DC Comics: Meanspirited, spiteful, and childish.

March 3rd, 2010 by | Tags: , , ,

I don’t think anyone reported on it when it happened, but DC pulled several subtext-laden quotes from Milestone Forever #1. They said that the quotes weren’t covered under fair use and they didn’t want to get sued. However, rather than informing McDuffie of this at the time and giving him a chance to alter the quotes or create new ones, they waited until the book was at the printers. That’s shady, but okay, maybe they really would’ve gotten sued.

Milestone Forever #2 comes out later today, and whoops, it happened there, too. Click through for the quotes. Read them? Okay, now look at this one again:

“Sometimes I suspect that we build our traps ourselves, then we back into them, pretending amazement the while.”
—Neil Gaiman

Whoa! Neil Gaiman! That’s a good one, right? The thing is, it’s from The Sandman #75… a book wholly owned by (wait for it) DC Comics.

So! Let’s recap. DC Comics pull quotes from Milestone Forever #1 and #2 because they didn’t want to get sued. They wait until the book is at the printers to let the writer (and owner of the work) know, preventing any changes from being made. At least one of the quotes they pulled was from a property that they own completely, it being a legacy character and created pre-Vertigo. It’s the latest in a long line of shady, but legal, moves they’ve made regarding McDuffie and Milestone, and possibly the last, considering that McDuffie has no announced DC work coming up.

Were they gonna sue themselves? Is that it? Was Karen Berger gonna run across the hall and whack Dan Didio with a shoe if a quote from The Sandman made it into a comic that isn’t from Vertigo?

Or is someone at DC a petty, childish, scummy, shell of a human being? I don’t know who, nor do I have any ideas, so I’m not dry snitching here. I honestly want to know: who’s dicking around McDuffie? ’cause at this point, beyond of a shadow of a doubt, somebody up there is a firm believer in Industry Rule #4080: comic book people are shady.

I could go on and on and pile insult upon insult, but you know what? This situation should be clear to anyone with half a brain and half a shred of basic human decency. Someone there is prizing beef over money, and someone up there is mighty stupid. End of story.

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16 comments to “DC Comics: Meanspirited, spiteful, and childish.”

  1. McDuffie has been getting jerked around by DC for years. He handles it a lot better than I would.

  2. Hah, nice Tribe Called Quest reference.

  3. Honestly, I have no love for DC’s higher ups, but I just can’t see the purpose of pulling some quotes to fuck with writers. They gain absolutely nothing and lose a whole lot more than just pissing off Dwayne McDuffie. Considering this is DC and all, I honestly think that they’re just taking counsel from an extremely incompetent lawyer.

  4. Didn’t Warren Ellis more or less say it was DC middlemen fucking around because no matter what happens (talent walking, books tanking) they just get shuffled around to different jobs while the top and bottom guys take all the shit?

  5. Honestly, I think Dwayne should apply that Gaiman quote to himself and his relationship with DC. He seems to just come back for more like a battered wife, then complain about his treatment while all the while making pointed comments about DC. I don’t think DC is in the right in their dealings with McDuffie, just that maybe Dwayne should’ve used THIS quote instead: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

  6. @Terrence: Except he doesn’t keep coming back for more- he was writing JLA, they made a deal for Milestone, he did the Milestone comeback arc, and then the was booted from JLA. It’s all the same situation, under the same umbrella.

  7. Actually I think you would find that Sandman is co-owned by Gaiman and DC. Gaiman has gone on record stating that he owns a share, even though it is based on a character wholly owned by DC. Remember Watchmen? That was based on characters wholly owned by DC (the old Charlton characters) and you see the can of worms that opened.

    Besides, are you sure about the legal remifications? Are you a lawyer? Even if the work is owned by DC, copying a quote verbatim may be considered plagirism, I don’t know because I’m not an expert, but are you??

    I agree, however, thta they should have given him the chance to change it himself.

  8. DC Comics: Burning Bridges Since 1937.

  9. This is why I should always read before posting, almost made an ass of myself.

    but yeah, someone in middle management is a huge prick

  10. Remember DC management’s new slogan: “No Fear!”
    I’d settle for “No Douchebaggery!”

  11. @TheIntruder: I’m pretty sure you can’t sue yourself for making use of something that you paid for own outright.

    What can of worms did Watchmen open? All of the drama from that was because DC sold the movie to Fox, who sat on it for years, then the rights were restored to Warners, who apparently didn’t do 100% due diligence on it. That had nothing to do with the comics and everything to do with tangled Hollywood contracts.

    The Sandman is cut and dry. “DC owns all of The Sandman to exploit how they wish.” Don’t have to be a lawyer to know that. And Gaiman has absolutely not gone on record and said that he owned any of the character or book. He’s been very, very clear on that point. It is 100%, undeniably, completely owned by DC Comics/Vertigo.

  12. “Was Karen Berger gonna run across the hall and whack Dan Didio with a shoe if a quote from The Sandman made it into a comic that isn’t from Vertigo?”

    I would like to see this…very much. I’ll even lend her my Manolo.

  13. 17 years and countin, I think it’s long overdue that Dwayne just whup someone’s ass at DC. How much can a man and his work be disrespected and played? Fkin cowards.

  14. “Even if the work is owned by DC, copying a quote verbatim may be considered plagirism”

    Not if the quote’s attributed to its source. That said, there probably are other issues DC could face if it reproduces parts of other people’s works, attributed or not. However, seeing as the quotes Dwayne chose were all fairly brief, I’m not sure leaving them in would have really given DC many (if any) problems.

    Removing the Sandman quote is strange, though. For some reason, I had thought Gaiman had made some sort of deal with DC that allowed him at least partial control over the Sandman characters. But if DC solely owns/controls Gaiman’s work on Sandman, then I can’t see any reason why DC would take the quote out.

  15. you have the right to quote (with proper attribution) for educational or critical applications. For commercial applications, it’s a bit less cut and dry. If you look on the title pages of books very often, you’ll see “permission to use such and such by so and so given by copyright owner” with various options. And that’s often a character quoting a couple lines from a poem or even a epigram at the beginning of a book or chapter, a time-honored literary tradition.

    This is what the House of Mouse and others have wrought with their perpetual expansion of copyright ownership and rights by corporations. Use which is clearly fair use by anyone’s reasonable standards is still deemed legitimate enough for a lawsuit through legislation originally written by the corporate lawyers and passed by a willing Congress.

    I hate what DC has done to Milestone over the years and wish that they’d just have let it stand as a memory (and let McDuffie et al do the reprints), but remember that DC has lost some suits due to copyright and fair use issues, so they are understandably skittish.

  16. If this new series of events bring McDuffie one step closer to writing for Marvel, I’m all for it.