DC housekeeping fallout

Lots of shakeups emerged in yesterday’s DC April solicitations, which you can read about here and here. The swift replacement of Robert Venditti on Constantine and Jim Zub on Birds of Prey got the most comment. How swift? As recently as last week , Zub was doing interviews to promote his run and then…it wasn’t happening. Zub, widely known as a thorough professional, was very gracious about it on his blog

Obviously I’m disappointed, but I also know this isn’t any kind of personal judgement about me, it’s a business and creative decision that came late in the process. I’ve been working in and around the comic industry for the past ten years and know it can be a wild ride. This is still a step forward for my career, just not as big of one as I’d hoped.

Nick Spencer, who writes at Image these days, was a bit more direct on Twitter:

Seeing lots of “that’s how it is in this business,” stuff in regards to the day’s news. It really isn’t, and it certainly shouldn’t be.
To be a little more direct: the way DC treats a lot of their freelancers is absolutely abhorrent.
When it happened to me on SUPERGIRL, I didn’t say much, because I didn’t want to dwell on the negative.
But when you see it happen to so many good people, and the damage it does to their careers, their incomes, etc… it’s just not okay.
I don’t understand the need for it, & I wish it were otherwise. I love DC, love the characters, & I know I did some of my best work there.
And I’m VERY happy for my friends who have been successful there.
But I would tell any creator– especially newer, younger ones– to be extremely careful in doing business there.

Mark Waid tweeted this, although it isn’t clear who he was talking about:


Since the whole New 52 revamp started, there have been a lot of abrupt changes in direction, including Brian Wood, who was also impaled upon the dire thorns of Supergirl.

Looking past the trees for the forest, corporate comics have a lot at stake these days, and promoting the careers of emerging—or even established—writers isn’t the goal. While there are definitely younger writers in the mix at DC—James Tynion IV and Justin Jordan—a lot of seasoned veterans are helming many books. Heck, Tom DeFalco is writing two books in April. Is the current way of the world harsh? Yes. Is it the way it has to be? Your mileage may vary, but it’s clear that it’s a whole new ballgame.

Luckily there are many other stadiums to play in. While many were sad that the great Art Balthazar and Franco‘s Superman Family Adventures was cancelled, they have their own Aw Yeah Comics label and you can expect more from them. Likewise, Venditti and Zub and all the rest aren’t going anywhere just yet.

SOLO DLX DC housekeeping fallout

And just to end this on a positive note: Hey giant SOLO deluxe edition! Here’s the cover by Tim Sale.

Comments

  1. blacaucasian says:

    I’m getting really really tired an disillusioned with all of this stuff. I really don’t care how the sausage is made any more and things like Mark Waid or Chris Roberson railing against Straczynski makes me not want to read anything by Waid or Roberson, especially when I read both Earth One books and don’t mind his take on Superman and interested to see where the story goes. It’s fine to have differences in opinion on how they see the character, but throwing in personal attacks and insults is just unnecessary.

    I typically try not to focus, in my own life, subjective things I don’t like because for everyone who thinks a movie or book or TV show or comic is the worst ever made, another person has it as their top five favorite book ever. I think when creators get int twitter fights because of personal problems with each other or jealousy or whatever, it has nothing to do with readers. And Roberson railing against Straczynski and DC doesn’t make me want to read Roberson’s books, it makes me insulted and not want to read his stuff because in a way, he seems to be saying I’m wrong for liking that stuff. (Incidentally, I like A LOT of stuff from DC to Marvel to Lock & Key to Stray Bullets to Adrian Tomine to Charles Burns to etc etc etc)

    All this time, what sticks in my brain most though is not that Roberson has been a champion Superman Family Adventures (this is the first rousing endorsement I’ve heard from him on the book) but hes lashing out at everything else.

    There’s far too much rampant negativity in comics right now, despite the great things happening and a new level of acceptance for everything coming through. I wish instead of focusing on the negative, creators would pay forward things they think people should be engaged in reading. The only way we can change the culture of gossip and negativity that’s seeped in is to address it by looking at ourselves in the mirror.

  2. Torsten Adair says:

    Ooh, look…. that Solo book I’ve been silently campaigning for has finally been solicited!

    What took you so long, DC? The last issue pub’d in 2006.
    I mean, #8 has a freaking Neil Gaiman Deadman story! Then there’s the Aragones issue, which actually made the “Honorable Mention” list in the Best American Comics anthology (because DC wouldn’t allow it to be reprinted?)

    Three Eisner Awards. Harvey Awards.

    NOW… when can we see an Absolute Batman Black and White omnibus? Hmmm?

  3. Torsten Adair says:

    Oh, and an Animal Man omnibus. Can “Atlantis Chronicles” be far behind?

  4. blacaucasian: “I wish instead of focusing on the negative, creators would pay forward things they think people should be engaged in reading. The only way we can change the culture of gossip and negativity that’s seeped in is to address it by looking at ourselves in the mirror.”

    Why are you blaming the people discussing things for the negativity, and not the people who actually create the situations that force those comments into being? John Q Writer isn’t randomly deciding that DC is being a real dick about things, not to my knowledge. They’re discussing things that actually happened.

  5. @blacaucasian I can understand that it is annoying for you to watch a fight between creators (I usually buy popcorn, but that’s just me), but in the case of JMS the discussion started because of some very questionable stuff that JMS has said about things like Amazing Spider-Man and Watchmen, not because they hated him and wanted to badmouth him at every turn.
    It’s very sad for me though to see that you liked Straczynski’s Earth One books because they are truly horrible. Probably among the worst Superman books ever published.

  6. Besides the fact that the abrupt changes in creative teams make DC look bad (directionless), and the fact that we know about them makes them look, what worries me is how lost you have to be as a Editor to give a writing job to Writer A and then hire Writer B who is a completely different writer.

    It’s like buying Chinese food, and throwing it to the garbage to buy Pizza. Nothing wrong with any of the food, but somehow you thought you wanted chinese and you ended up eating pizza. It makes me scratch my head… how lost are the Editors at DC?

    Not only Gail Simone was fired… the Editor who fired her also kept his job… how do you do that? Now at the B&B column DC is saying that they were just waiting or Gail’s next plot (retconning real-life). And based on Waid’s comments, probably one of the writers who lost his job only found out about it once the solicitations were published?!, that’s ever worse than firing somebody through and email. It all makes you wonder how come that DC manages to have one or two books that are actually worth reading at all.

  7. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Those Roberson tweets about JMS reek of jealousy and pettiness.

  8. Matthew A says:

    The childish sentiment behind blacaucasion’s opening comment seems to be depressingly common among superhero comics fans: “Don’t trouble me with complicated human/ethical/moral problems…I just want my Superman!”

    I, for one, applaud Chris Roberson and all the others who continue to speak out on this. It’s rekindled my commitment to support creator-owned work.

  9. die Geisthander says:

    @Johnny Memonic: Jealousy over what, exactly? It reads to me like he just expressed a preference for someone whose philosophical bent and storytelling aesthetics he prefers to be writing a thing he likes quite a bit. Petty, perhaps (I don’t read it as such but “petty” is a subjective judgement), but so are most statements of taste.

  10. Ah yes, how well I remember “the dire thorns of SUPERGIRL”…

  11. I sympathize with blacaucasian. And I also agree that he is very entitled to his opinion — as we all are.

    It wasn’t always like this. Prior to the Internet’s instant public gossip connection comics went through several eras where we didn’t know how the sausage was made. However, the downside to that comes when we learn years later how a creator wasn’t given the credit where it was due. Nowadays, the fighting begins before the comics are even made. This is counter to how many of us fell in love with comics in the first place (though that might be different for newcomers… this war-in-the-office might be all they know). That’s just how today’s world is, strange indeed.

  12. james f says:

    They have Kristy Marx on Birds now in April. Not that this a bad idea, I like Sword of Sorcery but the sales on Sword of Sorcery took a nosedive in December. There was a rumor it might be cancelled soon but they already solicited the April issue.

  13. blacaucasian says:

    “The childish sentiment behind blacaucasion’s opening comment seems to be depressingly common among superhero comics fans: “Don’t trouble me with complicated human/ethical/moral problems…I just want my Superman!””

    Not actually what I said at all. I’ve said multiple times if Superman doesn’t get published tomorrow, my life goes on just as it did the day before. And the fact that I think the Earth One books are enjoyable and someone else thinks they are horrible is a completely subjective argument that it’s pointless to engage in because neither of us are going to change each others minds.

    Chris Roberson’s exact quote is (and I quote):

    That this nimrod is still writing Superman and @MarkWaid isn’t is all that need be said about what’s wrong with DC

    As kind of this interpretation of this tweet as this is:

    ” It reads to me like he just expressed a preference for someone whose philosophical bent and storytelling aesthetics he prefers to be writing a thing he likes quite a bit.”

    Not really exactly what he says. He gets personal and calls him a nimrod. Waid, maybe not here, but at times has been just as insulting towards Straczynski.

    The subtext to what is being said here is, “reader you are also dumb if you read this writers stuff and think it’s good.” Which is essentially what Estaban also says above.

    I have no problem with what creators say against the “corporate machine.” (even if sometimes I find that lack of all the details in any of these situations can lead to quick or hastily summations of what’s actually happened.) I actually thought Mark Waid’s interview with Tom Spurgeon was quite insightful and the most honest least incendiary words I feel I’ve read from him towards DC in at least a year. I immediately on Twitter yelled how classless I thought it was for Gail Simone to be fired from Batgirl via email. I think what Bob Harras said during the recent interview he said was inartful at best and a lie at worst. I”m far from a corporate apologist who NEEDS his Superman comics every month. But I’m also pragmatic, work for a corporation, and understand things aren’t always corporation bad/creator good. There is some grey in there. Corporate comics are what they are and there’s a history of what happens when you work inside them for which there is no excuse for naivety.

    There’s also a fundamental lack of all the facts in any of these situations, (facts that we will likely never entirely get) that causes me to not feel comfortable placing blame on any specific party or place. I have bosses I’ve worked great with that some people haven’t. I’ve had bosses that I’ve hated that others have worked seamlessly with. The difference between me and all these situations is Bleeding Cool isn’t calling my workplace constantly trying to get an inside scoop on what may or may not be happening.

    I do think calling names only serves to alienate people more from an artform we should all be pushing more people to be reading rather then pushing people away from. A JMS Babylon 5 fan new to comics sees that Roberson quote or some of the things Waid has said about him in the recent past and they not only don’t buy anything Waid or Roberson do but aren’t likely to purchase any of the things they recommend either.

    That’s a no win situation for both of those guys, for JMS and for comics as a whole and there’s no need for it. Not when there’s an infinite amount of positive things in comics to talk about.

  14. “Not when there’s an infinite amount of positive things in comics to talk about.”
    Not when the topic seems to be CORPORATE comics, which has become more about strip-mining characters for random IP farming for other media, instead of actually producing meaningful stories about said characters, and extending their published legacy. Looks more like the suits are grabbing anything they can hold while running for the lifeboats on the sinking ship.

  15. blacaucasian says:

    “Not when the topic seems to be CORPORATE comics, which has become more about strip-mining characters for random IP farming for other media, instead of actually producing meaningful stories about said characters, and extending their published legacy. Looks more like the suits are grabbing anything they can hold while running for the lifeboats on the sinking ship.”

    I loathe to go down this road with you yet again, but why do you care to talk about them then? Per the point I was trying to make above, instead of your ever vigilant pursuit against corporate produced comics, why no focus on things you think are good. I am yet to be able to remember a post by you that ever suggested an alternative for me to try out.

    And at this point, we both have to realize we have completely opposite opinions on corporate comics, so can we just agree to disagree? I won’t comment on your post to try to convince you that there’s something worthwhile about corporately produced comics and you can leave me alone to slum with everyone else who you constantly charge with “needing our monthly fix of Batman and Superman at any cost.”

  16. Johnny Memeonic says:

    @Johnny Memonic: Jealousy over what, exactly? It reads to me like he just expressed a preference for someone whose philosophical bent and storytelling aesthetics he prefers to be writing a thing he likes quite a bit. Petty, perhaps (I don’t read it as such but “petty” is a subjective judgement), but so are most statements of taste.

    Roberson is jealous that JMS was able to ditch his Superman run and then got his own new Superman universe to create regardless. He stated that his take on a FICTIONAL character is superior to the point that JMS’ take makes him a “nimrod” and then bragged about ignoring JMS’ notes on how to finish Grounded, despite having been explicitly hired to finish Grounded. That would be the pettiness.

    This is pretty obvious stuff by the way.

    Now I’m starting to wonder if Roberson quitting DC really was down to a moral stance on creator rights.

    This is obvious stuff.

  17. saipaman says:

    Let’s all agree to stop using the word ‘creators’ to describe people that produce comics for DC.

  18. Ben Lipman says:

    Do people complaining about Roberson mocking JMS not remember their shared history? Where JMS walked off his critically panned Superman run less than halfway through, and Roberson had to take over writing it? Remember how he was working from JMS’ detailed plots, it was all one story, and JMS’ name was above Roberson’s? And how it suddenly got better, and people began enjoying that run?
    Well that’s because Roberson wrote it all, JMS’ outline was only the cities Superman would visit – because he was behind and just wanted out – and then Roberson had to sit there quietly whilst DC gave all the praise and credit to JMS. And presumably a cut of his cheque.
    I think it’s fair enough he sticks it to JMS every now and again – it’s not like JMS doesn’t do it to others from time to time, and we can prove that Roberson is a better Superman writer than JMS so it’s not like is calling out his better.
    And seriously, DC are fools for having JMS and not Mark Waid on Superman!

    @Johnny Memonic: Earth One was out before Grounded, JMS didn’t leave Superman and then get his own universe to play with. He left his disastrous run in shame, and working on the sequel to Earth One was the given excuse. So your timeline is wrong for that as a reason of jealousy on Roberson’s behalf.

    (Not that I understand how Roberson or JMS fits into this story at all.)

  19. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Ben Lipman,

    First, you’re wrong about Earth One coming out before Grounded. Second, it’s obvious from your comments about the royalty split that you didn’t even read the tweets in question. Please don’t post if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  20. Ben Lipman says:

    Firstly, Grounded did start a few months before Earth One was released, I was wrong about that. But Earth One was completed and being advertised when Grounded began, and came out a few months into Grounded, before JMS left the book. His stated reason for leaving was the success of Earth One called for him to devote all his time to writing the sequel*. So your claim that “Roberson is jealous that JMS was able to ditch his Superman run and then got his own new Superman universe to create regardless” doesn’t really hold up. Roberson is now jealous of JMS due to events that happened before he got the gig?
    Were the tweets in question in the article we were commenting on? Otherwise are they really required reading?
    Either way, I’ve now read them, and Roberson hasn’t said anything new in them, so I feel I know what I’m talking about (as much as any comic fan on the net truly knows what they are talking about).
    I also didn’t see him mention royalties, but that’s not what I had meant anyway – I’d meant his actual pay cheque from DC, as I assume they were still paying JMS for writing (or at least the use of his name). I mean, JMS was taking credit for heading the book in interviews at the time. It’d irk me, that’s for sure, so Roberson thinking of JMS as a nimrod doesn’t seem to need jealousy to make sense.
    Regardless, JMS writes a shitty Superman in the eyes of a lot of people. It doesn’t take extra motivation to think that he’s a bad fit, and that Mark Waid would be a better choice for Superman. (Compare Birthright to Earth One. A decade earlier Waid did the same thing, and made it way better).
    I just think you are letting a love of JMS diminish Roberson, questioning his ethics and motivations, when he hasn’t done or said anything that bad at all.

    * (although he did pause to shit on perirodical comics, declaring OGN’s to be the future, which was debunked that week by Brian Hibbs comparing Earth One sales to All Star Superman sales, pointing out the extra cash DC made from having it in different formats, and then debunked by the market at large as periodical sales boomed once he wasn’t involved in them.)

  21. John Warren says:

    Torsten, wouldn’t “vocally campaigning” work better than “silently campaigning?” ;-)

  22. DC is mismanaged and sucks is this news anymore? Does Jeff Lemire doing a good book or two make up for the buckets of sh!t. I hope the cancellation of the Buyer’s Guide is a sign of things to come and DC is soon to follow. These characters should live on in sh!tty movies, video games and underoos.

  23. @blacaucasian The fact that the Earth One books are awful is self-evident. Since it’s my opinion, it can obviously be labeled as matter of subjectivity, but I’m right and you are wrong, let’s leave it at that.
    In my opinion Straczynski wasn’t always an awful writer, but he seems to be resting on his fame and cashing his paychecks and royalties. As insulting as it may be to people who likes what he writes, sometimes I think that some of them can’t be analytical and will praise anything that has a good reputation until that reputation changes, so JMS will have champions for a couple of years more.
    I don’t want to call you stupid, because you obviously aren’t, but it’s the easiest way for me to understand why would you enjoy that book.

    As for Roberson and Waid attacking JMS, he deserves it, and not because he writes bad comicbooks, that’s probably the least of his sins, you don’t read anybody attacking J.T. Krul, and he is an awful writer. It’s about the many times he has used the internet to say the most idiotic and offensive things about many sensitive topics. From defending his participation in Before Watchmen with all the wrong arguments, to basically saying that Amazing Spider-Man went downhill ever since he left the book (ignoring in the process that the whole industry went downhill sales-wise, and the book sold pretty well by today’s standards at the time of his statements). He has acted with very little solidarity towards his peers, while enjoying a position of privilege, that’s what makes people jump the gun with criticism when they can.

  24. blacaucasian says:

    “but I’m right and you are wrong, let’s leave it at that.”

    Whether you are trying to be glib or not, with this statement, it’s all but impossible for me to have any further rational conversation about this with you if this is your attitude. I would ask that you not put thoughts or words into my mouth without asking me first why I enjoy the Earth One books instead of just assuming it’s based on JMS’s past success and writings. I am actually a fairly independent thinker. I don’t need other opinions to tell what to think or explain why I do or don’t like a book. You don’t know me in the least so please don’t assume reason of why I might like something based on what ever your hypothesis appears to be for the rest of the world. It’s arrogant and misplaced.

    Let’s just agree to disagree and move on.

  25. blacaucasian says:

    Also, incidentally, Esteban, it’s pompous condescending paragraphs like the one you’ve written above that keeps the stereotype of the average comic reader at that of “Comic Book Guy” from the Simpsons and keeps the outsiders view of our culture from evolving beyonf people whi think a subjective opinion is clearly “objective” as you’ve presented above. It is exactly the stereotype I strive to avoid to help introduce new interested parties to comics in general. All your elitist attitude proves is some of us ware going to have to work that much harder to break the persona you are presenting.

  26. Ben Lipman says:

    “Also, incidentally, Esteban, it’s pompous condescending paragraphs like the one you’ve written above that keeps the stereotype of the average comic reader at that of “Comic Book Guy” from the Simpsons and keeps the outsiders view of our culture from evolving beyonf people whi think a subjective opinion is clearly “objective” as you’ve presented above. It is exactly the stereotype I strive to avoid to help introduce new interested parties to comics in general. All your elitist attitude proves is some of us ware going to have to work that much harder to break the persona you are presenting.”

    Hahahaha. Awesome.

  27. I don’t know what a glib is (the translator is not helping), I just meant to contradict myself to sound unjustifiably pompous and arrogant. I find it funny since it’s self-derogatory. You can of course like whatever you want.

    To the point of JMS’s attackers… there’s a long story there, longer than the one you summarized

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