Dear DC Entertainment/DC Comics,
In late 2008 I picked up 'Rage of the Red Lanterns, Prologue: Blood Feud' a "tie-in" special to Final Crisis. That was the beginning of my complete immersion into the comics world. I bought Green Lantern (and related titles) regularly and began soaking up every bit of history on the character I could find. Once I was steeped in GL mythos, I moved on to the rest of the DCU. Characters like Firestorm, Phantom Stranger, Starfire, Deadman, Ragman, Firebrand, Aquaman and more seized a relentless grip on my attention. Then I moved on to the industry as a whole: Marvel, Dark Horse, IDW, Image, and more. Finally I became obsessed with the forbidden knowledge. The origin of all things. At least, for comics that is. And I began soaking up a history of comics that you yourself (as a company) played a pivotal founding role in.
As time moved on I made comics my one and only hobby. Your characters, my introduction to their world, served as the cornerstone for all of my passion for the industry as a whole. Things like 'Green Lantern/Green Arrow' from the 1970's became my bible for groundbreaking and innovative comics that changed the public perception of "biff, bam, pow" comics to that of a more serious and thought provoking ilk.
From late 2008 to mid 2011 I went from knowing barely a thing about comics, to co-hosting a podcast dedicated to 'Green Lantern' and reading non-fiction books about the history of the comic medium. After awhile though, it seemed that things were beginning to get stale (to both the fans and you) and the decision was made to "reboot/relaunch" your entire universe. On August 31st, 2011 you launched a new universe for your iconic characters. It was ballsy, it was gutsy and you had the entire comics world talking for awhile. Sales skyrocketed and you went into multiple printings of everything. You even made the leap nobody else would and went 100% all in with day and date digital comics releases.
It was a move that shook the industry and left every other comics publisher gasping for air like someone caught in an undertow. You owned the comics world. In one fell swoop you sparked the curiosity of loyal fans, captivated new ones and leapt forward into a digital age.
You started cancelling books. It was a smart move. Give a few titles a chance to find some ground and if they don't sell then replace them with books that will. It makes good business sense (even IF I'm still pissed at you for cancelling O.M.A.C.). You made comic fans everywhere upset here and there about stuff but hey, what are you going to do? We get upset about EVERYTHING here and there.
DC, I don't know how to say this, so I'll just say it: You started to let everyone down.
I may not have been a comics fan long, but I can tell you right now that the things I've grown to appreciate from comics is creative freedom and amazing storytelling. Let's take my favorite comic series 'Green Lantern/Green Arrow'. From what I understand, GL was floundering and Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams were asked to step up to the plate and "fix this". So, Denny did what Denny did. The result was one of the most famous comic series of the 1970's (if not all time) that not only changed the perceptions of an entire medium, but taught the Comics Code Authority a lesson. All because DC let Denny and Neal do what Denny and Neal did best.
But DC, you've started to take your talent for granted. You've become so hyper obsessed with your characters depictions in TV, film and video games that you've forgotten the hallowed pages that served as the birth place for each and every character you own a copyright on (and even some you don't). Superman's shield may be the second most recognizable symbol on the planet, but Kal-El's true home isn't Krypton, it's within the pages of Action Comics.
One of my favorite things about comics is taking characters that have existed for decades and "letting someone else have a turn" to tell the story in their way. To add a new wrinkle to the mythos. People will either love it or hate it, but it's new and the creator is doing what they can to tell the story. Why? Because it's THEIR time to shine and they LOVE this character. They're going to give their all.
But DC, you're not giving them that freedom anymore. That much is clear. And you can come out with press releases and promotional gimmicks and carefully planned politically correct events and "things will never be the same again" solicitations, but nothing will change what you're doing right now.
I wanted to keep this 'letter' brief, but I still have a bit more to say. Let me just skip straight to some examples of how you're treating your talent.
Kevin Maguire Kicked Off Of 'Justice League 3000'
"This is very humiliating. Obviously, I was looking forward to working on a fairly high profile book. I haven't had a top ten book since the '80s and I thought this would finally be my shot at doing one. But it's DC's book, it's their property, they can do whatever they want with it. They don't owe me anything. I've been told they wanted a book that was "dark and gritty", so I'm perplexed as to why they chose us for that. We did exactly the kind of book you would expect from us. Lots of action and humor...I think that'll be it for me and DC for a while."
James Robinson Leaves DC Comics
Blackman & Williams Leaving 'Batwoman'
"We’ve always understood that, as much as we love the character, Batwoman ultimately belongs to DC. However, the eleventh-hour nature of these changes left us frustrated and angry — because they prevent us from telling the best stories we can. So, after a lot of soul-searching, we’ve decided to leave the book after Issue 26."
Rob Liefelds Public DC Departure
"Massive indecision, last minute and I mean LAST minute changes that alter everything. Editor pissing contests… No thanks."
Andy Diggle Quits Action Comics
Fialkov Ditches 'Green Lantern Corps' and 'Red Lanterns'
"...editorial decisions about the direction of the book that conflicted with the story I was hired to tell.”
Gail Simone Off Batgirl
Gail Simone Leaves Fury of Firestorm
Ron Marz Off Voodoo
"I have to admit, I was pretty surprised, since I'd been making the
revisions and changes that had been requested by editorial as the book
evolved. But it seems like they want something other than what I was
and the BIG one that SHOULD have made you sit up straight...
George Perez Goes EXCLUSIVE to BOOM! Studios
"While I have enjoyed considerable professional and
personal success with both Marvel and DC, it was becoming all too
evident that many of the books being produced by both companies seem to
be getting more and more corporate driven. Many of the characters I grew
up with were turning into strangers whose adventures were determined by
factors that had less and less to do with what made a good comic story
and more to do with how these properties can be exploited for other
purposes. There's nothing wrong with that, I guess, but not something
that I felt was particularly satisfying for me as a storyteller."
(NOTE: Some of those can be contested as creator decision and not DC decision. I understand that. However, there are more examples for you to choose from HERE. For every ONE you "discount" four more that ring true will take it's place.)
Take a moment and look through that DC. Forget your executive chair. Forget your paycheck. Forget whatever it is that makes you OK with making these decisions. Forget it all and read those again as a FAN. Let's face it, the vast majority of you in power at DC wouldn't be there unless you started as a FAN FIRST. What does that tell you about the state of your business? How much PR does it take to clean up messes like that? Wouldn't the best bet be to handle things better, recognize that the money you make RELIES on the creative talent and NOT just a fancy new cover?
Before the New 52, when a book was in trouble, what did you do? (heck, even now) You brought in a big name writer or artist or both to save your title? Why? Because those names had FOLLOWINGS. Fans TRUSTED them. So you clearly recognize the talent and power your creators have. So why alienate them?
And, before I go too long, let me make my last point. Have you seen what your competitor Marvel is doing? With each bridge you burn, Marvel attempts to build one. Do you know why? Because Marvel sees the value of their creators. They might not be doing the best when it comes to retaining them and treating them well, but they're doing better than you. And WHY are you burning these bridges? Rumor has it (and the facts seem to support it) that you DESPERATELY want to make your characters more marketable to the general audience. Much like Marvel Studios has done with their movie franchises. Marvel gave you a wake up call and now you (and your bosses at Warner) want a piece of the pie. And yet, the rival you're trying to match/outrun....is STILL snatching up the remnants of your hasty decision making in your mad rush to make millions. Why? If they're making ALL that money, why is Marvel still focused on their comics?
Because they KNOW where they come from. They remember what happens when they treat their creators like crap. And in case you've forgotten, so do we.
FAN QUOTES TAKEN FROM BLOGS, FORUMS, AND ARTICLE COMMENTS:
(no names "reprinted" here)
"DC has a huge problem right now and it would seem that Harras is a huge
part of it. There's no denying it.The pattern would seem to indicate
that they are mistreating their creatives, and if that is the case then
Geoff Johns and Jim Lee need to step up and fight that. I hate to see
this with DC. I love Marvel but I am a DC guy, and this stuff kills me."
"I’ll soon be down to just one DCU title."
"Disgusting. Those of you that support the arts or are artists themselves, how can
you in good conscience support DC comics at this point? They're treating
talent like garbage... Vote with your dollar, do not support DC Comics until changes
have been made."
"It just seems like a complete mess over there now, something really
needs to be sorted out soon. I'm down to reading just 2 DC books and they
are digital ones not set in the DCnU."
"While I get that DC is well within their rights to dismiss creators from
a book, the way they've been going about it seems very unprofessional
to me. When that many creators take to the internet and openly discuss
behind the scenes goings on, then at some point DC management isn't
handling things well."
"It really feels like the management there is staggeringly incompetent."
"At some point, DC will have pissed off every comic book creator out
there and have all of their comics written by headless chickens."
"And if there's ONE THING DC has taught me in the last few years, it's
"Fuck creators in the ear holes, who the fuck needs those guys? We have
fucking EDITORS, man!"
"DC really doesn't see this as their problem. They see it as our problem.
We, the fans, the internet, the non-publicity-department-controlled
comics media, are only upset because we *know* about this stuff. If we
would just stop knowing about it, they would stop looking so stupid for
doing it. And that, in a nutshell, is why DC keeps finding
themselves in these PR clusterfucks. Because they just have no clue what
they are doing wrong. As far as they're concerned, they're doing a
"Why the heck do I even bother with DC Comics anymore. I think my excitement just dropped down to nothing."
Should I keep going...?
A Former Rabid Fan on the Verge of Buying All His DC Comics from now on Pre-DCNU from Back Issue Bins
- Chad Bokelman
- I started reading comics regularly after 'Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns'. Since then, I've become a co-host on 'The LanternCast' (a podcast dedicated to Green Lantern that's been on the air since 2008), started a new podcast covering the late 1980's DC series Action Comics Weekly (appropriately titled The Action Comics Weekly Podcast), and have been the curator of THE blog on the internet dedicated to the character of Ragman, created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert published by DC Comics starting in 1976 and currently appearing on The CW show 'Arrow' as portrayed by actor Joe Dinicol. I'm an avid fan of comics, classic rock, and speaking my mind. Welcome!
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
An Open Letter to DC Comics...
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
Bravo! Well said, Mr. Bokelman. You hit the nail right on the head with this one!ReplyDelete
Great job..now print it off, sign it, and mail it to their offices.ReplyDelete