Nick Barrucci and Don McGregor are cool now

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In case you missed the comments playing out, Dynamite publisher Nick Barrucci apologized to writer Don McGregor for his initially a bit testy response to McGregor’s initially testy accusation that he was being cheated out of royalties that haven’t been earned yet and wouldn’t be paid by Dynamite. The character in question: Lady Rawhide. It’s a bit hard to follow the apology trail since it occurred in the comments to an image that Mike Netzer posted on McGregor’s Facebook page but here’s part of it:

Don – first and foremost, I do apologize for both not stating in the press release your creating Lady Rawhide and also that my comment was a bit of venting and was rushed. It was not intended as such and I apologize.

I got defensive as you had mentioned that you were asking if Zorro Properties and Dynamite was screwing you out of royalties, and was more defensive about the accusation about Zorro Properties than about me personally. And I didn’t want to follow up till I was home and could give you a ring.

I called a number a few times in the 718 area code, but it had a machine answer and not your voice, so wasn’t sure to leave a message, but did so a few minutes ago. I also want to let you know that the comics will have your creator credit in there.

Now, to address one point from Michael Netzer, Michael has definitely twisted my words, and at one point in his open letter, out and out lied, which I’m sure will create an internet war. First, he’s imposing the bullying tactics that he claims that publishers have. He’s going online twisting words, and making assumptions, and telling anyone who is looking at this that they are wrong. It’s a lynch mob mentality. No judge, no jury, no evidence, let’s just hang the guy. And then he lies. And Don – you’re not wrong in asking this. But you asked if Dynamite and Zorro properties were going to screw you out of royalties.

There’s a lot more in Barrucci’s response but it is not formatted properly and much of it was repeated in the comments on the above thread.

I’ll throw this in here: you should all go read Kurt Busiek’s comments in the initial thread. I am happy that several people quickly rose to the defense of an older creator who doesn’t have a big place in the industry right now, but sad that it turned into a lynch mob against someone who hadn’t actually done 90% of the things he was being accused of. Yes, Nick’s initial reply was not the most polished response imaginable, but McGregor’s initial outrage wasn’t a very good way to go about saying “Hey, I have a contract here guys.”

Now I can’t blame Don in thinking that he was going to get screwed, because that’s kinda what has generally happened in the comics industry up until the 80s or so, and continues to happen. And I’ll admit my initial radar went up on this as well—but in the end, what this really points to is that a more civilized method of finding out about contract enforcement than Facebook is probably useful.

There are all kinds of deal and negotiations going on right now in regards to characters and their creators. I dare say that the most SUCCESSFUL negotiations are going on in private. I think that is something that Don McGregor, Mike Netzer and potential Don McGregors and Mike Netzers should keep in mind.

And of course, if anyone needs an email address that I can supply, I’m happy to do so: just drop me a line — comicsbeat at gmail.com. All confidences respected.

Comments

  1. Heidi,

    Thanks for posting this. It was odd and surreal. Both Don and Mike Mayhew will be getting credit. They earned it.

    And thank everyone who kept an even keeled perspective to see how it would play out. It’s appreciated more than you can ever know.

    sincerely,

    Nick

  2. Doctor Timebomb says:

    I think Mike Netzer’s behavior here proves why such business should be kept within private, professional forms of communication. Netzer jumps on McGregor’s cause and uses incendiary language. On the Bleeding Cool forums he declares this a “war.” Does he mean he wants to commit violence towards Barrucci? Could an unstable convention-goer read Netzer’s comment and be inspired to do something drastic? I sincerely hope not, but given many recent events in this country it is a valid concern. It goes to show how making such conflicts public, especially before everything is settled, poisons the well.

  3. Colton Worley says:

    As a guy who works with Nick ( I’m an artist with Dynamite ), I can tell you Nick is the type of guy who always does his best to help out the people he works with, sometimes even going out of his way to help them ( I speak from personal experience here ). So the idea of Don not getting his fair cut from Rawhide never even crossed my mind while I was reading all of this. There’s just no way Nick would do something like that. Nick is a stand up guy who doesn’t deserve the kind of lynch mob Netzer was trying to create (from what I can see–I’m still reading all of this). I can understand where Netzer’s coming from considering the history of comic publisher – comic creator relationships we all know too well, but Nick and Dynamite should not be lumped into that category at all.

    -Colton Worley

  4. “And I’ll admit my initial radar went up on this as well—but in the end, what this really points to is that a more civilized method of finding out about contract enforcement than Facebook is probably useful… I dare say that the most SUCCESSFUL negotiations are going on in private.”

    A major part of what Kurt was saying, which I agree with, is that there was no contract negotiation to be done here because at this point no contractual agreements were broken. And they wouldn’t be expected to be broken unless there was a payment failure from Zorro. But Don wouldn’t find out about that till some time after the book was launched.

    But from Don’s comments, royalty payments seemed like a marginal issue which he raised as a question, exacerbated by failure to contact Don about the project an mention Don and Mike as creators of LR in the promos.

    So that being the case, and seeing how Nick ignored the issue of no contact with and mention of the creators in his first response, I think the major point of this affair was in how the creator was being treated, in this case publicly. And twice. First in the promos which omitted their mention, and then in Nick’s first response turning the blame back on the creator.

    At this point, I’m not sure there was anything left to negotiate. Nick didn’t seem to have any legal obligation to Don. Would Nick have come to the conclusion that it was a mistake not to contact Don or mention the creators in the promos without the public airing, tense as it was? I don’t know. But it didn’t seem that the cards that everyone was holding held any hope for that.

    But I also think that the success of negotiations can mainly be measured by their result. In this case, it seems that based on the results, they should be considered very successful. Granted, not the most pleasant way to negotiate. But I don’t think anyone can argue that they weren’t successful. And I’m not sure such a degree of mutual acknowledgment as was achieved between Don and Nick would have been possible through private negotiations, given the respective positions each of them started with.

    “Does he mean he wants to commit violence towards Barrucci?”

    Does the avatar name “Doctor Timebomb” mean somebody should make a call to the FBI?

  5. Mark Waid says:

    Just read the long thread for the first time. Jesus, what loon bait. (Any internet thread where someone tries to lecture Kurt Busiek about comics history is generally already off the rails.) And Frank, if you’re still reading…
    <>
    Only because I missed the thread. Had I not, trust me, I would have handed you your ass a lot more stridently and a lot less politely than Kurt did.

  6. Mark Waid says:

    Oh, nice. Quoted material vanishes. AWESOME.

  7. Michael and all,

    I am only following up because it’s coming in to question again if this outrage didn’t happen would there have been an amicable resolution. There would have been. For many reasons. First and foremost there’s no point in not doing so. There’s no mileage in not doing so. I’m am stating absolutely, outside of human error, that Don and Mike would both be covered with credits and with their compensation from Zorro Properties. I don’t know what the financial agreement is and it’s none of my business, but do know that it was factored in to the licensing fee.
    While I understand that Michael was passionate in responding for Don, and that Don reacted on facebook because it was on facebook, none of the lynch mob mentality was needed for this outcome.

    If you look at our books, they state either created by/co-created by/special thanks. It’s giving credit. It’s not hard. What was ridiculous, and I didn’t mention this before, was the sheer stubbornness that some had that this was done to diss Don and Mike – though not one of you brought Mike up about this since you either didn’t think to or didn’t care to – was done out of any mean spirit. It’s just f’en ridiculous. Michael – I thought we agreed to stop pushing. But you are pushing that this would not have been resolved without the mob running up behind me with the rope to lynch me. It’s not the case. While I’ll never make everyone 100% happy, I’ll be direct and say my record is pretty good – as people like Kurt, Colton and Mark have pointed out.

    I’m getting frustrated by this as it seems that publishers can have no room for error, no understanding, and no leeway. It’s ridiculous.

    Nick

  8. Mark Waid says:

    Also, Mr. Netzer–big fan, huge respect for your passion–but while I appreciate that you’re defending a friend, is it really so wholly beyond the realm of possibility that Don also bears even the slightest shred of responsibility for this little Thunderdome brouhaha by going off half-cocked? I ask only because you repeatedly use the phrase “he took responsibility for his actions” about Nick and (unless I missed something) have yet to see you say the same about Don.

    One of the most mortifying moments of my entire professional career came maybe 15, 16 years ago, when I read in Wizard magazine (brrrrr) that Valiant had licensed X-O Manowar figures to a toymaker that were based on the version of the character I’d co-created with Brian Augustyn and Sean Chen. When I saw that, I called EIC Fabian Nicieza immediately, ENRAGED. LIVID that this was the first I was hearing about this! APOPLECTIC, I was!

    And Fabian, rightfully, made me feel like an ass by responding, calmly, that (a) this wasn’t a signed deal, it was something Wizard got wrong, (b) if it were to happen, of course I’d be paid whatever was due me, and (c) he really, really didn’t appreciate starting the morning by listening to me scream at him while windmilling my arms like Popeye. And he was dead right, and I have never–okay, rarely–okay, occasionally not forgotten that lesson.

    I think you and I are going to have to go to our mutual graves disagreeing that what “won the day” here was Internet Outrage, without which Nothing Would Have Been Done. You believe this, which is your prerogative. Personally, I think that’s crap. God knows I’ve not learned much in my career, but even though I’m no sane man’s paragon of public tranquility, I have found (the hard, face-first way) that wrongs are harder, not easier, to right in this industry when the aggrieved party starts the conversation by melting down in public rather than making a polite phone call/sending a polite e-mail to first ensure that malice is afoot and not simple human error.

    I get why Don was irked and/or suspicious. I really do. Jesus, I spent most of my life in that state. Ask anyone. But whether it’s this, or OMG COMIXOLOGY HATES GAYS, or whatever the outrage du jour is in our field, I just more and more despair that most of the time, someone’s OUTRAGEOUSLY EVIL BEHAVIOR is just a failure to communicate. Why do we (myself included) repeatedly forget this and instead pick up the nearest pitchfork? Why don’t we take the time and energy to investigate before we start vibrating in place? I fear that my friend John Rogers said it best: “There is no more addictive behavior than feeling hard-done by.”

  9. Michael,

    And I’m saying this to defend publishers, and everyone. What you just wrote above says that it’s ok to have a lynch mob and shame everyone whether they are right or wrong. That’s what you’re saying. You don’t agree with someone, throw accusations, bring in your friends, have them throw in accusations. What? Someone is defending someone they believe in? Throw accusations at them. Shame on them for not agreeing with us.

    It’s unbelievably ridiculous that you would post that after all of this.

    Here’s the thing. I gave my e-mail address for EVERYONE to see so that Don could get in touch with me. I may have responded frustrated, but the end result was that I wanted to talk to Don. If I had told Don to f off after that, then yes, there would have been something to be said, but still not the lynching you and everyone were ready to give.

    The funny thing is, Mike Mayhew sent me a simple e-mail asking to be credited as well. And I responded and agreed. No one came to Mike’s aid? Why? Not worth it?

    Michael – what you just wrote – is basically, and since many had the free ability to twist my words and put thought behind my words – but what you just wrote is that it’s ok for anyone to allow the end to justify the means.

    Where does that get anyone?

    Nick

  10. Nick: I don’t think you need be frustrated. You’ve shown you’re a stand-up guy. I think it’s fair for me to try to explain myself as you’re doing. No slight towards you was intended in my explanation.

    But I don’t think there was such a one-sided mob running after you. It seems the voices in your support outweighed the criticism. Remembering that favorably should help take the edge off of everything.

    BTW, I did mention Mike as co-creator in the opening of the first article at my site, though I didn’t talk about him regarding anything else specific to Don. I think that’s understandable. I also corrected the Wikipedia/Zorro/Comics entry that said Topps created Lady Rawhide by crediting both Don AND Mike. So I’d say everything’s cool there also.

    Peace,
    Michael

  11. Mike,

    I appreciate the kind words in saying I’m a stand up guy. I try my best. But I gotta tell you, things like this are really draining. Here’s the thing, Don is the writer’s version of Neal Adams. He produced less work than most of his contemporaries, but everything he’s written means so much, and has touched so many lives, that what he’s done will live on forever. They are watershed books. He’s a great writer, and a really good guy.

    Even if none of that were true. Why screw over a writer or artist? There’s no mileage in it.

    I know, I’ve heard the rhetoric that this industry has a history of screwing people over. And all publishers are dubious and will screw over creators.

    You know, taking a stand for publishers here. It’s almost entirely not true. No one wants to screw anyone over. If anything, we all want to overachieve so that the creators, the people we work with, are so happy, they produce their best work and want to do more and be more successful and that will make us and them more money.

    I know the history of this industry. But if all publishers are going to be judged by what happened 40 years ago or 50 years ago or 75 years ago, and we’re painted that way, are you not pushing us to become that since we’ve already sinned before we do anything?

    It’s not just about me anymore, and it hasn’t been. It’s about all publishers, and honestly, the way creators can treat us.

    I understand where you were coming from in defending Don, I really do, but look at the haters that came out and were ready to burn everything down to be right.

    I go back to what I said. I was guilty without a judge, jury or executioner. And that’s the way many people perceive publishers. And part of it is because publishers, for one reason or another, can’t come out and defend themselves. They have to be leery about what they say.

    But you know what, all publishers deserve the benefit of the doubt. Everyone dose.

    You don’t see what happened as that bad. It’s probably worse than anyone can perceive. And not just because it happened to me. Because it encourages the idea that if someone views a publisher has wronged a creator, going after that person with a mob mentality is ok.

    That is as bad as what you thought I did was wrong. It’s worse. It really is Michael.

    Your heart was in the right place. But the way you took it, I mean, did you see how relentless you were? If this was a witch hunt, I would have been dunked 400 times and would have said I was guilty and that everyone I knew and will ever know is guilty. I would have said that I was there with Cain and Able and that I really did it. It wasn’t brother vs brother, I did it and framed them. I just don’t want to get dunked for a 401st time. I would say anything to prevent that.

    Now, I hope that this doesn’t mean that my words will get twisted and that I’m saying that I only responded favorably because of the haters. It’s absolutely not true.

    It’s also why I’m so adamant about defending Zorro Properties, it’s because I knew that they were honoring their contract to the t, and that they wanted Don AND Mike’s credit in the book and were going to honor their agreement. Again, it’s in the licensing fee negotiated.

    It took a lot of strength to even respond.

    This whole thing paints every publisher in a bad light and makes us all look like we’re going to screw the talent every chance we get, even if there’s no reason to.

    I can’t believe we’re still going on on this.

    But you know, someone has to say it. publishers want to make money and want the creators we work with to make money. If that doesn’t happen, they will leave this industry, and then what are we left with?

    Nick

  12. Mark, if I may address you informally as I hope you’d feel comfortable with addressing me. I am a huge fan, “Superheroes and Philosophy” was, to me, a turning point in the maturing of the comics periphery.

    You’re making very important distinctions that are frankly taking the wind out of some of my sails. I’ll try to embrace this feeling because as passions go, I’ve learnt, or think that I’ve learnt, at least until another passion rises, that they are mostly unbridled forces that cannot be enduring, nor useful in every expression. I can’t remember how many times I’ve smacked myself on the head and swore that I’ll be more level-headed instead of popping off in rage. As it is, I’ve recently returned home from living in a tent on a Dead Sea beach for nearly a year. A situation that seems to brings a tranquility visible even on the art I did there. And now, only a couple of months back into the bustle, passions brew as if I’d never left. I find it difficult to fathom the soul and what moves us as human beings. I think I’ve settled for giving in to it and allowing it to do what it will, striving for a progressively better journey and outcome even through the turbulent times.

    So yes, it bears mention that Don could have handled it more directly behind the scenes and saved the commotion, at least by theory. I say that because it seems easy to expect it in hindsight but maybe less plausible when knowing the agitation he was in, and for some time now, considering a few other issues he’s currently immersed in that there’s no need to mention here. And naturally, the same goes for myself and the way I approached it. I’ve become less good at speculating than I thought I was in the past so I can’t say what results a personal call, or several such calls might have yielded. I hear the voices saying they would have solved the problem. And although I’ve endured many disappointments going that way, I’ll concede to it and won’t argue otherwise in this case. As to our disagreement over whether Internet Outrage was what “saved the day”, well, assuming that the day was truly saved, which may be a melodramicity (no need to check, I don’t think it’s a proper word), and the path was through raising a web monster, then 1+1 seems to equal 2, at least for this particular event as recorded in the history of the last few days. But I don’t think this diminishes from your position that a more elegant way would have been preferable. I agree with that entirely and hope that a less agitated spirit overcomes in a future event.

    Nearing 60, I like to sometimes think that hard learned lessons help define the ripe years. I’m not so sure that’s entirely true or that because I wouldn’t approach the fallout of this incident at this moment in the same way I went into it, that this means I can guarantee the same for entering another similar circumstance in the future. Given the option of suppressing passion and letting it go, I seem to lean toward the latter. I think you understand that. But I certainly appreciate the reminder you’ve injected into the equation at this point, and I’m moved by the down-to-earth way you’ve done it.

  13. Nick,

    I’ll try to help us stop going at this and just say that you’ve said it all and I have nothing left to say.

    Best wishes to you, Dynamite and the Lady Rawhide series.

    Michael