X-ecutioner Calls

I’d heard rumours that Jason Liebig was one of the planned casualties of the Marvel reorganisation after the Bob Harras sacking, but that this was postponed. However, something’s straining at the leash. Reports from what purports to be a memo resulting from an editorial meeting on Friday suggest the cancellation, trimming and shortening of a number of X-books, including the Counter-X line. Some series will go completely, others will become mini-series.

The details are sketchy, but I’ve been told that X-Force is one of the cancelled books, X-Man is to be merged with another book (possibly Cable?) and Generation X will become a four issue mini-series every year.

It’s not clear as to when or if this will take place and I think we can take as read that it won’t be until the Ellis Plotmaster issues are finished in March. But it’s weird that all three Counter X books have had a sales spike, are selling significantly more than they used to and that Jason Liebig was key in Counter X happening the way it did. It could so easily have been Rob Liefeld instead of Warren Ellis. Jason brought attention to a series of books that were being ignored and sales have reflected that.

There seem to have been briefings reported around the industry against Jason Liebig by some pros. I’ve been hearing a few nasty rumours on and off since Harras was kicked. It’s clear that some don’t like him. Hell, he’s in editorial. But it’s also clear that some like him a lot. It may also be that he’s seen as one of Bob Harras’ men, and the new regime may not like that.

But it’s sounding an awful lot like a certain interview I did recently. Talking of which…

This Has A Rumour Vale of 5 Out Of 10

Powers That Be

As Joe Illidge revealed that DC had turned down the ultra-popular Powers series, so Jamie at Oni Press revealed the same, saying on the Brian Bendis Message Board “for the record, we did turn it down at Oni in favor of Fortune & Glory, and we still think we made the right choice. Both books are doing better where they are than they would have anywhere else. Sometimes that sort of thing needs to be considered.”

This Has A Rumour Value Of 9 Out Of 10

Crossed Swords

When a freelancer takes on a comic book project, they usually sign a contract for a set period of time. If, during that time, the freelancer wishes to move on to something else, arrangements are usually made. If a good period of notice is given it’s a painless affair, creative teams are switched around, a positive spin of the situation is given to the media and life goes on as normal. And since DC and Marvel have a non-poaching agreement between themselves, the status quo is pretty much maintained.

However, Joe Quesada’s blatant breach of this gentlemen’s embargo have put DC is a difficult spot, losing creators and editors to the new regime. All bets are now off. And what makes it worse is when some little upstart of a company like CrossGen also manages to land some of their talent.

I’ve been told that people who want to move to CrossGen have not found their contract situation as flexible as before. A number of freelancers have been told that if they want to break their contract, even if they give plenty of notice, they have two choices. Finish the contract as agreed, or pay back all payments and the project will be started anew with another creator. And since many freelancers simply can’t afford to pay those payments back – indeed, any financial incentive they might have had for moving to CrossGen is wiped away, they can’t leave.

However it emerges that in such cases, CrossGen has been paying those payments for the freelancers in question. The point is that while the new contract attitude is perfectly legal, it is not ‘usual practice’ in the comics industry. And the result is the freelancers involved feel victimised by DC and see CrossGen as some shining white knight. Probably not the intended result.

More as I have it.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 5 Out Of 10.

Wayne Manners

The Joe Illidge article is still getting comment from the great and good. One brave soul is Matt Wayne, one of the few people who’ve agreed to go on the record. He says ”I was Managing Editor at Milestone Media way back when, and had ample opportunity to observe both Joe Illidge and DC Comics in action between 1993 and 1997. Both may have changed since then.

”First, Joe. He’s intense, gifted and meticulous, all qualities which benefit an editor. When he worked at Milestone, I saw him go from mouthy fanboy (sorry, it’s true) to an editor of enviable skills. He’s a good writer, but as an editor he quickly learned how to keep his own creativity from gumming up the scripts of the writers he hired. He studied art, but his notes to artists were never meddlesome. Of the four DC editors I’ve done any appreciable writing for, only Bronwyn Taggart had this quality. Kevin Dooley, who fiddled with my scripts, made them better. Him I also like. Joe’s ability to harness good talent without overpowering it may not be valued at DC, but I think the readers and the creators benefit.

”Of course, the only reasonable measure of an editor is what the books look like. I haven’t been keeping up with Batman; how was Joe doing?

”That’s what I thought. When he edited HARDWARE, I had one big fight with Joe over a ten-dollar bump in D.G. Chichester’s page rate. I’m still mad at him about that – Dan would have done the book anyway – but in my head the episode demonstrates Joe’s appreciation for talent, his willingness to ruffle feathers over matters of principle, and his ability to scrap verbally without disrespecting the other point of view.

”Now, DC Comics. Joe’s remarkable sense of fair play, second only to Mr. Terrific’s, leads me to believe every word he says. Joe hasn’t implied conscious racism or sexism at DC, and neither do I. But, just as we can only judge an editor’s competence by the books, we must judge DC’s competence in promoting staff by the number of highly-placed editors of remarkable ability. The same institutional forces that keep good editors away unless they have Frank Miller in their pockets keep talented creative staff from moving up. Among these forces is the fact that there are only so many slots to fill. Comics aren’t expanding, and the winnowing process is unfair by definition. It’s ridiculous to assume race and gender are dealt with evenhandedly while merit itself doesn’t get its full due.

”One of the responses to the Illidge article said that anything short of concrete evidence of race playing a part in DC office politics is “bullshit.” How dumb. Concrete evidence is necessary if somebody’s getting sued. Not much of online comics chat is held to that standard. If we can’t talk about race until legal action is warranted, we’ll develop a very skewed view of society. That’s like saying we can’t talk about auto safety until a statistically irrefutable number of tires have exploded.

”I don’t think DC is particularly racist, but I don’t think they’re the last bastion of egalitarianism, either. My dealings with various staffers led me to believe that, aside from being very proud and defensive of their merely average record of minority hires, DC was… merely average, especially compared with Jim Shooter at Marvel, Valiant and the other one.

”I do think that Joe is one of the best editors I’ve ever seen, and that he got screwed, as people often do. I’m proud of him for speaking out about it, and not surprised he remained respectful of everybody involved.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10

Waiting For Hamner To Fall

On the DC Authority Message Board, Annual artist Cully Hamner posted as to upcoming projects, that you’ll see his work “probably in X-MEN UNLIMITED, WEIRD WESTERN TALES, and GEN-ACTIVE.” He also hinted large about an upcoming creator-owned project on the cards for Wildstorm too…

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10

Lobo Blow

Silver Bulletins reported the return of Keith Giffen to Lobo, with Alan Grant and Simon Bisley. But Keith Giffen also seems to be returning to Lobo in a different way according to the Rich Johnston of cinema, Harry Knowles. Harry reports a kick-ass Superman movie treatment by Giffen, currently getting lots of interesting attention from the right people. It involves the classic comic-book version of Superman who has to deal with Lobo coming to get him. Bad, mad, dangerous to know, see all the great things people are saying about it, click here.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10

Next week’s column may be shorter, may be a re-run, I don’t know – thing is I’m writing a script for some make-a-film-in-48-hours thing. But hey, as usual, if you know or have heard of anything of interest, go the message board below of e-mail me on twisting@hotmail.com

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