I saw some screwy news courtesy of Rich Watson’s Glyphs about another entry in the DC vs Dwayne McDuffie saga. An excerpt:
Plans for a Static monthly were scrapped by DC last spring. Based on their actions, they never really wanted to publish the Milestone stuff, they wasted my time. We could have done a little deal for them to use Static without me having to spend so much money on lawyers.
I checked his message board, and wait, there’s more!
Static Shock currently runs on Disney XD four times a day. I know that’s somehow not as good as appearing in Teen Titans, a comic with over 20 thousand readers, but I’m not sure why.
From another thread:
No. I did not accept the offer. I have completed the script to a Milestone mini-series that is currently being drawn. DC has also given the go ahead to a major project about their black characters and their place in the DCU, but I’m no longer sure I want to do it as I’m increasingly concerned about their posture on racial matters. I hope I’m wrong. I’m sure we’ll talk about it in the next few months.
-Static Shock was the #1 or #2 rated show on KidsWB for most of its run. I think it was trading top spots with whichever variation of Pokemon at the time.
-Static Shock’s cartoon, which is around ten years old, runs on a Disney channel four times. It’s reasonable to assume that Static Shock has more fans than, say, all of the Superman comic books put together.
-DC’s shown no interest in solo Milestone books, despite undoubtedly shelling out a lot of money and paperwork on the characters.
-Instead, they’d rather have Teen Titans feature Static, even though Titans is a book that has been of poor quality and a laughing stock for two or more years.
So, what happened here? DC picks up one of the more marketable cartoons in recent memory, and a fondly-remembered and ahead of its time universe, and fumbles the ball. The universe is shuffled off to a brief series of one-shots in Brave & the Bold, Static ends up in a comic no one likes (if you like Teen Titans, you like a bad comic, this is gospel truth), and the guy who is the face of the deal ends up shuffled off a book he was writing with handcuffs, out of the DCU, and off into cartoonland.
DC needed new toys to put into the meatgrinder. They’re getting consistently outshined by their biggest competitor, which can’t look good in front of their bosses. They have exactly one respected and profitable movie franchise, but Marvel’s buckshot approach has seen some success. By tapping Milestone, or rather, Static, they get the bonus of a built-in fanbase, a pedigree, and a little check on the Minority Box. That’s a Triple Word Score.
So, like a toy collector buying cases of crap he doesn’t want, they get their action figure, the one they think will make them money, and toss the rest. They think that Static himself won’t sell on his own, because they’ve trained their audience to view new characters with distrust, if not outright malice, and non-event stories as Not Necessary, so they botch any plans of a solo series. Stick him in a team book and you get all the benefits, none of the minuses!
And then, at some point in the future, they’re going to put Static back in their toy chest, ready to spring out again when they need a young black kid (who is drawn like a grown man) to talk about how cool someone else is, take a dive for a new hero/villain, or catch a hot one in the next Crisis.
All of the drama, all of the hoopla, is about money. It’s about being able to make a profit on the short-term, and hoping that that keeps you going enough that you can catch more later on. It’s an extraordinarily near-sighted way to do business. According to McDuffie, a number of comics creators, ones with names, ones who sell books, wanted to do Milestone work. They remembered the universe, they wanted in on what looked like a good thing. But, money talks, and if you aren’t looking at an immediate profit, well, sorry. You aren’t talking loud enough.
But when arts meets commerce, commerce eventually wins out. It doesn’t matter how groundbreaking (original, cool, artistic, awesome, whatever) a character is. For the companies, and this includes Marvel, they are products to be sold, and whatever gets them sold is the right thing to do. DC dicking McDuffie isn’t about a grudge. It’s about having more action figures in the toybox that you can pull out, rather than creating new ones. It’s about being able to point and say “This is a comic for _______ people!” and expecting them to come just because you built some mediocre, at best, story.
DC saw that a character was successful elsewhere, hunted it down, and didn’t care about the consequences of that act. So now there’s a creator, one who has proven that he can do popular work amongst comics fans in at least two mediums, who is pretty much thoroughly alienated, a gang of savvy fans who are pissed, and a character who is going to slowly disappear into the ether.
I don’t get it. It seems like you have a ready-made formula for success. You have characters people like, creators who actually care about doing stories with them, and an audience who just might be receptive. Instead, you instantly shuffle most of the characters off into Nowheresville, put the one you like in a lame duck that no one, not even the writers, enjoys, and shut it down before it even gets started.
Well done. You’ve succeeded in completely playing yourself.