Roger Langridge Speaks Out On Quitting Marvel and DC

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By Todd Allen

LangridgeMars 193x300 Roger Langridge Speaks Out On Quitting Marvel and DC

A Langridge Marvel project

Roger Langridge mentioned in a podcast that he was done with Marvel and DC (OK, he wasn’t working with DC… but he’s planning on keeping it that way) a little while back.  The story has popped up again over at the Washington Post’s Comic Riffs blog.  This time out, the emphasis is clearly on Jack Kirby and The Avengers movie.

Post blogger Michael Cavna brings up the boycott Avengers movement and the see it and pledge the Heroes Initiative movement.  Let’s be honest though: given the extreme box office success of Avengers, it’s going to be very hard to convince anyone at Marvel or Disney that there was an impact and it’s just as likely to make the comic fans look inconsequential in the greater scheme of things.  (I’m not belittling Kirby’s treatment, but Marvel is a bottom line business and the bottom line on that movie is looking pretty good.)

Langridge elaborates on his position:

Marvel’s shabby treatment of its founding creators, particularly Jack Kirby, has been a bone of contention for a lot of people since the 1980s, at least, so that underlying sense of discomfort was always there. It was the legal decision against the heirs of Jack Kirby last year that was the thing that made me think, “You know, I probably shouldn’t be doing this.” (Note: Marvel tells Comic Riffs it can’t comment on matters involving Jack Kirby due to ongoing litigation.) The cartoonist Steve Bissette wrote a very articulate and passionate blogpost that was widely circulated at the time of that ruling, and I read it and nodded my head and thought: Yeah, it’s probably time to get out. I didn’t make a big noise about it at the time because the thing I’d just written for Marvel, “John Carter: A Princess of Mars,” hadn’t yet come out, and I didn’t think it was fair to drag my collaborator on that book, Filipe Andrade, down with me if there was a backlash. I didn’t feel it was my place to make that decision for him.

Langridge goes on to point out that all his dealings with Marvel and DC were all pleasant experiences.  The ultimate last straw for him?  Gary Friedrich.

A few months later, there was the business with Marvel taking down Gary Friedrich over his selling of Ghost Rider prints at conventions, which I felt Marvel/Disney dealt with in a much more heavy-handed way than they had to, essentially crushing the guy’s only source of income. At that point I mentioned to my wife, “You know, I really don’t want to do business with these people,” and she very matter-of-factly said: “Well, don’t. You’ve got plenty of work without them.” To her eternal credit.

That’s not too far off how Greg Rucka said he realized it was time to leave DC, a couple years ago:

And Jen kinda slapped me upside the head a couple weeks ago, and said, “dude, you’re making yourself miserable.” And she was right. And I had a moment where I was like, I need to start telling the stories I want to tell again.

(Jen being Jen Van Meter, Rucka’s wife.)

So there you have it, another mainstream media account of the creators rights issues that are lighting up the message boards on the industry sites.  The Kirby story isn’t going away and we’re only going to see more disagreements over Before Watchmen as the release dates near.  Will more creators break ranks and speak out?  Time will tell.

Comments

  1. “And Jen kinda slapped me upside the head a couple weeks ago, and said, “dude, you’re making yourself miserable.” And she was right. And I had a moment where I was like, I need to start telling the stories I want to tell again.”

    How ironic…at least from where I’m sitting.

  2. I am finding it difficult to reconcile my love of Batman and Superman and other superheroes (who, like most of us, I became a fan of as a kid, before I knew about any of this behind-the-scenes stuff) with the apparent mistreatment of creators by the corporate owners of those characters. It’s like, all complicated and stuff. Should I not be drinking out of my Superman coffee mug? Should I not have bought my dad a plastic Thor statue last year??

  3. Honestly (rightly or wrongly) this is a classic media driven issue…I have yet to hear any one of my superhero friends say “wow, that Kirby situation, hunh” or basically ever hear about it other than on blog posts like these.

    The reality is that unless the top guys (and Roger Langridge is not a top guy) all jump ship (and they won’t) then this is effectively a non-issue for the masses (again, rightly or wrongly).

    Like most things, the people with the most to lose are the ones who you need to gain any traction in a movement. But we know that the Kubert’s and Lee’s and Romita’s and on and on have way too much vested interest in the status quo to fight for Kirby’s offspring.

  4. Alex, you’re right about the media-driven thing. I’ve never heard this discussed outside the internet, unless I’ve brought it up, or I overhear someone mention “did you hear about those people protesting this movie??” as I’m sitting in the audience for The Avengers.

    I feel much more comfortable in my Ninja Turtles T-shirt reading my Flaming Carrot comics. At least those guys called all the shots.

  5. Chris Duffy says:

    Alex: Ah, but Roger Langridge IS a top guy to many people. Not to most “superhero friends” maybe, but to many he’s a talented, versatile writer and artist and to those who have met him, a charming and straight-shooting individual. It will have an effect. There are editors who worked with Roger who know him and like him and will have to consider (one way or the other) his decision. There are his fans, who tend to be, frankly, people of intelligence and good taste… Time will tell how big an effect, but it’s the start of something.

  6. Synsidar says:

    What motivates someone to write a superhero series? I’d think it unlikely that he plans to write a Batman or Spider-Man story that’s better or more memorable than any story that’s been written before, or even one that will make a claim to fame for him in the field of writing. Is the primary motivation that there’s a job to be had, and it’s better work than teaching, serving food, or looking at spreadsheets for hours at a time?

    SRS

  7. The problem that I see with all of this is the whole situation that comes with large corporations owning comic book companies. Seriously folks, think about it. Asking Disney to pay back Jack Kirby’s family for his creations(which will then lead to them paying back Roy Thomas, John Romita, Sal Buscema, Steve Englehart, etc., etc., etc.)is like asking the CEO of McDonalds to send you a straw because you didn’t get one with your last drink order. It isn’t going to happen. Ownership is the key to everything because that’s where the money is made. The comics people, who really are just representing the front end of the business, the comics, probably would be happy to work this out, but all of that other revenue goes with the decision, movies, books, television, etc. Its too much to just give away.

    Besides, there are usually 300 people at any convention that want to work within this industry. These creators may be making a statement to internet sites today, but they’re not making any difference in the industry. Every one of these creators can be replaced…easily.

    It’s a frustrating situation, but attempting to fix 50 years of back ownership on a character is just a gigantic lesson in futility. Go ahead and keep quitting the companies that can pay you and you’re eventually just end up self-publishing something and sitting in the artist’s alley of a convention hawking a comic book next to 25 other people doing the same thing. Good luck.

  8. “How ironic…at least from where I’m sitting.”

    Ouch.

  9. RegularSyzedMike says:

    I, too, don’t think Langridge shrugging off DC and Marvel will make much of a dent in their bottom line. It’s already dented! Look at how few people read their comics compared to times passed. They’re burying themselves at this point. They’re just an IP farm for the movie companies.

  10. Al™ says:

    Everyone needs to find their own level of comfort in dealing with large corporations.

    Do I boycott one forever because they have done something I disagree with?

    Do I then extend that to boycotting anything from anyone who ever worked there?

    Where do you stop with this?

  11. >> like asking the CEO of McDonalds to send you a straw because you didn’t get one with your last drink order. It isn’t going to happen.>>

    If you wrote to the CEO of McDonalds asking for a straw because you didn’t get one, they’d likely send you five straws and food coupons.

    When I was a kid, I wrote to Maxwell House, noting that their package copy read ambiguously. They sent me free coffee. My sister wrote to Perdue Farms complaining that there were still some feathers on the chicken; they sent coupons for free chickens.

    I doubt that asking either of them to compensate those who helped create their business would have worked, but asking for straws? I bet you’d get straws, plus.

  12. horatio weisfeld says:

    Ownership is the key to everything because that’s where the money is made. The comics people, who really are just representing the front end of the business, the comics, probably would be happy to work this out, but all of that other revenue goes with the decision, movies, books, television, etc. Its too much to just give away.

    >>
    @JW:
    That sounds right to me.

    Another tragedy for the people in comics past is how little opportunity the industry offered to move ahead into other fields –you could sign a Work-For-Hire, make something for the company (that might turn out to be, in 30 years, 100 million bucks for the company) and find yourself unable to even get a decent hook up from it, short term or long – much less ever make another dime when you creation makes the big media bucks, way down the road.

    My take on the present situation is that the worm maybe slowly turning –creators maybe taking more care in what they sign away (perhaps they have actually been doing so for years) and the corporate cupboard of decent IP is starting to look bare (or/ another way: the lesson of people like Jack Kirby may have EMPOWERED a new breed of artist/writer/capitalist, who has no intention of signing IP work away for peanuts – although they may not be very vocal about it). If this theory is correct then the question (for creators who want to real money from big media) is how long does it take the masters of global media finance to get the idea and devise some truly equitable formula for creators of IP? – and the answer maybe “long indeed”- that’s why we see a 20 million dollar Battleship movie, and other recent movies, that smell to me like IP desperation…lots of executives may lose their jobs, they may become dispirited (and desperate), drinking and drugging, while wondering why they spent all that money on business school when they can’t find anybody left who is ignorant enough to sign their dotted line

    …oh well.

  13. horatio weisfeld says:

    Go ahead and keep quitting the companies that can pay you and you’re eventually just end up self-publishing something and sitting in the artist’s alley of a convention hawking a comic book next to 25 other people doing the same thing. Good luck.

    >>

    I should have added:

    I rather sit in artist alley than out on the street – which is where I think much of this generation of (grossly over accredited) financial / corporate professionals is going to eventually end up.

  14. Maverickman874 says:

    “And Jen kinda slapped me upside the head a couple weeks ago, and said, “dude, you’re making yourself miserable.” And she was right. And I had a moment where I was like, I need to start telling the stories I want to tell again.”

    “How ironic…at least from where I’m sitting.”

    Don’t see the irony. He never said he gave up working on corporate IPs. And the stuff he is working on right now are the stories he wants to write.

  15. MBunge says:

    1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t the intellectual property rules for creators a lot better now than before 1980? I don’t know if they’re on par for what work-for-hire arrangements get you in TV, movies or books, but I think they’re certainly better than when Kirby was toiling away for Marvel in the 1960s.

    2. The vast majority of creators never come up with anything of significant or lasting value. A world where all such creators obsessively shun work-for-hire situtations is not going to be one where that vast majority reap untold riches. It’s going to be a world where they’ll never be anything more than hobbyists.

    3. It’s all well and good for folks to worship at the altar of Kirby now, but I have to wonder if he and his family wouldn’t have been better off if Kirby had maintained a good relationship with Marvel, rather than standing up for what he felt he deserved. Steve Ditko kept getting work at Marvel well into the late 80s and it wasn’t because of some overwhelming public demand for him.

    Mike

  16. “Don’t see the irony.”

    I presume Tony sabella was referring to the fact that Jen van Meter wrote a miniseries starring Black Lightning a few years back — a character he created, under terms that have been contentious.

    So, on that note, the connection between Roger Langridge and Greg Rucka established in the article would be somewhat unfortunate.

  17. horatio weisfeld says:

    MBunge
    Steve Ditko kept getting work at Marvel well into the late 80s and it wasn’t because of some overwhelming public demand for him.

    >>

    @MBunge:

    One could also argue that Ditko was given work, late in the game, on lesser titles, because his name & rep looked good on paper to some editor + every bit of his later stuff is still better (in terms of basic construction) than just about everyone else’s at the time.

    ..so what is your point ? — One should create Spidey for pennies — so you will later, when you are old, be allowed to pencil a few issues of Rom?

  18. Shawn Kane says:

    Personally, I wish Marvel would appease the Kirby heirs in some form because it just seems like the right thing to do. A guy like Langridge writes some good comics but if he were announced to be the guy that’s taking over the X-Men next month, I don’t sales would change much.

    The Jack Kirby and Alan Moore scenarios for both Marvel and DC, while different, are intertwined for the time being. I’d like to know what people who are critical of Marvel and DC think they should do. If Marvel drives a truck to the Kirby children tomorrow and dumps a boatload of money in their front yards would all of the Marvel hate go away? Or would you take your complaints about Marvel and start campaigning for Gary Friedrich or some other creator? If Didio stopped Before Watchmen cold and said that nothing would ever be printed that Alan Moore ever wrote, would the internet be satisfied? I never see a resolution happening in these cases and I think that really it just becomes the guy that hates Marvel defending everything that DC does and the guy that hates DC or Dan Didio or both bashes every move DC makes or the independent reader that hates superhero comics because they take away the sophistication of what he reads bashing both companies. There’s good debate and then there’s just a pissing contest. It’s more interesting when creator’s come in and give their two cents worth but for fans, what’s the resolution?

  19. Synsidar says:

    2. The vast majority of creators never come up with anything of significant or lasting value.

    In the case of Marvel and DC characters, a reader shouldn’t be able to look at a 2012 story about Iron Man, Spider-Man, or any other character from the 1960s, draw a straight line between the two, and conclude that they’re exactly the same. For the story to have some meaning, the writer has to do something new that a reader hasn’t seen before. Develop an aspect of the hero that hasn’t been seen before; develop a conflict that hasn’t been seen before; develop a plot with elements and ramifications that haven’t been seen before. In a story that demonstrates creativity, the characters that the writer uses are more ideas that he makes use of than they are existing characters with pre-written lines.

    If a writer does produce a story with nothing new in it, he can and should be damned for his failure to be creative as thoroughly as he’s criticized for using someone else’s creation. In the case of Azzarello’s Wonder Woman, conversely, making her the daughter of Zeus is such a fundamental change that the differences between his Wonder Woman and other ones now outweigh the similarities. The story possibilities and her themes are much different. Writers could do much the same things with other characters, presumably, if they wanted to and the publishers allowed them to.

    SRS

  20. Mikael says:

    The fact that DC is still being listed as one of the companies he’s quitting shows how poorly handled this “story” is. Disclaimer or no, it’s shoddy reporting. I’m not surprised.

  21. Maverickman874 says:

    I presume Tony sabella was referring to the fact that Jen van Meter wrote a miniseries starring Black Lightning a few years back — a character he created, under terms that have been contentious.

    So, on that note, the connection between Roger Langridge and Greg Rucka established in the article would be somewhat unfortunate.

    @ But it’s not like Ms. Van Meter and Rucka have completely renounced working for corporate IPs. I read Rucka’s comment as him being tired of rehashing the same and writing something new.

  22. I’d also like to announce that I’m not going to work for DC either.

  23. @Mikael:
    Worth underscoring: That is Roger’s own characterization, and illuminating as such. As he said in the podcast (even if everything from Batman to Bizarro feels like a distant memory): “Marvel and DC are turning out quite problematic from an ethical view to *continue* working with [for me]….”

    Thanks,
    — M.C.

  24. Chris Hero says:

    I think it’s humorous how unfamiliar people are with Roger Langridge. He’s easily one of the best talents currently working in comics and will make many wonderful contributions for years to come. Marvel and DC not getting any of those contributions is going to hurt them in the long run.

  25. >> The vast majority of creators never come up with anything of significant or lasting value. A world where all such creators obsessively shun work-for-hire situtations is not going to be one where that vast majority reap untold riches. It’s going to be a world where they’ll never be anything more than hobbyists.>>

    Some odd logical leaps here, especially considering that a world where creators embrace work-for-hire situations isn’t one where the vast majority of them reap untold riches either, so it’s a strange point of comparison.

    But on the other hand, the world of prose writing is one in which most writers don’t do work-for-hire, and while it’s certainly true that the vast majority of novelists don’t reap untold riches, the ones who do are the ones who own their own work. The ones who do largely work-for-hire don’t.

    So a world in which comics creators follow a similar path might be one where we see more books that do well for their creators and publishers, rather than just the latter, so that the co-creator of Spider-Man winds up being praised for rocking the boat lightly enough to retain the ability to draw for page rate until his late 60s, as opposed to that rabble-rouser Kirby, who got to write and edit his own stuff and last did page-rate comics for Marvel or DC in his…late 60s.

    I dunno. Doesn’t look like Ditko was a whole lot better off. And it’s possible that Roberson, Langridge and others who decide not to work with Marvel and DC aren’t making that choice because they think it’ll topple those companies, or because they think it’s the road to untold wealth, but because they just don’t want to, and figure they can make a living fine without doing so.

  26. Speaking as a costumer, getting new books from Roger Langridge and Chris Roberson from IDW and other publishers instead of Marvel or DC isn’t a big hardship. Those people eager to see Roger do work-for-hire can even buy IDW’s POPEYE series, which is just great so far.

    In other news, Stephen King doesn’t write for Doubleday any more, but it isn’t hurting him any either. If declining to work for a publisher or two was a career-killer in any field, I think that’d be an indication of a problem with the field that should be addressed, not an economic situation to celebrate and defend.

    Luckily, that doesn’t seem to be the case in comics.

  27. In terms of the worm turning slowly for creators, consider this: what character has emerged from DC or Marvel in the last 20 years that has the momentum to be considered being another “Avengers” (or even Blade) level success in the future?

    I’m pretty sure the answer is none, although I’d guess some Vertigo properties have potential – if they aren’t snafued by Warners, who seem to have no idea how to transition (or pick, for that matter) these properties into viable films or TV shows.

    Publishers only publish Spider-man and Batman books because they generate the numbers, yet overall sales are off a cliff – it’s insane that the direct market is bigger than the newsstand or subscription bases.

    For the bottom line, an umpteenth Avengers book is easier to rationalize than launching (and more importantly, marketing) something truly new and potentially as valuable as Spidey in the long run.

    At the big two, neither creators or publishers are interested in introducing new concepts (I say this in a general sense – I’m sure some inker has a swell idea for a hot new series that they are planning to self-pub).

    Just can’t see how this incestuous situation resolves itself once the truly talented get that one great Spidey / Batman / JLA / Thor story out of their system and walk away to another venue where they can sow their oats.

    Considering that DC and Marvel are both viewed as sources for developing new copyrights/ideas by their respective corporate owners, you’d think the relatively low R&D cost of producing some comics that don’t have to break even in the first six months would be encouraged. Yet there’s no evidence of it.

    Is this so hard to see from inside these comic book companies?

    It seems only a matter of time until the movie studios start reaping success from the non DC-Marvel properties (Mark Millar anyone?) and DC especially starts looking very stale in that regard (although it’s hard to imagine it being much stale-er in the movie arena, I suppose a series of crap Batman movies could do it).

    It just feels like a short distance before the big two lose their power/relevance as delivery systems for anything worthwhile to their owners.

  28. Shawn Kane says:

    “Marvel and DC not getting any of those contributions is going to hurt them in the long run.”

    I enjoyed his Thor: Mighty Avenger but it’s not like Alonso or Brevoort hurried to replace Fraction on Thor with him. That said, I wish they would have.

  29. Jesse says:

    Geembeast, I hear you and stupidly obvious point here. I work with a bunch of other professionals with kids etc. make very good money. All their kids are into Avengers buy masks toys etc. I don’t think one has bought a comic. They feel compelled to tell me since I am “into comics”. I don’t think Disney or Warners is thinking comic revenue matters much for these licenses.

  30. >> In terms of the worm turning slowly for creators, consider this: what character has emerged from DC or Marvel in the last 20 years that has the momentum to be considered being another “Avengers” (or even Blade) level success in the future?>>

    Well, SANDMAN is just outside that window. So is DEADPOOL. LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN?

    RED?

    I certainly wouldn’t mind if it was ARROWSMITH.

    kdb

  31. Isn’t LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN full of characters that were created by other writers but are now “okay” to use (or “own”) because they’ve fallen into public domain? Kind of funny how it becomes okay to make Hyde a rapist once the character falls into public domain.

    It’s the double-standards in all of this that just drives me crazy.

  32. Kind of funny how it becomes okay to make Hyde a rapist once the character falls into public domain

    I don’t get it; how is that funny?

    Robert Louis Stevenson died in 1894. 1894. One hundred and five years before the first issue of a League of Extraordinary Gentleman comic book came out.

    Alan Moore is standing right there, hale and hearty, saying, “Hey, please don’t do that comic book, okay?”

    It boggles my mind how anyone thinks those two situations are the least bit comparable.

  33. @Maverickman874: “But it’s not like Ms. Van Meter and Rucka have completely renounced working for corporate IPs.”

    I wasn’t entering an argument, just explaining the connection I think Tony Isabella was referring to earlier.

  34. Hey, Roger Langridge, fixed your slightly inaccurate statement for you:

    “A few months later, there was the business with Marvel taking down Gary Friedrich over his selling of Ghost Rider prints at conventions, which I felt Marvel/Disney dealt with in a much more heavy-handed way than they had to [EVEN THOUGH HE WAS SUING THEM FOR OWNERSHIP OF GHOST RIDER], essentially crushing the guy’s only source of income.”

    If you want to assert that Marvel should not have gone after their legal opponent in that fashion, that’s fine; a moral argument can be made for that. But it’s important to keep it clear that Marvel didn’t suddenly come down on Friedrich for no reason whatever, particularly when making a statement for the press.

  35. Anyone who brings up the “But he made Hyde a rapist!!” line or argument is gonna get banned, okay?

    You know, If RL Stevenson were writing today with our loosened standards of propriety, I’m sure he would have made Mr. Hyde a rapist too. Mr. Hyde was wack!

  36. >> Kind of funny how it becomes okay to make Hyde a rapist once the character falls into public domain.>>

    Nothing funny about it.

    It’s the public domain. You can make Mr. Hyde a Marvel super-villain or an Anglican priest if you like.

    >> It’s the double-standards in all of this that just drives me crazy.>>

    There’s no double standard there. Alan Moore has never once suggested that once his characters are in the public domain, you can’t do anything with them. Nor are there any PD characters I know of that the creators expected to have reverted to them by this point.

    It’s odd — Moore doesn’t complain about other writers using Tom Strong or John Constantine or the Black Mercy or other stuff that he created under a deal that meant the company would own them forever. He complains about Watchmen because it was a different deal. And yet people still think that “this situation is just like that situation” is an unassailable argument to make, even when the situations aren’t actually alike at all, and the differences are easy to see.

    So clearly, Roger Langridge must be a dope for not wanting to work for Marvel because Alan Moore used a public domain character (in a way that’s pretty accurate to that character). Quoi?

    kdb

  37. Kurt – I think we can make good arguments that Red & LOEG were created / encouraged outside (perhaps even DESPITE) of the DC editorial system. You could possibly even add Sandman, but why get crazy? Deadpool (& Cable) were introduced more than 20 years ago (jesus I’m old).

    Deadpool seemed to flourish despite Marvel’s lack of or sagging interest for over ten years before it eventually caught fire, seemingly due to fan pressure.

    The point is, whether in the last 3 or 21 years, no one is pushing a great new idea at the big 2. Yeah, there have been some great stories told in that time – but new characters that will have the momentum to carry a cartoon or movie? I don’t see it.

    And since that is the business both of these companies are in (besides licensing underoos designs), why are they acting like they ARE publishers first, idea centers second?

    Is it because there are still bean-counters who insist they do or because creators are no longer giving them the good stuff, because the cost of doing so has proven too high time after time after time?

  38. >> I think we can make good arguments that Red & LOEG were created / encouraged outside (perhaps even DESPITE) of the DC editorial system.>>

    LEAGUE, certainly. RED, not so much. The DC editorial system at the time included Wildstorm.

    >> You could possibly even add Sandman, but why get crazy?>>

    You really can’t. SANDMAN was created under the DC editorial system. If you’re going to disqualify books because Karen Berger invited someone to pitch stuff, and a suggested revival of an existing DC property led to something new, then you’re stretching way too far.

    What you can disqualify SANDMAN for is that it’s over 20 years old.

    >> Deadpool (& Cable) were introduced more than 20 years ago (jesus I’m old).>>

    Yeah, Deadpool’s two years younger than Sandman, but it’s still 21 years ago.

    >> The point is, whether in the last 3 or 21 years, no one is pushing a great new idea at the big 2.>>

    I dunno. I co-created a book that’s having its 15th anniversary at present (and a title change!), and I think it counts as a new idea, even if I used mostly existing characters.

    I think FABLES is a great idea. I think ARROWSMITH is pretty good. I think MAJOR BUMMER was a pretty damn good idea. And I could go on — you were looking for movie-franchise possibilities, not great new ideas. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF SHADE movie someday, but it’s hard to guarantee anything ahead of time.

    >> And since that is the business both of these companies are in (besides licensing underoos designs), why are they acting like they ARE publishers first, idea centers second? Is it because there are still bean-counters who insist they do or because creators are no longer giving them the good stuff, because the cost of doing so has proven too high time after time after time? >>

    I’m not sure I buy your premise, but then, I created a variety of things at Marvel and DC in the past 20 years — I don’t think the Power Company has movie success written all over it,* but I wouldn’t have said Deadpool did, either, years back. Who knows what the future might bring?

    I think the reasons we don’t see new successful characters at Marvel or DC much has less to do with he publishers not wanting them or creators holding back, but with the fact that the established universes are crowded stages, and new characters, even good ones, tend to be lost in the crowd. Which is one reason Vertigo has been better at launching new series than DC proper — they usually launch them on their own stages, not as part of the crowded universe.

    Twenty years from now, maybe there’ll be an ULTRA GIRL TV series on the Disney Channel, or a HITMAN series on Showtime or something, and people will be saying, “Yeah, but what was created in the _last_ 20 years that’ll have that kind of success?” You never know.

    I think the Big Two have problems, but even if they went on a “Let’s get great new characters” drive tomorrow, I bet most of them would fail; not because of desire or creators fobbing off shoddy workmanship, but because it’s a tough market and launching in-universe new properties is tougher still.

    I wouldn’t dispute your overall point that Marvel and DC aren’t the font of creativity they were when their stages were relatively empty, but I think the reasons why not are multiple and complex. If all it took was a company decision and a creator with a hot idea, we’d see a reasonably steady stream of new hot characters at both companies. But it’s not that simple.

    kdb

    *although, just before it came out, one movie producer asked a DC exec about the rights, and the DC exec told them DC didn’t publish any book of that name or concept. So it goes.

  39. MBunge “2. The vast majority of creators never come up with anything of significant or lasting value. A world where all such creators obsessively shun work-for-hire situtations is not going to be one where that vast majority reap untold riches. It’s going to be a world where they’ll never be anything more than hobbyists.”

    Warren Ellis has pointed out that Iron Man 3 is going to be based off of his Iron Man Extremis series. He won’t be getting any credit or money from it. Which he is okay with as he knew what he was getting into.

    Meanwhile Ellis creator owned series Red is getting a sequel. Which he gets credit for and quite a hefty sum, despite it getting farther from the source material.

    Then you Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, Mark Millar’s Kick Ass, Ben Templesmith’s & Steve Niles’s 30 Days of Night and Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim. All sorts of various degrees of success, with Scott Pilgrim being a lot more cult than blockbuster success. Still in each case the creators likely saw a pay-check in the hundreds of thousands to possibly even in the million dollar range.

    Still, nothing compared to the volume of creator series being made these days, but with with the number of comic book movies being made these days and the level that special effects are at, it is possible that someone might luck out with their creator owned series.

    Greg Rucka who is mentioned in the article almost had his series Queen & Country made into a film. Of course, even when these projects never get out of development hell, they still get a paycheck for someone buying the rights to the property.

    So not “untold riches” but still a chance of more money if a property gets adapted rather than doing work-for-hire.

  40. Queen and Countryhasn’t been made into a TV show or film yet, but Rucka’s Whiteout WAS turned into a film…

  41. Shawn Kane says:

    Alan Moore is standing right there, hale and hearty, saying, “Hey, please don’t do that comic book, okay?”

    Caleb,
    What about Dave Gibbons, who seemingly doesn’t have a problem with it? I’m not going to buy it but I do read your blog so I know how you feel about Before Watchmen. Alot of people are slagging the people involved due to Alan Moore’s protests but what about the guy who provided the art?

  42. Chris Hero says:

    @Shawn Kane

    The fact you’re comparing Langridge to Fraction based only on Thor comics produced is kinda sad. You really owe it to yourself to expand your reading. Fraction has never made anything as creatively rich as Snarked, and I’m including all Fraction’s pre-Marvel work.

    And it really doesn’t matter what Gibbons has to say about Watchmen if his co-creator is like, “No, please don’t make those comics.” Likewise, it wouldn’t matter if Moore was okay with DC publishing new Watchmen comics and Gibbons wasn’t. That’s the way contracts work. It would matter if one gave power of attorney to the other, but that’s not what they intended. Nevermind, this point is too nuanced when people just want to hate on Moore because Moore doesn’t like Geoff Johns or whatever.

  43. Shawn,

    Well, if Moore and Gibbons were a married couple who invited me to their house for dinner, and Moore said, “Can you take your shoes off here in the foyer?” and Gibbons didn’t say anything, or if I said to him, “Do I really have to take my shoes off?” and he just kind of shrugged or even said, “No, you can leave ‘em on if you want…” I’d still feel like a jerk because I know one of the people whose house I was visiting asked me not to do something and I did it anyway.

    And DC is the bank who owns the mortgage…? Analogies!

    Anyway, as you know, from a simple perspective of manners, I think it’s highly uncool for the “Before Watchmen” creators to proceed knowing Moore would rather they didn’t. I think it would be different if Gibbons were writing and/or drawing more Watchmen, but he’s not…he simply provided a half-hearted “Yeah, that’s fine, whatever” quote to the initial announcement.

  44. Cory!! Strode says:

    >>It’s odd — Moore doesn’t complain about other writers using Tom Strong or John Constantine or the Black Mercy or other stuff that he created under a deal that meant the company would own them forever. He complains about Watchmen because it was a different deal. And yet people still think that “this situation is just like that situation” is an unassailable argument to make, even when the situations aren’t actually alike at all, and the differences are easy to see.

    Kurt, I love you, but I disagree with you slightly. Moore has said things around the lines of feeling the industry in bankrupt creatively because they keep bringing back his old ideas (like Mojo and other Green Lantern ideas for example).

    I take it that he’s saying it in the same way Kirby did, but Kirby was more nuanced when he would tell people that he didn’t mind if they used his characters, but wouldn’t it be better if they created their own like he did?

    And, I agree with them both.

  45. Sean Murphy says:

    “Personally, I wish Marvel would appease the Kirby heirs in some form because it just seems like the right thing to do”.

    We have no idea if they tried to do that and were blocked by the Kirby’s lawyer. As reported on this site just about a month ago, the lawyer for Siegel-Shuster, Marc Toberoff, appears to have a significant financial stake in that case resulting in the heirs being granted the copyright (as compared to a cash settlement).

    Marvel has no reason to have this case drag out, particularly when they are looking at a Avengers franchise that may have legs for years to come. I’m sure the heirs would be satisfied with a big check. But one has to wonder if, given the deal which apparently exists with the Siegel-Shuster heirs, the well-off Kirby lawyer has any incentive to agree to a cash settlement.

  46. Shawn Kane says:

    Chris and Caleb,
    Thanks for your feedback.

    Chris,
    Even though I do read some other comic genres, I’m a long time superhero fan but I’ll check Snarked out.

    Caleb,
    I see your point. I bought Watchmen when it came out (original collected edition) and I loved it but I’ve never held it with any particular reverance beyond “Hey you should read this”. I tend to think Kirby got more of a raw deal than Moore. Moore is acclaimed as the Greatest Comic Book (or Graphic Novel depending on the snottiness of the source) Writer of His Age by media beyond comics readers. I don’t feel Jack received the same respect when he was alive.
    I realize it’s apples and oranges to an extent but If Stan Lee= Jack Kirby as creators of the Marvel Universe then why doesn’t Alan Moore = Dave Gibbons as creators of Watchmen? I’d probably have more sympathy for Alan Moore if Dave Gibbons were as against it as Moore is.

  47. @Cory!! Strode: “Moore has said things around the lines of feeling the industry in bankrupt creatively because they keep bringing back his old ideas (like Mojo and other Green Lantern ideas for example).”

    But the point was that Moore objects to the WATCHMEN sequels on moral grounds, because he thinks he got stiffed by DC on that particular deal. You’re conflating two different issues.

  48. Cory!! Strode says:

    Marc,

    You’re probably right. I know he truly objects to the Watchmen prequels, but he’s also grumbled about DC reusing his ideas in those backup stories in Green Lantern showing no one creates anything anymore.

    My logic flaw!

  49. Torsten Adair says:

    Roger Langridge is not an A-List talent, although he is extremely talented, and I will read anything he writes, and buy anything he writes and draws. (If you like superheroes, try “Thor: The Mighty Avenger”.)

    That said, he is well known among the independent comics crowd (I met him at SPX a few years ago), and his actions will be noted and discussed by those cartoonists, many of which know comics history.

    So, the question is, will there be new era in comics, similar to the exclusivity wars of the 1990s? Will there be a large number of creators who will not work for Marvel or DC (but who might do work-for-hire for other companies)?

    Will DC and Marvel become a stepping-stone to better work elsewhere, one of the lower rungs of success? (Basically following in Frank Miller’s footsteps.) Apprentice at Marvel or DC, learn the ropes, build up a following, and then move on to creator-owned work elsewhere.

    Perhaps DC or Marvel develops a bullpen of talent, similar to Gold Key in the 1960s. Instead of exclusivity, they hire talent outright, making them employees of Warners or Disney. Or they just install a revolving door, hiring warm bodies from the numerous cartooning colleges across the country (or around the world) to replace departing (or expensive) talent.

  50. Synsidar says:

    In terms of the worm turning slowly for creators, consider this: what character has emerged from DC or Marvel in the last 20 years that has the momentum to be considered being another “Avengers” (or even Blade) level success in the future?

    Elektra is an example of a character who wasn’t created to be a title character, but was a hit with fans and was eventually given the title character treatment. She was also a special property as far as use of her was concerned:

    She is a love interest of the superhero Daredevil, but her violent nature and mercenary lifestyle divide the two. She is one of Frank Miller’s best-loved creations, and subsequent writers’ use of her is controversial as Marvel had originally promised to not resurrect the character without Miller’s permission.[1]

    A major difference between the Moore situation and the Kirby one is that WATCHMEN was a standalone, close-ended work. That produced huge differences in how the story was written and how readers reacted to it.

    Some superhero comics readers engage in idol worship, like fans of a celebrity who put posters on their walls, join fan clubs, and daydream about how fantastic it would be to go out on a date with him, etc. They go to something he’s performing in, just to see him. Spider-Man worshipers buy comic books he’s in, mostly to see him. Whether he’s handled creatively is a secondary concern, if it’s a concern at all. That mindset doesn’t necessarily affect how a writer handles him in a series, but it certainly affects how the hero is promoted by the publisher.

    Mantis is another example of an essentially close-ended character who was part of a very successful storyline, and couldn’t be used easily in others. She’s revered by fans, but more because she was part of a great storyline than because she inspires idol worship. If someone is interested in creating a new (title) character, there might be a conflict between trying to appeal to idol worshipers and using the hero(ine) in a well-told story.

    SRS

  51. Whenever Moore or his defenders bring up moral issues, I have to question how “moral” it is to rail against a contract you signed that is being followed to the letter by the other party. It’s delusional disassociation from personal responsibility on Moore’s part and childish whining won’t change his role in it (or DC’s, or the creators working on the BW books) – he (& everyone else) should just move on.

    Kurt-

    Sorry I wasn’t clear – didn’t mean Sandman wasn’t created under DC, but that it was outside the 20 year rule.

    Can we agree we’re BOTH splitting hairs on RED?

    I can’t see an argument that says DC or Marvel are not valued by their corporate parents as anything less than copyright protection / creative delivery systems at this point.

    Did Disney buy Marvel because they want to get further into the (backsliding) comic book publishing business?

    Did DC largely relocate to the West Coast under new (film-based) leadership because corporate Warner is excited about comic book sales figures?

    No, in both cases they did it because they recognize the potential exploitation value of the characters / stories in films and beyond. Is there any reason to think otherwise that isn’t pure wishful thinking on the part of those employed there?

    If we accept that, the corporations are certainly aware that the source material came from comics, so shouldn’t they be looking to develop more NEW stuff along those lines? When you look at the economics of marketing & creating comics VS films there’s a massive benefit in R&Ding at the comics level. I’d venture a guess that there are unrealized Pixar projects that had investments far greater than the publishing-only margins of DC or Marvel in recent years.

    This is my point; if the corporate heads are looking to the comics companies to deliver cross-platform concepts (you may disagree but I think the evidence is not in your favor), then they should be investing time effort and money into it as it’s easily their best choice financially.

    I wasn’t saying that creators weren’t necessarily pushing ideas AT publishers, but that DC and Marvel hadn’t made serious investments in them. That may be creating a vicious circle that discourages anything other than rehashes from some creators, who are saving ideas for owned publishing opportunities where they have more control over their destinies.

    Yet M & DC still act like rebooting and new #1 issues are necessary to remain financially stable, when realistically they could cancel half their lines (the multiple Batman, Superman, Avengers, X-Men, & Spidey titles would be a good place to start) and it wouldn’t affect the bottom line viability of the characters.

    If they’d ramp up their physical back-catalog (Marvel more than DC who are better at keeping what they have issued in print) & digital programs they’d be less distracted by a bunch of middling books and could replace lost revenue with more profit from existing collateral.

    (and if they’d invested in their own infrastructure they could’ve owned about 35% more of their digital profits, but that’s another rant…)

    You say there aren’t newer characters because “established universes are crowded stages” but that’s the point – they are already established, so you only need arguably one or two books to keep that concept rolling – yet there are way too many characters with mediocre main series and worse-than-that spin-off books. This is an ineffective and dead-end publishing plan – they are essentially picking the pockets of a dwindling, greying, manboy fanboy completist consumer that has proven to be un-growable.

    The books you cite are great and have potential (I loved Major Bummer) but have Marvel or DC pushed those books or concepts? Most are cancelled and, more tellingly, the characters have essentially vanished.

    Are the reasons for the lack of new concepts really that complex? Or does it just seem that way to the people at the publishing level who haven’t stepped back and realized their place in the universe? Or are they too entrenched in old-school thinking to fully address the new paradigm?

    Finally; this is a very unique situation/example so I’m hesitant to bring it up at all, but since you bring it up and there’s relevant creator discussion here with the whole Watchmen thing ad nauseum: Warners essentially stole / tweaked Bill Willingham’s Fables concept and made it into a TV show, sidestepping any payments due Willingham because the characters and concepts were PD.

    Yet, if Marvel had published Fables, they’d have sued DC silly, but as Bill is a DC employee with a hit series for the first time in his career he gets to keep a regular writing gig as a reward. That says volumes about Vertigo as a safe haven for creatives.

    This, as much as any other action taken by DC is evidence that it doesn’t pay to do new creative work for the big guys, unless you have a hard-on to tell a Batman story that won’t go away.

  52. All this talk of artists/creators jumping corporate ships seems like small potatoes as I see it. The real focus should be on distribution (where the real money is). Until retailers (not “creative types”) boycott major production houses there will be little change in the business as a whole. But then that would mean taking on the ideal of capitalistic economics…and who wants to do that?

  53. I do applaud those “creative types” who have taken a moralistic or ethical stand on this issue however. It’s not an easy thing to turn away from a paycheck. But once finance and art can really go there separate ways we might see more amazing things created that can be judged on merits of story and presentation rather than financial qualifiers and advertising appeal.

  54. R. Maheras says:

    Regarding whether or not there have been any highly successful properties having long-term value created in the past 20 years, even if one could list 10 or 20 (which is doubtful), if one compared that amount with the TOTAL number of new creations published during that period of time, one would find that “highly successful” is but a miniscule percentage of the total.

    Publishing is a very, very risky business, and no creator who has (sometimes repeatedly) spent his/her own money for a losing publishing proposition should begrudge the big companies for being reluctant to share any profit BEYOND whatever the original agreement or contract was with the creative talent. For a big company, the only way to stay profitable, and in business, is when the few successes offset the losses from the non-successful majority.

    Publishing comics is a very risky business, and of all of the comic book companies that have existed since the 1930s, only DC and Marvel have managed to survive for the long haul. Yet Marvel, the very same company that is getting raked over the coals, Avengers-wise, for not sharing a bigger, “fairer,” piece of the pie with creators or descendents, almost went belly-up twice (1957 and 1996). Even DC was on shakey ground at times — most notably during the “DC Implosion” of the late 1970s.

    Even Martin Goodman, the man who owned, oversaw and helped build Marvel into a successful company in the first place, failed spectacularly attempting to re-create his earlier success when he launched his Atlas/Seaboard line of comics in the mid-1970s.

  55. @geembeast your arguments are well thought out. However, I would just point out that I deal with contracts on a daily basis. I can assure you that the vast majority of folks who sign them NEVER read them. (think mortgage agreements who actually reads them, apparently no one in America) Whoever is delivering the contract has a moral obligation to properly explain the terms and risks. If you don’t you just tricked someone. Good for you but it makes you unethical. I hate to beat this drum again but there is more than enough material out there that makes it clear Moore did not understand what he was signing and was told something entirely different.

  56. >> Can we agree we’re BOTH splitting hairs on RED? >>

    I don’t see why. What makes the creation of RED something that was outside (or despite of) DC’s editorial system?

    >> You say there aren’t newer characters because “established universes are crowded stages” but that’s the point – they are already established, so you only need arguably one or two books to keep that concept rolling – >>

    Not sure I’d agree with that at all.

    >> The books you cite are great and have potential (I loved Major Bummer) but have Marvel or DC pushed those books or concepts? Most are cancelled and, more tellingly, the characters have essentially vanished.>>

    In the case of MAJOR BUMMER, I believe the rights have reverted. But you seem to be either moving the goalposts a lot, or you’re inconsistent in your descriptions. You started out asking for books created in the last 20 years that could be AVENGERS level hits as movies (a high bar to set) or at least BLADE level. Then you responded to my answer by concluding something that wasn’t about movie licenses, but about great ideas. Now you’re waving aside the idea of great ideas at all to talk about how well the ideas were pushed.

    If you’re talking about the companies’ value being IP farms, then it doesn’t matter how well the comics sell, it only matters that ideas get generated. Movies like MEN IN BLACK and IRON MAN were successful with audiences on a scale that had nothing to do with how well the comics were known.

    And have Marvel or DC pushed the books I mentioned? FABLES, yes. ARROWSMITH? The only reason there isn’t more yet is because Carlos and I haven’t done it yet. MAJOR BUMMER got a fair launch, but audiences didn’t support it. FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF SHADE has been pretty well pushed lately. POWER COMPANY got a nice launch, but audiences didn’t buy it. ULTRA GIRL, not so much. HITMAN has been treated pretty well.

    So the answer is – some yes, some no, but it’s been mostly a response to audience reaction to the books themselves.

    >> Warners essentially stole / tweaked Bill Willingham’s Fables concept and made it into a TV show,>>

    No, they didn’t. Even Bill Willingham will tell you that.

    >> Yet, if Marvel had published Fables, they’d have sued DC silly,>>

    No, they wouldn’t.

    >> but as Bill is a DC employee >>

    No, he isn’t.

    >> This, as much as any other action taken by DC is evidence that it doesn’t pay to do new creative work for the big guys,>>

    That strikes me as an odd conclusion, too. I can see reasons to work for Marvel and DC, and reasons to work elsewhere, but as someone who’s done a lot of work for both, ranging from established series to new concepts in their universes to creator-owned books, I can say it’s paid pretty well to do it.

    kdb

  57. >> Yet Marvel, the very same company that is getting raked over the coals, Avengers-wise, for not sharing a bigger, “fairer,” piece of the pie with creators or descendents, almost went belly-up twice (1957 and 1996). >>

    Not really. In Marvel’s publishing arm was profitable throughout the bankruptcy period of the 1990s — the reason for the bankruptcy wasn’t that they weren’t selling comics, it’s that they were being loaded with debt and money was being squeezed out of them. The bankruptcy was entirely about financial jiggery-pokery taking place on a different level than comics publishing, and the core publishing business was never in any danger of folding.

    kdb

  58. >> think mortgage agreements who actually reads them, apparently no one in America >>

    I do!

    I don’t understand them anywhere near as well as IP contracts, mind you. But I try…

    kdb

  59. joe.distort says:

    not for nothing, but the friedrich situation led to me quitting marvel comics as well-as a reader. i dont see why i should support companies who i disagree with, whether that means Wal Mart or the company that happens to own the rights to Daredevil.

  60. R. Maheras says:

    kdb wrote: “Not really. In Marvel’s publishing arm was profitable throughout the bankruptcy period of the 1990s — the reason for the bankruptcy wasn’t that they weren’t selling comics, it’s that they were being loaded with debt and money was being squeezed out of them. The bankruptcy was entirely about financial jiggery-pokery taking place on a different level than comics publishing, and the core publishing business was never in any danger of folding.”

    Marvel’s comic book and publishing arm lost about $45 million in 1995 — which shoots a great big hole in your theory.

    Add that to the fact that shortly thereafter the company as a whole was reeling because of bad business decisions in the collectible card market and Marvel were definitely a company on the ropes.

    Had they not gotten an interim bank loan in early 1997 to cover continued operations, and had not the court allowed Marvel to merge with Toy Biz, the company would most likely have been dismantled.

    That’s why Marvel had massive lay-offs and why its stock nose-dived to less than $1 a share. Things were very shakey at every level of the company — including its publishing division.

    The reason I’m so attuned to the whole situation is because in late 1996, Marvel’s Chapter 11 announcement was directly responsible for killing a six-figure custom comic book publishing project I had been working on for nearly six months.

  61. Jesse-

    In my dealings with contracts I try to make sure that anyone signing has had it explained to them by their lawyer, line by line.

    At some point every business arrangement becomes about trust, but contracts remain the rules that govern them. Not understanding them is still the signer’s mistake to make, and the consequences their responsibility. They are too important to NOT understand and I’d think someone as smart as Moore would’ve understood that.

    Kurt-

    It’s pretty well-established that WB was looking at Fables as a film/TV property but then stopped calling it Fables. DC cuts Willingham checks for his work, can we agree on that?

    I may be recalling incorrectly but I think Major Bummer did appear in other DC books, albeit briefly. My point is that someone thought the book was hot stuff when they started publishing it but couldn’t keep it alive to connect the dots. It may have been their most popular property if they’d really stuck with it or worked it through the system. It sure felt like it could’ve worked in other media, handled well. Or not, who can say? Point is they failed to make it work. How about the Warner/DC/Elfquest story? That’s a good one.

    Moving goalposts? I guess you could theorize I’ve moved the goalposts based on your definition of “good new ideas.” Other than that open interpretation, my train of thought looks pretty linear.

    I’m not disagreeing with you as to the value of properties well-known or obscure. Men In Black is a perfectly good example, although that happened outside our timeline and outside of Marvel & DC – it was published by Aircel pre-Malibu-swallowing-pre-Marvel-swallowing. I’m not sure if Marvel has a stake in it. If so, they sure don’t act like they do.

    Iron Man may not have been a popular comic book in terms of relative Marvel sales in 1992, but if you asked a kid on the playground who he is, most would’ve known well before the movie was made. Avi had a hard-on for that property for 15 years before they made the film and he was not underexposed before then – there were toys and TV back in the 60’s – within a few years of his creation.

    Frankenstein Agent Of Shade got a good push? How did DC single that out and market it as something special? Okay, it was part of the New 52 relaunch and they got a talented guy to write it. But again, there’s little doubt they’ll cancel it if sales thresholds aren’t met.

    In my book there’s a big difference between publishing a book and pushing it. Marketing and promotion is barely a blip at either company – unless you count an ad in Previews or a piece on a comics website, pushing stuff to the same tiny base. Very little of the entertainment business regularly puts so little effort & expense into marketing. The movie, book, music, and TV businesses sure don’t.

    What’s considered a “push” in comics is virtually nothing. If the tiny base of direct market fans support it, they keep publishing – if they don’t, everyone waves their hands in the air and says, “well that didn’t catch on” and they cut it’s throat, largely ignoring the real world potential of the idea.

    Do you really think anyone needs five Avengers and Spiderman books and nineteen Batman books to keep Avengers, Spiderman and Batman concepts rolling? And more to the point do you think all of those spin-off books are as worthwhile as the flagship title?

    Regarding working for the Big Two, that’s up to the every individual, of course. They are certainly the only choice if you want to write a 5 issue Spidey or Superman arc for a paycheck. Nothing wrong with that if that’s what you’re after.

    But if a creator has a big idea, in my view it’d be better to go it alone, look for an alternate venue or wait for the landscape to change before trusting that new idea to companies that have failed to make much of anything new work in the last 20 years. It’s clearly not as advantageous to them as it is to keep exploiting the old (non-royalty) stuff.

    Your mileage may vary.

  62. Matt D says:

    Mainly, what this discussion made me want the most is more Arrowsmith to read and the next issue of Popeye whenever that comes out..

    ok and the last four issues of Muppets when they come out too. Sorry! I like them!

  63. >> It’s pretty well-established that WB was looking at Fables as a film/TV property but then stopped calling it Fables.>>

    No, it really isn’t. It’s established that both Warners and ABC were looking at FABLES as a TV property, but ultimately didn’t get anywhere, and that other shows based on fairytales did. That those shows started out as FABLES is not at all established.

    Warners and NBC didn’t get past the script stage with FABLES. GRIMM is on NBC but is produced by Universal, not Warners, and wasn’t developed by the same people.

    ONCE UPON A TIME isn’t a WB show either, it’s an ABC Studios show. ABC also licensed FABLES at one point, but again, different creators, different development.

    What you seem to be saying is that rather than pay Bill fairly modest licensing fees, Warners sneakily arranged for other companies to get paid far more to do shows that don’t actually profit Warners, but do profit Disney-ABC and NBC-Universal. That doesn’t seem very bright.

    This all presupposes that nobody else could come up with the idea of fairy tale characters in the modern day, even though Bill wasn’t the first to do so.

    >> DC cuts Willingham checks for his work, can we agree on that? >>

    Sure. If you think that means Bill will lie on their behalf while they’re screwing him, you don’t know Bill.

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=35737

    >> Point is they failed to make it work.>>

    I think I’ve lost track of your point — it used to be that they weren’t interested in new properties, now it’s there there were lots of great properties but they didn’t know how to make them succeed. That latter has more in common with my point (launching new stuff on a crowded stage is hard) than your original point that they weren’t interested.

    >> Frankenstein Agent Of Shade got a good push? How did DC single that out and market it as something special? Okay, it was part of the New 52 relaunch and they got a talented guy to write it.>>

    Plus, it was part of FLASHPOINT, and earlier, in SEVEN SOLDIERS.

    >> But again, there’s little doubt they’ll cancel it if sales thresholds aren’t met.>>

    Of course they will. Pushing a book and canceling it if it doesn’t catch on aren’t mutually exclusive things.

    >> Do you really think anyone needs five Avengers and Spiderman books and nineteen Batman books to keep Avengers, Spiderman and Batman concepts rolling? >>

    I don’t think “needs” is a term that has a lot of meaning in the entertainment industry. Doing extra books brings in money, which you don’t find important because you think all they need to do is keep the concepts alive. They don’t see it that way.

    As to whether I think extra books are worthwhile, well, if the comics industry only published what I thought was worthwhile, it’d be a lot smaller. But I don’t think they should cater to me — my tastes aren’t where the money lies.

    >> But if a creator has a big idea, in my view it’d be better to go it alone, look for an alternate venue or wait for the landscape to change before trusting that new idea to companies that have failed to make much of anything new work in the last 20 years.>>

    I’ve certainly done both, in my time, and may well do both in the future. I think both are a gamble — it’s not as if publishing a cool new idea at another company makes it a sure-fire success. I’ll note that Warren Ellis has done better, media-adaptation-wise, with work published at DC (RED, GLOBAL FREQUENCY) than with work published elsewhere. I have, thus far, done better with stuff that started out elsewhere. Mileage certainly varies.

    kdb

  64. >> Marvel’s comic book and publishing arm lost about $45 million in 1995 — which shoots a great big hole in your theory.>>

    I don’t think it does — from what I’ve been told, publishing operations were always profitable. But saddling the division with the costs of buying Malibu, and other such corporate stupidity, created debt that was piled on them even while Marvel Comics was making good money.

    The core business — making and selling comics — was working; Ron Perelman using the company as a financial pawn to further his own interests created debt that the publishing arm could not service.

    kdb

  65. >> Mainly, what this discussion made me want the most is more Arrowsmith to read and the next issue of Popeye whenever that comes out.>>

    You’ll get the POPEYE sooner than the ARROWSMITH, but you’ll get both, in time…

  66. horatio weisfeld says:

    @Kurt Busiek:

    Your overview on MRV 90s financial history seems informed.

    What’s your take on what’s been going on w/DC (financially) for the past 10/20/30 years?

  67. Synsidar says:

    What’s considered a “push” in comics is virtually nothing. If the tiny base of direct market fans support it, they keep publishing – if they don’t, everyone waves their hands in the air and says, “well that didn’t catch on” and they cut it’s throat, largely ignoring the real world potential of the idea.

    A giveaway to indicating a person’s attitude toward storytelling is when he or she argues that _______ would be perfect for a movie. What the hell is Quesada or DiDio talking about when he says that _______ isn’t tentpole material? He just wants to see _______ in a movie. Coming up with a story idea and a script for the movie aren’t his problems.

    And when Marvel or DC publish something characterized as “offbeat,” they’re probably publishing something which should have the selling points of being an innovative, startling idea, a tremendous artistic vision realized, or potentially award-winning storytelling. They release it, without promotion, into a market fixated on characters, and it dies.

    SRS

  68. >> What’s your take on what’s been going on w/DC (financially) for the past 10/20/30 years? >>

    I know they’ve been doing well of late, but I’ve been much more aware of what’s been going on with Marvel, since I was there and talking to people during the crises, while DC traditionally kept things more buttoned down.

  69. George Bush (not that one) says:

    Didn’t Moore tell Morrison he couldn’t write Miracleman, something he didn’t even own?

  70. >> Didn’t Moore tell Morrison he couldn’t write Miracleman, something he didn’t even own? >>

    I gather he told Dez Skinn he didn’t want anyone else writing MARVELMAN, back while he was writing it. Morrison pitched to do a fill-in story or take over the series, and Alan didn’t want anyone stepping in at that point.

    At the time, Moore was under the impression that Skinn had purchased the rights and Moore did have an ownership share of the relaunched series.

    So if that’s what you mean, do you honestly think saying “no fill-ins by other writers” on a series you’re in the middle of writing and believe you’re co-owner of is somehow hypocritical if you wrote public-domain characters somewhere?

    kdb

  71. Chris Hero says:

    @Shawn Kane

    I wasn’t entirely polite to you last night. I’m sorry.

  72. Nate A. says:

    I’ve gone back and forth with Maheras on the whole “companies take risks too” argument elsewhere, but I think it’s worth bringing up again.
    Nobody is claiming that Marvel and DC didn’t publish some good comics that might have otherwise not gotten published, or that they didn’t give creators an outlet, or that they didn’t expose themselves to finical risks when doing so. The argument is that they didn’t/don’t distribute the rewards (or even give credit) in an equitable manner, and that they leverage their financial advantage to make sure they can win consistently against their creators, if not the market.
    If Marvel or DC were at risk of bankruptcy for the awesome royalty deals they gave their creators you’d have a point. But that just isn’t the case.

  73. George Bush (not that one) says:

    It was my understanding that Moore was done writing it, but I don’t know. I think Morrison tells a bit of a different story, but hey , who knows?

  74. >> It was my understanding that Moore was done writing it, but I don’t know.>>

    It was during the WARRIOR run and before the Eclipse series, so it was while Alan was still writing it.

    After that, he had some say in who it went on to, because as noted, everyone was under the impression he had an ownership stake, which he gave to Neil Gaiman.

    kdb

  75. George Bush (not that one) says:

    Cool, thanks for the clarification, thats why I used the ?(LOL)

  76. Shawn Kane says:

    “I wasn’t entirely polite to you last night. I’m sorry.”

    Chris,
    No big deal. I know that you’re a pretty passionate guy based on alot of your comments and I understood your point. I’ve heard alot of good things about Snarked so if I enjoy it, I’ll have you to thank.

  77. I wonder if Mr. Langridge, an excellent cartoonist by all accounts, was actually hired by Marvel on contract terms, or was he just freelancing under any form of ‘work for hire’ agreement or voucher. If the latter, rather than “quitting”, he would seem to be venting his private right to refuse freelance work from a given company, to what end, i wouldn’t know…

  78. Allen Rubinstein says:

    I’m pretty sure Greg Rucka’s Whiteout was made into a film. I recall hearing some terrible reviews.

  79. horatio weisfeld says:

    DC traditionally kept things more buttoned down.

    >>

    @Kurt Busiek:

    That maybe the case. My suspicion is they lose money overall (at least as a stand alone division). If for no other reason, my theory arises from one of DC’s top executives actually claiming “the comics don’t make money” as part of a negotiation I was involved with.

    If this is the case, I think would be comic book artists/writers need to ask themselves hard questions about why they want to enter an industry where major players are not making money.

    In such a situation, doesn’t it seem that there is no overall incentive to ever pay more (or well) for creative services?

  80. >> My suspicion is they lose money overall (at least as a stand alone division).>>

    This is not true.

    There are times it was, but not recently.

  81. horatio weisfeld says:

    This is not true.

    There are times it was, but not recently.

    >>

    Ok. If you say so.

    Whatever the case, I was quite amused to hear execs try to claim such was the case. …funny world.

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