Ed Hunter

I hear from a known source that at least 3 DC Comics editors have been approached by Joe Quesada to specifically replace him on Marvel Knights, with a number of rumours about different editors for other posts. To prevent evacuation, three editors have been recently very quickly promoted. Eddie Berganza and Axel Alonzo have both been promoted to Senior Editor. And Bob Schreck has been made a Group editor.

I also hear that the regular “Carrot Awards” where three editorial department employees are given one thousand dollar bonuses has been brought forward, raising suspicions about the timing.

However, I also hear that despite all this, yes, Axel Alonzo may well be leaving DC.

I didn’t get any comment from DC about this. What, like they’d tell me? Oh go on then, I’ll ask during the week…

This has a Rage Value of 6 Out Of 10


Speculate Ed

So what might make these editors attractive to Quesada and Marvel Knights? Okay, Speculation time.

Bob Schreck’s considerable experience at Dark Horse and Oni has worked with a lot of creators and has made a lot of friends – and the kind of people who would fit in to the Knights philosphy. And the recent Dark Knight Strikes Back proposed series would likely not have happened without Schreck’s history with Frank Miller.

Eddie Berganza is the chap who fired the Super-team to hire Morrison, Millar, Waid and Peyer, before that decision was reversed by those higher up. As a result, he’s pretty likely to have a good relationship with these guys.

And Axel Alonzo has worked with a variety of top vreators at Vertigo, especially on his anthology books, including amongst hundreds, Morrison, Quitely and Ennis.

This has a Rage Value of 1 Out Of 10. I’m Making It Up, Folks!


Magik Words

I hear form someone who’s seen an advance script that the new Magik series from Marvel will star, rather than Illanya, the Daytripper herself – Amanda Sefton.

I e-mail artist Liam Sharp, who doesn’t comment on the Magik series, but there’s something else I’ve been hearing that I wanted to ask him…

This has a Rumour Value of 9 Out Of 10


Sharp Tactics

I’ve been hearing some stories about the non-return of artwork and Liam Sharp. They involve the Creative Interests Agency, 140 pages of non-returned artwork, art being sold by CIA at $1000 a page and a confused Liam. So I ask him about it all.

And Liam’s talks. He does however tell me straight up that the following spiel should be read without prejudice, is not intended to damage C.I.A on any financial level or intended as a personal attack on anyone. He just wants his art returned and the money he’s owed for the pages sold. No more, no less.

Well, this column is used to people misreading stuff, so pay attention to that last paragraph. Right? Okay, take it away Liam.

There’s not an artist in the industry, that I’m aware of, who doesn’t want to do their absolute best. It’s commonly known that success in the field can bring great rewards, and that requires commitment and hard work. Talent alone is not enough. To truly make it in comic art you have to firstly be able to draw anything.

AND make it look good.

But that’s just the easy bit. Next you realise you’re never drawing what you really want to draw, and you have to learn to be able to do that over and over again. On your own. Day after day.

Then there’s Deadlines to meet. Critics to face. Cancellation of titles. Finding yourself in the strange situation of being a product. And a product has to be sold.

Artists, on the whole, don’t like anything they’ve drawn. It’s a good thing too as it keeps us constantly trying to improve ourselves. But there are associated problems with this, and they’re almost all to do with selling oneself. Promotion. How do you go about that when invariably you know that nothing you’ve done lives up to your own expectation of yourself? Despite the apparent proliferation of super-egos throughout the industry, the vast majority of creators are content to let the various publishing houses do their promoting for them.

Your other option is to find yourself an agent.

Actually, it’s more likely that an agent will find you.

There are manifold reasons why having an agent can seem appealing. It comes as a great relief to think that there’s someone out there constantly fighting your corner. To no longer feel like you’re chasing an elusive industry Quested Beast that can never be caught, that one big job that will make you a comic book immortal. That’s how an agent will sell it to you: They’ll find these profile raising jobs for you. They’ll get you interviews in all the right magazines announcing your upcoming projects with great gusto. All YOU have to do is give up 10% of your earnings and do the work and they will do all the rest for you.

Well, no. Not really. That’s not quite how that works either. For a start you are usually only one of many creators on an agency’s books, and all of you want the same thing. The chances are something big will break for one of their clients and all their energies will go into promoting that person. There’s also a strong likelihood that they have already got you on the first job that came along, that is IF any jobs came along , so you’re tied into that, waiting for that call from Wizard, that offer to draw a new X-Men series, that opportunity to develop a movie…

In some ways I was lucky. When the Creative Interests Agency (C.I.A.) tracked me down I already had a head start. The Death’s Head II series had been very popular for a time and I’d drawn a Venom mini series, a couple of X-Men and Spider-Man issues. Plus I’d done a run on the Hulk. What the agency was offering seemed fantastic. There was this new company called Verotik who were working with some of the true greats of all time in my opinion, and they loved my work.

Funnily enough it was Steve Wardlaw, then an editor at Verotik, who first phoned with an offer of work while I was still drawing the Hulk. When Steve Donnelly of the C.I.A phoned some months later with the same offer I thought they were the same person, so my whole initial reason for getting involved with an agency was based on a mistake.

None the less I allowed myself to be wooed with talk of promotions and raised profiles.

The job I got was a book called G.O.T.H. A kind of no-holds-barred Hulk on steroids. It was a fast moving adrenaline-fuelled romp of little intellectual content, but I’d had a lot of fun cutting loose drawing it.

This was followed by, unbelievably for me, the chance to draw Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer. Not just that, but I was following on from Simon Bisley, a great favourite of mine, and finally, I thought, getting the chance to draw the kind of comic in which I could really excel. Frazetta had always been a primary motivating factor in my getting involved in the medium, so it was an incredible honour to be asked to interpret his character in comic form, and not a little bit daunting too.

I was, to coin that famously unpopular phrase, “the King of the World!”

So five years on what happened? With such a promising start did my agents succeed in raising my profile?

Well, things turned a little sour with Verotik. There’s always two sides to every story, but from my point of view it just got increasingly hard to please them.

Communication broke down. I was very unhappy. They were very unhappy. I quit them after my second Death Dealer issue and a difficult three issue Jaguar God run.

And this is the point where we get back to agents and their mysterious modus operandi.

A cautionary note to ANYONE who is thinking about being, or is already represented by an agent: Look hard and long at your contract. At the moment I’m in a peculiar kind of limbo with regard to some unresolved issues that date back to this time, and they all centre round what an agent should, shouldn’t, can or can’t do. When I left Verotik I asked the C.I.A. to secure the return of my Death Dealer and Jaguar God artwork. Verotik had purchased all the G.O.T.H. artwork off me. But for the obvious reason that it was Frazetta related, and my best work up until that time, I had not wanted to sell the Death Dealer material.

Following my period with Verotik I managed to secure myself a run on the Man-Thing for Marvel. It was with this work that I stopped going through the C.I.A. as I’d done lots of work with Marvel prior to my involvement with them. They reluctantly conceded to this and continued to get me the occasional unrelated job for which I was happy to give up my 10% agency fee. For a while I continued to pester them as to the whereabouts of my Verotik artwork.

Three years later I still don’t have it.

Sometimes things just become too much of a big pain in the proverbial, and with the passage of time one is inclined to just let it go. Luckily I’ve been in pretty constant work. I got married, had two kids. In the great scheme of things it just didn’t seem that big a deal. But equally sometimes something happens that just seems so unfair that if you walk away from it you know you can never look at yourself in the mirror again with any semblance of self-respect.

This is how I felt when I recently found out that one of my pages from the Death Dealer was up for sale on the internet for $1000. When I contacted the unfortunate dealer who had purchased the piece in good faith I had an even bigger shock. It had been bought from the internet auction site eBay where it had been put up for sale by, wait for it, the C.I.A. I immediately checked the Creative Interests website and found two more examples of my artwork displayed on there. They had never even told me they got any of that artwork back from Verotik.

Steve Donnelly always seemed to me to be a decent guy, if a little harassed and over-stretched. I really felt there must be a mistake. I emailed and phoned right away that he get in touch regarding this.

The next day I did the same again.

A week later I had still heard nothing despite my increasingly insistent requests for an explanation. Then I heard from the dealer who bought the artwork that the C.I.A had told him they didn’t know who I was. This prompted even more outraged messages from me. I even waited up until 1.30am UK time to try and talk in person with the California based agency but still just got their answer phone.

So what could I do? I emailed everyone I knew in the industry explaining what had happened and seeking some advice and assistance on how to get these 140 or so pages back. I was unprepared for the storm of mail that returned.

The problem is, and here’s one of the pitfalls, I’ve looked it over and there’s nothing directly relating to art returns in their contract anyway.

Now how stupid do I feel for not spotting that?

As things stand at the moment it has been related to me through a third party that the C.I.A now claims I still owe them some money on commissions. Quite how this works I don’t know since they were responsible for invoicing. They also say I am responsible for the cost of shipping it back. That seems to me to be very unreasonable. The publishers always cover the cost of shipping. It should be an issue between agent and publishers, not me. Besides, not once in six years have they said any of this to me personally.

Though once again there’s no reference to shipping in the contract so far as I can see.

Duh.

Read your contracts very carefully!

At the end of the day all I want is my artwork back and the price of the page(s) sold. No more. No less.

Why I can’t have them back I don’t know. Nobody will tell me. Steve’s email address has now become unavailable. My biography has vanished from their site.

So my point is this: Be very careful what you sign. I’m sure there are many great agents out there, I don’t want to tarnish them all with the same brush, but protect yourself, and make sure your contract is water-tight.

Or just don’t have one.

Thanks Liam, wise words. I tried to contact Steve Donnelly with no response.

This has a Rage Value of 7 Out Of 10


One Chance Left

Sources close to Alan Moore tell me that DC and Wildstorm are currently residents in the Last Chance Motel. One more infringement of house policy and it’s eviction time. The original non-interference policy has been gradually infringed and infringed a number of times, from internal ads, to changed details, to the recent Tomorrow Stories change.

Word is, next time, they’ll be out on the street.

This Has A Rage Value Of 6 Out Of 10


Paul Levitz Love-In

After last week’s disappointing-in-parts edition, we’re back on form with this heartwarming story about Paul Levitz from Andrew Troth, to banish the nay-sayers and reputation-destroyers that try to knock down Paul Levitz, yay even in his own offices.

Troth reports “I attended the 1997 Legion of Super-Heroes fan dinner in Chicago, held at a nearby pizza joint during one of the evenings of the Chicago Con (the year before it became Wizard Con). There must have been about 40 of us all told, discussing the LSH and comics in general. And eating lots of pizza. Paul Levitz attended at least part of the dinner, and I guess he enjoyed it because as he was getting ready to leave he unexpectedly paid the bill for the whole affair! So there’s an unresevedly positive story for you… cheers.”

You know, if Paul Levitz had only bought pizza for Alan Moore, Melinda Gebbie, Kyle Baker, Maureen McTigue, Lateef Williams and others, maybe this whole sorry scenario could have been avoided.

This Has A Rage Value of 8 Out Of 10


Self Serving Announcement

I’m eBaying a load more comics right now… including a number of Liam Sharp items (don’t worry, they’ve all been fully paid for). Why not click on Rich’s eBay Sale today?

This Has A Rage Value Of 10 Out Of 10. It’s All True, I Tell You.

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