OH NO, not the gossip war again.

monkey and tiger
Sometime in the night, the marvelous Gail Simone went on Twitter and spoke thusly: Do We Need Tabloid And Gossip Comics Journalism? which Rich Johnston picked up at the above link. Simone is no stranger to the message board, so the debate continues in the link and its very own Twitter topic.

Now, I haven’t read all of the forum replies at Bleeding Cool, but I did read Simone’s first response and she writes:

And when you ask him about it, he always points to two or three helpful stories he’s posted (like Josh Hoopes) then goes right back to the gossip. It’s weird how Rich can say anything he likes about a comics pro, but if someone dares raise the question, without malice, of whether or not this stuff is worthwhile, that is somehow being ‘butthurt’ or some other dumbass accusation.

Oh my god! Erik Larsen has a disagreement with Neil Gaiman! Really? Mark Waid had a disagreement with a friend…really? I wonder who cares, but even more, I wonder why anyone who can actually write would waste their time pimping that drivel. And Rich CAN write.

Rich is one part of a big dumb cycle of gossip, of fake ‘celebrity’ news, but it is far from the only such practitioner, he’s just the one most visible and the one most desperate to make himself part of the story. The same rules apply, guys. If you laugh at the idiots who read the Enquirer and follow Perez Hilton, but love petty comics gossip, you are in the glassest of glass houses. It’s the same exact useless crap.


As much as I ADORE Gail, I find this awfully thin-skinned and lacking in a sense of the bigger picture.

Can anyone REALLY equate what Rich writes to Perez Hilton? I MEAN, COME ON NOW. I could spend 10 minutes googling around to people’s public Facebook photo pages and find more personal gossip, embarrassing photos, and scuttlebutt than Rich has posted in an entire year.

Erik Larsen posted some trash talk about Gaiman ON A MESSAGE BOARD IN PUBLIC VIEW. People were emailing and IMing that link within a few minutes…is that really “gossip”?

It’s a far cry from paparazzi stalking people getting lattes at Starbucks and personal gossip about who’s banging the babysitter that “real” celebrities are subjected to. Since even people on reality shows are now considered celebrities, comics folks are just lucky they haven’t come in for any level of scrutiny.

80 percent of the times a few comics pros get together they spend time talking about who got too drunk in the bar last night, who hooked up at the office, why editor A thinks freelancer B is a dumbass and so on. For hours. Because 50 percent of the time, business decisions are based more on pissing contests and personality conflicts. Given all the wack shit that has gone down in the industry over the last few years, I think Rich has actually held himself back from talking about the REAL reasons behind so much that has happened.

Of course that doesn’t mean it isn’t annoying when something you didn’t want posted on the internet gets posted on the internet. I’ve been zinged, so I know how it feels and it’s not nice. So I can understand how upsetting that is to Gail and Mark Waid and so on. In individual cases, Rich may have gone over the line and he certainly has his own little foibles and inconsistencies. But to say he’s the equivalent of gossip rags? Hardly.

And sadly, as his many defenders admit, he’s all we’ve got. For instance, it’s been an open secret in comics that quite a few “mid level” publishers are having a hard time paying freelancers in a timely manner. At one convention this year, I heard story after story about how people weren’t getting paid. I mused over whether to write about this or not. I was told by one — very established, very successful — freelancer that it was just “just gossip and the people who need to know, know.” I’m sure his attitude reflects the attitude of a lot of people who are working in this industry. In the event, I didn’t have what I felt was the proper amount of time to devote to these stories — talking to the publishers, and so on. Whose fault is that? Mine.

However, Rich was much better equipped to take them on. Zenescope Man Up and Dabel Brothers Productions – Over $27,000 In Debt To Just One Studio are — based on what I’ve heard — fairly reported accounts of what is happening at these companies. Stories that no one else is covering.

Is it really “gossip” to know what companies pay on time or don’t? I consider this business news not gossip. The freelancers grapevine is good, but not universal.

So while I’m sympathetic to Gail’s viewpoint, and Rich will continue to be attacked — and should be scrutinized as much as anyone — if he’s what passes for tabloid journalism in comics, I think we should count ourselves very very lucky at this kitten-like yarn ball batting. God forbid comics ever get subjected to real scrutiny.

Besides, Gail should have really jumped on the REAL problem with Bleeding Cool…how HORRIBLE ITS DESIGN IS. I know it’s based on the Gawker template, which attempts to make people click as many times as possible in order to give advertisers maximum impressions. That would make more sense if the site actually contained advertising — but it doesn’t, just one lone ad for FreakAngels. I guess they are planning to ramp up the ads some day? In the meantime, the bewildering array of top stories, sidebars and tiny pictures make the whole site really unpleasant to navigate, at least for this cranky old blogger.

Or maybe I’m just jealous, since his traffic is probably five times mine.

Comments

  1. Alan Coil says:

    I get all my daily comic book information from The Beat and Comic Book Resources, not from Not Very Bloody Cool.

    Do I, as a reader of comic books, need to know all about who is out partying instead of working on their comic book assignments? Nope.

    Do I really need to know which companies are not paying their creators? No and yes. Doesn’t mean a thing to me directly, but it usually is a forewarning of a bad ending for that company. And that leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy for the sales of that company’s books, which means a series I may be reading possibly won’t get finished. (Wild Cards?)

    Do I base any of my purchasing decisions on what I read about those companies? I sure do. There are a couple companies who reportedly did not pay some creators, then hired others to work for them. I will not support those companies. (I have no problem supporting a company that fell behind, but eventually paid the creators. Stuff happens.)

    I don’t think we really need a Rona Barrett for the comics industry. Nor a Nancy Grace.

  2. Why is there always an automatic assumption that someone would ONLY object to crappy gossip columns (of which Rich has done plenty, Heidi, and you well know it, I’m sure) if they themselves had been recently targeted by one? It’s pure invention. I don’t get it.

    This story is not your best work, Heidi, and I have a ton of respect for you as well.

    First, as far as I know, Rich hasn’t targeted me in any stories in years. To assume I’m am being ‘thin-skinned’ is just reduction. Does it HAVE to be because I got my feelings hurt? Some of Rich’s loyal attack posters made similar comments. I have to say, sorry, that’s not it at all. I just think the celebrity culture is stupid and always have. And that goes double for the fishtank faux-celebrity that comics creators enjoy. It’s silly, it’s tacky, it’s a bit humiliating for all parties. Rather than focus only on a few positive stories that Rich has done in fifteen years, if you focus on the whole, man, that is one LARGE pile of donkey turd gossip, and that’s a lot harder to defend. “I understand how Gail feels,” I’m sorry, Heidi, but you clearly do not. You have made an assumption that ignores my contempt for gossip columns which predates my writing career by a decade or more. Rich hadn’t targeted me, it’s just purely false assumption. I think I’m usually pretty direct, so no such invention is usually necessary.

    Second, RICH made himself the story, absolutely deliberately, as he often does. I have been friends with Rich for many years. But I didn’t mention Rich in my question, I wasn’t speaking exclusively for Rich and I certainly wasn’t THINKING of only Rich. He, as the most visible practitioner of this stuff, chose to wave his hands screaming and feverishly linking to his self-serving response on his own board. Again, calling me ‘thin-skinned’ when I was talking about a much larger issue seems a little silly. It’s not a big deal, and I’m sure it applies in plenty of cases, but not here. Rich made it into a personal attack, for more hits, as he’s done every time someone questions the worth of what he does. It’s hard for me to feel the sympathy he appears to be asking for when he’s holding up signs and writing stories and posting links, all designed to make a comment that was not about him VERY SPECIFICALLY ABOUT HIM.

    Again, the person most quick to criticize others is always the one most offended if his own behavior is questioned. It’s like an internet law.

    Third, I find it weird how many people who should know better somehow excuse what Rich does (and sorry, what you do too, sometimes, Heidi) because ‘there isn’t any real comics journalism.’ I don’t think that excuses anything. I frankly am baffled by the notion entirely. It doesn’t seem truthful to me, either.

    And lastly, I think the difference between what Perez Hilton and ANY gossip columnist does is purely a matter of degree. My point was, if you delight in mocking the people that eat up gossip about the stars of the latest crappy teen angst television series, it’s odd to support similar efforts when they are comics related. I know you yourself have had reservations about printing some of this material. Is it really not possible for you to imagine someone objecting to this stuff by reason of pure kindness and civility? Would you want people talking about your time at DC or your personal life simply because they had that knowledge and the forum to do so?

    I like Rich, and I adore you, too. But we’ve had this discussion before and you know full well I have long disliked this stuff. To assume it simply HAD to be because of some recent embarrassment is mistaken and not up to your usual standards.

    Anyway, people seem to be posing this as a big online fight and it’s a bit weird, because I seem to have totally missed my part in it outside of a the original question and a couple very civil twitter posts following. :) Rich and I will hash it out in email eventually as we have in the past.

    Which is another bad thing about this stuff-the perpetuation of needless drama. I think we all have better uses of our time. I’m going canoeing a little later, and I suggest everyone do the same, even if you don’t have a canoe.

    Best wishes from a baffled non-combatant,

    Gail

  3. Quasi-news is almost as boring as meta-news. I say kick out the lame (gossip), bring on more good stuff (actual news). Everyone has a right to a living, and everyone has a right to choose what they look at. Or ignore.

  4. Mindy Newell says:

    If you want fame in this America, ya gotta expect the “tabloid” gossip and papparazzi to follow.

    Goes with the territory. *sigh*

  5. I’m with Heidi, both in that I think Rich does far more good than harm, and that the web design for Bleeding Cool is needlessly hard to use.

  6. That’s weird, I hadn’t had any confusion with the Bleeding Cool site. I thought it was kind of snazzy.

    It honest to god is not that big a deal. I asked a simple question and the response from gossip columnists has been way over the top, but somehow it’s ME who is thin-skinned.

    I don’t know, I think it’s pretty funny, all in all. :)

    Still like Rich and Heidi.

    Gail

  7. Synsidar says:

    The gossip that Ms Simone deplores might be popular because there’s so little hard news about the industry. Many “news” pieces posted at Web sites are mere P.R. fluff; interviews with creators and editors are similarly fluff. If there’s been a comics-related interview published in the last several years that could be described as contentious, in which the interviewee’s statements and views are challenged and questioned, I haven’t seen it, but such interviews and profiles are readily available elsewhere.

    If the series published by Marvel, DC, and others weren’t work-for-hire, making the series more important than the creators, the situation re gossip would, I think, be much different, since the creators and the projects they were working on would be the targets of fans’ interests. The publishers would simply be the creators’ vehicles; fans would follow creators, whether they chose to do close-ended works or series, rather than being attached to corporate characters. Artists who are useful to corporations but lack creativity — Greg Land, for instance — would have to be creative or lack work.

    Johnston’s pieces fill a void in the industry, by providing news and useful critical perspectives.

    SRS

  8. Hey, I didn’t see one of the responses was from Mindy Newell, one of my heroes. Hey, Mindy!

    I get your point by the way, but I still find it an odd proposition that because someone wants to do art of some kind, and understands that some promotion is necessary, that they ‘want fame.’

    I’m not sure it’s true of everyone, is it?

  9. I still think, “there’s a void, so who cares what fills it,’ is a poor justification.

  10. I wonder what Gail did all of those years as a hairdresser? Aren’t those places supposed to be havens of gossip with gossip mags laying about? Seems to me Gail may have been privy to gossip in her previous life. Was she as against it then?

    Seriously, I’m always a bit bemused by people who work HARD to get into the world of professional comics (and, let’s be frank, it’s accompanying celebrity), then are perplexed and shocked-SHOCKED that fans talk about them. Like any other niche of professional entertainment (movies, music, sports, etc), fans not only discuss the product, but the people who make, perform, manage, or publish the product as well. Like someone said on the Bleeding Cool boards, when people are interested in a product, in this case comic books, chances are they’ll also be interested in the goings-on of the industry itself.

    My point is that there’s nothing unusual, bizarre, or inherently wrong about comic book fans discussing the ins and outs of the comic biz…as they have since fandom first organized in the early 1960′s. However, I *do* agree that information should never involve news of a personal nature that has nothing to do with the comics biz or did not take place in a public forum (whether on comic-themed internet sites or live events). But stuff seen or heard on those sites or at those events? Fair game. Gail is naive to think the comic biz should be exempt from the same “inside baseball” chatter that has permeated every form of popular entertainment since…well…Shakespere (and further back, most likely).

    What “news” would Gail prefer? The pre-chewed P.R. pap of Newsarama and Comic Book Resources? If so, how about sticking to those smiley-faced, softball-lobbing precincts and just ignore those of us who want to see what makes the industry really tick?

    As for Rich Johnston himself, if anything, I think he’s actually *pulled back* a bit from where he was several years back, when “Lying in the Gutters” seemed to have much “jucier” behind-the-scenes news. I sense much more restraint from Rich than ever before…and I’m sure there are plenty of stories he could post that would send jaws dropping, but, for whatever reason, he hasn’t.

  11. Brian Davison says:

    I have to agree with Heidi and Synsidar on this one. It seems the “gossip” sites such as The Beat and Bleeding Cool are some of the all-too-few sites that are actually providing real comics news instead of simply regurgitating press releases or being nothing more than tools to market titles to prospective consumers.

    If I only want to read a marketing department’s orchestrated attempts to get fanboys to buy a bunch of event titles and tie-ins, I’ll stick with reading only Wizard, Newsarama or Comics Continuum, thanks. Until someone starts up the comic book equivalent of TMZ where there are side-by-side comparisons of comics pros that ask you which one you’d rather do, or video footage of pros acting drunk and belligerent at an aftercon party, all these critical posts about so-called “gossip” sites come off as nothing more than self-indulgent whining.

  12. Synsidar says:

    Ms. Simone, I’m sure you’ve seen people, creators and editors alike, express the sentiment that any reaction to an issue is better than no reaction — what they fear most is boredom. That’s a systemic problem in the work-for-hire industry, and drives the people involved to prefer “controversial” to “good.” Without the desire for artificial controversy to gin up online discussion, without readers fearing that their favorite characters might be (temporarily) harmed, the word “retcon” might not exist, BLACKEST NIGHT — DC does zombies — wouldn’t exist, reviews would be accurate assessments of stories’ strengths rather than more fluff. Would there be a Rich Johnston if DC and Marvel weren’t work-for-hire companies? Yes, but he’d be a columnist for an industry publication, like John Dvorak in the PC industry, and a respected figure.

    SRS

  13. Guess it depends what your standards are.

    And I was a poor gossip even as a hairdresser. I always found other things to talk about and I never, ever allowed shit like the Enquirer in my salon. In fact, I often kept comics in my salon, especially those BIG BOOK OF things that dc used to do…my male customers in particular loved them so much they kept getting borrowed and never returned.

    When you have a salon, magazines send you free subscriptions all the time, which is why it baffles me that so many salons never have current magazines.

  14. “What “news” would Gail prefer? The pre-chewed P.R. pap of Newsarama and Comic Book Resources? If so, how about sticking to those smiley-faced, softball-lobbing precincts and just ignore those of us who want to see what makes the industry really tick?”

    That’s weird, respectfully. You are suggesting an either/or proposition which isn’t at all what we have in hand. There HAS been good journalism at the sites which ALSO do PR releases (and Bleeding Cool does plenty of pure hype stuff, and Rich himself is not above hyping his own stuff relentlessly even in the middle of his ostensible journalism, so I’m not sure I see the moral high ground).

    But beyond that, there is Tom Spurgeon and Journalista, and may I add, Heidi and Rich as well, by which I mean both have shown they CAN provide good journalism. The idea that they don’t need to do personal gossip bullshit certainly doesn’t preclude them from doing more of the good stuff that they both do when it strikes them.

  15. The Beat says:

    Gail:

    Actually I haven’t read ANY of the discussion except Rich’s original post and the post of yours I quoted above, and some of the twitter talk which was way too hard to follow. So the thin-skinned is based entirely on your one post.

    But, I never said you had to be the victim of some recent gossip, and I don’t think I implied it, either. “Thin-skinned” referred to the topic in general, which is all I am commenting on. I guess it might be inferred that the line “So I can understand how upsetting that is to Gail and Mark Waid and so on. ” referred to a specific incident, but I really did mean in general. It is possible to feel empathy, and that’s the position I was assuming you were writing from.

    Alan Coil, I think people do want to see their heroes partying. But even more so…people want to see THEMSELVES out and partying. Once again, I could spend 10 minutes on Twitter and Facebook and find plenty of links to the private lives of people in the comics posted by themselves. It’s part of the “in the future everyone will be private for 15 minutes” world we live in. I’m more old fashioned then the teens who send each other naked pictures all day, according to Tyra Banks, but people’s ideas about privacy are much much changed in the internet era.

    We’re really talking about many different things here — gossip, celebrity journalism, news reporting. That folks such as myself and Rich are accused of doing all three shows how tiny the writing pool in comics really is!!!

    As far as The Beat Goes. when gossip is public and on people’s live journals and twitter feeds and message boards it’s fair game. Most public figures on the internet have figured this out and keep their most tart thoughts in private venues. That said, there are very few items tagged gossip on The Beat.

    But celebrity journalism? I’m way more comfortable with that. It has always been one of my goals with the Beat to write about comics creators with the same standards you would bring to actors, models, writers musicians, architects, politicians and so on.

    *It’s the comics creators who aren’t cooperating with my plan by refusing to murder their girlfriends and pull out their teeth, however. That kind of thing.

    Like it or not being in the public eye at any level, you get unwanted attention and people make up shit about you. It’s how you deal with it that shows what kind of person you are.

    *JOKE JOKE JOKE JOKE

  16. Todd Allen says:

    OK, if it wasn’t Rich that was being discussed, who was it?

    As for Rich taking over the conversation:

    1) I honestly don’t know who else you’d be referring to, so a response makes sense to me
    2) It’s called guerrilla marketing

  17. “But beyond that, there is Tom Spurgeon and Journalista, and may I add, Heidi and Rich as well, by which I mean both have shown they CAN provide good journalism. The idea that they don’t need to do personal gossip bullshit certainly doesn’t preclude them from doing more of the good stuff that they both do when it strikes them.”

    I think ALL of this stuff can fall under the “journalism” banner (Bleeding Cool included), just different flavors of it (just as how most “real” newspapers differ in tone and focus). If Rich were spilling who was sleeping with who, or exposing so-and-so’s drinking problem…yeah, that’s creepy and out of bounds. But reporting on the “musical chairs” of personnel changes, behind-the-scenes disagreements, or leaked plot points of the professional realm of the business? Still journalism. Not the kind you LIKE, Gail…but news nonetheless for those who want more insight into the industry than “Geoff John’s Ten Favorite Comic Book Covers”.

  18. Felix says:

    Gee, Gail…seems to me you’re a little thin-skinned when it comes to being called…”thin-skinned”:P

    As for me…I love Perez Hilton, Rich Johnston, et al. And so do a lot of people, whether they admit it or not. Those sites aren’t getting all that traffic for nothing. I also eat junk food. It’s the human condition. Rail against it all you want…it will never change.

  19. michael says:

    I think I see where Gail is coming from, but I do think that all kinds of comic book reporting is, dare I say, necessary, in today’s world?

    Sure, some of it is needless hype about nothing, but with people needing every aspect of interests covered, it seems the norm for the day.

  20. “Gee, Gail…seems to me you’re a little thin-skinned when it comes to being called…”thin-skinned”:P

    As for me…I love Perez Hilton, Rich Johnston, et al. And so do a lot of people, whether they admit it or not. Those sites aren’t getting all that traffic for nothing. I also eat junk food. It’s the human condition. Rail against it all you want…it will never change. ”

    Then you are Perez Hilton’s target audience. What can I say?

    Someone needs to be, I suppose.

  21. The Beat says:

    BTW I detest Perez Hilton and never read his site. Too much of his noxious personality comes across. OTOH I enjoy a good dose of Delisted all the time.

  22. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I’m with Gail, but only because I heard she gets hammered all the time at cons.

  23. Heidi, I’m going to respectfully disagree and bow out. You came into the conversation in the middle, by which time I’d already had a large number of people calling me names and telling me what an awful person I am for asking a simple, and quite civil, question.

    You know I think you’re great, but let’s be honest, am I surprised that someone who deals in gossip occasionally defends gossip?

    Not really.

    I think you and Rich both could drop that stuff from your columns and not miss a beat (no pun intended).

    But that’s just my opinion, and others respectfully disagree. Me, I hate the whole gossip-as-news culture and I don’t find the justifications for it very compelling. That’s all. It’s hardly a big deal for anyone. :)

    Gail

  24. “Again, the person most quick to criticize others is always the one most offended if his own behavior is questioned. It’s like an internet law.”

    Does that include the post the quote appears in? 8-)

    If it helps I am never offended if my behavior is questioned. I welcome it. I do appreciate the opportunity to respond. And thankfully Twitter gives it in spades!

  25. Felix says:

    “Then you are Perez Hilton’s target audience. What can I say?

    Someone needs to be, I suppose.”

    That’s just it…nobody NEEDS to read that stuff. But they WANT to. So does that make me some unevolved bottom-feeder? OK, fine…but at least I’m not thin-skinned!:P

  26. “I’m with Gail, but only because I heard she gets hammered all the time at cons. ”

    Heh. The truth is much more mundane. I don’t drink alcohol, never have, never been drunk. I don’t even drink coffee.

    Tom, I EXPECT BETTER RESEARCH FROM YOU.

    “If it helps I am never offended if my behavior is questioned.”

    Yeah, right. I’ve heard you claim that several times. Doesn’t
    match your huge, oversensitive response in the slightest, though.

    Sorry.

  27. Nate Horn says:

    I think Gail deserves the right to ask her question without being called names. I also think it’s a pretty valid question. On the other hand, there’s been so much back and forth already, does it really matter this much?

  28. Rich does some good from time to time with his writing. It’s overwhelmingly outweighed by the harm he does, though he seems to be getting gradually more conscientious about shifting that balance, but he’s always going to be around, so we’re stuck with him. The only point made in these comments that left me gobsmacked was the assertion “Rich does far more good than harm,” which baffled me until I realized why someone might come to that conclusion: because Rich writes endlessly about the good he has done to remind us of his occasional moral victories, while he never revisits (why should he? It doesn’t serve him) the times he’s done personal or financial disservice to those about whom he gossips. So I can see how the overall balance might seem skewed to a more casual observer who takes Rich more at his word than most of us do.

  29. Just had a nice chat with Heidi and let me reaffirm that she is awesome and I apologize again for not having the decency to leave when I said I would! :)

  30. Felix says:

    Rich’s site is what it is. You can’t really pick and choose what offends you. Let me guess…it’s cool (bleeding cool!) when he busts Rick Olney’s balls (yeah, I know…raisins)…that’s journalism. Everything else is trashy gossip.

    (Eye roll)

  31. Fascinating: Gail has a private conversation with Heidi, clears the air….THEN SHARES THAT THEY HAD A PERSONAL CONVERSATION ONLINE IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARD.

    Boundaries, Gail?

  32. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Leave Max Gail alone!

  33. The Beat says:

    Mark W: That’s a VERY fair assessment. And definitely one that should be kept in mind by even Rich-supporters such as myself.

    Gail and I did indeed share private hugs and lemonade….I dare anyone to gossip about THAT!

  34. Alan Coil says:

    Mark Engblom — Leave Gail alone.

  35. I heard there was something IN the lemonade (whisper, whisper).

  36. Brian Davison says:

    “Gail and I did indeed share private hugs and lemonade….I dare anyone to gossip about THAT!”

    Sharing intimate physical contact with drinking? There might be a way to gossip about that… ;)

  37. Michael says:

    “But beyond that, there is Tom Spurgeon and Journalista, and may I add, Heidi and Rich as well, by which I mean both have shown they CAN provide good journalism.”

    Spurge and Journalista do good commentary (for the most part; no one’s perfect), but not much in the way of reporting. The Beat here is mostly linkblogs, press releases, and more commentary. I can’t think, offhand, of any stories they’ve actually broken, as opposed to picked up on once they were already out there (often, I might add, due to Rich or some other muckraker). Which, that does seem to be the mode of modern journalism in America as a whole, to report on what someone else has reported on, or to repeat allegations made without the pesky bother of finding out if they’re true or not, but that doesn’t make it good journalism.

    Rich dips into the gossip well more often than he should, true, but in between that, he’s the best (possibly the only) investigative journalist comics has got. And I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that if we’d had an irritating busybody like him around in, oh say, 1946, Jerry Siegel wouldn’t have been a janitor when somebody looked him up during the run-up to the first Superman movie.

  38. Most journalism, and especially journalism related to entertainment, will always serve the twin gods of what people should know and what they want to know. Realistically, there’s not enough of either for anyone to fill a regular comics blog with either pure reportage or pure gossip, which is why virtually all comics sites include a bit of both, with the line drawn in different places. ‘Neil Gaiman was super nice to fans at signing yesterday’ is gossip, the comics industry equivalent of red carpet shots, it’s just nice gossip rather than the scurrilous kind. It certainly isn’t ‘news’ in any meaningful sense.

    I suspect that the sensitivities in regards to comics journalism, or gossip, or whatever you want to call it, comes from both creators and commentators both being drawn from the fanbase. The ‘we’re all fans together’ mentality is a lovely huggy thing, but it makes any sense of professional boundaries tissue thin sometimes. In most other areas of niche journalism the social divide between reporters and reported seems to be a lot clearer, and disputes far less personal.

  39. Michael says:

    PS: If my calling Rich the best investigative journalist we’ve got sends anyone into apoplectic fits, the solution is not more screeds on what a bastard he is. The solution is to get comics some better investigative journalists.

  40. Irwin Schwab says:

    It’s deeply, deeply amusing that anyone anywhere thinks a single thing Rich Johnston has ever done has ever been about anything other than himself.

  41. Brian Davison says:

    Well, that’s Ambush Bug’s opinion heard from and if you can’t trust the Bug, whom can you trust?

  42. @Mark Englom: I had the same “What did you talk about when you were a hairdresser?” thought, and was glad to see I wasn’t the only one.

    I think there’s another aspect that should be discussed here: I think the heights to which Rich has risen prove there’s at least an audience for what his does, even if there’s no “need”. Not to laud praises on him, but it’s almost impressive how much of a profile he has built in this industry without having really been an active participant, from a creative standpoint. Sure, he has comics gigs now, and I feel that he has soft pedaled it a bit in recent years so that he doesn’t lose those comic gigs. That said, what he does is simply far more interesting than anything else out there. Some might want to read articles that elevate comics as an artform, but that’s why Spurgeon’s posts make me feel like I’m in a college lecture again.

    If anything, this industry could stand for more transparency. Fans can only take so many “classified” solicitations or “this story will change character X forever!” empty promises. Rich gives a clearer view of the inner workings of this industry better than most of the “news” sites out there, and I appreciate that. If he were just some muckraker who didn’t know what he was talking about, we wouldn’t be talking about him. Yet, here he is, still doing it after all these years, and he’s got some semblance of power because of it. I kind of agree with Gail, in that it does seem that he gets some joy out of it, but why shouldn’t he? Some might think that what he does is somewhat creepy, but he’s just so damn good at it. That’s why everyone’s asking “If she didn’t mean Rich, who did she mean?” Does anyone else out there even come close to what he does? If so, I’d love to hear about them…

  43. Alan Coil says:

    Will West said:

    “@Mark Englom: I had the same “What did you talk about when you were a hairdresser?” thought, and was glad to see I wasn’t the only one.”

    Why is that, Will? Mark, too. Is it because a hairdresser is most often a woman, and that women are thought to be notorious gossips? And being women, is it part of their nature, something they can’t help but do because of certain chromosomes? Give us an answer, please.

  44. @Alan Coil: for lack of a better answer, yes. Rather, not because she’s a woman, but because she was a hairdresser. Sure, we can call that a stereotype, but I’ll accept that. Let’s take it from a cultural perspective: in certain communities, the salon/barbershop is where many get their information. Sad, but true. Rarely does it have the reliability of a trusted news source, and many times these discussions delve into the realm of what would be considered gossip. Maybe we should also define “gossip”. Like trash, one man’s gossip is another’s treasure. Gail just seemed so above the notion of gossip, that it just seemed like that must have been a pretty boring salon. Nothing to do with chromosomes, though. If she were a gay hairdresser turned comic writer (I smell a pitch there!), I would have posed it the same way.

  45. Alexa says:

    @Will, I wonder why it would matter if a male hairdresser was gay or not?

    Seriously, quit while you’re behind.

  46. @Alexa: that was just one example I used. I like to be colorful. Of course, you’re going to assume I’m saying that all male hairdressers are gay. Not what I was saying. You can ask me what I mean or you can make assumptions. I didn’t think we were here about me, but if that’s how this is going to play out…

  47. Synsidar says:

    Johnston’s piece on Dwayne McDuffie and his run-ins with DC Editorial over JLA stands out as an example of good journalism, a piece that few, if any, other people would have done. Given the nature of the work-for-hire business, readers deserve to know what goes into the contents of issues and what causes a creator to leave a series unexpectedly.

    SRS

  48. Tom Spurgeon says:

    The one thing I learned on this thread is that we should all call Dirk “Journalista” from now on.

  49. “Given the nature of the work-for-hire business, readers deserve to know what goes into the contents of issues and what causes a creator to leave a series unexpectedly.”

    I don’t understand the point you’re making here. Can you elucidate?

  50. I just KNEW this conversation was going to degenerate into a diatribe on male hairdressers!

    Honestly, there must not be enough good comics out there to read if we’re discussing the merits/demerits of gossip as a means to getting through to Wednesday.

  51. “Given the nature of the work-for-hire business, readers deserve to know what goes into the contents of issues and what causes a creator to leave a series unexpectedly.”

    Good point. In that respect, I think the “good” that Rich’s stuff does is to educate up-and-comers that, despite its carefully stage-managed “we’re all playing in the world’s coolest sandbox” image, comics can be a tough, contentious, and bare-knuckled business…thereby giving them a more realistic view of the world they want to be a part of, not to mention loving the comic book artform DESPITE the all-too-human failings of their creators.

  52. Michael says:

    “I don’t understand the point you’re making here. Can you elucidate?”

    It seemed fairly clear to me: Readers have a right to know what goes on behind the scenes at the companies that make their favorite comics. Especially the stuff that directly affects the content of those comics.

    And I didn’t notice you complaining very much, Mark, when Rich was letting the whole world know the reason you and Mike Weiringo suddenly weren’t doing Fantastic Four anymore.

  53. I have never read Rich Johnston, but when you’re a comics fan on the internet, you hear about him. I would hope he’s not like Perez Hilton, because that guy’s a total douche who starts crap, but doesn’t want anyone to respond to his nonsense. He’s also a hypocrite who will attack people, but doesn’t want anything resembling homophobia to be out there.

    Anyway, back to Rich Johnston. I think as long as his “who’s inking who” news items doesn’t cost people their jobs, it’s sort of alright, i guess.

  54. “Readers have a right to know what goes on behind the scenes at the companies that make their favorite comics. Especially the stuff that directly affects the content of those comics.”

    No we don’t.

  55. Yeah, all this talk about the rights of readers and what readers deserve is kind of weird. Purchasing a product doesn’t give me any right save ownership of the product. And having interest in a product gets me even less. So just because I buy a comic and like a comic doesn’t give me any intrinsic right to anything beyond being able to take that comic home and read the heck out of it or toss it or sell it at a garage sale or whatever.

    My purchase of a comic gives me no right of information regarding the publisher, the creator, or the circumstance of the comic’s origin.

  56. >> Readers have a right to know what goes on behind the scenes at the companies that make their favorite comics >>

    I’ll second Jim Kingman: No, you don’t.

    We also don’t have a right to know what goes on between Jim Butcher and his editor while he’s writing the next “Dresden Files” novel, what goes on between Garry Trudeau and his syndicate while he’s writing DOONESBURY or what discussion Heidi has with the folks at PW as to what goes into The Beat.

    What we’re buying is what’s in the package we’re buying. That’s where the story is. The behind-the-scenes drama of putting the stories together is not part of the cover price.

    That readers get to hear about some of it does not mean that they have a right to it.

    kdb

  57. Brett says:

    I love Gail Simone’s work and I have ALWAYS loved Mindy Newell’s work!
    I don’t know anything personal about either one of them, nor do I need to either.

    That said, the less I know about a professional, the more I enjoy their work. People say that many of the readers who post on message boards are obnoxious.

    As a reader, I find there are quite a few professionals out there who have such big mouths, it has turned me off of their work and this is without the help of Rich Johnson’s site / gossip. In fact, some of them post so frequently on message boards with such smug, condescending attitudes, I avoid the work they do at all costs.

    So yes, gossip sites can be pretty damaging and harmful in that it can color the way a reader feels about that pro and the work they do. Then again, sometimes, many times, creators do it all by themselves — with their own big mouths, without any help from a gossip site.

    I still love Gail and Mindy’s work!

  58. Alan Coil says:

    “Johnston’s piece on Dwayne McDuffie and his run-ins with DC Editorial…”

    got McDuffie fired. Good job, Rich.

  59. >> got McDuffie fired. Good job, Rich. >>

    Yeah, that struck me as a curious example of gossip doing more good than harm. Taking every comment Dwayne made about editorial choices changing his plans, over a period of a couple of years, and packing it into one post so it looked like he was doing nothing but complaining (as opposed to occasionally explaining things over a long period), with the result that DC fired Dwayne.

    It’s hard to say that giving the readers a look behind the scenes (all of which had been public already, just not misleadingly concentrated) was a good thing that outweighed someone being fired.

    In this case, what “caused a creator to leave a series unexpectedly” was the result of the story, not the subject of it.

    kdb

    kdb

  60. Wraith says:

    “Heh. The truth is much more mundane. I don’t drink alcohol, never have, never been drunk. I don’t even drink coffee.”

    Gail, this statement of yours has made my respect for you as a person go up by a factor of a 100.

  61. Wraith says:

    “Heh. The truth is much more mundane. I don’t drink alcohol, never have, never been drunk. I don’t even drink coffee.”

    Gail, this statement of yours has made my respect for you as a person go up by a factor of a 100. I think it’s cool to know that there are comic book creators out there who don’t act like drunken idiots.

    As for the subject at hand, I think that you Heidi,Waid,and Rich Johnson all make great points and I agree with a little bit of everything each of you guys had to say.

  62. Yeah, we don’t really. But it does make for interesting reading and it *may* prevent some publishers from being total dicks all the time because they know it’ll get out. I might be wrong, but I also suspect it’s more difficult to successfully sue a gossip columnist who openly say their stories might not be true with up front disclaimers than a more legitimate organization.

    In terms of investigative journalism in the industry I can’t help but think of the good pieces that TCJ Magazine did/do. But could Fantagraphics survive on just the magazine alone? I don’t think so.

    The major publishers are notoriously thin skinned about news stories that don’t show them in the best light, upset their planned marketing timetables or even ask uncomfortable (but legitimate) questions. They’ve shown they’ll yank their marketing dollars and give it to a competing site if they feel crossed. And forget about getting exclusive news on the big events/changes going on in the big 2, the stuff that drives much of the traffic to the site to begin with. If the industry were bigger/stronger it might not be a problem.

    It would be nice if somebody with who can do investigative journalism (and found ways of getting a large number of folks to visit and come back regularly, even when there is no big story brewing) could set up a website and survive on Google Ads and other means.

  63. >> I think it’s cool to know that there are comic book creators out there who don’t act like drunken idiots. >>

    Now, now.

    Just because Gail doesn’t drink doesn’t mean she can’t act like a drunken idiot.

    It’s just by choice, see?

    kdb

  64. Alan Coil says:

    “The major publishers are notoriously thin skinned… They’ve shown they’ll yank their marketing dollars…”

    Yep. One of them did that to Comics Buyer’s Guide many years ago over reviews that they didn’t like from Don Thompson. And mostly what Thompson said was that the books weren’t very good, a far cry from the tone of what passes for reviews today.

  65. “Taking every comment Dwayne made about editorial choices changing his plans, over a period of a couple of years, and packing it into one post so it looked like he was doing nothing but complaining (as opposed to occasionally explaining things over a long period), with the result that DC fired Dwayne.”

    As with most hirings and firings, I suspect there was much more behind McDuffy losing the JLA title than Rich’s compilation of his complaints. I’m sure it played some role, but it’s not likely Rich’s story was the primary reason for the parting of ways. It’s likely the same result would have happened without Rich drawing attention to the situation, considering how McDuffy made it pretty clear he wasn’t happy doing the book.

  66. Alan Coil says:

    It’s McDuffie, not McDuffy. 5 seconds or less to Google it to make sure.

  67. Michael says:

    There’s an inferral going on re: my last post, that I believe, and was arguing, that the “right to know” derives from the purchase of the comics in question. I can understand how someone might make that assumption, but that doesn’t make it any less wrong. I don’t believe the right to know derives from the act of purchase, or from anything else. I believe it exists in and of itself, and covers a lot more than just comics. Basically, I believe in an inclusive right to know, where everything outside of national security matters or anything else that threatens someone’s life, limb, or personal privacy is included. And the inner workings of publicly traded companies, however much those companies might prefer their public image was that of the parts of the duck that can be seen above water, don’t really meet any of those criteria.

    In other words, Dan Didio’s home address? Off-limits, certainly (and really, who cares?). Dan Didio wanting to kill off Nightwing in Infinite Crisis and having to be talked out of it by some of his staffers and freelancers, leading to major last-minute rewrites on the OYL issues of Nightwing? I’m having a hard time seeing an argument for that being need-to-know information only, and if that argument can’t be convincingly made, then it’s fair game

    On other other words, the onus isn’t on a reporter to prove that the public needs to know the story he’s writing about. It’s on the subject(s) of the story to prove that the story needs to be kept hidden.

  68. Synsidar says:

    What Johnston did, in assembling McDuffie’s statements re JLA into a package, was little different from a reporter looking at statements made by an official re his job and the bureaucracy he deals with, and realizing that the official is having a really difficult time, if he isn’t miserable, and that the organization he’s working in is dysfunctional. If the editorial processes which produce the comics that readers pay for are broken, they should know that.

    Take the OMD/BND furor. For all the heat that was generated, nothing substantial happened except for Straczynski leaving the series. More should have happened. When the editor-in-chief (Quesada) apparently had so little understanding of fantasy fiction that he had no idea what he was doing, and he was on his way to producing an embarrassing mess, that lack of understanding deserved to be exposed and punished. Industry publications were the proper place for that punishment to occur.

    A major reason for the absence of hard news re comics might be that the comics themselves aren’t newsworthy.

    SRS

  69. Michael says:

    PS again: It should be obvious that I’m not using “right to know” and “need to know” as interchangeable terms, or even as synonyms. But in case it’s not: I’m not.

  70. Wraith says:

    “Now, now.

    Just because Gail doesn’t drink doesn’t mean she can’t act like a drunken idiot.

    It’s just by choice, see?

    kdb ”

    LOL

    I’m sure that if she acts like a drunken idiot, she does so with class.

  71. Dwayne McDuffie says:

    “Johnston’s piece on Dwayne McDuffie and his run-ins with DC Editorial over JLA stands out as an example of good journalism, a piece that few, if any, other people would have done.”

    Bad example, Rich reprinted that piece, uncredited, from another blogger. I have no problem with Rich running the story as it was pretty good gossip, but it’s not what I would call good journalism.

  72. >> It should be obvious that I’m not using “right to know” and “need to know” as interchangeable terms, or even as synonyms.>>

    No, you’re using them as a tautology — saying that you have a right to know anything that isn’t a secret. But that just isn’t so. There’s a continuum between “the public has a right to know” and “there’s a compelling need to keep that secret,” which covers things that don’t need to remain private but aren’t a violation of your rights if they do.

    For instance, if the stars of GREY’S ANATOMY complain publicly about the scripts, they’re choosing to let me know. If they don’t, they’re choosing not to. In neither case are my rights involved; I have no particular right to that information. It’s up to them to share it or not as they choose.

    kdb

  73. The Beat says:

    No “right to know” anything.

    On the other hand, the truth has a way of coming out. Sometimes when people leave to spend more time with their family, they aren’t fooling anyone.

    Maybe what people are really disagreeing on here is what constitutes a legitimate story. Most everyone in Hollywood hates Nikki FInke, but they read her every day anyway, and few would argue that what she is covering isn’t legitimate news. However she goes far outside the usual news channels to do what she does. In a world where the puff piece or obfuscation has mostly replaced (or I should say, obscured) reportage, sometimes that’s the only way to go.

  74. Positing a “right to know” details about he private business dealings of others ridiculously casts them as violating your rights every time they choose not to answer your curiosity.

  75. Hmm.

    IF Rich is Perez Hilton, would that make Dirk Nikki Finke? IS Tom Peter Bart? Is Heidi INDEED the Whitney Matheson of the field?

    Comics-inquiring minds want to know! ;)

  76. Mark: I realized why someone might come to that conclusion: because Rich writes endlessly about the good he has done to remind us of his occasional moral victories,

    Rich: Not true.

    Mark: while he never revisits (why should he? It doesn’t serve him) the times he’s done personal or financial disservice to those about whom he gossips.

    Rich: Not true.

    Mark: So I can see how the overall balance might seem skewed to a more casual observer who takes Rich more at his word than most of us do.

    Rich: Well they might actually read what I write.

  77. Kurt: Yeah, that struck me as a curious example of gossip doing more good than harm. Taking every comment Dwayne made

    Rich: Some of the comments made

    kurt: about editorial choices changing his plans, over a period of a couple of years,

    Rich: About the process of creating a comic book with franchise implications in a certain editorial environment, over a period of nine months.

    Kurt: and packing it into one post so it looked like he was doing nothing but complaining (as opposed to occasionally explaining things over a long period),

    Rich: “It’s rare that a creator is so open and honest about the ins and outs of working on such a series. And it’s done without malice, accusation or blame, just an acceptance that this is the way things work.”

    Kurt: It’s hard to say that giving the readers a look behind the scenes (all of which had been public already, just not misleadingly concentrated) was a good thing that outweighed someone being fired.

    Rich: I agree. It was the public nature, and that it was on the publishers board, and that it was a DC employee who told me that the messages were the talk of the company at one point, that I’d run similar from Dwayne before, that led me to think it there wouldn’t be a problem. And while there was a concentration, I don’t believe it was a misleading one.

    Kurt, do you believe DC was correct in their decision?

  78. Mark, one more thing.

    How do you view Heidi’s work in this context?

    I can certainly understand and appreciate the viewpoint of one opposed to a gossip column in and of itself, it’s a justifiable, defendable point of view, and not one I’d seek to take issue with.

    But it does seem, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that you treat my work differently that Heidi’s, even when we write similar work with similar takes and from a similar viewpoint. That we both, as part of our work, write and have written gossip, but that it’s only mine that you take issue with.

    Could you elaborate at all?

  79. Dwayne: Bad example, Rich reprinted that piece, uncredited, from another blogger. I have no problem with Rich running the story as it was pretty good gossip, but it’s not what I would call good journalism.

    Rich: I wish I could excuse it so easily, but no, attention was brought to the original thread by others, who may well have read said blog. And a DC employee told me it was quite the talk of the company, who may also have read said blog but who probably just read their company message board – but not in a negative anti-Dwayne fashion but, well, just internal company gossip. That was the manner in which reported the story.

    I was horrified by the outcome, as indeed was the DC employee, and I apologised to Dwayne, privately and publically.

  80. Here’s on oddity. The DC Message board thread that led to DC firing Dwayne from JLA. It’s still there. The posts are still there.

    Anyone have an explanation?

  81. bloke's niece says:

    If Rich Johnston is so hell bent on framing himself as a “professional” journalist, then let’s look at “ethics”… It is a well circulated rumor in the industry that he use to ask for $$$ or gifts in order to be mentioned in his former column (LITG), especially from lesser known artists/projects when they would contact him for plugs regarding upcoming books… Let’s talk “ethics” when he use to sell items related to the articles he was writing about on ebay on that very same blog… If those two things alone are not enough, then let’s talk about his perpetual hawking and promoting of his own meager attempts at comics in the same breath when “reporting” on others… Is he a true “journalist”, or someone trying their best to break into the comic industry? I don’t see Anderson Cooper giving a 30 second spot about some movie pitch he has at the end of each newscast on CNN, or even Harvey Levin on TMZ.

    What’s even more hilarious is when everyone compares him to Perez Hilton/orwhomeverHollywoodblogger — those people actually live in Los Angeles or New York, places in the heart of where the actual stuff is taking place, a possibility that they themselves might have actually seen or heard FIRST hand — Rich is in England, across an ocean. Gets his info from trolling internet forums and twitter accounts. In addition, you don’t see Perez waiting at the red velvet rope line at some club trying to chum it up with celebs, but I do see Rich stalking pros at Comic Con… hmmm…

    I’m in a charitable mood so here’s some free advice: Rich, you’re the heel, whether you like it or not. That’s the role you’ve fashioned for yourself and the one you’ve built your 15 minutes on, so live it up. We all know what makes a good superhero — a great super villain!! I wouldn’t even go into a tit-for-tat with Gail, Kurt or Dwayne (which, your apology now comes of completely disingenuous because of your responses). This is Ameri– err, Planet Earth, everyone has a right to their own opinions and you’re just exercising that right to spill gossip and yellow journalism while make a buck (or pound). Screw what all the pros think, you’re Rich f’in Johnston!

    See you in the soup lines, Rich!

  82. Kevin Ruiz says:

    Unbelievable. McDuffie’s getting fired was someone else’s fault.
    Not because of all the comments you had already PUBLICLY posted YOURSELF on the internet. I mean how many people would possible read them on the internet. Go figure.

    But then it does make sense as Waid also believes that the reason all his recent series have tanked are someone else’s fault.

  83. Evan Meadow says:

    “I’ll second Jim Kingman: No, you don’t.

    We also don’t have a right to know what goes on between Jim Butcher and his editor while he’s writing the next “Dresden Files” novel, what goes on between Garry Trudeau and his syndicate while he’s writing DOONESBURY or what discussion Heidi has with the folks at PW as to what goes into The Beat.

    What we’re buying is what’s in the package we’re buying. That’s where the story is. The behind-the-scenes drama of putting the stories together is not part of the cover price.

    That readers get to hear about some of it does not mean that they have a right to it.

    kdb ”

    I don’t know Kurt, when you’ve got a company like Marvel constantly putting retailers betrween a rock and a hard place on ordering comics with no info given just so the NY Daily News can get the scoop out first and then having a higher up gleefully telling stockholders “We raised our prices because we knew the people buying them will buy them no matter WHAT price we raise them and we’ll probably raise them higher to see what they do.” (Yes I’m aware that’s a really big generalization but it is the crux of what he said) it makes me think we do need to know more information.

    The industry needs the readers to hang around more than the readers need the industry itself.

    If people in the industry are doing and saying things that are being harmful/insulting to us we deserve to be informed of such things and then make the decision as to whether or not we choose to continue supporting such actions.

    Not be laughed at behind our backs by people just counting the money.

  84. Torsten Adair says:

    Wow… sitting up here in the bleachers, I’m getting a good show.

    Here’s a question… are message boards just an electronic version of a cocktail party? Is gossip a fundamental part of conversation, especially when events are witnessed but not recorded?

    Personally, when I hear insider gossip, opinion, or fact; I keep it to myself. When one gossips, one tends to burn bridges before they are crossed.

    Regarding Ms. Simone’s question… if the gossip can be proven (usually via links or public statements) AND it is of a professional nature then it becomes reporting. (Proven and personal, such as a house fire, crosses over into celebrity, and requires more responsibility.) Otherwise, it should be labeled and reported as gossip, just as op-ed pieces are labeled as opinion.

  85. bloke’s neice: If Rich Johnston is so hell bent on framing himself as a “professional” journalist,

    Rich: Am I? Where?

    bloke’s neice: It is a well circulated rumor in the industry that he use to ask for $$$ or gifts in order to be mentioned in his former column (LITG), especially from lesser known artists/projects when they would contact him for plugs regarding upcoming books…

    Rich: Then let me take this opportunity to completely refute this. The closet I’ve ever got is someone sending me a free comic to review, read or comment on. That’s it. Oh and once DC send me Absolute Planetary for no specific reason that I could ascertain. I’ve never asked for money or gifts in exchange for coverage. Do please pass that back to whoever may have told you otherwise. Thank you.

    bloke’s neice: Let’s talk “ethics” when he use to sell items related to the articles he was writing about on ebay on that very same blog…

    Rich: I sell occasional stuff on eBay. I sometimes even write about stuff I’m selling on eBay. But they’re not exactly aligned or planned.

    bloke’s neice: If those two things alone are not enough,

    Rich: even if they’re not true?

    bloke’s neice: then let’s talk about his perpetual hawking and promoting of his own meager attempts at comics in the same breath when “reporting” on others…

    Rich: Hardly perpetual. But yes I talk about the stuff I’m working on every now and then. But it’s a rare thing, it’s hardly covert, it’s honest and upfront.

    bloke’s neice: Is he a true “journalist”, or someone trying their best to break into the comic industry?

    Rich: If I was trying to break into comics, this would be a very bad way to do it. I was asked to pitch a Marville idea to Marvel Comics, I once pitched an idea to Stuart Moore’s Helix line at DC… I was asked to pitch some Doctor Who ideas to IDW… these are far and few between. And occasionally I have an idea which I get the chance to express in comics form. This is hardly an active attempt to break into writing comics.

    bloke’s neice: I don’t see Anderson Cooper giving a 30 second spot about some movie pitch he has at the end of each newscast on CNN, or even Harvey Levin on TMZ.

    Rich: Who?

    bloke’s neice: Rich is in England, across an ocean. Gets his info from trolling internet forums and twitter accounts.

    Rich: Some, yes. Most, no. I certainly could do a much better job if I lived in New York. But I don’t.

    bloke’s neice: but I do see Rich stalking pros at Comic Con… hmmm…

    Rich: Stalking? Or talking to? If anyone did have an issue, I’m sure they wouldn’t have a problem saying it to my face, I’m hardly the most physically dominating person am I?

    bloke’s neice: I’m in a charitable mood so here’s some free advice: Rich, you’re the heel, whether you like it or not.

    Rich: I’d hate to see you in an uncharitable mood.

    bloke’s neice: See you in the soup lines, Rich!

    Rich: That’s what I’m trying to stay out of.

  86. Kevin, Dwayne had said nothing more critical of DC than Grant Morrison had – hell, Grant said worse and said it in interviews for third party sites, not on a board that DC could, if they wished, control. Grant was not fired off his books, I don’t think Dwayne had any expectation that he would be fired off his.

  87. Wow… feel the love.. It’s interesting that Gail asked the question, many many people responded, and yet the people who disagree with her are simply “rich’s attack posters” or wrong. Gail you obviously new the answer already, why ask the question, it’s very apparent that you are at the very least as much of an attention seeker as he is. At least Rich has done SOME good, have you? Glass houses and stones people?

  88. Having read this thread, one thing that struck me was the strange way that people were laying the blame for Dwayne’s job loss. Surely, the blame lies with DC? What harm did Dwayne to Dido and company?

    Is there anybody here who thinks that the DC management were wrong to fire Dwayne? The way many of you spoke about it, you’d imagine that you agreed with their decision.

    Surely, energies would be better devoted to finding some sort of way to protect creators from thin-skinned publishers?

  89. alwaysoptimistic says:

    One of the key questions for me continues to be, Where are the shining examples of “real” journalism that we comic fans have as an alternative to the current status quo?

    I am only a comic fan, and one who hasn’t been a regular on any comic sites for more than a year and a half, but it is quite obvious how useless CBR and Newsarama are for much beyond Con Panel transcriptions, Previews and Solicitation Information, entertaining columns from people like Jud Meyers, Ethan Van Sciver, Jimmy Palmiotti and others, and very very softball interviews.

    Al of those things have their uses, but is that really what passes for actual journalism?

    So, “Do we need tabloid and gossip comics journalism?”

    In THIS environment, I would say that we absolutely need something else. This site and Rich Johnston’s absolutely do provide something else. Perhaps it is not all to the level that one would wish for in a perfect world. But who among those not happy with the status quo is willing to put their money where their mouth is and step up and become a non-tabloid, non-gossip journalist? As I doubt that anyone will in fact forsake their current careers, then we are stuck with the status quo, at least for now.

    One other thing if I may. Among the stories mentioned both here and by Rich Johnston (but not by CBR or Newsarama) is one that would fall into the category of “real” journalism. That is their calling attention to the fact that Gareb Shamus and Wizard Entertainment are knowingly stealing money from those people who place online orders from the Amazon and the wizarduniverse website. They often times send few or none of the products that they were paid for and avoid all calls that would be classified as customer service. Thankfully, with 50% negative feedback:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/seller/home.html?ie=UTF8&isAmazonFulfilled=&marketplaceID=ATVPDKIKX0DER&isCBA=&orderID=&asin=&marketplaceSeller=&seller=A2FKHJLY04N3SH&isPopup=

    then it looks like Wizard has finally been kicked off of Amazon’s site. Imo, “real” journalists would be going farther than The Beat and BleedingCool already have by asking the creators and comic companies individually how they can justify associating with these thieves at any Shamus owned Convention. As many comic creators and companies still seem to find it profitable to do so, then perhaps in that way they should be grateful that the comic industry does not have a greater number of “real” journalists.

  90. Jason, I’m afraid you misunderstood. The people defending Rich and his column are not “Rich’s attack posters.’ They aren’t bad people. I don’t even totally disagree with them.

    I was referring to a very specific handful of incredibly insulting and obnoxious people that leap on even the slightest of criticisms against Rich and his site. The kind that delight in calling me a pig and a cow and a “fat ugly whore who only writes for other whores.” Rich has a few of these on his board that tear their own heads off if you question the site on anything.

    Those are ‘Rich’s attack posters,’ because the phrase is completely truthful. The nice folks here who simply disagree about gossip columns are not even remotely like them.

    Hope that makes sense.

    And it’s weird, I talked a lot with both Heidi and Rich, and I read many comments, and this kind of statement came up often, “On the other hand, the truth has a way of coming out.”

    Which is, I’m sorry, sheer bullshit. It’s like a serial killer saying, “Well, people do die eventually.” So what? You don’t have to PARTICIPATE. You don’t have to be the active element that hurts people you don’t even know in a sad and endless jones for internet traffic.

    And Dwayne is very gracious because Dwayne is a big man at heart. But I think he IS a perfect example of why I wish my friends weren’t in the business of gossip. I simply think better of them than that.

    All that said, it’s salacious, it’s titillating to hear about the problems and foibles of people, even the fake celebrities that produce comics. I get that.

    But it’s not the hand of god that writes these stories, it’s not fate that goes rooting around the internet looking for some dirt to fill a column with. It takes will. So I always find the, “information wants to be seen,” thing completely and embarrassingly disingenuous.

    In the end, I don’t think the gossip stuff is that important. I get why people like it, I know why people write it, and yes, for the most part, the creators who are named brought it out themselves, perhaps in a moment they regret on the internet.

    But I wish my friends didn’t cheerfully exploit that stuff for hits. That’s all.

  91. This is kind of ridiculous . . .

    Whatever Rich does or doesn’t do for the industry, I’m sitting here watching supposed industry professionals pouring more and more into this, and actually turning this into a story in and of itself.

    I’m also not pleased to see writers whose work I enjoy (like Secret Six) behave in a way that’s more or less befuddling to me.

    If you were all at a con together, would you be yelling this stuff at one another over the heads of your fans? If not, why is it any more appropriate on the internet?

  92. The Beat says:

    First off, any poster who wrote something like “fat ugly whore who only writes for other whores” would be banned and the post removed. I haven’t seen the post in question, but for Rich and his mods to leave that kind of comment up is appalling. No amount of traffic is worth that.

    Gail, you and I disagree on the truth element. Gail says, “You don’t have to participate.” Well, when you are working in an industry where the truth gets you fired, I guess that is true! It’s pointless to discuss it further because we will never agree. I don’t think Rich OR Dwayne created an atmosphere where answering questions candidly gets you fired.

  93. Nash,

    I barely know what to say here. Who’s yelling? I forgot I’d even HAD this conversation for most of the day and certainly Kurt and Dwayne and most others seem very calm and civil, as they almost always do.

    What precise behavior is it that you think indicates some sort of furious meltdown? I’m not being sarcastic, I am genuinely befuddled. I thought this thread was pleasantly civil on all sides, in fact.

    Odd how perceptions differ.

    I would absolutely have this conversation in front of readers, to answer your question. Why not? It’s a fair question and no one is angry at anyone for disagreeing. What’s the seeming crisis?

    I just don’t see it, I guess. There may have been a few heated words, but I do find it odd that so many people find the idea of even bringing up the QUESTION is somehow uncouth and not to be tolerated.

    Have we really elevated the gossip column to THAT level of sacred untouchability?

    Seems silly. Rich certainly isn’t above casting stones. Why can’t it be asked if the house is glass?

  94. Heidi,

    We’ve both had lots of corporate dealings. When was it ever NOT the case that the truth couldn’t get you fired? I can’t think of ANY industry where that is the case. Comics are hardly unique there.

    And yes, I respectfully disagree. I think you and Rich are both terrific writers, and I know you’re not evil demons delighting in the pain of others. But you both are critics in your work, and bless the honest critic. Neither of you has held your tongue in your columns when you found something you felt was untoward.

    Why is it that that same scrutiny can’t be applied to what you guys do?

  95. Sorry, “when was it ever NOT the case that the truth COULD get you fired,” I meant to say.

    It’s EARLY on the West coast! :)

  96. Ali P says:

    I think the answer is that the comics industry needs Rich (or someone like him), to keep it honest, so that those with influence and power will know that there’s a way for any information about dodgy stuff to be put in the public eye, but Rich needs Gail (or someone like her) to keep tabs on him too.

    It’s all nicely self-regulating.

    Although, you should hear some of the stuff that goes around in comics’ gossip cirlces that Rich *doesn’t* print!

  97. “I just don’t see it, I guess. There may have been a few heated words, but I do find it odd that so many people find the idea of even bringing up the QUESTION is somehow uncouth and not to be tolerated.

    Have we really elevated the gossip column to THAT level of sacred untouchability?

    Seems silly. Rich certainly isn’t above casting stones. Why can’t it be asked if the house is glass?”

    These comments, right here, are pretty inflammatory. It’s jumped up to fantastic hyperbole really quick, to a point that’s really not called for on either side.

    Asking the question isn’t the issue. It’s that everyone’s seemed to have gone all in on the answers that’s just making me displeased. Not to mention it’s exactly the kind of spectacle that becomes “newsworthy” to sites like Rich’s.

    It’s not something I personally like seeing from creators. And it’s gotten to the silly point, thanks to the powerz of teh interwebs.

    The question’s been asked, but there’s no way anyone’s going to provide a definite, satisfying answer. This site is not going away. Bleeding Cool is not going away. Twitter is not going away, Blogspot is not going away, the whole of the world wide web is not going away.

    Do we need tabloid, gossip journalism in comics? That’s entirely subjective. No one’s going to step in once the answer’s been reached and render a judgement. Having the opinion on it is fine, stating said opinion is fine, but the way this is playing out is just leaving me as a reader kind of uncomfortable on the sidelines. Going back to what I was saying earlier, if this was going on as a real life back-and-forth at a con, I’d get to the point of unease and probably slip away.

    I like Bleeding Cool. I like lots of sites like it. I like CBR. And above all else, I like comics. I don’t need any of them. I read them for entertainment. If they went away I’d be disappointed, but I’d eventually find another outlet for my free time.

    Is that a good answer?

  98. Bleah, I’ve really said all I’ve got to say on this topic. It’s not like it’s the Crisis in the Sudan or something.

    The truth is, with Heidi’s column in particular, it would absolutely suck if it went away. And I’ve enjoyed a lot of Rich’s pieces too. I’m like any reader, there’s stuff I like and stuff I like less. But I wouldn’t want to see either column go away, and sometimes Heidi is simply my favorite commentator on comics.

    I think the gossip stuff is unnecessary and sometimes goes way over the line (not speaking of Heidi or Rich here, but rather the whole total of those commentators who occasionally cover gossip in comics), but at the same time, it’s not exactly a crime on the scale of killing puppies.

    So, hoping everyone, myself included, keeps a reasoned and reasonable perspective about this, I wish you all a good day. If I have somehow offended anyone, I have to say that was honestly not my intent.

  99. The Beat says:

    Gail:

    Yeah, of course we should be scrutinized. And of course bad mouthing gets people fired everywhere. What Dwayne was doing WASN”T bad mouthing, just talking about his work in an honest, candid way. It was the flip side of the hype, noise and pandering promo that seems to be what readers want these days. I have absolutely ZERO knowledge of the exact details of the whole McDuffie saga, but I do know Dwayne, and obviously, his talents weren’t needed on the JLA that DC wanted to produce.

    I think people should go back and read Dwayne’s comments. They are not in any way salacious or angry. “Oh I couldn’t use character b and that’s frustrating.” THIS is a fireable offense? To use your serial killer analogy, I guess it’s okay if you kill people as long as no one finds out.

    Of course, you did not say that. Because killing is wrong. Once something becomes a moral outrage it becomes news. At the end of the day, it is hard to find an element of moral outrage in keeping Streaky out of the JLA. Once again, we are trying to find the line where personal gossip becomes newsworthy. Sterling Gates goes to dinner and his friend is an asshole. Not news. Sterling Gates goes to dinner and his friend is an asshole AND he gets a job in comics. NEWS. Or a least an anecdote that has been related many times.

    Is there a moral outrage in a writer losing his job because he couldn’t put streaky in the JLA? That is where the debate lies.

    I have some urgent matters elsewhere so I won’t be able to post here for a while, but I will be monitoring the comments for any comments that go over the line.

  100. “The truth is, with Heidi’s column in particular, it would absolutely suck if it went away. And I’ve enjoyed a lot of Rich’s pieces too. I’m like any reader, there’s stuff I like and stuff I like less. But I wouldn’t want to see either column go away, and sometimes Heidi is simply my favorite commentator on comics.

    I think the gossip stuff is unnecessary and sometimes goes way over the line (not speaking of Heidi or Rich here, but rather the whole total of those commentators who occasionally cover gossip in comics), but at the same time, it’s not exactly a crime on the scale of killing puppies.”

    That was a much cooler response. You still got your point across, but it was done in a much more awesome way. Thank you for that!

  101. “These comments, right here, are pretty inflammatory. It’s jumped up to fantastic hyperbole really quick, to a point that’s really not called for on either side”

    Really?

    I honestly can say I don’t read them that way and didn’t intend them that way. The glass house and stone throwing thing is THAT inflammatory? I think of it as so commonplace as to be virtually toothless.

    I certainly separate Twitter from a site where people are paid for their columns. No one is trying to stop people from talking in either case, but I don’t see anyone even condemning social network sites in the slightest, so I’m not sure where that comes from. But most columnists, if they are paid at all, are paid by the hit, at least that has been my experience.

    Look, I hate gossip. I just think it’s a sick self-perpetuating thing in society that, I agree, is not going away soon. But I certainly don’t place myself ABOVE it. I’ve done it, I’ll do it in the future, I’m no different from anyone else. Beyond that, I broke in by writing parody columns that almost certainly hurt some people’s feelings and that’s just the other side of the same ugly and selfish coin. I am not trying to present myself as superior in any way. I just think that these columns are unnecessary. However, and I’ve said this a million times over the years, if we have to have these things (which we don’t), then it’s better that someone with some integrity do them. And it might as well be well-written at the same time.

    And Heidi, I of course know you wouldn’t allow anyone to be spoken to like that here. I certainly didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

  102. Gail: Why is it that that same scrutiny can’t be applied to what you guys do?

    Rich: I think it can be and it should be. But if I respond to such scrutiny, getting told I’m oversensitive for simply replying and that I just don’t want people to scrutinise me seems illogical.

  103. Captain.

  104. “I have some urgent matters elsewhere so I won’t be able to post here for a while, but I will be monitoring the comments for any comments that go over the line. ”

    Again, I am certainly not offended by anything anyone’s said here…I’m sure we’re fine.

    As I said, most of the time, there’s no denying it, the creator is ultimately the one who has to bear responsibility for bad behavior or careless words or hasty rudenesses that they would much rather forget. The fact that I believe there is no value in making other people’s foibles and poor judgment into headlines for hits doesn’t absolve us of whatever dumbass thing we did to end up on Rich’s radar.

    I’ve been embarrassed by stuff in Rich’s column a few times and in those cases, I take that blame myself, because I said whatever it was he quoted, and I am too dumb and stubborn to learn. But even RICH has expressed regret about his story with Dwayne, Heidi. If you took the mostly harmless grousing of any writer over a long period, cherry-picked the worst comments and made them a little context-less story, can you really be surprised that it looks more offensive and angry than it was intended to be?

    Dwayne is a great creator and one of my heroes. If he says it’s not Rich’s fault, I’ll go along with it, but it sure LOOKS like a perfect example of how this gossip crap causes a lot of pain for no good reason except hits for Rich’s site. No one was going to look at that story as written and say, “Wow, we really need to give Dwayne more freedom!” as has occasionally been thrown out there as justification and it’s naive to think otherwise.

    Again, this is hardly a blood feud. I will agree with Nash that it’s easy to hyperbolize on both sides. For the record, there are no monsters or villains here, just some people with a mild disagreement. But it IS somewhat amusing how few creators have chimed in here, considering what is actually said about this topic at every convention or store appearance I have ever been to. ;)

  105. “All that said, it’s salacious, it’s titillating to hear about the problems and foibles of people, even the fake celebrities that produce comics. I get that.”

    This is a theme of Gail’s that continues to interest me….that the “celebrity factor” of the comics biz is somehow false or wildly overblown. Anyone familiar with the comic industry of the last decade (hell, the last quarter century) can tell you there’s been a *dramatic* shift toward creator-centric marketing as the people who MAKE the comics become as big (or bigger) factors than the properties themselves in promoting a book.

    • Creator credits are displayed prominently on covers, and, in some cases, worked into the title’s logo (i.e. “Kurt Busiek’s Astro City”).

    • Creators willingly participate in countless high profile print and audio interviews all up and down the comic book news and blog spectrum.

    • Creator signings and exclusives are STILL the subject of big convention news and publisher press releases, which usually involve the willing and enthusiastic cooperation/participation of the creator him/herself.

    • Creators are invited to convention panels and comic shop signings.

    • Celebrities of other media are increasingly invited to write comic books, importing more of their own celebrity into an already burgeoning celebrity class of comic book creators.

    Like it or not, Gail, you participate in an industry that had made celebrities (and, in many cases, millionaires) out of its creators. Sure…of lesser “wattage” than national tv, music, sports, or movie celebrities, but celebrities in every sense of the word within the comic book industry. So I’m not buying the notion that celebrity has somehow (or unfairly) been foisted upon you. Your modesty and humility are admirable, but at the same time, you’re not fooling anyone by insisting the celebrity hype-machine you work for (and willingly participate in) hasn’t made you and your fellow A-list creators “stars” within our peculiar little pop-culture universe. You doth protest too much!

  106. Gail: “fat ugly whore who only writes for other whores.”

    Rich: I’ve finally found what you were referring to here. A post that said “Gail. Nobody’s saying you have to put up with some pedantic little misanthrope up and calling you something along the lines of a “fat ugly whore who writes about nothing but perverts, lezbos and other whores”, or other trolling like that. An outright, unmitigated, unwarranted attack that can clearly be defined as trolling should be punted.” I don’t see that as the same thing.

    Gail: it’s not fate that goes rooting around the internet looking for some dirt to fill a column with. It takes will.

    Rich: Most of it comes to me.

  107. Michael: It seemed fairly clear to me: Readers have a right to know what goes on behind the scenes at the companies that make their favorite comics. Especially the stuff that directly affects the content of those comics.

    Rich: Just to confirm, readers do not have a right to know anything. Comic book companies are not the government.

  108. Rich – clear this up. Are you paid by the hit? Do hit rates affect your earnigns at all?

  109. “Rich: I think it can be and it should be. But if I respond to such scrutiny, getting told I’m oversensitive for simply replying and that I just don’t want people to scrutinise me seems illogical. ”

    That makes zero sense, Rich. No one questions your ability to respond. We know you WILL respond, and I knew exactly HOW you would respond, and that you would post links to it and aggressively promote it and how your posters would respond. We talked about in advance and it went down exactly as predicted. That is your right.

    But the right to respond certainly doesn’t disallow that that response might INDEED be oversensitive, as your endless emails to me trying to spin what you do, after I told you repeatedly to stop emailing, would seem to indicate. Each time I asked you to stop, you simply increased the number of emails. I won’t repeat what was in them, but you don’t see that as oversensitive?

    And obviously, as someone who HAS posted in haste and been ‘thin-skinned’ a good many times herself, I don’t condemn from some lofty position, but as someone who has made that same mistake. The difference is, you seem to desperately want to cling to something that clearly isn’t true–that you are never fazed by criticism. I have found that to be the opposite in my many years of knowing you.

    As always, you criticize others for behaviors you yourself display. Doesn’t that seem a LITTLE weird to you?

  110. Rich.

    This is why I have lost so much respect for you in the past year. This post is so incredibly disingenuous, and you let yourself off the hook so easily.

    “Gail: “fat ugly whore who only writes for other whores.”

    Rich: I’ve finally found what you were referring to here. A post that said “Gail. Nobody’s saying you have to put up with some pedantic little misanthrope up and calling you something along the lines of a “fat ugly whore who writes about nothing but perverts, lezbos and other whores”, or other trolling like that. An outright, unmitigated, unwarranted attack that can clearly be defined as trolling should be punted.” I don’t see that as the same thing.”

    Wow, I got the quote wrong. But the actual quote is worse. And yes, Rich, I get that the friend you called a ‘bi-polar twat’ can do no wrong in your eyes, at least when it comes to insulting creators. But if you think that that comment, made in heat, was not aimed square at me as an insult, you sir, are being chumped. Right after this same gentleman called me a pig and a cow, you defended him (and deleted his posts) by telling me that he didn’t really mean it as he obviously did (he in fact joked about it on Twitter), and that he was simply making ‘barnyard references.’ And then you went on to say how articulate and smart he was. The message is clear to both the posters and to me. Criticism of your column is not to be tolerated and every instance of a pro responding will bring this guy like a rabid attack weasel. Which you seem fine with, in fact, you wax quite rhapsodic about it…your comments about it were oddly poetic.

    You believe whatever you want, Rich. Please don’t expect others to be as deliberately naive. When a troll follows you around and posts endless hateful stuff about you, it takes either deceit or delusion to pretend it’s not happening.

    “Gail: it’s not fate that goes rooting around the internet looking for some dirt to fill a column with. It takes will.

    Rich: Most of it comes to me. ”

    Oh, good lord. Rich, you know we talked about this, how we both have a tendency to make things worse at times by saying stupid things? And we both said we were trying to do better but failing?

    That is you, with this post. What difference does it make if someone sends it to you or you go digging through the garbage? I am sure that MOST of the Enquirer’s stories come from anonymous tips from gleeful lurkers at this point. But to get to that point, they had to dig through a lot of stinky, greasy dumpsters. For you to get to where others make you aware of every creator misstep, you had to go out and find those links yourself first and write a weekly gossip column for years on end. Those lurkers didn’t show up from heaven.

    The moral difference between the two conditions is pretty frickin’ thin, anyway.

    I think your column almost defends itself better WITHOUT you doing a story every time, posting links everywhere, and posting stuff like this.

  111. “That was a much cooler response. You still got your point across, but it was done in a much more awesome way. Thank you for that! ”

    Well, thank you…but…uh…DON’T READ MY NEXT RESPONSES. :)

    The truth is, I’ve said this stuff for ages, both good and bad. I was good friends with Rich and defended him often to people who had been hurt by items in his column. Heidi I still consider a good friend and a bit of a hero of mine as well.

    Why it’s suddenly big news (I just read one of the dumbest articles ever about it in some crap online newspaper), I have no idea.

    “MID-LEVEL CREATOR NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD OF DISLIKES GOSSIP! STOP THE PRESSES!”

    Seems a little silly.

    But NONE of this would have happened without Rich making such a huge fuss, as he always does when he can bring hits to his column. HE made himself the story. I didn’t even mention his name, for pete’s sake.

  112. “It seemed fairly clear to me: Readers have a right to know what goes on behind the scenes at the companies that make their favorite comics. Especially the stuff that directly affects the content of those comics.”

    Rich being disingenuous again. If ‘it affects the content of those comics,’ is the criteria for gossip being newsworthy, most of Rich’s gossip would not make the cut. Two creators arguing online who don’t have work for the same company? Blind items about two creators hooking up? Really?

    Someone will have to explain to me how that ‘affects the content of those comics.’ It’s sheer nonsense, just one of the rote excuses that’s been used for years that makes no sense whatsoever.

    Bleah.

    As always, I hadn’t intended to respond to all this stuff. In this case, the complete disingenuousness of the canned and oft-repeated justifications are worse than the actual gossip in question.

    Hopefully someone else can provide a more objective perspective. Heidi, come back and tell me what I got wrong, would you? I’m starting to feel like I’m picking on a leper.

    :)

  113. “So I’m not buying the notion that celebrity has somehow (or unfairly) been foisted upon you. Your modesty and humility are admirable, but at the same time, you’re not fooling anyone by insisting the celebrity hype-machine you work for (and willingly participate in) hasn’t made you and your fellow A-list creators “stars” within our peculiar little pop-culture universe. You doth protest too much! ”

    Trust me, I know what you’re saying and I take no offense. I struggle with it all the time. But ‘willingly participate in’ is not completely accurate. I understand a certain amount of publicity and promotion is necessary. But I dread interviews, I feel completely out-of-place at cons and appearances and always have. I don’t even really know how to accept a complement properly after all this time.

    And I find nothing funnier than those pros who have somehow convinced themselves that writing comics makes them a rockstar, may they be boiled in their own hubris (there are some who carry it off, like Grant Morrison and Neal Gaiman, but if you inked an issue of Iron Man, you are not somehow transformed to a rock star and you only get my scorn if you think you are).

    I get that we are ‘stars’ in a tiny tiny niche market product. It’s delightful to meet readers or peers who enjoyed the work. The rest, bleah, it’s mostly pretty silly and we DO make too much of it. Even writing that ‘stars’ thing seems hilarious and pretentious to me.

  114. Brian Davison says:

    gail Says:

    08/25/09 at 9:45 am
    “Bleah, I’ve really said all I’ve got to say on this topic. It’s not like it’s the Crisis in the Sudan or something.”

    This was just an hour and a half ago. Apparently, it IS the Crisis in the Sudan.

  115. Off to enjoy the day, best wishes everyone. Despite some crankiness on both sides, I think most everyone knows this isn’t a crisis, it’s more of an intellectual disagreement.

    And those are good to have once in a while, as Heidi pointed out.

    Sorry for monopolizing the thread, off to go white water rafting.

  116. Synsidar says:

    A forced change from one writer to another on a continuing series is more destructive than practically any other change a company can make. Whether the change is a “back to basics” retcon that scraps months to years worth of material, a clumsy attempt to conclude an ongoing storyline and start a new one, or a sudden change in direction that leaves characters more or less intact, the reader is invariably taken out of the story(line). Getting an explanation from someone as to why the change happened, whether or not office politics was involved, is a good thing.

    SRS

  117. Rich: Just to confirm, readers do not have a right to know anything. Comic book companies are not the government.

    So… when I voted for Joe Quesada last November it was a wasted vote?

    Dammit.

  118. The Beat says:

    Okay I’m off to clean my bathroom, and so closing this thread!

    EDITED TO ADD:

    Mark Waid emailed me this comment after the thread was closed and I thought it was a great note to end things on.

    Mark writes:
    Jason to Gail: “At least Rich has done SOME good, have you?”

    Ask John Ostrander, Jason. Or Lea Hernandez. Or me. Or any number of people Gail has worked tirelessly to help over the years in times of crisis, often without thanks. I’m surprised no one has dunned you for this comment yet; the only explanation I can think of is that it’s so ignorant and the answer was so evident that no one thought it was even worth arguing. (I’m stepping in because she’s my pal and your comment made me angry.) You can’t go to a comics newssite anywhere–including Rich’s–without reading about the charity auction drive Gail’s been spearheading to save John Ostrander’s sight. And that’s just one example of the good she’s done.

    Let’s go out there and HELP each other, okay?