradise is threatened, stranger comes to town, paradise restored, stranger leaves.)

  174. @James
    Wow you are self-important. I had no idea you were the Internet’s Harvey Milk or Rosa Parks. Actually different races, cultures, genders and sexual preferences make the world awesome! What makes the world suck is little corporate shills that make demeaning comments like “you go girl”. Guess what you can do with your fake righteous indignation James.

  175. gamemaster says:

    The paradigm that the publishers are the customers of the creators, the retailers are the customers of the publishers and the readers are the customers of the retailers is just brilliant.

    Clearly the publishers have the most power. The digital initiative in its purest form is a perfectly underhanded end-around on the retailers by the publishers. Readers don’t care. Publishers’ only engaging in business with freelancers where it’s advantageous to them makes sense but overreaching sometimes, where it is even permissible, to maximize advantage even when comporting themselves in an adversarial nature to creative rights philosophically…hmmm. Still readers don’t care. And then getting to manipulate content, even when it might alienate whole swaths of the readership, in order to potentially net a more expansive and attractive audience? Ha ha! Eat shit readers.

    What Chris Roberson did was what we call speaking truth to power.

    I wish I could say I didn’t read superhero comics but I can at least say I don’t pay for them.

  176. Synsidar says:

    Of course, Superman is just part of the larger American monomyth.

    Morality plays and power fantasies are kid stuff, though. A writer shouldn’t have to make an effort to explain why his superhero or his villain exists. The reason should be so simple that no explanation is needed. Instead, readers are given “crap” reasons for powers–Superman’s “red sun” explanation is junk–and villains that are insane and/or self-defeating.

    Crime fiction writers have no such “why”problems. Mainstream fiction writers–if a young adult is considering quitting his job to join a political campaign and someone else worries that he’s hurting himself to pursue a fantasy of political change, that’s all a writer needs as the basis for a story. No fantasy required.

    The oft’ cited reason for Wonder Woman–to be an ambassador to Man’s world–is based on a feminist fantasy society, the Amazons. When Azzarello changed the Amazons to make the society more rational and explicable, he was accused of various thought crimes and damned for trampling all over the fans’ feminist icon.

    When Bendis, in his recent “Dark Avengers” storyline, had a rogue scientist provide genetic samples so that A.I.M. and other villains could reproduce powers on demand, he unwittingly provided the basis for wiping out powers worldwide and the Marvel Universe along with them.

    If a writer answers the “why” question in the course of his superhero story, then creating superheroes and their opponents, or even creating his own superhero universe, shouldn’t be any more of a problem than coming up with a cast for a disaster or SF novel. No need for power fantasies, no need for genre pseudoconventions. His superhero just does his thing, the point of the story is made, and the writer goes on to other stories.

    SRS

  177. Matthew Southworth says:

    @gamemaster–Just curious. Let’s say I digitally self-published a superhero (or non-superhero) comic that you were interested in. Would you pay for that?

    Do you feel that only corporate publishers should remain uncompensated while creators should be paid? Or should no one be paid?

    Not passing judgment or calling you out, I really want to hear your thoughts.

  178. >> I actually agree with this 100%. I just look at the whole possibility of it happening akin to finding a real life unicorn and because of that, just think it should stop being brought up.>>

    I don’t think it’s likely, but I think it’s likelier than an impossibility. But if no one brings it up, its likelihood dwindles even further.

  179. patrick ford says:

    The original Superman existed for basically the same reason Popeye existed. The characters were super powerful figures who were able to stand up for the downtrodden who were feeling powerless at the time. Coming out of the Great Depression the downtrodden were a good percentage of the population. Superman like Popeye didn’t just fight common criminals he took on greedy and corrupt business men, and their political allies.

  180. gamemaster says:

    @Matthew Southworth – “Let’s say I digitally self-published a superhero (or non-superhero) comic that you were interested in. Would you pay for that?”

    Probably not. But that’s only because I’ve consigned myself to the belief that comics (among other extravagances) are not worth it. Now, if after your smashing success digitally you decided to make a paper version and due to the myriad accolades you received, were approached by library systems to stock your work… then, yeah, I’d read it.

    If I won the lottery, then I’d pay for it. After I paid off my mortgage.

    I am an avowed minimalist and religiously frugal. I have disempowered myself financially (left a decent corporate job going on 6 years ago now) and am toying with taking a vow of poverty. This is, hopefully, where most corporations lose interest in me.

    “Do you feel that only corporate publishers should remain uncompensated while creators should be paid? Or should no one be paid?”

    I prefer to stay out of the province of ordering who gets paid. I like wielding the power of my own purse. In the abstract, my bias is to align myself with the individual vs. the corporation just as I generally subscribe, as a man, to not hitting women or children. Or as a hunter, eating and processing anything I harvest.

    As you can see I make a lousy ideologue. I do have to buy stuff unfortunately. And when I do, I don’t want to contribute to something like buying an iPad that contributes to human rights violations.

  181. Matthew Southworth says:

    @gamemaster–I appreciate your taking the time to respond. I respect your minimalist philosophy and your desire to reduce your material possessions–it’s a philosophy I share in theory but completely fail to execute in practice.

    However, I see a couple of flaws in your philosophy that I hope you’ll consider, one of which is that you say you don’t want to buy an iPad b/c it contributes to human rights violations. I assume you’re referring to the violations in which employees who assemble the iPad are not being fairly compensated for their work. You yourself are saying that you don’t want to compensate folks for their work because you don’t think comics are “worth it”.

    You also say you like wielding the power of your own purse. But that power can be used positively or negatively–positively by supporting the things you find valuable (presumably you find comics valuable or you wouldn’t read them, am I right?); negatively by allowing creators to go unrewarded while you entertain yourself with the efforts of their labor.

    I share your suspicion of and distaste for the behavior of many corporations, but paramount among the behavior I abhor is that exploitation of the worker without commensurate reward. How do you justify practicing that same behavior?

    If I met you at a comics convention, would you just steal one of my self-published comics from my table, read it, then toss it in the trash so as not to accumulate stuff?

    Again, I’m not trying to attack you, I’m no saint. Just curious about your thought process, as I think it’s instructive and you’re certainly not alone. I’m trying to learn.

  182. Matthew – why do you keep asking him if he’ll steal stuff? The most he’s said is that he’d check it out of the library, if it was there.

    People who don’t buy comics because they don’t think they’re worth the money are entitled to think so, just as I don’t buy camel’s-hair overcoats.

    People who read comics for free through legal means (stuff being published on the ‘net for free, stuff available at libraries) aren’t doing anything wrong, either.

    He doesn’t have to think superhero comics are worth buying. I don’t think Terry Brooks novels are worth buying, so what? He seems to be choosing a lifestyle where he buys as little as possible. Most people doing that probably aren’t going to buy a lot of comics.

  183. Matthew Southworth says:

    @kurt and @gamemaster–Kurt, you’re right. I jumped to that conclusion, whereas when I reread Gamemaster’s original comment I see I may have completely misinterpreted him. I apologize for that leap in logic!

    If I did happen to read you right, Gamemaster, please let me know, however; but reading it again, I think I just fucked up. Please forgive me.

  184. gamemaster says:

    @Matthew Southworth – I guess I’m not sure sometimes about whether or not I’m being manipulated, when I buy something, into contributing to something violating some principles…only because I’m ignorant to the situation?

    The best way I’ve realized to mitigate that is to not buy anything at all. Or as little as possible. I may be manipulated, in some sense, like comics for instance. But if I’m not buying anything then I’m not feeding into the system.

    So it should be known, I am not a lost sale. A lost cause, maybe. But not a lost sale.

    It seems unlikely that I would be at a comic convention because they charge money for admission. I haven’t been to a comic convention since ’92. But if I were at one, you wouldn’t have to worry about me stealing your comics. It’s just not something I do.

    Like I said, if your work was at my local library I would almost certainly check it out now that I recognize your name. I would hope at that point that you were being properly compensated and doing well enough that you felt you were being treated fairly but if you weren’t I wouldn’t be contributing to it. If I got to know you though, and began an acquaintance I would probably buy one of your comics. I have a soft spot for starving artists.

    I’d really like for there to be less concentration of wealth around the world and more of it somehow being used toward the effort of lifting up those in need. But until then, I probably will try as much as I can to distance myself from use of it.

  185. Matthew Southworth says:

    And just to make clear–I think reading stuff through friends, through libraries, etc. is totally legitimate and a very positive thing. I love the library–if anything, I think libraries create a much more social experience than buying the books individually. I sort of hate that we no longer have the little stamped cards in the books, actually, since I think it illustrated that social interaction.

  186. Matthew Southworth says:

    Thanks, Gamemaster. I DID misread you; I don’t see any disparity in your stated philosophy and your behavior. My apologies–I understood “I read comics but I don’t pay for them” to mean “I download them illegally”, not “I borrow them from friends/libraries/etc.”.

    MS

  187. Gamemaster:

    Check to see if your local library has (or can get through interlibrary loan), STUMPTOWN by Greg Rucka and Matt.

    It’s really good.

    kdb

  188. Christian says:

    Wow. It got ugly in here real quick. I just wanted to clarify that I’m not ‘telling’ anyone what to do (inasmuch as one can really boss someone around on the internet in the first place). I hope it wasn’t taken that way.

    But I will always believe that there is a better option out there and one that can be achieved in our lifetime.

  189. Jeebus, you kids are still on about this? 188 posts? Damn.

  190. Nick Jones says:

    “Jeebus, you kids are still on about this? 188 posts? Damn.”

    I think the really shocking thing is that this many comments have been generated despite the initial post not being about the usual rage-inducing topics of gender, diversity, or minor changes to superhero costumes.

  191. horatio weisfeld says:

    I think the really shocking thing is that this many comments have been generated despite the initial post not being about the usual rage-inducing topics of gender, diversity, or minor changes to superhero costumes.

    >>

    hear hear: our real issues do stagger slowly into focus.

  192. Yeah, I’m pretty amazed that this topic has taken off so much – not just here but everywhere the story ran.

    Creators vs Corporations is obviously a very important topic.

  193. “I don’t think it’s likely, but I think it’s likelier than an impossibility. But if no one brings it up, its likelihood dwindles even further.”

    You’re very right on this one as well Mr. Busiek.

  194. Heidi:

    Apparently Newsarama doesn’t consider it important since they haven’t covered it AT ALL since it happened. Not even in the Blog area.

    I think they’ve just officially become irrelevant.

    Congrats Imaginova!

  195. horatio weisfeld says:

    Yeah, I’m pretty amazed that this topic has taken off so much – not just here but everywhere the story ran.

    Creators vs Corporations is obviously a very important topic.

    >>

    Yeah. But I see nobody working toward potentially hard-hitting, effective action, like, say, trying to use the internet to begin a campaign against the new Superman movie on serious morale grounds — say, painting Warner’s/Superman owner’s actions as “UN-AMERICAN” and (to the degree that they perpetuate a system that hinders creative people in the USA in their creating new material for our future: “ANTI-AMERICAN”

    You would think that with the pervasive web (something that has proven powerful enough to re-elect Bush for a 3rd time –Wait: I-I mean Obama), and before everybody, except for the guys with marketing degrees or MBAs, winds up working for free — we might start to see movements like THAT — instead of “Occupy Cold, Unpleasant Outdoor Areas” and endless chatter.

  196. swampy says:

    It may be a little late but I think a good analogy for comic fans would be this:

    Peter Parker did not work for the Daily Bugle, he sold his photos to them.

    >> I guess its your way of getting out of saying ‘I’m working for DC’, ‘I’m writing scripts for DC’, ‘I just got my paycheck from DC’…. >>

    No, I say the first two of those. Not the third, because it’s a check, but it’s not a paycheck, any more than someone writing a check to the grocery store, or to buy comics mail-order, is writing a paycheck.

  197. patrick ford says:

    What I like is the rush of fellow pros speaking out to support Chris and his speaking out on this issue. Well there is Kurt anyhow, I guess everyone else is in a rush to get in the let’s gang bang Sally Jupiter line.

  198. Yes, that’s exactly what this thread needed: an inappropriate rape analogy.

    Seriously?

  199. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Patrick Ford–several pros have spoken out in favor of Chris’s position, including Kurt, Brian Wood, myself, Cameron Stewart.

    @Horatio Weisfeld–it’s my opinion that “hard-hitting actions” like boycotts are ineffective; this issue is a fairly complex one and not as simple as a corporation dumping toxic chemicals into a river or something similar, and so it’s A) difficult to make the issue clear to outsiders who might or might not choose to see a Superman movie and B) difficult to make people outside comics care.

    I think the issue is far more nuanced than good guy creator vs. bad guy corporation, too. But what DOES make a difference is conversations like this and how they affect the participants’ buying habits. I’ve been buying comics for over 30 years and in the past six months or so my feeling about comics’ power to inspire has been compromised by corporate practices.

    I suspect I’m one of many, and it’s my hope that if folks peel away from corporate comics they don’t walk away with a bad taste in their mouths and dump ALL comics. There are better, truer, more compelling comics out there, and they aren’t compromised by corporate action.

  200. patrick ford says:

    Matthew, So I guess it was Chris Roberson saying he would no longer sell work to Warner which was the primary reason he was released from the prior agreement he had to write FAIREST? Warner will tolerate criticism from you, Kurt, Wood, and Stewart because none of you have said you won’t work for them.

  201. Turkish says:

    I think it’s funny that in comics it becomes “you can’t quit; we fire you!”

  202. jaroslav hasek says:

    @marc-oliver – ok but i dont think that distinction is relevant to my point. its a very big legal distinction, but it isnt part of a conversation i wasn’t trying to have.

    take teachers for example. whether your a tenured university professor or part time tutor being paid cash under the table, you are selling your labor to a client. i fully understand the distinction kurt explained between freelance comic book writers and say, a copywriter with full benes working at an ad agency. however, both are still being paid for their ability to put words together in specific sequences. employee and freelancers are both compensated for services rendered. you can bring up how the compensation differs between one or another and i’ll agree with you, doesn’t change the bigger picture tho.

    and then back to my actual point i perhaps clumsily made, if the laborer is selling something to a client, then its less easier to portray them in sympathetic light. its a lot easier to rip off a buyer than a seller. of course, if a seller is lied to or ignorant of important facts, they can end up getting screwed, which obviously also happens.

    but that was all i was saying. dont know why that seemed to make me creator enemy #1.

  203. >> i fully understand the distinction kurt explained between freelance comic book writers and say, a copywriter with full benes working at an ad agency. however, both are still being paid for their ability to put words together in specific sequences.>>

    They may both be valued for that ability, but they’re not both being paid for it.

    One is being paid for his time, during which he is theoretically using it, at least part of that time.

    The other is being paid for the rights to the product of using it.

    Plus, the two are in very different legal situations.

    >>its a lot easier to rip off a buyer than a seller.>>

    I don’t know that that’s so. It is, interestingly enough, easier for an employee to defraud his employer than for a freelancer to.

    But the discussion over whether there was a different policy toward employees and freelancers was not about garnering sympathy.

  204. @Heidi. I’m just glad this is an important issue. Hearing chirping birds on this would be really sad wouldn’t it?

    @horatio. I think that folks that are against this have already decided they are not buying the books and might have stopped giving DC any money at all.

    Alan has been hitting the media and getting his word out. I doubt very much that the corporate media will say anything because Time Warner A) owns a bunch of it and B) buys a lot of advertising on the others.

    It’s a 1% world we live in where the media, politicians, law enforcement and legal system are all heavily on their side. Not giving them our money and bitching on the internet is pretty the only safe form of protest we’ve got left.

  205. Matthew Southworth says:

    @patrick ford–My understanding of Roberson’s situation w/r/t Fairest is spotty at best. I don’t pretend to know any of the facts except what he’s said, and my knowledge of that is incomplete.

    But as far as Brian, Cameron, Kurt, myself working for DC–I have worked for DC briefly in the past and enjoyed doing so. I worked with an editor I liked and was treated well. I would be happy to work with them again. I’m not suggesting, nor have I ever suggested, that DC or Marvel are evil.

    My point all along was that Roberson has valid reasons for making the choices he’s made and that a lot of the criticism I’ve seen of him seems unfair.

    I won’t pretend to speak for Kurt, Brian or Cameron and what choices they make in their careers. But I know each of them a little bit and know they’re good, smart guys, so if they chose to work with someone or chose not to work with them, I’d respect them for making that decision. I don’t know Chris Roberson but I’m adult enough to respect him as an intelligent person, too, particularly given the measured way in which he expressed his dissatisfaction with working with DC.

  206. Jamie Hohd says:

    I don’t get why the Chris Roberson stuff is even a story.

    I mean, here he is, talking about creator rights and how DC aren’t being ethical re: Superman/Watchmen.

    Stuff that’s been going on for years at DC – LONG before Roberson joined them.

    So why is Roberson being vocal about it NOW? Why was he not complaining when he joined DC more than two years ago? Why did he choose to publish iZombie (a creator-owned book too!) with them when he obviously hated them for being such an unethical company?

    In fact, why even approach DC or be approached by DC in the first place, if Chris Roberson had such ethical issues??

    I guess cashing DC checks make the difference, right?

    No. This guy isn’t complaining about DC. This guy’s just seeking attention ‘cos iZombie got axed. It’s “i’m insecure, please look at me.”

    And we’ve all fallen for it, thinking some guy’s twitter whinge equals Big Story. Wow, comics news must’ve been having a slow week (if there’s such thing as comics “news”).

    I mean, he’s even got an interview on CBR out of it. Would he have gotten such attention *without* bitching about DC? Doubt it. iZombie was doing shit sales after all.

  207. @Jamie: Why is it that every single time someone complains about unethical behavior by the Big Two, somebody has to say “But why NOW? It’s been going on since the 1930’s!” As if talking about it now implies an ulterior motive.

    The answer to “Why now?” is obvious and has been repeated over and over again. The thing about DC that is different now from six months ago is Before Watchmen. That was the breaking point for him.

    The notion that Roberson is doing this for his own gain is a little odd, given that he isn’t actually selling anything with it. There are a few issues left of iZombie, he’s got one other series going right now (which he DIDN’T EVEN MENTION in his comments about how he wouldn’t be doing work for DC anymore), aaaaaaand…that’s it.

    If Chris Roberson did this as a way to sell books, don’t you think he would have, you know, promoted some books at some point during the process?

    I agree that he’s doing this to get attention. But it sure doesn’t seem like he’s trying to get attention for himself — I think he’s doing exactly what he claims and trying to bring attention to DC and Marvel.

  208. MBunge says:

    “The thing about DC that is different now from six months ago is Before Watchmen. That was the breaking point for him.”

    Which is kind of the whole point. If Before Watchmen, which DC is legally entitled to do and is no more ethically questionable than Moore’s LOEG, was your breaking point, than this whole affair is about little more than preening moral vanity.

    Mike

  209. “no more ethically questionable than Moore’s LOEG”

    Ethics are personal and subjective, dude. You can’t just go stating a thing’s ethical questionability as some kind of quantifiable fact.

    You don’t see any ethical difference between using public-domain characters from long-dead authors and using characters created by a still-living author who is shouting “NO, DON’T DO THAT” — well, some people DO see a distinction there. Telling them they’re wrong is, to borrow a phrase from Python, not an argument, it’s just contradiction.

Speak Your Mind

*