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Friday’s Editorial Conference

There have been two recent news stories that seem to fascinate the comics world; partly, I think, because of the one-two punch style of timing involved, and partly because it lets fans yell at a major superhero publisher (a pastime that I often suspect outweighs the pleasure of actually reading superhero stories for some people.)

The first was Grant Morrison blithely telling Newsarama that as far as he was concerned, plot points in Countdown To Final Crisis and Death of the New Gods shouldn’t have any bearing on Final Crisis since he’d written his story before those two series came out.

When it's GRANT MORRISON, it's not a crossover, it's ART! KNEEL, bitches!

This despite the fact that A) they directly contradict what Morrison wrote in his Final Crisis script.

This probably SHOULD be forgotten. But I hated Cosmic Odyssey, too.

And B) the other two series were released first, with one billed as being the direct prequel leading up to Grant’s book.

Oh, if only we COULD forget this. I'm embarrassed for everyone involved... they've done good work elsewhere, honest.

Now, you can argue the merits of adherence to continuity or not as you please, but that wasn’t the weird part. The weird part, to me, was that it seemed to befuddle him that fans were bothered about it at all. Does Mr. Morrison work in some kind of sterile bubble? Has he not ever met a comics fan? Has he blanked out all his years on JLA?

Anyway, how the internet caught fire over that. We even had quite a back-and-forth over it here. The argument seemed to break out as roughly, “Grant’s an artist! It’s not his problem what other writers do!” versus, “Grant’s supposed to be a goddamn professional! Why didn’t he revise his script to match his colleagues?!”

This was followed by Chuck Dixon’s stealth-bomb announcement on his Dixonverse board that he was “no longer employed by DC in any capacity.”

Damn shame. I was about to put this series back on my list.

So much for Dixon’s much-ballyhooed return to DC, and particularly to the Bat characters.

I was going to pick this one up again too... sigh.

Right now — as I write this, anyway — no one knows anything. At least no one who’s willing to talk about it. DC and Dixon are both keeping mum. (In fairness, the reasons are none of our business…but clearly, something went wrong somewhere.)

And naturally this has led us to another outcry all over the blogosphere, more calls for Dan Didio’s head on a platter, etc., etc.

Oddly, though, nowhere (at least nowhere I’ve seen, and I’ve read a number of pieces about these two news items over the last week) does anyone ask the question that I’d think would be first one out of the gate, especially for anyone that’s been around any kind of actual publishing.

My first thought (both times) was, who the hell were the editors on those books and what were they doing?

It was easy enough to look up. Eddie Berganza is the editor of record on Final Crisis. His assistant is Adam Schlagman. On Countdown it’s Mike Carlin assisted by Elisabeth Gehrlein. And on Death of the New Gods it was Mike Marts and Jeanine Schaefer. Over on the Bat books Chuck Dixon was working on, for Robin the editor is Jeanine Schaefer, and on Batman and the Outsiders it’s the team of Marts and Schaefer again.

As far as I know, no one’s calling for their immediate lynching. (Nor should they. I mean, come on, it’s just superhero comics. People need to get a grip.) Nevertheless, some criticism is in order here.

Now, before we get into this, I want to make my position clear. I’ve worked in and around magazines, publishers, and editors for almost twenty years now, and I assure you that editors have the most thankless job in publishing. No one ever puts down a book or a magazine or a comic and thinks, “Man, that was great. That was one hell of an editor that put that thing together.” Yet most of the time it’s the editor that makes it happen.

Unsung heroes. I believe that. Even if I am about to beat a bunch of them up.

He (or she) is the person that’s usually responsible for the birth of the project, either by soliciting talent for a story or by coming up with a premise and hiring the creators to flesh it out. He (or she) is the person that has to make it all come in on time and under budget, also often overseeing the production and printing long after the creators have collected a paycheck and departed. He (or she) is always the one that the publisher expects to solve any problems that come up; ideally, solving them without having to spend any money. The job invariably involves long hours, headaches, ulcers, drama, and the occasional tantrum. For these routinely herculean efforts editors get… no credit. And all of the blame.

I’ve worked for bad editors and they have always, always been people who let the job beat them down to the point where they didn’t care any more. And I’ve worked for good editors who refused to let that happen and they verged on the saintly. I’ve been an editor and discovered quickly that I’m not a saint and I have limited endurance, so I got the hell out and counted myself lucky not to have alienated all my friends during that brief period (though I daresay that job was a contributing factor to the end of my first marriage.) Believe me, I have a lot of respect for people who do editorial work, especially at major publishing houses.

Still, it is my years of experience in and around publishing that leads me to think that if there’s blame to be handed out in any of these instances, I’d think the editors would be coming in for some…. and by some I mean “a lot.”

Let’s take a minute to unpack the Morrison thing first.

Put continuity debates off to the side for a minute. Let’s not forget that DC Comics is a business. A business where the boss just announced a major new policy.

For the record? i still think this is nutty. But anyway...

I mean it was in all the goddamn books shipping that week. This is how it’s going to be. Continuity is a big deal for us, line-wide. We take our fictional history SERIOUSLY, as seriously as you do, loyal readers. Our books will be an unfolding tapestry of consistency.

Then, just a month later, comes a major gaffe — okay, perceived gaffe — in the biggest book DC is putting out this summer. The one they’ve been hyping for a year.

Here is the thing I am really baffled about. How is Eddie Berganza not all over Mike Carlin about what’s going on in Countdown for the last two-three months’ worth of books leading up to Final Crisis #1? Checking in at least a couple of times a week, if not daily?

These guys are both professionals. Carlin, especially, knows the headaches involved in coordinating this kind of thing after years of being the Superman editor during a bunch of big event stories (done as a weekly serial!) during the triangle-number era. Hell, Carlin used to have big flowcharts, with the story beats all mapped out, posted in his editorial meetings. Where was the chart listing the beats in Final Crisis #1 during the Countdown conferences, if Morrison had it all done in advance? “Okay, guys, this is where we end up.”

And why wasn’t Eddie Berganza sitting in on a meeting or two? “Remember, this is where Grant needs us all to be. Here’s a copy of the script to the first issue. We’d like you to tease this part and this part, but for Chrissake keep a lid on this part.” How hard is that?

Or Mike Marts telling Jim Starlin, “Hey, Jim, FYI, Grant’s got this lined up for #1 in Final Crisis. It has a serious impact on what you’ve got planned and Jones already did the pages for this. What are our options? Can we tweak this story of yours a little?”

The reason this has me flummoxed is because more than anything else I’ve seen, this is what editors do. That is the job.

Most people think of the editor as a sort of two-legged spellchecker. That’s not it at all.

Good editors DO pay attention to spelling. But that's not the job.

The editor’s the foreman. He’s the one who’s in charge, who makes sure everything happens like it’s supposed to. Editors not only plan, they are constantly making contingency plans. “This story’s late? Okay, we move that one up and we slot this piece instead. Press broke down? Okay, get this other printer on the phone and see if he can run it. I thought we were supposed to have a first draft on that ninja thing. Wait a minute, he says he’s still researching? Research my ass, researching the ponies is what he’s doing. Screw him. We eat the advance and we call Smith instead. Tell him we need to see a draft in four days.”

It’s not art. It’s commercial art. It’s a business. In the publishing business, serious money rides on getting these things right. Good editors check on things while they’re being worked on.

…but all right. Editors are human. Shit happens. Maybe the flowcharts were all in place and everyone knew the storybeats but something got garbled. Maybe it was too late to pull the books and fix them. Maybe it was too hard to decide which creator it would hurt the least to do the revisions and as a result no one took the initiative. Whatever. It’s done. All right.

…except…

Where was the damage control?

Because that’s the part of the editor’s job that’s not contingency plans, basically. Fixing things that have gone wrong.

Instead, we have Grant Morrison going off the reservation and telling Newsarama, well, yeah, whatever, people shouldn’t worry about it. Right on the heels of his editor’s boss announcing to Grant’s readership that hell YEAH, this matters, we all worry about it, we’re putting a special logo on the books so you will all know how MUCH we worry about it.

Bear in mind that it’s not about the merits of continuity. Bottom line, it’s a writer declaring that the new company policy (the policy that is barely a month old) is now inoperative, at least for the book he’s working on… which is, oh yeah, the most important book of the line this summer.

In real, grown-up publishing, that writer usually gets his ass fired. Or he gets a stern lecture. If the writer’s too big of a rock star to fire, and okay, Morrison probably is… then you can bet the EDITOR gets his ass handed to him. “Can’t you put a muzzle on him? He’s making us all look like idiots. Hell, he’s calling us incompetent in a major news outlet. Shut him up and get out there and fix this.”

But not a peep out of any of the editors involved. Not even a hey, okay, we dropped the ball, but the book’s still good, wait’ll you see what’s coming up! Just Grant Morrison chatting away about how he and Mr. Jones are doing great work and too bad about those other idiots, but really, why are you even interested in them?

I don’t get it. It doesn’t make business sense to me. Never mind the artistic considerations… honestly, I’m not convinced there are any serious artistic considerations. I don’t actually care that much about how the DC Universe matches up to itself. I have no problem compartmentalizing my brain to accommodate Death of the New Gods and Final Crisis and even Countdown, if I were masochist enough to read Countdown. I might amuse myself speculating about ways to reconcile contradictory plot points, because I’m a big nerd that way, but I wouldn’t get all upset.

However, simply in terms of how a big publishing firm is supposed to work, it sure looks staggeringly incompetent.

This was too funny not to put in the column somewhere. Found it googling 'comic editor.'

Or take the Chuck Dixon thing. Whatever’s going on there — and we still don’t know, except that now Mr. Dixon has gone on record that he did not quit and he did not believe it had anything to do with politics.

Whatever. The point is, he was, ahem, “let go.” I have to wonder, what is the editorial thinking behind that?

This is Chuck Dixon, after all. A guy who’s a consummate pro by all reports. (In fact, I use a video he did for CrossGen years ago, talking about how to write comics, as an introductory piece in my class.) So I’m going to go out on a limb and hazard a guess that the problem did not involve constant shouting matches, lateness, refusal to do revisions, or any of another half-dozen arrogant prima donna-type possible problems. Dixon worked on quite a few of the major Bat crossovers, he knows how to be a team player.

Which leads me to speculate — I know, it’s bad form, but I’m writing for a blog, I can’t help myself — that it might be the bane of every freelancer’s existence, the editor who suddenly decides that ‘it’s time to go in a different direction.’

There are lots of reasons for this. Most of them are rooted in anxiety. Trying to ramp up sales. Trying to get some buzz on a book. Trying to create an opening with an idea of getting a bigger marquee name. Could be anything. We don’t know.

Which is, again, the weird part.

I understand that Chuck Dixon is taking the high road with refusing to talk about it. I even approve of it and wish we saw more of this brand of restraint from creators in comics.

What I don’t get is why Jeanine Schaefer or somebody isn’t out there talking to Newsarama or CBR or The Beat about why this isn’t a disastrous meltdown, but rather an Exciting New Direction.

Because it’s bad business not to try to get out in front of something like this… especially if you’re the one making it happen. Remember, Chuck Dixon didn’t quit. So someone, likely an editor, fired him. Surely not on a whim? Or in a fit of pique? Firing Chuck Dixon off Robin — the guy that essentially created the Tim Drake character for all practical purposes — well, you better have a damn good reason. Why aren’t we hearing what it is? If you’ve decided to ‘go in a different direction,’ shouldn’t you, y’know, have one?

It sure looks like they don’t. But again, that’s because no one’s telling us any different. “No comment”? Is that the best DC’s editorial staff has for this?

When a publisher leaves a news vacuum, fans will invariably spin it into a worst-case scenario. Those fans are out there right now, posting and blogging and crabbing, with far less charity towards DC Editorial than I am showing in this column. (And I’m not showing all that much.) Considering the sales numbers DC is doing right now, can they really afford to manage their image this badly? Do they just plain not understand that if they aren’t out there persuading the internet to help them, then it’s going to hurt them?

It's not all that relevant. I just thought it was funny.

Where’s the planning? Where’s the strategy? Where are the editors?

Just wondering. A lot.

See you next week.

136 Comments

Aaaaand this entire bit of crap is why I’m down to very few DC books. I’m buying All-Star Superman (one more issue!), Trinity (unless it gets even 1/10th as bad as Countdown got), and the Green Lantern titles.

The company seems to have really slid downhill the past year or so.

So I’ve heard an interesting rumor about this, not quite inside info, but sourced well enough I’m inclined to take it seriously. I cannot disclose the source as the information was passed along entirely off-the-record, so you may take this with a grain of salt.

What I’ve heard regarding this situation is that Dixon was approaching the books as regular runs and so had written very far ahead on all of his titles– I’m hearing something like two years’ worth of scripts. However, editorial didn’t give him full details of the outcome of upcoming events like Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis, so the vast bulk of what Dixon wrote ended up being unusable.

This led to sharp disagreements about rewriting the scripts and whether Dixon should have produced that much material in the first place, and presumably the end of Dixon’s employment at DC.

Lynxara, if that’s the case, well… it still strikes me as a case of editorial bungling, since one of an editor’s jobs is to be in touch with the writers at least to the point where they KNOW WHAT THE WRITER IS DOING.

Also — and again, IF that’s what happened — Jesus H. Christ, you don’t FIRE a guy for being professional. The job becomes, “How do we fix this”?

I mean, I’ve been that writer. I’ve had an editor apologetically tell me that they’re throwing a column out (because they’re ‘going in a different direction’) and they need a new one. And I swore and carried on and had a fit.

But I did the new column and I got over it. Partly because the editor was sooooo apologetic and grateful that I was willing to consider taking another swing at it. And partly because I got a kill fee. I ended up being a regular there for ten years and winning them a couple of awards. I still do an occasional job for that outfit, even though I sometimes disagree with the way they do things.

Because I was treated well, even when the wheels came off the wagon, even when decisions were made that I thought were stupid. Because the editor knew not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Dixon’s a good writer. On Robin he’s been a great writer. You don’t fire a guy like that unless you have a really good reason. You make it work. If you’re doing your job as an editor.

Yeah, part of why I posted this is that I’d heard the story a few hours earlier and was mulling over how I felt about it when I happened to start reading this article. Just as a working writer and occasional editor I’d agree with you 100%. If this is really what happened with Dixon, then I think your column’s argument bears more weight than ever, as does its criticisms of DC’s lax editorial policy. If you must sell continuity porn, please strive to make it competent continuity porn that isn’t full of consistency errors when placed alongside output from the same month.

Oddly, though, nowhere (at least nowhere I’ve seen, and I’ve read a number of pieces about these two news items over the last week) does anyone ask the question that I’d think would be first one out of the gate…

Honestly, I was under the impression that in the comments section on Brian’s earlier post — to which you link above — several of us were speaking to the very question you say none of us has been asking. What you’re saying here is exactly what I thought some of us were saying there. Apparently I was mistaken!

I admit I haven’t been keeping up with all the comments in the various articles and postings. But nowhere have I seen the editor’s names. It’s always “Didio” or “editorial.” My bafflement ramped up quite a bit, for example, when I looked it up and saw it was Mike Carlin on Countdown and Berganza on FC . That was a huge WTF moment.

To me, it’s easy. Morrison’s a great writer who’s big enough to do what he wants. Countdown was horrible, and so was Death of the New Gods, and they both fed out of 52, which was fantastic and partially his doing, as opposed to the first two that were done over his objections and without his input. Getting mad at him over ignoring Countdown/Death is holding him to standards that would make Final Crisis worse, not better.

And to be honest, most of us are part of the picky, nerdy, tiny contingent of fans who have been vocally praying that Final Crisis would be the Morrison-fueled redemption of all the concepts and characters that Countdown and Death dragged (and dragged and dragged) through the mud. So now we’ve got a shot at getting what we wanted, and thank God.

Andrew Collins

June 14, 2008 at 12:23 am

If I remember correctly, there was an issue of Nightwing several months back where the penciller had made a handwriiten note for a stat of the Wayne Industries logo to be placed over the entrance of a building he had drawn. Instead of that stat being placed there, the issue MADE IT TO PRESS WITH THE HANDWRIITTEN NOTE STILL THERE! It said something like “Place Wayne Industries logo here.” That told me all I needed to know about the competency of DC’s current editorial staff…

I try not to get specific past “DC editorial,” because it is so endemic, I don’t think it really does much good to say, “Eddie Berganza dropped the ball!” because I sincerely doubt anyone else would have done any better. It’s the basic editorial system more than the specific editors.

That told me all I needed to know about the competency of DC’s current editorial staff…

That is a howler, to be sure, Andrew; but that sounds to me more like a production department gaffe… something that is much more likely to happen after the book leaves editorial.

Still bad, certainly should have been caught. But typos happen, and I would call something like that a kind of visual typo.

On the other hand, the out-and-out editorial blundering is mystifying me. See, that’s kind of where I’m going with this. It’s one thing to see DC editors making decisions I disagree with. That happens constantly, annoying fans that way comes with the job. What I am puzzled over is seeing DC editors — especially old pros like Mike Carlin or Eddie Berganza — inexplicably not doing any, well, editing. At least the books don’t look like they’re getting any. That’s new.

. . . and so Morrison coming out and telling Newsarama that it’s okay to totally ignore Countdown is great damage control for the sort of comic fan who reads Newsarama, the fan who probably 1) hates Countdown, 2) knows and loves Morrison, and 3) is mainly concerned that Countdown doesn’t fuck up Morrison’s jive when considering whether to buy Final Crisis.

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 14, 2008 at 5:29 am

Blame all the editors …

Reminds me of something Shakespeare wrote once,

“First thing we should do is, hang all the editors”

or something to that effect. ;-)

SanctumSanctorumComix

June 14, 2008 at 5:29 am

A VERY well written and even-tempered article.
Nicely thought out and expressive of the all-too frequent “editorial-incompetence” that seems to permeate comics for the past decade – and most definitely NOT just at DC.

Far too many times has one story directly contradicted the next (or prior) or what is being released in another title.
And each time, the obvious question is: “What was the editor doing when this was going on?”.

You asked all the right questions, named the appropriate names (Mike Carlin? Really? He’s been around for quite the while, so SOMETHING obviously went awry), and never once went on an insane rant.

Are you SURE your a blog/reporter?
:-)

No, really. I’m not a DC reader, and I found it a must-read article.

Thank you.

~P~
PTOR

It’s because of Robin!

It’s obvious. That link you gave us, it says Robin #174 was his last issue. Which is quite telling based on the fact that both Robin R.I.P. issues (#175,#176) were solicited with him as head writer. Robin #177 (The Return of the Cluemaster) is also being solicited with Dixon as head writer, but it’s clear that there is something going on there.

Dixon says that his two issue Booster Gold run is scheduled to come out as solicited, with the second issue comming out in September.

My take, and we should be able to confirm this in a couple of weeks when the September Previews comes out, is that Robin was canceled after that whole Batman R.I.P. cross-over. And that maybe, because of it, he was heavily “re-written” to the point where he wanted his name off the credits.

The same could be said about Batman and the Outsiders. That title has been in bad shape since day one. If you take those two away, then yes… Dixon no longer works in DC (and needs to find a new place of employment.) It’s still fishy, but it’s not the first time a book gets canned with issues already in the drawer. The same happened in Hal Jordan’s Emerald Twilight with Gerald Jones being out and Ron Marz getting in, all midstream.

As far as that whole Final Crisis/Countdown/Morrison situation, I think it was Dan Didio’s call.

I don’t think any editor would willingly give up the climax/resolution of his series to another title (like it happened between Death of the New Gods & Countdown), unless “the biggest Boss of them All” asked him!

The decision to have Darkseid fight Orion in Countdown instead of DotNG had to come from the Editor in Chief, period. The same goes for Superman appearing in DotNG. The reasoning being (I imagine) that the New Gods weren’t good enough to carry the series themselves, and so they needed “a Big Star” to give the series a little “sale-push”.

The reason this won’t be reflected in Morrison’s run is simple. Morrison came first and everything else was built “around it” in order to cash in on Final Crisis. They know that what they did was done for financial reasons and they’ll shoulder the responsibility. It’s the cost of doing business. But the rule of thumb is that you don’t risk pissing away a whole construction project just because the guys that built the parking lot overextended themselves into the foundations of the building. You say “fuckitt” to the parking lot, and start building your Skyscrapper as it was meant to be. With its foundation intact. The Parking will get fixed later.

Remember when Lori Lemaris’ Atlantis was different from the Atlantis of Aquaman?

Fucking Weisinger.

“…except that now Mr. Dixon has gone on record that he did not quit and he did not believe it had anything to do with politics.”

&

“I understand that Chuck Dixon is taking the high road with refusing to talk about it.”

Which is it? Is he ‘not talking’, or is he ‘talking about bits and pieces of it until the final truth is revealed’?

He can’t have it both ways. I’m sorry he lost his job, but he can find another.

Remember when Lori Lemaris’ Atlantis was different from the Atlantis of Aquaman?

Fucking Weisinger.

Actually, I DID wonder about that back then. Because I was that big of a nerd.

But I thought I was clear — a bunch of times — about how I’m not curious about the continuity so much as I am why, simply from a PR and business standpoint, editorial chores that routinely get done in most other kinds of publishing don’t seem to get done at DC lately.

WHO EDITS THE EDITORS?

Which is it? Is he ‘not talking’, or is he ‘talking about bits and pieces of it until the final truth is revealed’?

I linked to it, Alan. I’d still characterize that as ‘not talking.’ Certainly compared to what he could be doing, and to what many, MANY other comics creators have done in the past in the fan press when things don’t go well.

I fully agree this lies on the heads of editorial.

Mistakes happen all the time. We all know this. But with 70 years of publishing comics, you’d think DC could do a bit better than they have been doing.

And let’s not let Marvel off the hook here, either. Both companies have gaffs. It’s just that DC fans care enough to whine.

Hey, I liked Cosmic Odyssey, man!!!!!

It’s been obvious for years that neither DC nor Marvel is run like an actual company. No matter whose “fault” these things are, they just keep proving that.

Prelude, not prequel, dammit.

Great piece Greg. I fully agree with you that editorial dropped the ball on the Countdown, Final Crisis, and Death of the New Gods fiasco. However in their defense, having been an editor (a position I will thankfully be leaving in a few days), I know personally that no amount of planning and preparation can overcome the collaborative nature of publishing. As an editor of history textbooks I can clearly articulate my vision (and that of the company I work for) of the final product, the text content, vignettes, photography, illustrations, map work, and layout design, but invariably how these are a accomplished is left to other individuals. I can critique their work, offer suggestions, and request changes, but ultimately the pressures of budget and deadline restrict how much I can ask of these people. A whole project could go from a stellar work to a below average product if just one of these people is difficult or produces sub-par work.

You mention in the piece that editors can and should replace people who are hindering a project. In theory that is correct, but reality is often different. On the project that I am currently finishing, the author has been a real pain. He has difficulty accepting criticism and adapting his work to the needs of our publishing company. I have asked on several occasions to find a new writer, but my bosses steadfastly refuse because they are concerned that if this author, who has a long association with this project in previous editions of the textbook, leaves then our customers may also leave. I personally doubt that this is true, but I cannot fault my bosses when so much is riding on this project.

This situation is not too different from the DC editorialship. Countdown was spearheaded by Paul Dini, a popular author and an architect of the wildly successful DCAU. Grant Morrison is, as Greg Burgas likes to refers to him, the God of All Comics, a star whose very presence, whether the work is good or not, instantly attracts readers. So now you are in the unenviable position as editor, of having to manage to superstar writers who, apparently, do not see eye-to-eye on major DC storylines. Whether Grant Morrison changed his scripts at the last second or Paul Dini simply chose to ignore what he knew would occur in Final Crisis 1 does not really matter that much. They are such large figures whose importance is critical to a significant percentage of DC’s consumers that it is almost impossible for editors to police them. If they push too hard, they run the risk of alienating the talent, leading them to leave a certain book or the company as a whole. And we all know that DC has been losing the battle for talent to Marvel over the last couple of years. Can they afford to lose two more superstars?

I am not trying to absolve DC editors for this problem. They clearly dropped the ball. But I am also certain that they were aware of the problems, but fixing them may have created other, internal issues.

Don’t blame my editors.
DC, currently, is run from the top down in a way that makes Jim Shooter’s aegis at Marvel look like a hippie commune.

[...] reached the point where there is now a well-reasoned blog entry on CBR about where DC Comics is going wrong. Much as I’d love to disagree, I really can’t. In [...]

Rohan Williams

June 14, 2008 at 9:56 am

Greg, I’m pretty sure EVERYBODY blames the editors for the Final Crisis situation. Whether they see it as a major issue or not, it’s pretty clearly editorial’s fault. It’s just easier to blame ‘editorial’ than any specific people because, without being inside the DC offices ourselves, we don’t know how closely Berganza and Carlin are being micro-managed by Didio.

brian lockhart

June 14, 2008 at 9:57 am

I’ve decided that thinking about all of this stuff depresses me. Comic books are so much more enjoyable when you don’t know the inside dirt behind why something happened or why some writer was let go and so on and so forth.
The only thing I take away from all of this is that DC and Marvel really need to stop trying to “tie everything” together and make everything “meaningful.” But they won’t. Why? Because people really do care about how they are supposed to reconcile Countdown and Death of the New Gods with Final Crisis. And they were lead to care by Didio and the other higher ups at DC, who are now telling them they still “must care” with this Sightings brand. It’s all just so stupid and pathetic. It really does make comics an embarrassing, anal retentive hobby as opposed to something one does for the sheer joy of reading well crafted and well rendered stories.
But I don’t know how to turn this all around, other than just buying the three or so titles I get and hoping maybe sales on the other stuff are low enough to convince DC and Marvel to rethink their strategies. But that ain’t going to happen. So I’m left just enjoying a small batch of books.

What about the LITG article where Didio flew out to talk to Morrison after finding out FC wasn’t starting off where it was supposed to?

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=15790

I kind of get the impression that GM just didn’t quite deliver what he had said he would when they started mapping out Countdown and etc. Still seems like they would have had enough lead time to make adjustments on the fly, but whatever.

Since when is the Newsarama crowd full of Morrison fans?

I think you’re off on that count, JBird.

Great level-headed take on the situation!

Makes me more interested to see how DC handles this PR-wise than it does to make me read their current comics. :)

Tracer Bullet

June 14, 2008 at 1:28 pm

DC Comics blah, blah, blah. That cartoon of the editor at the restaurant was HILARIOUS.

Well, apparently it is

‘talking about bits and pieces of it until the final truth is revealed’

Cosmic Odyssey – the series where John Stewart screwed up, and Xanshi bit the big one. It’s been recently hinted that he’s trying to fix that somehow, and I bet that’s crucial to “The Blackest Night”. Which I have been, and continue to be looking forward to a whole lot more than “Final Crisis”.

You know, it just doesn’t happen in comics…. There have been plenty of anime (both in the original Japanese, and also in translated versions) where having different creative teams working on different episodes (occurs with episodes being farmed out to other studios in Japan (for time issues) and trying to rush translations elsewhere) results in inconsistent, sometimes mutually exclusive, results occurring in an episode, and the references back to it with the next.

One popular 80s show had a single space mission last several months, 13 months, and two years, all in references by characters or narrator, in references scattered over the end of the episode where it arrived on Earth, the report of the trip (as a summation episode), and different character statements in the episode following – one of which was at a debriefing of the captain & first officer.

Even otherwise consistent modern serial TV shows run into editorial “oopsies” when a great new idea runs into established continuity (or areas off-limits). Certain references in Babylon 5, for example, or the “final 5 Cylons” in the new BSG.

And, for those pondering Dixon, consider the number of writing runs mentioned by Brian in the “Comic Books Urban Legends” that ended when the writers had all kinds of things planned out, only to have editorial control abort the ideas, from reasons ranging from not liking the direction the writer was going, to “we’re killing off the characters you want to use in this year’s big event – didn’t you get the memo?”. Dixon’s hardly the first or last to fall victim, if what the poster near the top of the replies is going on correct info.

Frankly, it’s just as bad in a shared universe for someone other than the Editor/main creative control to go TOO far ahead in planning continuity of their part of it, as it is to not plan at all – as you end up with a LOT of wasted effort. Just look what has to be done (in the novel arena) with the “1632″ series of books, where Eric Flint has to serve as both editor, and main writer, while maintaining continuity with a full stable of collaborators (and a fanfic message forum of people wanting to become part of the story officially, such as in the Grantville Gazette collections).

“Don’t blame my editors.
DC, currently, is run from the top down in a way that makes Jim Shooter’s aegis at Marvel look like a hippie commune.”

*Spock eyebrow* Fascinating.

Quick! Someone do a cartoon parody of Empire Strikes Back with Didio consulting a WB logo instead of Vader consulting Palpatine.

Man, it’s like we’re getting shots of the sh!t and shots of the fan but nobody is giving us the entire sequence where the impact occurs. It’s really too bad that things are so bad at DC that they feel they have to fire talent like Dixon (just after HIRING him to do stuff) to keep the ball rolling.

Excellent post, Greg. And I too found it weird that Morrison seemed to be the only one talking about the continuity f’ups.

Chuck, as somebody who was too young for the Jim Shooter era…what exactly do you mean?

Chris, what I think Chuck means, is that when Jim Shooter ran Marvel Comics, it was pretty tight ship, compared to the Stan Lee and Roy Thomas eras. Shooter wanted the editors to approve the plots, scripts, pencils, etc., at each stage of the game. He put in his own stamp on many things coming through the office, to make sure Marvel Comics followed his editorial direction. This was pretty strict compared to earlier Marvel editorial directors, and a lot of people complained. But Shooter treated people well in other areas, like getting them royalties and other things.

So, if Chuck Dixon is saying Shooter’s Marvel is a hippie regime compared to the current DC Comics, that is really quite something! Didio must have approval/control out of everything going on there and interfering with his editors by micro-managing them. That’s what I got out of Chuck’s comment.

Mr. Dixon, I hope we’ll see you back at DC Comics one day if things change there, and I am sure you will get to do some great work elsewhere.

Shooter was very dictatorial with strict rules for writing and drawing superheroes.
The difference between his reign at Marvel and the current one at DC is that Shooter was successful at raising circulation and longterm planning.

According to many (most noticeably John Byrne) Jim Shooter was a over-reigning, heavy-handed editor that hurt creative process at Marvel.

That is a somewhat controversial issue, and certainly a very subjective one. Myself, I feel that the evidence is very much in favor of Shooter.

“But Shooter treated people well in other areas, like getting them royalties and other things.”

Marvel instituted royalties because DC did. DC was first, then Marvel had to follow in order to keep talent.

“The difference between his reign at Marvel and the current one at DC is that Shooter was successful at raising circulation and longterm planning.”

Taking a shot at Warners? At Levitz? At DiDio?

Not at Paul.
Warners? The geniuses who merged with a company that was billions in the red? Trust me, most days they don’t even KNOW they own a comic company much less take an interest in running it.
On the Shooter front—
Though I saw Shooter in full fledge psychotic editorial rage a couple of times, he did provide leadership at Marvel and didn’t change the company’s direction five times in one day. And the company climbed out of the red and became vital again under his stewardship. I disagreed with many of his ideas when it came to continuity but he was at least consistant and you knew where you stood. And merit was rewarded back then. If you sold well and handed the stuff in on time you’d never go without work.

Wow.

I hope I can speak for all those posting here and offer a heartfelt thanks to Mr. Dixon for the insight. From my POV the comic biz holds most things very close to the chest and for Dixon to be so forthcoming it’s a unique revelation.

Sad, really, that some of the ‘old school’ stuff like work ethic, performance and consistency doesn’t seem to be ‘in vogue’ in today’s reality. And it’s kinda of comforting in a weird “don’t peek behind the curtain” sorta way that even in the biz of comics — it’s like where I work. So in essence, it’s the same everywhere.

Don’t like working for a tyrant (benevolent or not) but at least there was a direction (in Shooter’s case) and transparency (i.e., it was out there for all to see) about it.

I’ve worked under tyrants and I can say that I’d prefer to work under a talented, knowledgeable tyrant with a successful plan than a directionless gladhander with a ouija board any day of the week.

"O" the Humanatee!

June 15, 2008 at 12:58 pm

This discussion – and especially Chuck Dixon’s comments about top-down management – raises for me an old question that surely has been discussed elsewhere (so if anyone can point me to truly informative links, I’d appreciate it): Who the **** is Dan Didio that he should have been given editorial control of DC in the first place? As far as I’m concerned, the best editorial reign DC has had in relatively recent history was that of Dick Giordano – at the time, a comics artist and editor with extensive experience. (And if the Giordano era was marked by anything, it was experimentation, diversity, and relative creative freedom, rather than strong top-down control.) Almost all the major editors-in-chief at DC and Marvel that I can think of have been comics industry vets, from Stan Lee, Mort Weisinger, and Julie Schwartz* to Roy Thomas, Archie Goodwin, and Jim Shooter. (Bill Jemas, who came from outside comics, seems to have exerted a strong editorial hand at Marvel, though without a formal editorial title and with the editorial collaboration of Joe Quesada.) But Didio, to go from the info on Wikipedia, comes from television, largely on the business side of soap operas and children’s programming; his creative experience seems limited largely to writing and story-editing for a couple of children’s shows.

Does anyone have any insight on why he, and not a comics industry vet, was hired for the position he now holds? (I’m not saying it’s impossible for an outsider to successfully bring “fresh blood” to an enterprise – but I do think it’s hard. I was just listening to an NPR story today about the continuing problems newspapers are having with owners who come from outside the newspaper biz and don’t value such traditional journalistic mainstays as the separation of the editorial and business sides.)

* To be fair, some of these guys were editing comics so early that there were no such things as industry vets.

[...] fans who love industry drama should head over to this post about DC’s recent editorial snafus, mostly because the very-recently-fired Chuck Dixon shows [...]

Whoa. Go get em, Chuck. i for one have had it up to here with the latest fiasco that is Countdown , the Temporary Deaths of the New Gods and now Final Crisis and all of its tie ins. It literally makes Brand New Day look like a good idea. Ill follow your writing wherever it takes you, because you’ve got some real talent there.

Tyranical or not, doesn’t it always comes down to the choice of living with the lesser of two evils?

Speaking personally, I have worked with really smart, mediocre, to plain outright stupid supervisors and the only ‘good’ ones were those that showed grace under enormous pressure and took care of their people. These people had flaws but always led by example.

I have no patience working for supervisors that have arrogant stupidity, those that explain something to you – that you already know backwards and forwards – as if you were dumber than them simply because they outrank you. God, I hate those a-holes.

Haven’t sales risen under Didio? Sure, they’re still WAY behind Marvel, but in absolute terms they are doing better than they were before he came on board, or so I’d been led to believe.

I think your question answers itself, Humanatee: DC were looking for an executive with business and branding experience, rather than solid creative credentials. (Didio does have a few of those, though, working in development for Reboot and Beast Machines.)

The thing I want to know is this: what is the real story behind these huge events and sales/revenue?

From a fan perspective it is so rare for these crazy cross-over books to come ANYWHERE near the quality of a single title being penned by a great writer.

How does the real revenue of DC break-down? They have book revenue, merchandising revenue and IP-related franchising revenue. That pretty much covers it, yeah?

Merchandising and franchising comes in from material that DC doesn’t create directly (for the most part)…. this is money they get by owning popular characters.

I have to assume that maintaining popularity of those characters has very little to do with the actual books they publish. Right? I mean DC protects their IP with merchandising and film/tv. Superman is iconic not because the book was/is so great but because TV, cartoons, cereals, and movies have kept him squarely in the consciousness.

So that sort of implies that the books are their own little universe that DC can do what they want in…. and so my question is this… what kind of revenue do they generate from the books? What kind of profit?

And most importantly, what would happen to DC revenue if they just said “fuck it, these weekly event books never work creatively.”

How much of DCs book revenue per month comes from the critically-attacked high-profile books?

Kind of rambly, but bottom line is: if anyone is familiar with the practical realities of the business pressure on DC’s publishing division I would love to learn more about them…

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 15, 2008 at 6:00 pm

I’ve worked under tyrants and I can say that I’d prefer to work under a talented, knowledgeable tyrant with a successful plan than a directionless gladhander with a ouija board any day of the week.

That’s in any industry though – I always prefer to work for the guy who yells and screams but knows the job inside and out, than the ‘let’s be friends’ boss who knows the job title but not the job.

That’s in any industry though – I always prefer to work for the guy who yells and screams but knows the job inside and out, than the ‘let’s be friends’ boss who knows the job title but not the job.

Amen, funkygreenjerusalem. Amen.

OK, so Morrison’s big rationale for “I’m right and everybody else is wrong” is, essentially, that the first issue of Final Crisis was done “before Countdown was even conceived.”

Except the LITG column cited in a comment above

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=15790

(which I acknowledge may not be the whole story) says that Morrison turned in the first Final Crisis script last November.

Hmmmm…

[...] “I’ve worked under tyrants and I can say that I’d prefer to work under a talented, knowledgeable tyrant with a successful plan than a directionless gladhander with a ouija board any day of the week.” – Chuck Dixon [...]

I can’t help but wonder if the Final Crisis problem doesn’t really stem from a “This is Grant Morrison! We can’t rewrite it!!” attitude more than anything else. DC butt-kissing its “big name” writers has been the cause of much trouble lately, up to and including delaying Wonder Woman’s third relaunch while its writer “found the time” to provide the scripts. Sheesh!

As for Dixon, the only thing I’m going to say is: I’m glad that at least he was on Robin long enough to fix that stupid Spoiler/Leslie Thompkins mess. Let’s hope that neither character “coincidentally” dies in the next DC crossover…

[...] also appeared in the comments section of a post at Comics Should Be Good that questions DC editorial’s handling of Final Crisis, Countdown, [...]

Regarding sales, the difference between Shooter and Didio is Shooter was able to raise sales and keep them *very* high. Didio’s run has seen sales decrease significantly each year after his initial sales bump. Didio has lost as many as 50,000 readers on a title in a year, something Shooter never did.

On the discussion of the tyrant who knows the job and rewards merit versus the buddy-buddy boss who is clueless, where do the two other permutations fit in? How about the buddy-buddy boss who knows the job and rewards merit? (I had one of those once. It made a horrific job seem like Heaven.) Or what about the tyrant boss who doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground? (I have that now. My current boss is extraordinarily incompetent, yet also treats everyone like something to be scraped from his shoe.) Where does Didio fit in on that quadrant? Is he a nice guy who’s poor at his job? Or is he a tyrant who’s poor at his job? It certainly sounds like the latter.

Looks like it is time for some Editorial changes at DC, I did not like Dixon’s politics, but he was the best f@cking straight up comic book writer they had. I actually started reading Robin in the store, and buying his Outsiders they were that good.

Add this to their inability to consistently edit the books, catch continuity gaffs or hold onto talent the past five years and you start to see a pattern forming. If it wasn’t for the fact that Time Warner doesn’t seem to care who runs DC Comics or how it is run, things might have changed before this.

This sucks because up until now I’ve given Dan Didio the benefit of the doubt, he has done a lot of good things for the company.

[...] a series of posts Dixon has made since he announced his departure from DC, most of which come from Comics Should Be Good. And I think it’s safe to say that Dixon won’t be adding DC editor-in-chief Dan DiDio [...]

What about the major “Last Son” gaffe running out of the Action Comics story? Chris Kent winds up back in the Phantom Zone (doesn’t he?) and he’s been part of the Superman title for a while now. I’m assuming the story was written last year when the artist schedule went off the rails, but the Superman title plugged along like Chris Kent was a new part of the family. How does that happen?

Kenny said: “Regarding sales, the difference between Shooter and Didio is Shooter was able to raise sales and keep them *very* high. Didio’s run has seen sales decrease significantly each year after his initial sales bump. Didio has lost as many as 50,000 readers on a title in a year, something Shooter never did.”

It’s hard to compare eras. Titles back then were getting cancelled for lack of sales at levels that would be loved today. It was also a time where the Baby Boomers were getting jobs that paid real money, so they didn’t have to stop buying comics in order to pay bills.

In both cases of Shooter and DiDio, it is easy to make general deductions about job performance, but all such deductions may be right or wrong. Perhaps without Shooter in the EIC job Marvel might have had sales go even higher. Perhaps without DiDio at the helm DC’s sales would have been even lower.

I’m not arguing for or against what you said, Kenny, just that these kinds of things are sometimes hard to figure out. In any science experiment, if you use 2 drops of this, 3 drops of that, and 12 drops of this other thing, the result is predictable every time when conditions are always the same. In comparing Shooter and DiDio, conditions are not the same.

After I say all of that, I have to say that it does seem to be the consensus that DiDio isn’t doing the best job possible.

This makes me sad, just in the sense that I’m a fan of DC Comics, and I would love to see them do better.

At the same time, it’s true…someone needs to clean house, and quick.

bpcho asked: “…but the Superman title plugged along like Chris Kent was a new part of the family. How does that happen?”

Umm, different Earths?

Okay, that’s a reach.

[...] you’re into editorial intrigue and behind-the-scenes dirt at DC Comics, start here, then travel here, and end up here, where I’m guessing the comments section will light up [...]

Supermutant2099

June 16, 2008 at 11:09 am

Amen to you Chuck. It seems you stuck to your principles and got fired. That what I get from what has been said. DC is a mess right now. I read the Final Crisis #1 preview and realized right doesn’t know what left hand is doing. As the story above points out. To me DC jumped the shark with the death of Blue Beetle with few bright spots but did include recent issues of Robin. Lets just say I was really happy how that turned out. :)

It’s a shame. I’ve enjoyed many of Chuck Dixon’s work, past and present. I hope your next employer will realize the professional they have working for them.

[...] embargo, esto no terminó ahí. La semana pasada en la sección de blog de Comic Book Resources se dicutió la salida de Dixon culpando a los editores de sus series, a lo que Dixon responde. No [...]

Just a thought, but all those “journalists” who are linking back and forth claiming that “Chuck Dixon has spoken” should know better. Anybody can claim to be Chuck Dixon in this board, as there is no ID Check.

So, unless you’ve been able to independently confirm Chuck’s identity, I would start adding the word “allegedly” to all your posts and news reports.

Well, you can come to my site and leave a private message and ask if it’s really me posting here.
Other sites have done this during this kafuffle.

http://www.dixonverse.net

Contra, resulta que ahora me tengo que traducir a mí mismo. Okay, hasta que se confirme lo contrario, Chuck Dixon “alegadamente” respondió a comentarios que se hicieran sobre sus editores.

De nuevo,

Este es un foro público y por lo tanto, la identidad de Chuck Dixon no fué confirmada.

No need. I can see ‘backstage’ and it’s really Mr. Dixon.

Oh, great! Now I look like a fool in two languages!
Thank you, Greg! (You’re on my list!) :D

Well, this whole Dixon story adds to the Shooter and the Legion of 3 Worlds fiasco going on. Johns is running the game in spite of a monthly series (which seems completely unaware of L3W). There is also the rumor Shooter left the book for being excluded from any decision. Now, with Dixon’s collaboration, I can really feel that DiDio seems to be running around changing routes as a chicken on a highway. In basically 3 months, Shooter has moved from “LSH saviour” to “he is still on the book for a year, but let’s talk about this other book which came out of nowhere: L3W”.

I think both of the Big Two are guilty of letting their more popular talent get away with a lot, Sijo. Marvel looks the other way for their artists just as much as DC bends over backwards for their big writers. If comics worked like “real, grown-up publishing”, Mike Mayhew and David Mack would have been handed their walking papers and Greg Land would be on probation.

I love it, it’s like my past few years of Didio-bashing have been validated all in one thread. Seems like every theory I had about Didio’s gross incompetence and lack of an overall long-term direction is being revealed to be true.

One just has to see how long Judd Winick’s run on Green Arrow has been lasting, and this minor, minor aspect of things gone wrong says enough about Didio’s leadership of DC-

Shit happens. Maybe the flowcharts were all in place and everyone knew the storybeats but something got garbled.

I don’t think this is the case any longer. With ‘name’ writers like Morrison (or Whedon or Ellis), I will bet cash money that they don’t use any sort of story bible or long-term arc plotting (from my experience reading their work, which all-too-often contradicts itself issue to issue). They hit the beats they want to hit, and if it contradicts something coming out in some peons book (or some other trivial thing, like 40 years of character continuity…), they could give a rat’s bum.

IMO, the problem isn’t that the editors aren’t doing their job, it’s that they aren’t even allowed to do so. They *are* two-legged spellcheckers. The inmates are running the asylum, and have been pretty much since Image came out of the gate with creator-driven books that suffered from a horrible lack of editorial / management oversight.

The ‘star’ writers do what they want, and limiting their creative ideas to stay ‘true’ to the concepts of a bunch of creators long-dead (like Siegel, Shuster or Kane) are pretty darn low on their list of priorities.

It’s hardly a comic-specific ailment. Watch just about any TV show these days and gaze in wide wonder at the utterly random plot-lines that seem to come and go with bewildering profusion. Lost, Galactica, Alias, Heroes, 24, all veering around in search of a big gotcha moment or shocking scene of betrayal that will leave fans scratching their heads, to the point where it starts making no sense at all. When, over the last three years, you’ve had every single member of a counter-terrorism task force turn out to be a terrorist, it gets pretty obvious you didn’t really have a solid three-year plan going in…

Comics are just following that same route. Every month some writer contradicts another writer about what Batman or Deathstroke or whomever can do. This month Deathstroke’s white hair is genetic and has passed on to his teenaged daughter. Back when he was introduced, he, and his sons, were blonde, and he had white hair *because he was old.* It’s just plain sloppy, and the writers aren’t being tasked to even look up the characters before using them.

I work for DC as an artist and I will say that you shouldn’t blame the editors for the way these books read. I know as a fan you think each individual editor is to blame for screwing up Batman or Superman, but when you work in the industry you see veil pulled aside and the true Grand Wizard working the levers and pullies. This ALL comes down from Didio’s great five year plan. I’ve got stories of the bullshit I could tell and I’m not directly associated with it though my editor was. These guys are doing what they are told to in the end so don’t blame them. These crossover events have got to go.

Archie Goodwin turned over in his grave…

This just goes to show that Didio has no clue WTF he is doing at DC. He kills characters in essentially meaningless ways and pathetic reasons. THIS MAN NEEDS TO BE FIRED!. I read alot of DC books and like them on an individual basis. I think i read somewhere that dixons personal beliefs(religious) may have been a MAJOR issue. If they couldnt be reconciled then i can see maybe not having him on certain things if it is felt that the element he disagreed with was a solid or essential piece of the story. I will say that his writing on BATO was 100 times better than Judd winnicks on it, and its a shame he wasnt writing GA/BC because if it doesnt improve soon ill dump it. DD needs to go, get Guggenhiem or whoever took over Boom as EIC to do it cause DD just sucks. and AS for WB being in the red, the only reason they bought DC was movie rights perhaps it needs to be undone if they are running it into the ground. Marvel in the 90′s got run into bankruptcy because of dumb decisions DC doesnt need that hassel. And neither do its readers

Archie Goodwin wasn’t against big crossovers. Don’t blame crossovers. I don’t love them—I don’t think Archie loved them…but…

Archie was a team player when it came to “event” comics. He even wrote the bulk of, what was it called, Armageddon 3000 or some such? He was a big part of planning the whole KnightFall thing.

I was his assistant for a few months and worked across the hall from him for 2 years…I didn’t know him well, but I know that he saw comics as an art form AND a business–and a successful crossover meant he could keep (for example) Starman going–in fact Starman premiered as a “spin off” from Zero Hour. It wasn’t REALLY a spin-off, but he knew treating it as such was good for business.

Sorry to throw that in here….maybe it’s not totally relevant to the discussion (I know diddly about the current DC crossovers). But I feel it’s wrong just to say “crossovers screw things up.” Because they can be done right and can be valuable to the bottom line AND to good comics at superhero companies.

Crossovers are not the problem.
I’ve been involved in a bunch. When they go well, they’re great with lots of creative energy for all. When they go bad they’re a soul-sucking experience. But I’ve never let one break me. And a good leader at the helm can keep even the most rebellious and riotous egos together. Trust me, keeping comic book writers in line can be like herding cats.
And bringing Archie’s name into this almost seems blasphemous. It reminds me of how far comics have veered off the road in recent years.

The only time continuity laden comics ever made sense was when Stan Lee pretty much wrote every Marvel comic, and the ones he didn’t write were written by his brother. And even then, Stan used to screw things up (Bobby Banner, anyone?). It helped that he was his own editor, too.

The thing is to not become continuity’s bitch.
It’s kind of cool to have a continous, consistant fictional universe. It’s great if Clark Kent’s apartment looks like THIS. And the Batcave looks like THAT. Everyone’s working off the same page. But someone’s got to lay down the rules and keep a watch on everyone. And there HAS to a framework that everyone plays within. Also, not killing and maiming characters willy-nilly helps because those are permanent changes that sometimes get missed. I mean, recently, how many characters have died, re-appeared without explantion and then died again because someone was asleep at the wheel?

all I can say is….crap. My two favorite books are Robin & Nightwing. And I was really enjoying their recent “resurrection” in quality. Dixon is responsible for both characters are DC is gonna probably flush ‘em down the crapper (again).

Edward De Franca

June 17, 2008 at 7:05 am

I’ve gotta say all this talk about professionalism isn’t unfounded but without someone talking about whats going on over there (like Mr Dixon for example) then nothing is going to be done about it..and after the way this whole thing has been handled from DC I don’t blame him for coming out and saying something..especially when all this is coming from a industry which is supposed to be getting more mature and respectable rather than even more controversy and childish behavior.

If anyone cares to look back over my posts (here, and elsewhere) I have only sought to explain just enough so that the rumor tsunami doesn’t wash over me and leave my reputation on a rocky shore. DC has said nothing on this subject and the internet LOVES a vacuum. Before I began stating my case, there was already speculation that I’d left DC on my own in some kind of hissy fit over continuity.
Hell, I’ve survived crossovers with Doug. I can live through anything.
My posts have also been quite free of specifics as these are nobody’s business but mine and DC Comics. But since they said nothing, I was left to supply an explanation. Of sorts.

Chuck,

I just want to say Nightwing #39 is one of the best comics I’ve ever read.
I often re-read it in that great Nightwing: Love and Bullets TPB, which contains some of the best work you and Scott McDaniel did.

DC has said nothing on this subject and the internet LOVES a vacuum. Before I began stating my case, there was already speculation that I’d left DC on my own in some kind of hissy fit over continuity.

And, in fairness, it was MY speculation about his editors that compelled Mr. Dixon to come here specifically to defend them. He was trying to do his former co-workers a favor and keep them from getting splashed with the mess. The fact that those posts blew up into a big internet thing isn’t really his fault, either.

[...] Foi anunciado na semana passada a saída do escritor Chuck Dixon da DC Comics. O escritor soltou o verbo numa discussão no blog Comics Should Be Good. [...]

[...] is of particular interest. A way of labeling “key issues” as it were. Unfortunately, not only is DC totallly ignoring this logo’s promise of adhering to continuity, but it happens to look like it would fit in better on a pamphlet preaching about Revelations [...]

To the masses: The guy got fired, and possibly had years worth of work flushed down the toilet. Do you expect him *Not* to have free time?

To Mr. Dixon,
I am truly sorry to see you go. One of the reasons I got into mainstream DC comics was reading Robin’s story through KnightFall/Quest/End, and the first few issues with him and Spoiler. Gotta love Steph!

In my limited reading, I have seen some problems (like Tim being 18 for several continuity years -though him still being in high school can be a testament to how much time he spends as Robin and how much he sleeps in class. ;) )

So my question is this: What, in your opinion, needs to be done to fix DC Comics, and bring it back on track? I’m not talking about firing or hiring anyone, but the actual SOLUTIONS to problems that *Someone* (or group of people) should be doing?

What would benefit DC? What would benefit the writers? What would benefit the editors? What would help each of them bring out a better comic that isn’t a train-wreck in continuity and sales?

Chuck,

I just wanted to take the time to thank you for all the years of work you have put into making GREAT comics. I literally own HUNDREDS of comic books written by you, and that’s probably just a fraction of all the comics you have written in your entire career to date! I began reading comics at the age of 10 back in 1992, and it was the Knightfall crossover written by you, Doug, and Alan, that got me hooked for good. I have many fond memories of growing up in the 90s reading your books. Detective Comics, your short run on Catwoman, Nightwing, Birds of Prey, countless minis and one-shots, and of course, Robin. I starting reading Robin with issue number 1, and it was consistently my favorite book. Your Tim Drake is the definitive Tim Drake, as far as I am concerned. Always was and always will be.

I was more than excited to learn that you were coming back, and I was disappointed to learn that your return was being cut short. I don’t know what happened with DC, but whatever it was, I hope that some day the door is open for you to return yet again.

Kevin

It’s a shame all this drama needs to go on behind the scenes. I’ve been a part of my own on a much smaller scale than this for about 2 years now when all I want to do is make comics. Making comics should be easy and fun, not the high school caffeteria. But, alas.

Oh well. At least Spoiler’s back.

Could this little series of fiascoes be the final crisis of Dan Didio’s EIC reign of “five year plan” induced terror…

God I hope so…

Btw, Chuck, merely posting in your midst is an honor. When I started reading comics, one of the first things I did was some how manage to amass the complete Knightfall/quest/end story arc. I’ve been a fan of you ever since

Maybe Chuck can get the job of writing the Avengers movie, instead of Zak Penn, who pooped out Elektra and other bad flicks.

well if DC fired Chuck they legally can’t state the reason for doing so.

So that explains the DC silence on the issue .

What’s is chuck’s excuse to “imply” who he is talking about and not say the nanme.
If you are going to lead people down the path Chuck at least have the balls to say who you are talking about.

Unless later it’ll be easier to say you never said that about anyone

As a professional you should have just said no comment and left it at that. Just that you were no longer working on the titles and that you did not quit.

My fucking god.
Grant Morrison – and Final Crisis/ ‘ Death ‘ of Batman ( ?!?!?). Damn it.

Time was, and this was just, like seven or so years ago, nearly every single damn comic appearing was extremely worthy of picking at the stands. It was, in fact, an imperative to do so. They were throwing all the damn deadweights that was keeping the modern day world away from the funnybooks. Spandex was either ditched , or dignified for our time ( just like they are doing in, oh, the multi-billion dollar bunker busting blockbuster hits the medium should be taking notes from ) , plots were being rejigged with a more inviting, rebellious, post-modernist clarity, fanboyish self-referencing ( aka continuity bitchery ) was NOT at the nadir and to HELL with those fucking crossovers !!!!! Comics did everything in their damn power to be completely wide awake, sensibility-wise and relevant not just to themselves but the world outside their window, full of potential consumers, and were all the better for it. Look it up. Nearly all the best damn superhero writing in this decade got lumped up together in that halycon grace period from when the Marvel Knights and the Ultimate line began right up to maybe around 2004 or so. You know, back when Batman had Jim Lee in it and it was actually a special thing. The funnybooks were kicking the shit out of everything. More often than not provided better, more compelling material than nearly anything coming out of media everywhere else, or at least were in line with the sophisticated ones amongst their lot ( Sopranos, et al ) . They were fresh. Best of all, they were readable, and were something you would actually damn WANT to read. Irregardless of whether you were a part of its subculture, it was still damn good fiction.

Remember when Mr. Morrison used to actually KICK-ASS in an actual KICK ASS X-men comic, and challenged the medium in a sharp, solidly focused way with ‘ We3′ and stuff ? During the time when ‘ Global Frequency ‘ was actually there to entertain us.

Now look where its at. There is nothing but damn regression. Efforts to actually cross borders, streamline, and communicate in an unabashedly sophisticate fashion with a much more critical, wider audience were part of the process. Yet, when these actions finally pay off , manifesting in other outlets in the least, and the lay man is actually picking up on their post-millenial approaches, they fucking relent, and ought to wrap themselves in the cocoon of storied, and horrible traditions, as if not trying anymore. DC – they are the most glaringly abysmal in that regard. Why do I get the feeling that they are only keeping up with second-childhood syndromes ? Why do I get the distinct sense that they are deliberately going for the Bizzaro version of post – 1986, because they’ve run out of ideas? Where’s the Watchmen comics ? Where’s the Dark Knight Returns ? Where’s the damn Doom Patrol ?

No. Instead, most of these people are more hard-pressed toilet training in Silver Age Spandex Depends. Wasn’t this continuity, Infinite Earths, self-absorbed, motherfucking ludicrousness jettisoned by the first multiversal ‘ Crisis ‘ thing ? Wasn’t that the damn aim in there ? So that the past crap would leave us alone, and get to move forward and NOT think of those again ? Now, all of that extraneous turd is coming back as their major summer feat ? Man, seriously what the fuck is UP with that Dan Deediot ?

Now, they’re spitting and chewing out TALENTS to buttress their creative impasse. And would not even want to say a damn world about their mistreatment. This is like an inward spiraling destruction going on here.

You know what. Superhero comics ? Its rusted, its exhausting itself, and its tired. I’m leaving.

The Final Crisis/ Death of Batman sorts of things, at least

BG1, I simply stated that I was off my titles and that I did not quit. This was to get out in front of the rumors. I have a career and a reputation to maintain and I’ve had it maligned before in situations juts like this where I took the high road and the other party used it as an occasion to smear me.
Then posters on several sites began blaming my editors and I came to their defense.
Am I supposed to let that happen to folks who were very good to me and that I consider to be friends?

Chuck is right. Nothing he has said has been unreasonable at all.

Plus, the whole concept of throwing around “it’s unprofessional to say this” or “behave like that” is ridiculous.

It’s real world politics. What one person finds unprofessional another person might find perfectly appropriate. And I don’t know why people don’t just accept the realities of human nature in these kinds of events.

Someone lamented about how the comic-industry was like high school cafeteria. They have it wrong. A high school cafeteria is just a microcosm of basic human behavior. It’s neither good nor bad… it’s just the way it is. But EVERYTHING Is like a high school cafeteria. Hell, my friends who are junior staffers at the freakin’ White House complain that it’s like high school.

If any of the players in this political event are moved to make points about it then so be it. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. Suggesting that someone is being “unprofessional” is often just a gilded way of trying to manipulate them into behaving in way that suits your interests. Hell, I think it’s unprofessional to throw around the term unprofessional.

If Didio wants to make a statement he can. If his lawyers advise him not to then so much the worse for him. But I think Dixon has every freaking right and moral imperative in the world to say whatever he thinks is going to help him the most in a situation like this… if DC doesn’t want this stuff to air they should have thought about that before firing him.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 17, 2008 at 11:51 pm

If you are going to lead people down the path Chuck at least have the balls to say who you are talking about.

If you’re going to slag on someone who is posting under their real name, especially when you know who that person is, you should at least have the decency to sign with your real name.

(Unless you’re slagging on Burgas, because really, we can’t limit those numbers).

Not that it matters, but I’ll agree with Robotdg and state I think Chuck Dixon has handled this with a lot of class and dignity. I’m reading through all these comments and not once have I seen anything untoward in what he’s written here. He has every right to protect his reputation, professional or otherwise- and it seems he extends that to sticking up for his friends.

He could’ve been off pitching a fit.

But admittedly, my interest in this is selfish. He had Cassandra Cain back in action as a Batgirl in the most palatable version we’ve had since the first 20 or so issues of her continuing series- certainly moreso than any version foisted on her fans since that title’s cancellation.

Given the current direction there, I’ve basically given up on DC other than “Showcase” reprints of the old glory days and any volume dedicated to Jack Kirby’s work, but I felt at least comfortable that someone was writing just about the only current DC character I even marginally care about in a positive way, and trying to fix a lot of the damage done that shook my faith in DC in the first place.

Now what? Evil dragon-lady stereotype Robin stalker again? Cutesy-pie Cartoon Network style comedic relief?

I checked with Alan Grant, and he confirmed that it was not, in fact, he who made that comment. So it’s deleted, and I took the liberty to get rid of “Doug Moench”‘s comments, too.

If I’m wrong about Moench, then I apologize, Mr. Moench, but I sincerely doubt it.

“Doug Moench” tracked to Kent, Washington, a little town about nine miles south of where I am at the moment. Since I believe Mr. Moench lives in Pennsylvania and Kent is not a tourist spot (sorry, Kent residents, but you know it’s true) I think Brian’s making a good bet there.

So bear in mind that at least one of those ‘unprofessional’ cracks came from a weaselly little troll who was trying to stir up trouble by impersonating someone.

Edward De Franca

June 18, 2008 at 7:00 am

I live in south africa and so am not sure about labor laws over there in the states but why is it illegal to state the reasons for someone leaving/being let go of?also im not sure how the white house is robotdg but in my office there might be a bit of politics but nothing to the degree that i’ve seen in the comics industry and i definatly wouldn’t describe my situation as a high school cafeteria if someone does leave either on their own accord or by being let go of its handled in the best manner for the company and the individual and there’s alot of communication between them before anything is said to anyone else, of course being a bit more high profile this situation is a bit more complex but the basic principle should be the same…

Re: the fake “pros.”

Whew.

Another bit of intrigue to add…

http://marvel.com/blogs/Tom_Brevoort/entry/1189
“Our new Associate Editor is Jeanine Schaefer, direct from DC to the mighty halls of Marvel. She’ll be working directly with me on all of the titles I edit directly while simultaneously heading up a number of projects of her own. In other words, she’s going to be working for a living, but given her track record and experience, we expect great things from her. Hopefully, I won’t mess her up too badly.”

Scheafer was the editor listed on Robin and co-editor on Batman & the Outsiders mentioned in the article.

And Schaefer was co-editor of Death of the New Gods. I don’t know what it all means (infer away), but I thought it was interesting.

[...] the Robin and Outsiders titles) was summarily released from his contract at DC. Mr. Dixon’s subsequent comments made it clear that something was not working over at DC. Warren Ellis, a writer who rarely backs [...]

“Doug Moench” tracked to Kent, Washington, a little town about nine miles south of where I am at the moment. Since I believe Mr. Moench lives in Pennsylvania and Kent is not a tourist spot (sorry, Kent residents, but you know it’s true) I think Brian’s making a good bet there.

I take it you’re unfamiliar with the Witness Relocation Program!

I kid, I kid! Hell, Kolchak is from there. Or around there. Or near by.

In any case, since my comment is “awaiting moderation;” you might as well go ahead and Nuke it. But don’t blame me for all this global warming! ;)

http://marvel.com/blogs/Tom_Brevoort/entry/1189
“Our new Associate Editor is Jeanine Schaefer, direct from DC to the mighty halls of Marvel.

Damn! I guess she wasn’t one of “Didio’s Boys!”

I guess this also leaves Ambush Bug without an editor.

In any case, I’m so happy very happy she landed on her feet.

Maybe I’m old school, but I like it when friends and colleagues back each other up or stick with each other through thick and thin. (You know, assuming that’s what happened.)

One member of the audience said he’d like to see more Keith Giffen. “Believe me, we can only take so much of Keith Giffen,” DiDio said. “Jann, how’s ‘Ambush Bug’ coming?” “I’m probably going to get fired,” she said.

[...] now on, I will just link them to Friday’s Editorial Conference, by Greg Hatcher, which makes my job sound about as superheroic as I like to believe it [...]

Well, I think it was courteous of Chuck to be complementary to his editors, at least his intimidate ones. Good for him for sticking up for them. Of course that leaves the question of from where the problem and letting go came. DC not saying anything doesn’t help.

Though now I’m scratching my head in wonder about the news of the editor of Robin moving over to Marvel? Wha?

Interesting event earlier. I checked out a nearby comic store earlier. One worker there, actually, I believe the owner, was talking to another. He was reading something off the internet. At first it sounded like him talking about DC. Then I recognized specific lines and that he was reading off this very blog post. The owner left or went in the back when I went to check out and I forgot to ask them more about what they thought.

Dan Didio always came across to me as this cheap, second-rate attempt by DC to get their own Bill Jemas/ Joe Quesada , back when they were firing on all cylinders ( shame how the mainstream bookstore sales were unable to keep up , though ). Done in one; who merely embodies the ‘ quick fix’ nature of that judgement. I mean, look at him. Ever since he came to D.C., the only strategy he can apparently come up with is to pick the successful gimmick at the moment, and run it mercilessly down the ground. Joe Quesada puts superstar, high-profile talent at Marvel’s top properties, Dan Didio puts Jim Lee on Batman – THEN in Superman, the alternate covers for Infinite Crisis, that aborted MMO….. Joe Quesada signs up top-flight talent into exclusive deals, Didio raids the entire creative pool. Quesada goes realpolitik in the stories, Didio rams THAT all the way to Sue Dinby’s rape-slay. Joe Quesada makes the mutants dead, Didio obliterates his ENTIRE FUCKING LINE ! Then, the endless superhero deaths ( done with such impunity, its threatening Batman ), the forced weekly comic shtick, the audacious multi-part crossovers, the continued cannibalizing of ‘ Crisis on Infinite Earths ‘……
This guy has no imagination. He’s a dull corporate ad man who goes for the bottom line with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Not exactly my definition of a ‘ smart man ‘. Apologies to Mr. Ellis.

This is a very dissapointing site!!! I was searching for editorial news then this came out!!! what the hell is this?!!! it doesn’t even contain animes!!!

[...] that sure blew up into a big ol’ drama, didn’t [...]

[...] of very thought out articles on the current crazy situation at DC. From last week, he talks about PR and the perceived inaction by DC, and this week, the resulting “fallout” from that [...]

Chuck Dixon out of employment now at DC…

On this thread at Dixonverse (via The Beat), he lets us know that:…

On my desk at work, I keep a little sign. It’s an illustration of a typical boss-type guy doing a classic face-palm. The caption reads “OH NO! YOU DID IT THE WAY I TOLD YOU TO!!”

I think everybody at DC needs a copy.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 22, 2008 at 5:49 pm

Dan Didio always came across to me as this cheap, second-rate attempt by DC to get their own Bill Jemas/ Joe Quesada , back when they were firing on all cylinders ( shame how the mainstream bookstore sales were unable to keep up , though ). Done in one; who merely embodies the ‘ quick fix’ nature of that judgement. I mean, look at him. Ever since he came to D.C., the only strategy he can apparently come up with is to pick the successful gimmick at the moment, and run it mercilessly down the ground. Joe Quesada puts superstar, high-profile talent at Marvel’s top properties, Dan Didio puts Jim Lee on Batman – THEN in Superman, the alternate covers for Infinite Crisis, that aborted MMO….. Joe Quesada signs up top-flight talent into exclusive deals, Didio raids the entire creative pool. Quesada goes realpolitik in the stories, Didio rams THAT all the way to Sue Dinby’s rape-slay. Joe Quesada makes the mutants dead, Didio obliterates his ENTIRE FUCKING LINE ! Then, the endless superhero deaths ( done with such impunity, its threatening Batman ), the forced weekly comic shtick, the audacious multi-part crossovers, the continued cannibalizing of ‘ Crisis on Infinite Earths ‘……
This guy has no imagination. He’s a dull corporate ad man who goes for the bottom line with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Not exactly my definition of a ‘ smart man ‘. Apologies to Mr. Ellis.

Next time just write – I heart marvel – I mean, why bother with such a one-sided account?

to FunkyGreenJerusalem :

Because it’s TRUE.

And John Nee gets fired.

Fucking God.

It’s like they’re gonna be taking everybody down to clean up the mess of Mr. Dan.

DC is NOT really the best thing happening to comics at the moment.

But then, they’re just, like, continuing from the shitpile of where they were in the late ’90s – that point where they unceremoniously flipped off Mark Millar, et al from doing anything with their Superman titles, & therefore signing their death warrant early, with the eventual creation of Ultimate X-men books and such. It was really then and there where they’ve brought down their stock, it seems. And I don’t think they’ve ever fully learned from any of that. So much so that the only thing they’ve figured is to artificially emulate the beats of what was making Marvel work – without the actual authentic vision, geniune enthusiasm, or tenacity for substantial change. Sure the Bill Jemas/Joe Quesada era had their faults and all, but given the vapid nature of the lazy one-stop-solution, it’s no surprise their mistakes are relentlessly perpetuated into DC’s side of the business, with no end in sight. Because it was all vapid, and souless, and without direction, and it shows.

Seriously, this walking editorial malfeasance is a corporate carbon cut-out of the good that Marvel was at when they started hitting it big again, with NONE of the good. To not say that they’re completely wartless ( their current ‘ deal with the devil ‘ Spiderman bullshit is an undeniable banality ) , but they ARE 50 % up from DC in sales terms. Maybe these are some things to think about….

Whether you like Marvel’s recent output or not it’s undeniable that their ideas are story-driven and give the writers something to play with rather than “guess who we’re killing THIS month!”

Edward De Franca

June 24, 2008 at 3:02 am

you saying they not doing that at dc chuck?because it seems to me whenever there’s a secret invasion or civil war every marvel writer gets told exactly what to do and who they’re killing for months…I believe in letting a writer have more or equal say on a character.

Amen to that, Chuck.

Corporate hubris is like that.

” This is clearly an attempt by DC to steal Marvel’s glory and transplant it onto its own moribund universe. For DC to recognise its own weaknesses, then convert them in a stroke. To basically take everything Joe Quesada has built up at Marvel and buy it, “Citizen Kane” style. ” – Rich Johnson, ‘ The Cold War ‘, Lying in the Gutters, 7/27/2003

Ladies and gentlemen, Dan Didio, in a nutshell.

” Previous to this, most of DC’s more energetic, vibrant and “cool” books were from Wildstorm, on the other side of the country. Their lauded “Batman” revamp was safe – it gets the sales but reviews have not been glowing. But just how many times can you revamp a character by getting Jim Lee to DRAW it? ”
______

Javier Velasquez

June 26, 2008 at 9:00 am

So… if read between lines… the huge issue was between Dixon an Didio.
Probably the problem was the Batman “r.i.p.” and what Didio really wanted of Batman titles…
I only can guess…

But i do know dat i love Dixon comics back to the 90s… when i heard he was leaving… it make me pretty sad.
I grow up reading the Alan Grant-Norm Breyfogle, Dixon-Barreto, Moench-Jones Batman… i know they were others time… but i miss that kind of histories, specially Dixon 90s histories… you knew pretty well what was going on, how the characters was and you knew that the writers treated the characters in the same way, no matter if they were in others issues…

Now… many dc´s comics are pretty crappy, each writer do whatever he want… robin in teen titans has no relation with the Batman or Detective comics robin or the Regular collection Robin… for giving an example.

I feel sometimes that some writers make histories only to sell, waiting for the next freat crossover or great crisis…

any way..
i will miss ya mr Dixon…

This is a very dissapointing site!!! I was searching for editorial news then this came out!!! what the hell is this?!!! it doesn’t even contain animes!!!

Well, Clarice, I can smell your…

Anyway!
I feel for Mister Dixon. This may be the first time I’ve heard of someone in comics being fired for doing their job BETTER than required. If this is because Robin is becoming ‘Damien’ and Robin / Tim Drake is becoming Batman (just speculating…), couldn’t DC have had an editorial block on the splash page that says “The events within take place before the events of ‘BATMAN R.I.P.’” and had Damien have his own maxi-series? I mean, status quo is slated for 2010 according to Morrison (at least that’s how I read it). This could have been easily resolved.

RE: Morrison Final Night / C2FC / DoNG
UGH! We don’t know what really happened there. Someday we will, but not yet. Paul Dini is NOT the horrible writer that Countdown to Final Crisis would lead one to believe. He’s not the idea man that Morrison is, but he’s certainly one of the best ‘classic’ style mainstream comics writers today. Something stinks there. That said, I’m RELIEVED that Morrison isn’t following it because COUNTDOWN IS ONE OF THE WORST COMIC EVENTS EVER. I didn’t even bother with DoNG. That cover to the last issue just says “Don’t Buy This Very Embarrassing Comic”.

[...] fallout with DC earlier this year reached a new level when he broke his silence in the comments section of a June CBR [...]

I went back because I browsed this when it came out and have recently had a taste of “the business”. It didn’t seem as Professional as you made it sound (trust me when I say that with a laugh and a snort of milk coming out of my nose). Temperamental and semi un-communicative? THAT sounds spot on.

Those main issues are done and over with, but the thing that brought me back was the “It’s COMMERCIAL art” part. I AGREE- but one thing I’ve been looking at is the gestalt of Artists> Fans> Editors. I know it’s all about money, but the Art Guys get into it for the story (because some people REALLY try to cheap you until you get a known name), and I think to a DEGREE, fans should be listened to- in this case Morrison doesn’t really perform well unless he’s allowed to complete his story, and fans are willing to suspend their disbelief (which right now amuses me. people can believe in someone wearing tights and flying- but one guy gets a scar or changes motivations/ directions in a story, and people don’t recall how to react)

I think personally, I know it’s a perfect world scenario, but commercial and art are balanced on the scales, we all just do our work and be happy with it (and let the Editor get a day of sleep after going to bat for us even if he fails), and farm work to small business vendors.

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