Archive for the 'industry rule 4080' Category

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Image’s Eric Stephenson on the Saga #12 Drama

April 12th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

For context’s sake, here’s a post that breaks down just about everything that happened, and I use this comment to talk about what I think about the situation. I think those links should be pretty comprehensive, if you’re not clear what went down. The short version, which is a lightly edited version of what I posted in that first link:

1. Brian K Vaughan releases a statement that Apple has banned Saga 12, specifically citing “two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex.” Fiona Staples cosigns it. They stand behind their comic, which is the only sane choice.
2. These statements are later cosigned by Image Comics and ComiXology via retweets, tweets, and reblogs on Tumblr.
2a. ComiXology tells CBR “Unfortunately, because of our business relationship with Apple, we can’t comment.” when asked for comment.
3. Normal people urge others to boycott Apple and to buy Saga from ComiXology or Image Comics directly. ComiXology implicitly supports these actions by spreading word that the comic will be on the website, not the app, by way of tweets directly to consumers.
4. Twitter goes ham, understandably, because it looks like Apple is back rejecting gay content for vague or unstated reasons, something they have done before.
5. Websites follow suit, and a widespread discussion about Apple’s practices follow.
6. 24 hours after the news originally broke, ComiXology CEO David Steinberger releases a statement that basically says “oh it was us ha ha sorry!”

Now that we’re all on the same page, Eric Stephenson, Publisher at Image Comics, reached out for an interview to clarify things from the POV of Image. I shot him some questions, he shot me some answers, and away we go:


Can you give us a timeline of how things went down earlier this week? Did Comixology inform Image, and then Image informed Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples? I know it was a big deal on Twitter, but how was the news received in the Image offices?

Comixology informed Image on Monday afternoon; Image informed Brian and Fiona immediately thereafter, and in this case “Comixology” = David Steinberger and “Image” = me.

From there, Brian stated his wish to contact David directly, in an effort to get David to go to bat for the book against Apple. I wasn’t privy to what went down between David and Brian, but I do know they exchanged a few emails, and the result of that was Brian’s statement.

As far as how it was received, well, we were frustrated, which I think is understandable. We’d had a problem with XXXOMBIES recently, and I remember talking about that here in the office, wondering how it was that there was this seeming double-standard where books like THE WALKING DEAD and SAGA were approved issue after issue, but then XXXOMBIES was bumped back. So in a way, it was kind of like the other shoe dropping, but yeah, it’s never good news to find out that one of your top books isn’t going to have full distribution.

The iOS approval process is pretty opaque for most people out there. How far ahead of time does Image generally have to submit comics to ComiXology for conversion and approvals?

We generally turn stuff in about three weeks ahead of time.

How does ComiXology communicate to you, or their liaison at Image, that comics have been rejected? BKV specifically called out gay sex in his note about Saga #12. Do they supply an itemized list or some type of guidance?

With this and SEX #1, we found out pretty much right before the release date, like, the Monday before the Wednesday in-store date. With XXXOMBIES, a couple of the issues were up at one point, then they weren’t, and we inquired about what happened. We got a response about Apple’s guidelines and the amount of sexual content, graphic violence, and profanity in the book.

There was no itemized list about SAGA #12. David told me there was a problem with the sexual content and we went right into figuring out how to direct readers to their site and our site, etc. I think the focus on the gay sex just came from the fact that every other issue of SAGA had gone up without so much as a peep. The book has had a lot of adult content since the first issue, much of it much more prominently displayed, so that was mainly a case of, “Why was the gigantic orgy in issue four okay, but this isn’t?”

What’s the protocol when a comic is rejected? I assume ComiXology informs Image. Is that a situation where Image has the opportunity to request an appeal, if that’s possible, or is it just a notification that the comic will only be allowed on the web and Android stores?

The latter, basically, but in this instance, I think due to SAGA’s high profile in the marketplace, David was anxious to be proactive about alerting readers to the issue. We’ve argued this stuff in the past, like with XXXOMBIES, and in this case, Brian went to David and asked if there was anyway to change this decision so the book could go up. He was told no, as we were with XXXOMBIES, and we accepted that at face value.

I know there are people out there who think Brian jumped the gun by issuing a statement at that point, but his goal was to draw attention to the fact the book was going to be available digitally, even if it wasn’t going to be on the app.

Saga #12, and a couple other books were released on iBooks with no problem, as far as I know. Those are produced by Graphicly instead of ComiXology. Has Graphicly ever come back to you and said, “Hey, Apple says this doesn’t fit their guidelines?”

No, but the iBookstore has different guidelines, which was one of the things we all found particularly maddening about the whole situation.

Does Image generally let ComiXology handle the digital side of things, from conversion to approvals to whatever other processes may be required? Is it a pure hand-off situation where ComiXology has full or near-full autonomy, or does ComiXology consult with Image or the creators along the way?

We upload the files to them and generally speaking, they take if from there. We’re involved as necessary, but the whole point of the relationship is for Comixology to do the heavy lifting, as it were.

Since this news broke, Joe Casey & Piotr Kowalski’s Sex #1 and Rick Remender & Tony Moore’s XXXombies have been made available on the iOS apps. Are you going back to series that have previously been rejected and re-submitting them? I’m not sure how long the in-app purchase approval process goes. Were these approved by Apple upon release, but held back? Another situation entirely?

Well, there were the books you mentioned, plus Howard Chaykin’s BLACK KISS 2, and that’s about it. No issue of THE WALKING DEAD has ever been rejected, for instance, and there’s obviously a lot of graphic violence in that series — a guy had his head very brutally bashed in with a baseball bat in one issue and there wasn’t so much as a word about that — along with profanity and some nudity and sexual situations. There are obviously other books with nudity, but yeah, that stuff has never been a problem.

In terms of the books that were rejected, I can’t really speak to what the situation was there. I just know we were told they couldn’t up due to the content.

Can you talk about how has this changed your relationship with ComiXology? Is there an oversight protocol in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening again?

It sounds like Comixology has a better idea what Apple will accept at this point, so really, I don’t see this being an issue going forward. As I told David yesterday, the upside of the whole situation is we have the books up there no, so even though it was kind of a shitty ordeal for everyone involved, the outcome kind of made it all worth it.

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ComiXology played itself, and its audience, over Saga #12

April 10th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

In the last 24 hours there has been a lot of chatter about Apple banning Saga #12 from our Comics App on the Apple App Store due to depictions of gay sex. This is simply not true, and we’d like to clarify.

As a partner of Apple, we have an obligation to respect its policies for apps and the books offered in apps. Based on our understanding of those policies, we believed that Saga #12 could not be made available in our app, and so we did not release it today.

We did not interpret the content in question as involving any particular sexual orientation, and frankly that would have been a completely irrelevant consideration under any circumstance.

Given this, it should be clear that Apple did not reject Saga #12.

After hearing from Apple this morning, we can say that our interpretation of its policies was mistaken. You’ll be glad to know that Saga #12 will be available on our App Store app soon.

We apologize to Saga creator Brian K. Vaughn and Image Comics for any confusion this may have caused.

–David Steinberger, 2013 (separate context)

Unbelievable. So let me break this down. I should probably do this at length, but I’m at work so here’s some light work. Let’s hash it out in the comments, because I’m sure I’m leaving something out:

1. Brian K Vaughan releases a statement that Apple has banned Saga #12, specifically citing “two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex.” Fiona Staples cosigns it. They stand behind their comic, which is the only sane choice.
2. These statements are later cosigned by Image Comics and ComiXology via retweets, tweets, and reblogs on Tumblr.
3. People urge others to boycott Apple and to buy Saga from ComiXology or Image Comics directly. ComiXology implicitly supports these actions by spreading word that the comic will be on the website, not the app.
4. Twitter goes ham, understandably, because it looks like Apple is back rejecting gay content for vague or unstated reasons.
5. Websites follow suit, and a widespread discussion about Apple’s past practices follow.
6. This morning, 24 hours later, ComiXology CEO David Steinberger releases a statement that basically says “oh it was us ha ha sorry!”

The discussion about Apple and access is valuable, considering Apple’s place as a gatekeeper. If comics is going to hitch itself to Apple’s products, comics needs to be sure that it isn’t being handcuffed at the same time. Cape comics just escaped the Comics Code — there’s no reason to volunteer yourself to be controlled again.

But:
1. Apple’s gatekeeper status. This specific instance is a case of someone incorrectly interpreting Apple’s rules, which is actually a big part of the problem. What’s explicit? What’s obscene? As far as I know, Apple has never clearly said, and they often contradict themselves or go “Oh wait no this one’s good. We meant this other thing.” It’s a crapshoot. If you’re going to have a code, make it public so we know what the deal is.
2. Saga is THE comic right now. More than anything else, it’s an important comic in the comics industry. It’s a high selling title from a celebrated author and a ferociously talented artist, and they own it. Saga, to a lot of people, represents a sea change in the industry. So this is important on a few different levels.
3. Who told BKV that Apple said no to the gay content? And how does that jibe with ComiXology’s statement that “We did not interpret the content in question as involving any particular sexual orientation, and frankly that would have been a completely irrelevant consideration under any circumstance.”? What’s true here? Either ComiXology spiked it because of the gay sex or they didn’t. Who’s lying?
4. By purchasing directly from ComiXology or one of their partner sites, ComiXology avoids having to pay Apple a 30% fee for distribution. That increases the profits for ComiXology and, I assume, the creators. Even if there’s no actual wrongdoing here, there is definitely the appearance of shadiness, thanks to ComiXology and its partners repeatedly and aggressively suggesting that you should buy Saga directly from them while claiming that it was “banned by Apple,” or rejected by Apple, or whatever the correct terminology is here.
5. The criticisms that were previously aimed at Apple should now be turned toward ComiXology — who on their staff is in charge of content approvals? What are they using as a guide? Do they have the best interests of the comics industry at heart? If no, should they?
6. ComiXology is the new Diamond. They’ve got all the big names and they call the shots with impunity. There are alternatives — I’m extremely fond of DRM-free PDFs and JPGs where I pay directly to the creators — but if you’re talking digital comics, you’re talking ComiXology.
7. It took 24 hours for ComiXology to fess up, which is utterly pathetic. Why the delay? To dodge the worst of the backlash while enjoying the benefits of it?
8. Petty, but: Steinberger didn’t even mention Fiona Staples in his apology, even though she’s co-creator of the book and just as affected by this news as BKV. Try harder. Artists matter.

This is a quagmire. What am I forgetting? What leaps out to you? Let’s conversate.

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On Mark Andrew Smith’s Sullivan’s Sluggers Kickstarter

January 8th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

I wrote Mark Andrew Smith a message on Kickstarter asking what was up with Sullivan’s Sluggers being on Amazon and for sale elsewhere, even though the Kickstarter page says “This book is exclusive only to Kickstarter backers and available here for a limited time.” I was curious and I had a couple friends who were asking me if I knew what’s up, so I reached out. He wrote back asking me if I was stalking him.

Okay.

I figure it was because I wrote about his kickstarter on ComicsAlliance and talked about the pros and cons? But sure, stalking. Okay. I figured it was him trying to deflect and that I wasn’t going to get an answer, so it was whatever.

Rich Johnston asked the same question on the Kickstarter, and Smith didn’t answer him, either. But he DID answer another backer who responded to Rich and here’s the goods:

@John the book also now is upgraded to an Omnibus Size, with Slipcase, Hardcover, Bound in Ribbon Book Mark, Gatefold Cover, Print inside the front cover, and Baseball Card sheet inside the back cover. It’s really not the same book as it was originally on the Kickstarter and US backers are getting this at essentially $25 plus $5 for shipping and handling.

There were a lot of opportunities to cut corners and cut costs. We never did.

We put $49.99 on the back of the book to reflect the actual value of the book. So while it was listed as exclusive it’s really no longer the same book, and it’s never again going to be offered at the price original backers picked it up at and never sold for less. Aside from that it will be offered on our website at a higher price but shipping after orders go out to backers first.

We did an overprint to raise funds for future projects, and we’re going to offer the book as a reward item from time to time on Kickstarter to raise funds for new projects and the focus really is the creation of more new and original comic book projects.

Lotta mush in here, lotta things to tackle, but I LOVE the idea that because the Kickstarter was such a big success that the book morphed into this big fat other book that isn’t bound by the rules he laid out for the original Kickstarter, and in fact, we should be thankful, because he could charge us a lot more!

But nah, here’s the thing: the book that he’s selling on his site and on Amazon is the book that backers pledged for. It’s not some magical new thing. People pledged money to produce this book, and then they kept pledging to make the book get better, often at Smith’s urging. This fancy technicolor omnibus dolby digital edition is exactly what the backers kicked him almost ninety thousand bucks more than he asked for in order to get.

So to say “the book changed, and that’s why I’m not bound by my word” is more than a little shady. To subtly shame people for getting it cheaper than it’s worth (“the actual value of the book”) when it was your idea to make it a dope package in the first place — c’mon, son. Where are you going with this?

How is this anything but Smith going against the terms of his own Kickstarter? It says in plain language that it is exclusive for backers, right? But it isn’t. If the plan was to sell things all along, just say so upfront! If plans changed in mid-stream, say so! Most people will understand, I figure, especially if the book did change into this whole other deluxe package. If it’s money, if you promised too much, then I bet people would understand that, too. There are hidden fees everywhere and in everything. “Hey, I thought I could print this for X, but I can’t, so it’s going to take longer” is way better than “I’m doing you a favor, have you seen how nice this book is?”

The problem — and this is something I talked about a lot when writing about Kickstarter for ComicsAlliance — is communication. If I say “Hey, I’m gonna do this thing you don’t like” before I do it, then you have a chance to either go “Hey, how about no?” or “Okay, cool, whatever, I’ll get over it.” If you don’t, and then just do things anyway, you look like you’re hiding something. When you take into account the suddenly non-exclusive nature of the book, ComiXology getting the book for non-backers before backers even got their digital PDF, Smith himself putting the book up for sale before print backers get theirs, Stokoe being entirely silent despite being the main draw for the book, and backers who ordered two books having to wait until probably late Feb or March to get their stuff… the project leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

It’s not cheating his backers, not exactly, but it’s definitely shady and frustrating. It’s the kind of thing that makes people look at Kickstarter as a problem, and it kills the faith that people have in the process. Kickstarter revolves around one basic transaction: “I am going to give you money, and you are going to give me what you say you will.” That goes for exclusives, upgrades, and everything else. People back projects because they believe in it or they want the product, and it’s important to keep your word.

I’m not out any money or anything — I paid ten bucks for a PDF and got it; it was pretty — but this is the type of thing that makes me not want to back someone’s projects or pay attention to their work at all. Transparency, keeping things aboveboard and honest, is crucial.

(Late addition — Smith was begging free work off people in the name of Sullivan’s Sluggers, too.)

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How do you avoid interview aikido?

September 26th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

When “Avengers” came out there was a vocal fanbase of “Avengers” co-creator Jack Kirby that thought his role in this big pop culture event was being underplayed. With “Guardians of the Galaxy” coming up, there’s already hype around those characters — especially Rocket Raccoon, who was created by Bill Mantlo. What kinds of safeguards and policies do you want to be in place for Marvel to protect the comic creators who are in their older years now, but whose work is entertaining millions of people around the world?

Well it’s a complex question, but I will say that Joe Quesada and Dan Buckley will take the lead on a lot of that and they are actually quite, quite good in acknowledging and letting us know as we share the scripts and character lists with them [by saying]: Here are the creators of this. Here is where they are. Here is who they are, and figuring out what we can do in terms of recognition. If you look at the special credits sections of all the Marvel Studios movies, you’ll see lots and lots of names, probably half a dozen or so, that apply to even the small characters, much smaller than Rocket, that are included in the movie. In terms of Kirby, I always thought of the “Thor” movie as one of the biggest testaments to what Kirby did because at every turn with the production design, we wanted to embrace it. The helmet design, those horns on Loki. “Do you really want those to be that big?” “It’s gotta be that big.” I love that stuff, it’s tremendous.

Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios Head, On Marvel’s Next Risks, Tom Hiddleston’s Bad Boy Appeal And Jack Kirby, 9/24/2012

Question: What are you doing to safeguard or enrich the lives of the creators of the properties that are making you a billion dollars a year?

Answer: We really like to pay homage in the form of Special Thanks and emulating the things those people did in the comics.

Frustrating, isn’t it? It’s a complete dodge, which is whatever. But it prompted some thoughts in addition to the frowns and rolled eyes:

-These questions matter and absolutely should be asked of Marvel, DC, Robert Kirkman, Dreamwave, and whoever else is involved in labor disputes/benefitting off past sins. It’s not negative, or muck-raking, or anything like that — it’s important. These people should be held accountable.

-But the subjects do not, and will not, answer the questions directly, either thanks to ongoing lawsuits or just complete disinterest in publicly addressing the story. Feige here dodges the controversy and uses it to position Marvel as someone who greatly values their creators. It’s spin. Which is useless as anything but marketing.

-So, what’s the answer? How do you address this in the face of silence or spin? How do you keep yourself from being co-opted?

Hostile interviews aren’t the answer. The subjects clam up and the interview ends. Fawny love-me-please interviews don’t work, either, because you’re too busy trying to make a new BFF to honestly address or apply criticism.

Agitation is necessary. That’s how you get people to change. You make the point of contention public, you explain it so that people can understand it, and then you get up in their face. They bend or they don’t — that’s out of your hands. But you can convince people and try to show the upsides of a change. There are ways to go about it that work better than others, I’m sure, but I’m not sure what they are.

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A Suggestion If You’re Seeing The Avengers

May 2nd, 2012 Posted by david brothers

I was very careful when I wrote that thing for ComicsAlliance. I don’t really have any interest in calling for a boycott or guilt-tripping somebody into thinking like I do. I just wanted to fill a hole I felt needed filling, and explain why I made a decision I did. It’s food for thought, and you can do the dishes on your own, right? It’s your decision, just like it was mine, and we’re all adults here.

I do like this idea I saw on tumblr, courtesy of a guy named calamityjon. I have friends who are gonna see Avengers and The Dark Knight and friends who aren’t. I have friends who agree with me on creators’ rights who are gonna see both flicks. No big deal. That’s their decision. But I do like the idea of people giving to the Hero Initiative as… not penance, because it’s not a sin to like movies, but as a… a good deed, let’s say. “I want to do this thing, but I don’t like how it got here, so I’m going to do a little something to hopefully prevent that from happening again.” That’s fair, I think.

Anyway, read this, and if you feel led to do so, kick some cash toward protecting the people who made these dumb old comics.

The Avengers opens in theaters in the US on May 4th, and it’s going to do blockbuster business. The individual films featuring these characters have already  grossed more than $2.2 billion dollars – that’s greater than the Gross National Product of almost half the countries on Earth – and it’s not unlikely that The Avengers will earn a hundred million dollars on its opening day alone.

This represents a pretty big payday to a lot of people – the actors, obviously, will take home pretty big paychecks. The director and the writers are well-compensated, and certainly the executives who greenlighted this project get to sit back and rake in large bonuses and healthy salaries.

Well, you know where this is going; shamefully, the people who aren’t making a big profit from these movies are the people (and the families of the people) who did the essential work of creating them in the first place. It’s not just Jack Kirby, either, or (Black Widow and Hawkeye co-creator) Don Heck, but also Steve Engelhart, Peter David, Herb Trimpe, Jim Steranko, Roy Thomas and dozens more – the artists and writers who refined and defined the characters appearing in this movie, who fleshed out the original creations and molded them into the figures we cheer for when we see them on the screen.

Some very sensible people are calling for a boycott of this film on those grounds, but I think it’s fairly obvious that a boycott of idealistic comic fans isn’t going to accomplish much – it’s not only comic book fans who’ll be dropping a collective billion dollars over the next eight weeks to see this movie, it’s going to be a lot of movie-goers who haven’t read a comic since they were kids, much less know anything of the controversy.

Plus, of course, you – the collective “you”, representing comic book fans all over the world - want to see this movie. And you’re going to, most likely, right? Even though you know of the morally shady practices of Marvel towards its creators, they’ve got you hooked. Don’t be ashamed, they’ve had you hooked for years. It’s what they do.

So how about this: You’re probably going to go see The Avengers and, judging by the early reviews, you’ll probably enjoy it. How about – as a thank you to the creators who brought you these characters in the first place, who gave you something to enjoy so much – you match your ticket price as a donation to The Hero Initiative

THI is a charity which provides essential financial assistance to comic book professionals who have fallen on hard times; for decades, the comic industry provided no financial safety net to its employees, most of whom it regarded only as freelancers and journeymen, meaning they were offered no health insurance, no unemployment insurance, no retirement plans – none of the financial support most of us enjoy from our jobs and careers. A small donation will help this agency provide a valuable safety net in times of need to these beloved entertainers.

I don’t plan on seeing The Avengers, but I’ve donated $15 – the price of a 3-D ticket – to Hero. If every concerned comic fan – every superhero aficionado who learned to live by the lessons of altruism and sacrifice taught by these comics – donated the price of their ticket, well, it may not hit a billion dollars but it’ll bring in a lot of money for a good and relevant cause.

One last note: Remember what Spider-Man always says? “With great power comes great responsibility”. The lesson in that is that everyone has great power. Spider-Man’s great power is being able to lift a bus. Your great power is the ability to help good causes do good work for good reasons – so why not go be a superhero instead of just watching them on the screen…

(PS: “Liking” this post is nice, thank you, but reblogging/retweeting it helps get the message out and would be even more appreciated)

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Before Watchmen: “there’s a war going on outside no man is safe from”

April 25th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

This was going to be a simple round-up of a few recent posts on DC’s Before Watchmen, but ha ha, I realized I still have stuff to say. Sorry.

The other day, out in the hardest part of the tweets on the wrong side of the twacks, a comics pro tweeted that the conventional wisdom that sequels or prequels don’t affect the source material isn’t true, because now that he was aware of Before Watchmen, it was impossible to read Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen without that kicking around in the back of your head.

He’s right. Before Watchmen colors what came before it. Nothing exists in a vacuum. Mel Gibson outed himself as being cartoonishly racist and bigoted (and somehow so ultra-Catholic that he thinks the Pope isn’t Catholic enough, or something, which is definitely some supervillain-type thinking) has definitely changed Lethal Weapon, hasn’t it? If I buy that new box set, I’m putting money in the pocket of somebody who told his old lady that he hopes she gets raped by a pack of niggers. WHOA! Am I down with that?

And so it goes with Before Watchmen. A connection has been made, and even if you consciously put it out of your head, the fact that Before Watchmen exists is still there. The creators’ rights skullduggery, Moore & Gibbons being cheated out of profits, the creators involved who’ve been throwing ill-advised bombs… it absolutely affects the work. More than that, it affects other work. I was digging Spaceman by Azzarello and Risso. I like Amanda Conner’s work. Darwyn Cooke’s adaptations of Richard Stark’s Parker novels are more or less my favorite comics each year. I got that Martini Edition — have you seen that thing? It’s wonderful, easily the best packaged comic I’ve bought in ages. The next book, Parker: The Score, is probably one of my top 5 Parker novels. I’d like to read it.

But Before Watchmen makes me stop and start thinking about ideologies and differences of opinion, instead of the work. It doesn’t make me think that their work sucks. That’s stupid. They’re as talented as ever. But, like my newly complicated relationship with Frank Miller’s public persona and his work, I’ve got to think this through instead of just hitting pre-order on Amazon. Which sucks. “Ignorance is bliss,” right? Ugh.

Anyway, three must-read posts today. I have a round-up of stuff I’m reading & watching, but that’ll keep til tomorrow.


-Chris Roberson was interviewed by Tim Hodler over his… his whole situation, I guess. It’s a great interview. I’m super, super touched that I played even the smallest of small roles in him publicly parting ways with DC.

I can’t really summarize it, except to say that Chris has clearly thought all this stuff through and has a good head on his shoulders. I agree with him, obviously, and you may not, but I don’t think he says anything controversial or false. Please read it. It’s good, and a nice look at what it’s like making corporate comics. He spotlights Kurt Busiek’s fantastic idea about retroactive equity for creators, which I am 100% behind. I’m tired of hearing that the people who created characters I love are destitute and left begging for money every time they get sick. That’s pathetic, and a true failure of the comics industry and basic kindness. You made millions of dollars off a movie? Cool, then you can afford to chip in on the hospital bill of someone who helped turn a kernel of an idea into a comic that then became a movie.

Oh, and Roberson’s bit about there being no Creators section on DC’s website really says it all, don’t it? Welcome to Corporate Comics, 2012.

-Heidi Mac chimes in on Before Watchmen from an angle I hadn’t considered. I’ve had email conversations about this recently, actually, and they were eye-opening. I was born in 1983. I didn’t read Watchmen until… I dunno, 2004? I knew it was a Great Work, like I knew that Camus’ The Stranger or Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov are Great Works when I first read them. I didn’t know the actual history of the Great Work, just that I Needed To Read This.

Finding out that DC was pitching Watchmen as a triumph for creators’ rights while the entire community was rallying behind Jack Kirby feels like a sick joke in the light of Before Watchmen. At the time, it was, but then they saw dollar signs and whoops, sorry mates. Before Watchmen is a project that basically flies in the face of any type of advance in creators’ rights. It’s about prizing characters & concepts over creators, strip-mining history in an attempt to shore up today. In that light, Before Watchmen is the ultimate betrayal of what DC once claimed to stand for. It’s taking an icon for the creators’ rights movement and turning it into more grist for the mill.

It’s amazing how each new wrinkle from people who were around when Watchmen was making history and each new interview from DC Comics staff makes me like this project less and less. There’s so much… not lying, exactly, but dissembling and empty hype going on.

The Spacemen example is brutal, too. The only preview DC put out for that series was for the second issue? Even though that exact same team was hot off the best-received Flashpoint tie-in? Who is running things over there?

-Tom Spurgeon weighs in on the Roberson interview. Here’s a quick quote that I think is pretty good and relates well to Heidi’s point:

As much as you and I might shake our heads and do the Little Rascals surprise face when we hear someone say some of the things that have been said in support of and defense of Before Watchmen or the Superman lawsuit, imagine how distressing it would be if these were your creative partners, the people on which you hoped to build a foundation for a fulfilling life. The humor in the title is that Watchmen was seen as a creator-rights forward title with ambition; this new thing is certainly reflective of a time before that.

This is also must-reading.

True facts: I would have never written about Before Watchmen if not for Spurgeon. I don’t remember talking about it with him at Emerald City Comicon, but we probably did. But really, what prompted my posts was reading his “Sometimes They Make It Hard To Ignore Creators Issues”. Specifically, this: “I’m not sure I have much of a point here, except maybe please look at this. Look at this.”

That sparked something in me. “Look at this.” I took a look around to see what other people were saying and I realized that the sum total of Before Watchmen opposition online was Spurgeon, Eric Stephenson, and Abhay’s wonderful tumblr. I mean, we all had drive-by jokes on Twitter or in passing in posts… but organized dissent? The sort of thinkpieces that make comics internet interesting and valuable to me as a reader? Zilch.

So I looked at it. I sat down and thought about how I felt and dug up as much as I could on the history and I sat down and wrote The Ethical Rot Behind Before Watchmen & Avengers in maybe an hour and a half, if not an hour, on that Friday. I sent it to a few friends to read over and point out my mistakes and I edited it over the weekend. In between, though, JMS said something stupid about Alan Moore and I threw a jab. One jab turned into two. Two, eventually, turned into five posts about creators’ rights and Alan Moore.

It’s important that we talk about this, whether we is comics press or fans or creators, because no one else is going to. There’s something to be said for an objective press, sure, but part of the role of the press is looking at what the news actually means. Looking at trends, at history, at contradictions, at controversies. The comics press isn’t journalism, but we’re part of that same family tree.

So pointing out that there’s chicanery going on with Before Watchmen or how a company treats creators isn’t negativity. It’s doing our job. It’s shedding a light over wrongdoings that some people would rather were left in the past and unsaid. I mean, yo, if someone is lying in public, you nail them to the wall. You point that out. You don’t hem and haw about whether ethics matter. (They do, and you’re a moron if you think otherwise.) You look at the situation, you consider your own personal values, and you choose your position. You pick whatever feels right for you. There are no easy answers, no. But there are answers. Basic ones.

You like Before Watchmen? Fine! Cool. I get it. You don’t? Also cool! But it is vital that we talk out our positions on this issue. It is very much a creators’ rights issue, something that will have an effect on how the Big Two do business. If we can show them that we prefer that creative types be treated like people, we have a better chance of having a better, healthier comics industry.

So I want to publicly thank Tom Spurgeon for forcing me to put pen to paper, and Shannon O’Leary, writer of the PW piece and the person who asked the tough questions at the LA Times Festival of Books, for showing me that speaking out can actually have an effect in the real world.

I would like it very much if DC and Marvel had to answer as many questions about creators’ rights this year as they do about dumb plot twists and fan-favorite characters. If they dodge the question, they dodge it. But asking the question, and pulling apart their dodge, is honest work. It’s inside baseball, sure, but it’s also necessary. These questions need to be asked.

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Frank Miller on Jack Kirby & Creators’ Rights, 1994

April 18th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

The earliest point in time I can remember hearing about Jack Kirby’s legacy and how the comics industry treats its creators didn’t come from the Marvel comics I’d save or trade for. It came in the first adult comic I ever read, Frank Miller’s Sin City: The Big Fat Kill #5. As a kid, I was much more interested in the nudity, blood, violence, language, and art. As an adult, and after putting a lot of thought into this subject over the past couple years, I can appreciate Miller stumping for Kirby a little better.

I didn’t see this anywhere online, and I’m pretty sure that you can’t actually buy this issue new any more, so here it is: “Keynote Speech By Frank Miller To Diamond Comic Distributors Retailers Seminar, June 12th, 1994″. I’ve pasted the images and OCR’d text below. If you’re gonna quote it, please check against the images. I used Adobe Acrobat’s OCR function to get this done, and may have missed an error or two.

I’ve gotten a lot of requests from readers who heard about what follows and would like to see it. The speech kicked up quite a ruckus- and inspired some wild exaggeration, and at least a few lies by people who didn’t like it. This transcript includes all of my many, many ad-libs and is only lightly edited to remove redundant phrases.

Allow me to set the stage. The hall was gigantic. Somewhere around 3,000 comic-book professionals were there, predominantly retailers, but including representatives of nearly every major publisher, as well as dozens of writers and artists. Following a very generous introduction by Diamond boss Steve Geppi, I stepped up to the podium, stomach lodged squarely in throat…

Let me get started by asking you all to join me in honoring two good men we recently lost. I’m corny enough to ask you to stand up for this part. A round of applause, please, for as dear a friend as comics ever had: Mr. Don Thompson. And another round — let’s make this an even bigger one; I want the walls to shake this time — for the greatest artist in the history of comics, Mr. Jack Kirby.

Well, it’s a pretty big room, but I think you did it. The walls had to shake for Jack, just like they would have on one of his pages.

An age passes with Jack Kirby. Us comics folks, we’re all fond of naming “ages” of comics. We’ve come up with a halfdozen names for them in the last half — dozen years. But a very big age of comics is coming to an end now, and, I’ve got to say, I can’t call it the Marvel Age of Comics, because I don’t believe in rewarding thievery. I call it the Jack Kirby Age of Comics.

By saying this, I mean no disrespect to the outstanding and remarkable works of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and many others. We are in their debt as well. But it was Jack Kirby who defined the style and method of every comics artist who followed him. There is before Kirby, and after Kirby. One age does not resemble the other.

The King is dead. There is no successor to that title. We will never see his like again.

There are many others we should honor tonight. Too many, far too many. Comics have been around long enough for us to lose the generation that gave us the art form and the industry we celebrate tonight. They leave us with their example of the best thing about our weird little corner of art and commerce: their love, their love of comics.

For most of you and me here, I know that love has been lifelong. And to our families, schoolmates, and acquaintances, it’s seemed a little unnatural, hasn’t it? It’s always seemed a little weird, hasn’t it? Bear with me while I tell you about Frankie Markham, and how I fell in love with comics.

I was a skinny kid in grade school. The gangly kind of kid who grows tall too fast and falls down too much playing softball. Frankie Markham was my nemesis. Frankie Markham was mean and ugly and a number of years older than me, a tough-ass farm boy, a bully. He must’ve been all of twelve years old. You know what I mean. A grown-up.

Me, I started out wanting to be Superboy. My mom was kind enough to sew me a Superboy suit, and I often wore it under my school clothes. Only to a crowd like this would I admit that.

There came the day when I had to stop being Superboy. That was the day Frankie Markham slapped me around and punched out my buddy Craig. He punched him so hard it dislodged his braces. Craig was a bloody mess, and I was bawling like a baby. It was all could do, bawl like a baby.

The fantasy was shattered. Superboy would’ve flattened Frankie Markham, or at least used his heat vision. I knew that I couldn’t be Superboy anymore. It was time for this third grader to grow up, so I did. With a new, pragmatic world view, I did the realistic thing. The mature thing. The grown-up thing: I decided I was Spider-Man.

Spider-Man had trouble with bullies, too. They embarrassed him in front of girls. They called him names. But he put up with it, concealing the secret of his awesome power. He put up with it and put up with it, just like me, he put up with it and put up with it, until —

And now my story moves towards its sense-shattering climax. At least I wish it did. I’d love to say that I kicked Frankie Markham’s ass from Vermont to Wisconsin, but I never did that. I never had a fight with Frankie Markham, and I’d have lost it if I had. But I did learn to fight back against the bullies, with my fists and my wits, and Spider-Man helped. I gained courage, I learned to control my arms and legs, and I fought back. Somewhere along the way I even earned Frankie Markham’s respect.

And Spider-Man helped.

It was years later, the last time I saw Frankie Markham. I was driving then, so I must have been about 17 years old. I was driving down some back road of Vermont, and there he was standing by the road, hitchhiking. I pulled over and picked him up and drove him over to some other back road. On the way, he told me that he’d heard I was moving to New York City, and that I was going to become a comic-book artist. He thought that was really cool.

I let him off. I watched him lumber off. I watched Frankie Markham lumber off, down that back road. My old nemesis. All of a sudden he seemed small and sad. Not very often at all, I wonder about what happened to Frankie Markham.

Comics have always been desperately important to me. As a refuge. As inspiration. As a vehicle for my fantasies. As a career. I know I’m not alone, not in this room, in loving what comics are and what they can do. It’s that love that built this industry.

Jack Kirby was the biggest and brightest of a generation that brought so much love to the page that our entire industry is built upon it. It was an amazing generation. An epic generation. When you think about what they did … They clawed their way out of the Great Depression. Just this month, we were celebrating how they stormed the beaches of Normandy, beat Hitler, and quite literally saved the world. And along the way, they, in their generosity, gave us the comic book.

And now I’m lucky enough to be enough of a player in this field to be invited to speak to you all about the future of comics. And I will. But there’s no way to talk about the future of comics without addressing its past. There’s no way to properly understand where we are now and where we are going without looking at where we have been — and our history is so clouded by misconceptions and outright lies that I have to dispel a few of them just to help us all think straight.

Too often our villains have written our history. It’s very important that we keep in mind that up until very recently everything that’s been any damn good about comics has been done in spite of the rules of the game, not because of them. Men like Jack Kirby and Joe [Shuster] and Jerry Siegel and Wallace Wood and Steve Ditko — they brought such generous love to the page, and such joy to our lives, and so much money to our bank accounts, that it is easy to forget, way too easy to forget, that they were treated disgracefully.

Ours is a sad, sorry history. We have to keep that in mind while we’re in this room enjoying this. It’s a story of broken lives. Of suicides. Of brilliant talents treated like galley slaves. Talents denied the legal authorship of what they created with their own hands and minds. Ignored or treated as nuisances while their creations went on to make millions and millions of dollars.

An industry kept alive by love, in spite of all this. The love they gave the page. It’s a powerful thing. We must honor our dead, and we must understand our history. We cannot move forward without looking very clearly at where we have been.

Misconceptions. Outright lies.

Misconceptions. Here’s a whopper. One that has cost us dearly. The dreaded 1950s. Fredric Wertham. The outside world. It seems a week doesn’t go by where I don’t sit down with my Comics Buyer’s Guide and read about somebody, somewhere, fretting about the almighty outside world and how it is bound to notice our adventures are getting more adventurous. Nobody’s come after us in any big way, but there’s a little bit of the stink of censorship in the air, isn’t there? There’s all this noise about Janet Reno and Paul Simon and Beavis & Butt-Head, isn’t there? And we all know what happened last time, don’t we? In the fifties, with Frederic Wertham and the Senate hearings. They shut us down, didn’t they?

The outside world went and noticed us. The United States Senate held hearings and decided comic books caused juvenile delinquency, right? So we had to institute the Comics Code, right? Our backs were against the wall, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong. They didn’t. The Senate vindicated us. Frederic Wertham failed.

This is how screwy our sense of our own history is. Most people in comics don’t realize that the Senate vindicated us. After due consideration, the United States Senate decided comic books were not a cause of juvenile delinquency. We were vindicated.

Why, then, the Comics Code? Abject cowardice, maybe? Maybe, partly, but not entirely.

We were vindicated. Why did the comics industry go and adopt a code of self-censorship far stricter than any in entertainment? Why would a healthy, vital industry selling comics by the truckload — hell, by the trainload — and castrate itself? Why?

The answer may just make you all a little sick to your stomachs. You see, comics publishers in the 1950s had a problem. This problem had a name. Its name was William Gaines.

William M. Gaines was the rarest of creatures, a brilliant publisher. His EC Comics outsold everybody else’s comics by a long shot because they were better than anybody else’s comics. By a long shot. The other publishers couldn’t compete with him. Not fairly, anyway. So they used the free-floating fear of the time to shut him down. If you read the Comics Code — and I have — you’ll see that it was written with no purpose more noble than driving EC Comics out of business. That was its purpose, and it succeeded at it [waving a copy of Americana in Four Colors, a booklet published by the Comics Code].

I can back this up. I’ve got a copy of the Comics Code right here [ripping the cover off the booklet].

Excuse me, but I’m having some trouble opening it. Here are a couple of examples of the Comics Code. General Standards, Part A, Paragraph 11: “The letters of the word ‘crime’ should never be greater appreciably in dimension than other words contained on a cover. The word ‘crime’ should never appear alone on a cover.” See ya, Johnny Craig [ripping pages from the booklet, throwing them away].

And here is General Standards, Part B, Paragraph A: “No comic magazine shall use the word ‘horror’ or ‘terror’ in its title.”

A noble effort, folks.

That’s why we had that damn stupid Comics Code for all these years. Not to protect children. Not to satisfy the United States Senate. Not to mollify Frederic Wertham. We were stuck with the Comics Code for all those dumb decades because a pack of lousy comics publishers in the ’50s wanted to shut down Bill Gaines.

Misconceptions. That one continues to haunt us. Because of something that never happened, our industry cringes like a battered child every time there’s a hint of a threat from the outside world. Every few years, the fear talk starts again. Every few years, the producers of stories about heroes who never give up start whimpering that we should fold up our tents and surrender to an enemy who hasn’t even shown up.

These days, the fashionable form of self-censorship is a rating system, so that’s what people suggest. Cover advisories are waved like a magic wand that will chase away the censors. Cover advisories. Little apologies printed on the corner of covers. Nobody will bother us if we apologize … if the storm troopers come after us, we’ll be safe if we say we’re sorry …

Come on! What kind of self-delusion is that? Did cover advisories help Omaha the Cat Dancer or Yummy Fur or any of the other comics seized in busts? No! It pointed them out, if anything. That’s the first reason why cover advisories are a bad idea: they simply don’t work. All they do is save the censors a little time.

Please understand: I believe you should know what you’re ordering. Solicitation forms should tell you if a given comic might be trouble, so you can make your informed choice in your shop in your community as to how you want to handle the comic — or if you want to carry it at all. That’s your decision. And it’s my duty to put together my comic so that the format, the price point, and the cover honestly represent the contents.

It’s a matter of choices, yours and mine, and whether or not we’ll be left free to make our own.

I know I’m not out there on the front lines like you all are. Nobody’s going to storm into my studio and take my brushes and pens and paper away. But we are in this together, and when you lose, I lose.

That’s why I’m happy to report that I’ve been given at least some opportunity to help. Denis Kitchen broke the cowardly tradition of comics history by creating the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the first organization designed to fight censorship rather than surrender to it. Denis invited me to join its board of directors, and, not giving them a chance to come to their senses, I accepted the post.

We have to be brave, when and if the censors come. We have to stand up and stand together and give the bully a bloody nose. Apologies will only encourage the Frankie Markhams out there to come back for more.

There’s another reason, more serious and more subtle, why cover advisories are the first step toward disaster in our future. We are not part of the electronic media. We don’t play the same game with the censors that Hollywood does. We’re part of a smaller, better industry: publishing.

Bookstores don’t apologize for selling books for adults. Writers of prose don’t submit their works to a pack of rating system bureaucrats, or sit down with their notepad or computer when they get a good idea and think “are we talking about an ‘R’ here?” Book publishers use the First Amendment of the United States Constitution as a shield against censorship.

Cover advisories have a corrosive effect. I’ll be bold enough to say that every time a publisher uses one — every time an artist allows a cover advisory on his work — he is, in a small way, cutting away at the tether that connects us to the book industry and its First Amendment protection. Every cover advisory is a signal to lazy parents and opportunistic politicians that we are theirs for the taking.

We’re better than that. We’ve got too much love for that. We won’t let misconceptions about our own history ruin our own future. We’re better than that.

Misconceptions. Outright lies. Too often our history has been written by its villains.

Lies. Here’s a string of them, and all about the same man: Neal Adams is crazy. Neal Adams just didn’t like to work. Neal Adams was just being a troublemaker.

I can testify, as a firsthand witness: if there’s ever an accurate history of comics written, Neal Adams will be recognized not just as a brilliant and influential artist, but as a visionary, as a pioneer. As one of the heroes of the field. And if our future is as bright as I believe it can be, Neal Adams will be appreciated as the man who helped us turn a crucial corner toward that future.

I was there. I can testify. Neal Adams recognized that the talent was treated disgracefully. As much as he loved the doing of comics — l’ve never seen anybody work harder! Anybody who saw him can testify to this. Even the flu didn’t stop this guy — as much as he loved the doing, Neal was willing to sacrifice hours and days that amounted to years of a brilliant career, all to gain some measure of justice for Siegel and [Shuster] and others.

These days, cartoonists negotiate over how high a royalty is to be paid, not whether or not any will be paid at all. Neal came into a field where royalties were unheard of. A field where publishers routinely allowed original artwork to be stolen or shredded — did you know that at least one major publisher used to routinely shred the original artwork?

Picture something from the Golden Age. Something by your favorite artist. Joe Kubert, whoever, Carmine Infantino. Back then the originals were bigger [gesturing to indicate page size]. Now imagine taking this Joe Kubert page, and shoving it into a shredder and watching the little fingers come out the other end [miming action described]. I’ve just described to you the first work that one publisher gave to several comic book writers I know.

Neal was one of the very few people who helped change all this — and along the way, he taught a younger generation, my generation, that our work was worthy of respect. That our efforts deserved to be rewarded. That our families need not go hungry while our creations went on to make millions.

He taught me. He showed me that company loyalty at that time was an oxymoron that only a moron could believe. He had to be very patient. We don’t really learn until it happens to us, do we? And there’s always that little voice that says, “That was a long time ago, what they did to Siegel and [Shuster] and Kirby and Ditko… ”

So it’s no wonder that a lot of us were surprised when we learned that seventeen years of loyal service and spectacular sales didn’t buy Chris Claremont one whit of loyalty from Marvel Comics.

That was just one of many lessons learned by my generation, and now that we’ve learned them, it’s astounding to find out how many allies Neal Adams had — and how well they disguised themselves. A few months ago, I read a release from Defiant Comics and found out that Jim Shooter has spent his whole career fighting for creators’ rights. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

I knew Shooter was talented and accomplished. I knew he had something to do with the Legion of Super-Heroes. I had no idea he was Duo Damsel.

Misconceptions. Lies.

Here’s one lie you can almost forgive, given the current condition of its source. Marvel Comics is trying to sell you all on the notion that the characters are the only important component in comics. As if nobody ever had to create those characters. As if the audience is so brain-dead it can’t tell a good job from a bad one. You can almost forgive them this, since their characters aren’t leaving them in droves like the talent is.

For me, it’s a bit of a relief to finally see Marvel’s old work-made-for-hire, talent-don’t-matter mentality put to the test. We’ve all seen the results. They aren’t even rearranging the deck chairs.

And the way Marvel’s treating you all — the things I’ve been hearing about… I’d half expect that if I snuck past Terry Stewart’s secretary and through his office and into the board room and saw who the real boss is at Marvel, I might just find out what happened to Frankie Markham after all!

Marvel Comics has been caught flat-footed and dumbstruck by a sea change in our industry. They are paying the price for separating the talent from the characters. As if one is worth a damn without the other. They’re showing why creator ownership is so important, not just to me — that’s obvious — but to you as well.

Work-made-for-hire isn’t just bad for artists. It’s bad for business. Your business.

When I’m out on the road at conventions or store signings, there’s one question I get asked just about every time. Comics fans are generally a very polite bunch, but some anger usually shows when they ask this question:

“How come people don’t stay on books?”

“We loved your Batman. Why didn’t you stay? We loved your Daredevil. Why didn’t you stay?”

There’s a whole pile of answers to that one. You run out of steam. You have a fight with your collaborator. Blah, blah, blah. Things happen. But the main reason a lot of us leave best-selling titles for work-made-for-hire publishers is simple: You get sick of feeling like a schmuck.

Don’t get me wrong, here. Like everybody else of my generation, I knew the score coming in. I knew that I was playing with the company’s toys. I knew that any characters I created would be turned into cannon fodder for other people. I knew that when I was promised that nobody else would be allowed to write Elektra, I knew that promise would be kept right up until the moment it was convenient for them to break it, which is exactly what they did. I knew all my efforts wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans if some editor wanted my job. or had a buddy who did, and fired me. No matter how well the book was selling.

Don’t take my word for that one. Ask Chris Claremont. Ask Louise Simonson. Ask Jo Duffy.

Yeah, I knew all that. And I knew that I was strip-mining the past instead of building the future. That was the game, and I knew it, and I played it, and I had a ball. But after a while I did start feeling like a schmuck. So I took the risk and broke away and signed on with a younger publisher, Dark Horse, one of many new publishers who has come along to offer better terms. Publishers not trapped in the old grab-it-all, keep-it-all ways.

And I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. I own Sin City. Nothing can be done with Sin City without my permission. I can’t keep my hands off Sin City. I love Sin City. The love we give the page. It’s a powerful thing.

And now I can finally give that angry fan an answer he might like. An answer I could never have given him before.

If it’s Sin City, I write it. If it’s Sin City, I draw it. That’s a promise. No exceptions. No fill-in issues. That’s a promise. It’s a promise I can make only because I own Sin City.

The creator bound to his creation. The creator in charge of his creation. It’s better for me, and it’s better for you. Things are on their way to getting a whole lot better for both of us. But, still, the old, fearful mindset persists. The old self-contempt. And never has it been more shamelessly displayed than in the resentment and hatred that’s been aimed at Image Comics.

For decades, rotten business practices caused a steady, slow brain drain, driving talent away one by one. One by one. Each individual artist or writer, more or less replaceable. There were always new kids to come along and feed the machine.

Then along came ringmaster Todd McFarlane and his amazing friends. Instant millionaires, I’m told. Their popularity at a fever pitch. They had it made. They had money. They had fame. They had no reason to leave — except that they were smart enough to realize that the best you can get under work-made-for-hire is the status of a well-paid servant.

So they left. Brilliantly, they left all at once.

Consider this: Todd McFarlane and his pals turned their back on guaranteed wealth. Guaranteed fame. They risked all of that on something that had never been tried before — an imprint that represented a group of artists rather than a bankroll.

And it was a gamble. It never seems that way when a gamble works out, but I am sure Todd and Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld each had long nights, when they wondered if they’d made the biggest mistake of their lives.

They gambled and won. They shattered the work-made-for-hire mentality, showing how unnecessary it is. Even more surprisingly, they broke Marvel’s stranglehold on the marketplace. The kids went with them.

And people hate them for it.

Consider this: The best-selling comic book in the country is creator-owned. And artists aren’t celebrating. Too many of us are acting like galley slaves complaining that the boat is leaking.

Consider this: I wrote an issue of Spawn and was called a sellout — but nobody called me a sellout when I did Dark Knight and made more money from Batman than Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, and Dick Sprang ever made combined.

Consider this: Because of Image Comics, artists enjoy new opportunities and are paid better, even at Marvel Comics.

And nobody’s said “thank you.”

Let me be the first, then. Gentlemen. Thank you.

And, speaking as one of us who was out in the trenches a few years earlier, you’re welcome, too.

And now Image has inspired Legend and Bravura and, I’m sure, other talent-based imprints to come. We are headed for better times and better comics.

There are new self-publishers, and new publishers ready to offer fair and honorable terms. New homes for new creations — in a field that has been starving for something new and fresh. The future of comics.

I know this has been a scary time for many of you, maybe all of you. The Marvel Age of superhero universes, the Jack Kirby Age of Comics, is coming to an end. It’s gone supernova and burned itself out and begun its slow, steady collapse into a black hole.

We couldn’t feed off the genius of Jack Kirby forever. The King is dead, and he has no successor. We will never see his like again. No single artist will replace him. No art form can expect to be gifted with more than one talent as brilliant as his. The rest of us, we will build upon what he gave us. We’ll bring our best efforts, our own quirky, mischievous, and rude efforts. We’ll screw up, we’ll get lucky, we’ll do right, we’ll do wrong. We’ll make comics that are diverse and wild. We’ll take chances.

We’ll need you to take chances, too. When you hear about next week’s new work-made-for-hire superhero universe, please don’t stifle that yawn. Take a chance on the new comics. Look for the ones where the creator has every reason to stay and can’t be fired because he owns it, because it is his, and it is him.

It’s a scary time because change is always scary. But all the pieces are in place for a new, proud era, a new age of comics. And nothing’s standing in our way, nothing too awfully big. Nothing except some old, bad habits and our own fears. We won’t let them stop us. We’ll drop them off on some back road, like I did with Frankie Markham. We won’t wonder what happened to them. Not very often, we won’t. We won’t let them stop us.

I don’t post this to pretend like it’s Miller’s opinion today (though I figure it probably is still pretty close) or that it’s something I believe in 100%. I do think it’s fascinating that most of what he says still applies to the industry today. Even the Image stuff has kinda come around back to this point, with Image being new and exciting and Marvel feeling like yesterday’s toast a little too often.

It’s sort of depressing, actually. Legend and Bravura are no more, though a few of those guys are still making new work. We didn’t really enter a new age, as near as I can tell, as let the Jack Kirby Age limp on and on while the real world caught up to comics. Comics was forced into a new age, instead of pioneering a new one. Manga, webcomics, the internet as a discussion and delivery system, archival projects, book publishers taking notice… I don’t think Miller, or anyone, saw any of that coming, and Miller even had a hand in trying to get manga mainstream over here.

I’m maybe being unfair when I say it was forced into a new age, though. I thought of Image publisher Eric Stephenson’s post about the past twenty years in new comics while I was editing this, both as counterpoint and complement, and I realized that we’ve got a wealth of great comics now and an incredible comics culture. Maybe The Jack Kirby Age went away and now we’re in… I don’t know, I hesitate to name it because it’s so formless and open. The Chaotic Age of Comics.

Anything goes. I’ve spent the past couple weeks obsessing over Leiji Matsumoto (who has skipped in and out of the conversations I’ve been having online), reading One Piece and Toriko a couple weeks after they’re published in Japan, plotting the best way to binge on these three Peanuts hardcovers I have without burning myself out (I think burnout is impossible, but anything can happen), gawking at art books by Katsuhiro Otomo and Katsuya Terada, checking out the Extreme relaunch (which is introducing me to new artists), buying old Frank Miller/Bill Sienkiewicz comics used off the internet, reading Moebius and Jodorowsky’s The Incal for the first time ever, stocking up on 2000 AD, and more besides. I know the specifics of what I’ve been consuming are pretty idiosyncratic, but I don’t think my habits (the fact that I’m pulling from then and now and here and there simultaneously) are that weird, are they? Maybe that’s selection bias, but most people I know take in all types of comics from various periods of time. Even the cape lifers mix it up.

I think what I’m trying to say is that in this new, post-Kirby age, is that all, or at least a significant portion, of comics history is at my beck and call, and that the various types of comics — Japanese, European, newspaper strip, tights and fights, crime, romance — exist on basically the same plane. When I reach out to my shelf or look to my Amazon wish list, there’s this incredible spread of stuff for me to read, all of it different from its neighbors. I just went and looked at my list and like… there’s a short story manga collection, there’s a Wolverine comic I’m not gonna buy, there’s a manga about The Lourve drawn by Hirohiko Araki, a manga about geisha, a Sergio Aragones hardcover… there’s a level of choice in what’s out there for me to read that I never felt growing up. It’s spread across genre and style and country of origin, and even books that share three out of three might be totally different from each other in execution. That feels good. That feels like the epitome of what Stephenson is talking about.

But at this point, I’m rambling and Sandman Sims is on the way to rush me offstage. I hope you found Miller’s speech interesting or enlightening, and I’m curious what you think this age of comics is defined by. For me, it’s the embarrassment of riches. Is it something else for you?

As a sidebar, this essay actually warped my understanding of exploitation in comics as I grew up. Miller’s mostly on point here, and 100% on point from an emotional/justice standpoint, I think. He’s not quite right about a few of the specifics, though, and Chris Eckert has the much-needed corrections over here and more besides. It doesn’t dilute Miller’s overall point by much, though, but it’s worth mentioning if only to keep the conversation about this basically fact-based.

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if newsarama knew better, it would do better

April 16th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

I wrote a thing this weekend about some frankly laughable and odious comments Joseph Michael Straczynski made about Alan Moore and Dan Didio made about Before Watchmen on a DC panel at C2E2. I wrote about it because like… it’s obvious, right? They’re actually saying stupid and demonstrably false things in public and expecting us to nod our heads. That’s worth pointing out.

I took a trip around comicsinternet to see who else noticed and remarked on what JMS had to say. Here’s my answer, from an interview between Vaneta Rogers and Brian Azzarello, two people whose work I’ve greatly enjoyed in the past:

Newsarama: Brian, I know this is a little weird. But I’m going to do a Before Watchmen interview without talking about the so-called “controversy,” because I think we’ve covered that pretty well, don’t you?

Brain Azzarello: Yeah, and you know, everyone talked about this controversy, but there really hasn’t been much of one. I mean, I don’t read everything that people are saying.

Nrama: Obviously, the project’s moving forward no matter where the discussion goes. So let’s talk about the project instead. And to start, let me admit that I’m one of those people who read Watchmen years after it was published. A newcomer, I suppose.

This is the opening exchange in the interview. And… cool. I guess this is how it’s going to be. Any dissent to Before Watchmen classified as a “so-called scare quotes controversy scare quotes,” doubly negating it (because it isn’t a controversy, you see, and also, it isn’t a controversy), and as a controversy, something that has been hard to notice.

Actually, you know what? I’ll actually give Azzarello that point, that thing about there not really having been much of a controversy. I mean, I read a lot of comics news sites, people shoot me links to ones I don’t read when juicy stuff goes up… and here’s, as near as I can tell, the sum total of the organized dissent (meaning extended posts that are explicitly about the subject, rather than passing jokes/hate/whatever) against Before Watchmen in the comics media:

-Tom Spurgeon’s “Sometimes They Make It Hard To Ignore Creators Issues” and “Twenty-One Not Exactly Original Notes On More Watchmen, Written At A Slight Remove”
-Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson’s “NO FUN”
-Chris Mautner’s “We’ve come so far: On Before Watchmen and creators rights”
-Rich Johnston’s “The Ethics Of Before Watchmen”
-Mindless Ones’ “‘The Second Coming of Night Owl’, and other stories…”
-Tom Bondurant’s “Grumpy Old Fan | Set your clocks back”

Newsarama’s top dawg editor Lucas Siegel is on record as preferring to use Alan Moore’s great big British wizard tears instead of alcohol when he needs to get tore up, so the lack of dissent there is understandable. But unless I missed something major, even CBR proper (Robot6 being a subordinate but separate blog), The Beat, and my beloved sometime employer ComicsAlliance are thus far mum on the issue as far as dissent goes, but have still posted all the promo images, making for de facto approval.

There’s been a real failure of the comics press to address Before Watchmen from any angle but that of a hype man. Sure, some of us have tweeted about it, but where are the essays? We all know it’s going to sell gangbusters, but that’s no reason to avoid facing the issue head on.

So, in the interest of turning phrases like the “so-called ‘controversy’” into something that’s actually worth discussing like adults, here. Here’s (an abbreviated version of) my argument against Before Watchmen, which is shared in some form or another by many other comics readers and creators I know. The specifics may differ, but that’s on them. Here’s where I’m coming from. Your mileage may vary, but after this, you don’t get to deny a single solitary thing.

The Facts

1. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen is an enormously successful comic book, on creative, critical, and commercial levels
2. Moore and Gibbons both signed a contract that gave DC the rights to Watchmen until the book went out of print for a year (I believe), at which point they’d receive the rights back
3. Watchmen was an unheralded success, and the book has yet to go out of print. As a result, Moore and Gibbons never got their rights back.
4. DC promised to share revenue from Watchmen-related merchandise, and then went ahead and produced merchandise and classified it as promotional and didn’t give M&G anything
5. These shenanigans, along with a coming ratings system that Moore disagreed with, led Moore to cut ties with DC entirely
6. DC brought Wildstorm, which came along with America’s Best Comics. Moore felt that leaving DC again would screw his artists over, so he stuck around
7. DC continued screwing with Moore over the years, from pulping his comics to either sabotaging (or botching to such an extent that it might as well be sabotage) the release of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier
8. Moore cut ties again, and has consistently refused DC’s money, overtures, and renegotiations.
9. Before Watchmen is a series of prequels to Watchmen, some thirty-five issues that will shed light on characters from the book
10. Alan Moore gives grumpy, hyperbolic interviews, but his basic point is that he’d prefer it not happen (and not because he wants money [he doesn't, by his own word] but because it’s shameless and ugly).
11. For all his faults, Paul Levitz refused to let Before Watchmen happen on his watch. As soon as he left, it was on.
12. Before Watchmen has an economic motivation, not an artistic one. No one said “Boy, I have this great Nite Owl story.” Dan Didio said, “Hey, we need to make more money, and Watchmen is just sitting there. Who do we have who wants to sign on for fat cash?”

I think we can all agree on all of this? If you don’t agree, sorry bro. Open whatever history book they hide comics history in. I’m no scholar and even I know all of this is on the record as being true and consistent, barring the quotes, which I’m sure are true in spirit.

There are a few things that people, mainly DC staff and Joseph Michael Straczynski, like to bring up with scabrous intensity and frequency.

Not The Issue

1. The comics aren’t going to be good as the original! (Who cares? It’s not about quality, and maybe they’ll be enjoyable on their own.)
2. The creators involved suck! (Yeah, Darwyn Cooke, Brian Azzarello, Amanda Conner, and Jae Lee are b-list now? Get real. They do great work. I can give you a list. I’ll grant you JMS and Len Wein, though.)
3. Alan Moore copies peoples characters, too! (It’s not about working on someone else’s properties, and this is a false equivalency, anyway. Moore isn’t writing Dracula 2 or Before Moby Dick. He’s using public domain characters — meaning characters whose creators enjoyed the fruits of their labor before dying and the characters passing into public domain, not characters who were effectively stolen by way of shady contracts and lawyering — in new ways. When he does use non-PD characters, it’s never by name. If you don’t know who they are, you won’t know who they are. That’s demonstrably different than some dude writing Nite Owl: What Happened Before.)
4. Alan Moore is just greedy! (If he was greedy, he’d have taken a quarter million dollar [or however much] payout when DC offered it.)
5. Alan Moore is arrogant and sitting on the moral high ground. (“Please stop screwing me” is the opposite of arrogance and the moral high ground.)

These are false arguments. People might have said them in passing, or as part of a larger argument, but they aren’t the meat of why so many people have problems with Before Watchmen. These are strawmen that DC has propped up to be shot down, so as to murder any dissent in its crib. Last weekend, DC brought out a “mildly skeptical fan” (read: paid plant, shill, scrub, faker, liar, fool) who expressed concern. They showed him some art on the panel and WHOA! They beat the skeptic! Everybody, they beat the skeptic! They win! Before Watchmen is a good idea now!

That’s how strawmen work. You beat them up for a cheap victory in front of the rubes. The rubes, in this case, being whoever it is you think isn’t quite convinced by your press rollout just yet. Alongside these strawmen, DC staff, Dan Didio especially, has been crowing about how opposition has been minimal. How everyone who had concerns was soon convinced otherwise. He never names names. Who was concerned? Who was convinced? Where are these paragons of virtue, that they might deliver unto us wisdom?

The Controversy

Here’s the controversy, put as plainly as I can muster right now. You might have pedantic issues with specifics of this due to my phrasing, but suck it up. We’re all adults here. You know what i’m saying.

“The problem with Before Watchmen is that DC Comics cheated Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons out of the rights to Watchmen. Gibbons is fine with this, as is his right to be, and Moore is upset, as is also his right. Before Watchmen, therefore, is exploiting characters gained through the same shady means that have punctuated the comics industry over the years. The comics industry has screwed over dozens of creators, and Before Watchmen is just another screwjob. The broadsides against Alan Moore from JMS are disgusting, and Dan Didio’s dog and pony show to ameliorate doubts are laughably see-thru.”

Get it? We all feel strongly about creators’ rights. At least, I hope so. This is, at its most basic level, a creators’ rights issue. It’s about respecting creators, their work, and the product of that work.

I had a conversation with a pro creator at Emerald City Comicon. He explained the Before Watchmen situation like this: Alan Moore is one of the most respected writers in comics. He has co-created, revamped, or introduced tons of things that have enriched both the medium and the artform. His books are routinely some of the best-crafted works around, even if they’re not to your or my tastes, and he’s one of the few writers in the running for GOAT. But when he says, “Hey, listen. Please don’t do more Watchmen. I’ve been mistreated by DC, and I think the book stands very well on its own besides,” the response from DC and the creative teams involved is essentially, “No, fuck you, Alan.”

I don’t know how to feel about a lot of creators I respect and like working on these books. On the one hand, do what you gotta do to feed your family. But on the other… isn’t there some better way to go about doing that? I’m conflicted. But this is an ugly situation.

I don’t know how to put it any plainer. DC Comics is screwing Alan Moore right here in front of us, and the best Newsarama has to offer is that it’s a “so-called ‘controversy’”? One, it is a controversy, and two, you don’t just not talk about the controversy because the books are going to come out anyway. What kind of fatalist, ridiculous garbage is that? I mean, gosh, you don’t tell somebody with cancer, “Look, we both know you got some cancers up in there, so why don’t we talk about the weather, instead?”

And no. You don’t do that. You talk about the cancer, you treat the cancer, you tear it out and stamp on it until it’s gone. Until it’s a memory of a time when Marvel could tell Jack Kirby to give up any rights he was owed, when Marvel could promise Frank Miller that Elektra was going to stay dead and then bring her back anyway, when Ditko disappeared from mainstream comics, when Moore & Gibbons were cheated out of what they’re owed, and when editors used creators like chess pieces because they were eager to get the books out on time, instead of like people who they thought could do a great job.

It’s 2012. A lot of things have changed since Siegel & Shuster got their raw deal. But not enough has changed, clearly, if we’re still having this same old stupid conversation.

“Should comics companies get to screw over creators? Sure, as long as I get my tights and fights on time.” Okay then. If that’s your position, fine. I don’t think you have to agree with me. But to pretend like there isn’t any real opposition to this, from both fans and peers, makes you a liar, so you should maybe keep that in mind when talking about this. And if they don’t want to answer your questions, you ask them why they don’t want to answer your questions. Why why why. Make them go on the record.

“DC Comics screwed, and is screwing, Alan Moore.”

That’s the controversy. Now let’s talk it out instead of pretending like it doesn’t exist.

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“Don’t worry if I write rhymes. I write checks.”

April 15th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

Y’all have probably seen this clip from The Wire before. I think Matt Maxwell tossed it on Twitter a few weeks back, and I know I put it on tumblr shortly after. It’s about chicken nuggets and being rewarded for innovation. I’d embed it, but HBO hates the internet, so here’s a transcript:

Wallace: Yo, D, you want some nuggets?
D’Angelo: Nah, g’head, man.
Wallace: Man, whoever invented these, yo, he off the hook.
Poot: What?
Wallace: Mm! Motherfucker got the bone all the way out the damn chicken. ’til he came along, niggas been chewin’ on drumsticks and shit, gettin’ they fingers all greasy. He said later for the bone, let’s nugget that meat up and make some real money.
Poot: You think the man got paid?
Wallace: Who?
Poot: The man who invented these.
Wallace: Shit, he richer than a motherfucker.
D’Angelo: Why? You think he get a percentage?
Wallace: Why not?
D’Angelo: Nigga please. The man who invented them things just some sad-ass down at the basement of McDonald’s, thinkin’ up some shit to make some money for the real players.
Poot: Naw, man, that ain’t right.
D’Angelo: Fuck “right.” It ain’t about right, it’s about money. Now you think Ronald McDonald gonna go down in that basement and say, “Hey, Mr. Nugget, you the bomb. We sellin’ chicken faster than you can tear the bone out. So I’m gonna write my clowny-ass name on this fat-ass check for you”?
Wallace: Shit.
D’Angelo: Man, the nigga who invented them things still workin’ in the basement for regular wage, thinkin’ up some shit to make the fries taste better or some shit like that. Believe.
Wallace: He still had the idea though.

edit: Whoops, found an embeddable:

What sucks about this is how it shows both how the comics industry isn’t special — down here we all float, baby — and how… poisonous and mercenary and amoral this sort of thinking is. You can argue justice til you’re blue in the face, but that’s not what matters. When you’re a business, right isn’t even part of the equation. You’re only responsible for making sure that the money you make this year is more than what you made last year within the letter of the law. If the law doesn’t explicitly say you should treat your people well, then hey. Guess what: you don’t have to do it. You can strip mine a man’s ideas and give him the boot when you’re bored.

Did y’all know Frank Miller used to get a “created by” credit for Elektra? You can see it in that borderline unreadable Elektra: Root of Evil book that DG Chichester and Scott McDaniel produced in ’95. Part of his deal with Marvel was a promise, I dunno if it was written or verbal, that they wouldn’t bring Elektra back to life after she died. He left, and they brought her back to life. At first, they gave him a creator credit. Then they stopped. And just like that, the guy who made Elektra matter was stitched out of the narrative. She’s intellectual property now.

What’s so bothersome about McDonald’s vs Mr Nugget is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Common sense tells you that if you reward invention, you’re much more likely to get more of it. When a toddler poops in the toilet for the first time, you laugh and cheer and smile to show him he did good. (This analogy is terrible.) That encourages his behavior and makes him more likely to keep it up. We put kids on the honor roll to show them that there’s a reward for getting good grades, a certain level of prestige. You buy your old lady a wedding ring because she’s better than all the others out there, and it is important to you to maintain that relationship forever. (That’s what we call love, kiddo. You’ll understand when you’re older.) It’s gratitude and support, yeah?

Work-for-hire is fine. That’s not the problem. You can work on other people’s property and do a great job and create something with artistic merit or just really great drawings of bathtubs or whatever. It’s the culture around work-for-hire that’s the problem, where innovators are just cogs in the machine to be spun until they wear out. It’s where Batman is bigger than the people who make him.

Look at it like this. Alan Moore put his name on the map with Swamp Thing, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and Miracleman, right? There were others, but I feel like those are the biggest milestones. DC published three out of those four, along with other books like Batman: The Killing Joke and that one Green Lantern story about sound. He gave DC a lot, especially since you can basically draw a line from Swamp Thing to the birth of Vertigo, but contract disputes and a foolhardy ratings system chased him out in the late ’80s.

Outside of DC, but still in a similar vein, he worked on books like 1963, Supreme, WildCATs, Youngblood, and more. He eventually launched his own cape-y line with America’s Best Comics, at which point DC promptly bought ABC’s parent company Wildstorm and began publishing Moore comics again. When Moore left again, the ABC comics were tainted and faded away.

Now imagine if DC had bent just a little and done some work to keep Moore under their wings. It takes a minimal amount of work to see how any of his cape-oriented ’90s work could easily be transplanted to the DC Universe. I mean, Supreme was “He’s Superman, But A Dick” and Moore switched him up to be more Silver Age. Imagine if Moore had been around when Vertigo kicked off, and DC would’ve been more open to works like From Hell. They probably wouldn’t have published Lost Girls, but if they’d thought “right” before “profit” just once, they could’ve reaped the rewards of having one of comics’ best writers in their stable for the next twenty years.

But, nah, that’s all hypothetical. It’s very easy to sit around and make things up about what could have/should have/would have happened. If we’re dealing with the real, then we’re dealing with Before Watchmen, a prequel to a twenty-six year old comic. We’re dealing with Swamp Thing being stuck in a cycle that keeps coming back around to shed further light on “The Anatomy Lesson” because the shadow Moore cast on that book is so large.

I’m not saying that the Big Two have gotta give up all rights to the characters and content. But throw some incentives at the creators, give them greater input into how these characters and stories are gonna shake out, push the creators as hard as you push the characters, give them a bonus if something blows up huge… do something to keep them happy. You’d gain so much goodwill from your creative staff, you’d have a lot more property to exploit, you’d have people getting even more invested in the work they do for you even if they don’t own it because they know you’ll take care of them.

It’s such a no-brainer. It’s so obvious that it can’t possibly be true. Marvel having Icon lets them keep Matt Fraction and Brian Bendis on lock even while they write Marvel’s marquee IP. Why not expand that?

My favorite part of that scene is when Wallace goes “He still had the idea though.” ’cause in the end, behind all the business and exploitation and sadness… these people had some amazing ideas. The Black Racer, John Constantine, Elektra, Howard the Duck… Marvel and DC can’t claim creativity, no matter how many crappy contracts they’ve churned out and creators they’ve burned. That belongs to Jack Kirby, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Steve Gerber, and dozens more.

I don’t have a new or profound point here, I guess. I just wanted to talk this out, while I’m figuring out where I stand and where I should be standing.

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“Trying to guard the fortress of a king they’ve never seen or met”

April 14th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

BREAKING BEFORE WATCHMEN NEWS! COURTESY OF COMIC BOOK RESOURCES DOT COM AND C2E2 AND DC COMICS!

“I’m happy to say that every single person sitting on this stage right now was at the top of the wish list,” he continued, saying he had “complete faith” in executing the series. DiDio also said he expected “more of a negative reaction” to the initial announcement. “What happened was incredible. Everyone I talked to was excited about it,” saying “all the concerns went away” when people heard about the creative talent.

After calling up a “mildly skeptical” fan to meet with Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne, Wayne began showing the fan some material shown at the Diamond Retailer Summit.

After calling up a “mildly skeptical” fan to meet with Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne, Wayne began showing the fan some material shown at the Diamond Retailer Summit.

“It tells it from his early childhood and becoming the Owl, his partnership with Rorschach and how that went badly,” said Straczynski, who specifically referenced the moment in “Watchmen” where the Silk Spectre found a signed picture of the Twilight Lady.

For “Minutemen,” DiDio said he felt Darwyn Cooke was the best choice for the book before Joe Kubert made a surprise appearance as a late addition to the panel.

Straczynski, characterized working with the Kuberts as “extraordinary.” “The work has just been phenomenal,” he said. “It’s so tight, you see such emotion in the characters, it’s just an awful lot of fun. What tickles me enormously is I get to see everyone else’s stuff and you guys have no idea what’s coming at you.”

The mildly skeptical fan was brought onto the stage after Wayne’s mini-presentation and said, “My skepticism has been put to rest and the artwork is beautiful.”

Good news, y’all. All of your concerns about the dubious business practices of DC Comics and how they basically robbed Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons of the rights to Watchmen have been resolved! DC found a paid shill to sit in the audience and pretend to be skeptical, all so that they could put on a song and dance to show us that the art looks nice!

Let me be the first to say WHEW! I’m glad that they managed to get the people at the top of their list, too, since Kevin Smith, Grant Morrison, and Frank Quitely all turned them down. That’s how you know they’re being truthful: there’s no hype, just hard-hitting facts. Funnybook Babylonian Chris Eckert has more on DC’s effective and inspiring marketing scheme here, and a hint for what JMS’s book might be like!

Our worries have been all for naught, so please rest assured that the art looks nice, and therefore the work is legally and morally correct! I don’t know about you, but I’m sure glad that this was resolved with a minimum of bloodshed and mealy-mouthed, spineless justificatiowhoops, hang on, I’m getting another transmission…

Straczynski addressed the online criticism of Alan Moore and said he got it on an emotional level. “Alan Moore is a genius. No question,” said Straczynski. “On the other hand, he’s been using characters like the Invisible Man, Peter Pan, Jekyl and Hyde in what one fan basically called fan fiction — in ways their original creators probably wouldn’t have approved of. … You stand on a slippery slope when you use the moral high ground.” “Did Alan Moore get a crummy contract? Yes. So has everyone at this table. Worse was Segal and Shuster, worse was a lot of people.” The writer went on to credit Dan DiDio for pushing the project through, despite the fact that most would not touch it.

He’s right! You know he’s right. Just admit he’s right. JMS has said this before, but since Alan Moore sometimes uses characters created by people who got to enjoy the money, fame, and recognition of the full lifespan of those characters before they died and the characters lapsed into public domain and therefore belong to the culture at large, enriching all of us, Moore is a hypocrite! Worse than that, he’s the most odious type of hypocrite! A fanfic hypocrite! I mean, what kind of writer works on things he didn’t invent himself? Slip and fall down your slippery slope, Alan, and take your moral high ground (how do I type with a whiny baby voice? is there an html tag for that?) with you.

I mean, who does he think he is? Have you seen this amazing moral high ground that he apparently has claimed? “Hey fellas, I got screwed over, and have been regularly screwed over the past dozen or so years by DC pulping my comics, interfering with my work, and hassling my friends. Please don’t help them screw me even more. I would like it very much if they would stop screwing me so that I can go back to smoking weed and writing books and hanging out with my wife instead of answering interminable interview questions about things that I’d like to put behind me.”

The nerve of this guy. All of us sign bad contracts, Alan. Siegel and Shuster and Kirby and Gerber and JMS, the creator of much-beloved space ships and lasers show Babylon 5 and dude famous for walking off comics because he gets bored or writes bad comics or something, got screwed, Alan. Do you think you’re better than us, Alan? Do you think you don’t deserve to be screwed like the rest of us, Alan? Huh? Do you? Are you saying that you deserve to be treated better than Jack “King” Kirby? Is that it?

Whatta prick.

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