Since my last Rage posted four days ago I’ve received quite a few letters and message board posts about my Wizard World Chicago report. Most people seem to have enjoyed it and some even told me it was better than being there. But there have also been a few naysayers out there who found my drunken antics at the show offensive.
On Friday my boss Jason Brice forwarded me a letter that was sent to him by one of these unhappy readers. It expressed concern about the direction of ATR and also about my well being. I was quite touched when I read it. So much so that I thought I’d share it with you. I’m gonna pull a Captain Marvel letters page trick and provide comments after anything that strikes me as response worthy. My words are in bold.
Hello. What up.
I just got finished reading the recent (and very late) “All the Rage” column (I’m sorry. You must have missed the part about me being at THE CONVENTION!) and I must comment that it was such a waste. Honestly, who wants to read about some drunken bum’s con adventures? (I think Matt and Dan really enjoyed the column, actually..) Is it supposed to be cool to spend your con weekend doing nothing but drinking and acting like a jackass? (Well you seem extremely cool, so I guess the answer would be no, right?). And be proud of such behavior? (Excuse me, I need to go hang my head in shame.. in a corner.) Of course, maybe the columnist was just making this all up to garner some attention and seem cool, but it just came off as pathetic. (Hey thanks for referring to me as “the columnist”. Sounds very mysterious! It’s true that I’m looking for attention and that I want to hang with all the cool kids. It’s been a lifelong struggle to find acceptance.)
Also, I had to chuckle at the following: (Oh, so you thought I wrote something funny?! Well maybe we can hang out now.. oh, wait a second.. you’re laughing at me, aren’t you?. Please.. please don’t ridicule me! I can’t bear the rejection!)
At 3:30 I went to the Superman panel with my friend Jamie. I had every intention of taking notes and doing the reporter thing, but as soon as Brian Azzarello was introduced and drunken Jamie started yelling AZZARELLLOOOO!!! at the top of his manly lungs, I knew the effort was useless.
I happened to be at that some panel and didn’t hear any drunken fanboy fool yell out “AZZARELLLOOOO!!!!” loudly. If such did happen, that drunken bum doesn’t really have a good set of lungs in him. I guess drinking like a fish will do that to you. (Were you drinking, Chuckles? Cause at the panel I went to both the moderator and Brian acknowledged Jamie’s outburst. You may be blind and deaf. Or maybe you’re really Jess Lemon.)
Silver Bullets should seriously think about getting a new columnist for their rumor column. The current guy needs to get a clue and some respect and maybe check himself into AA). (Ooh, I’m “Current Guy” now. Swank. Jason really wants to send me to the clinic. He’s tried to have an intervention already. In fact he even invited some cool people over to try and set me straight. I bet you know them. But unfortunately, I’m just not ready to accept that I have a problem. If I do go sometime down the road, I’ll be sure to tell Jason to keep you in mind for this job. I’m sure he’d want to get someone cool in here to replace me.)
Dennis AKA Chuckles
All joking aside, here’s a bargain I need to tell you about before my editor has me committed to rehab… Dynamic Forces has unearthed a set of 1997’s QFX trading card series for your collection, each drawn by Joe Quesada and featuring Marvel comics characters. Better yet, the Spidey card in the set is signed by Joe himself! Not too shabby. And one of these beauties can be yours by clicking a banner or button on this page and heading over to the DF site. Oh, yeah, you have to give them $19.97. Cheap!
I’ve learned that Lying in the Gutters columnist Rich Johnston has a 3 issue mini-series coming out next year. It will be an American family sitcom sort of thing. I’m not sure what publisher is putting the book out. But I do know that it isn’t one of the big guns. It’s a well known smaller press.
For those of you who remember, Rich said he no longer had an interest in breaking into the comic book biz as a writer during a Waiting for Tommy interview with Joe Quesada in March. Here’s the relevant text:
- I know you’ve always wanted to break into the comics biz as a writer, you still do..
Rich Johnston: At one point I wanted to “break” into the comics biz. But that was more like ten years ago. Since then I realised what I actually wanted was to make a living at writing, which I do. Occasionally ideas come along that would be suitable for comics. And what happens is I generally self publish them. I’ve been working on a few bits that might make an anthology at some point, I show them around to get reactions, but I’m not trying to break into the comics business. What I do in comics is for my own satisfaction and expression, not to make a career or get a gig.
There have only been a very few times when I’ve actually pitched for company things, you can count them on one hand of a Simpson character. Not including the thumb. And that was down to having an idea I wanted to get onto paper and explore, rather than any desire to ‘break in’. That’s it. In ten years. On that basis, you could believe that I want to move to Scotland because I’ve been to Edinburgh three times in the same time period. If writing the comics rumour column has taught me anything, it’s not to try to break into comics. Everyone gets their hearts broken eventually.
Joe Quesada: But, Rich, you don’t fool me for a second. Like most Internet reporters, I bet you would drop that cushy ad gig to work in comics, don’t tell me otherwise. We all know that despite it’s faults, it is an incredible place to work, just as Marvel is an incredible place to work despite the fact that we will never be able to make 100% of our people happy.
Seems Mr. Quesada was on the money.
Update: I just heard that Rich will be getting his own action figure. It may be a voodoo doll, but nothing has been decided yet.
This Has A “Never Go In With A Rumor Columnist When A Writing Gig is On the Line!” Factor of Eight Out of Ten
I keep hearing more about the problems at Crossgen. Apparently the company’s financial difficulties have seriously affected relationships with freelance artists. A very reliable source tells me that Crossgen assigns work but continually pushes back payments, forcing some freelancers into economic hardship. There have also been promises of work that never seem to materialize and contracts that are never sent when they should be. This supposed lack of professionalism has caused freelancers to refuse to do anything more until they are paid for what they already completed. In fact, some upcoming books may feature more than one artist because the freelancers assigned to do entire issues didn’t receive compensation and subsequently refused to finish.
I’m also told that many freelancers initially decided to work with CrossGen because the Florida-based company projected a sense of stability and a friendly atmosphere. Some creators even passed on possible assignments with other companies in order to work at the publisher. But the recent cashflow problems at CrossGen seem to have seriously damaged its reputation within the freelance community, to the point that some have vowed to never work with the company again.
At the Broken Frontier message boards inker Robin Riggs (Supergirl) and penciller Lewis Larosa (Punisher) are weighing in on their freelance dealings with CrossGen. In one post, Larosa writes:
- “the fact is crossgen admits they are behind on payment to freelancers like robin, will, me, and several others through at least one public statement released by bill roseman in one of those rumor columns. plus, i have an issue, and i think it’s safe to assume, too, that robin has an issue, along with several others, with how’ve crossgen has handled it. in my case, i don’t feel they have handled it, period. if they’re not going to pay us anytime soon, they owe us an answer. my attempts at getting an answer from them since i stopped working for them get either a brief “we’ll look into it” or get no response at all. which is actually pretty much how it was when i was working for them and counting on that money to make ends meet. roseman stated that everyone has been contacted about the situation, has been invited to talk to alessi himself, and everything is fine, but this is not true, at least in my case.
“i don’t like airing dirty underwear in public, i don’t want to be one of those annoying comic pros more known for his public antics than his work, but i feel that in this case this should be made public. i’ve been quiet about it for months now and have given it plenty of thought.”
Robin’s wife, Elayne Riggs, has also been talking about CrossGen on her website http://elayneriggs.blogspot.com.
- “Back when I first started getting to know more about the comics industry than what went on between the covers, I was warned repeatedly that the more I found out the more ugliness I was destined to encounter. For the most part I don’t think this has borne out; I still have many more friends in the industry than “enemies,” and my husband (although still without a regular assignment on a specific book, for almost a year now) has been kept busy enough in the past few months that we’ve been able to pay the bills, so for the most part I’m not soured by any lack of editor-freelance professionalism shown by the Big Two (Marvel and DC) the way some others may be. Aside from a very few people who just rubbed me the wrong way to such an extent that I can no longer look at their work, my comics reading hasn’t shifted all that much; I’m still generally buying and reading books I really enjoy.
Elayne goes on to say how much she once supported Crossgen and enjoyed talking to the people who work there, but the company’s dealings with her husband have tainted those feelings. She then reprints a message from Robin that originally appeared on an inkers’ mailing list serve that they both belong to.
- “On Friday May 2nd Crossgen assistant art director Rick Magyar phoned and asked me to ink issues 34, 35 and 36 and the covers to #35 and 36 of The First over the pencils of Andy Smith. I agreed and he said the first of the covers would be with me on Monday May 5th and the interior work would be following in about three weeks later. No deadline was mentioned other than the mention of a page a day being the expected work rate. The agreed upon rates for this work was $150 per page for interiors and $250 for covers. Rick said he expected the contract would be included in the package. Later that day Andy Smith left a message on my machine saying that he was looking forward to working with me. The cover duly arrived as agreed. No contract but I knew they were in a hurry so I went ahead and inked it that day and sent it out the next day, Tuesday 6th May. When it reached them the following day I received calls to tell me that they were very happy with it“.
Robin adds that on Thursday May 29 he received a call from Michelle Pugliese, CrossGen’s freelance coordinator, who apologized for not getting him the contract. She said he’d have it soon. Robin asked her about payment for the cover he did three weeks earlier and was told that the accounts department didn’t like cutting small checks. On Monday June 2nd, Robin says he received the pages and began working on them despite the fact that no contract was sent.
- “At the beginning of the following week I received another three pages (hardly a page a day) followed by another call from Rick asking when he could expect to see some finished pages. I told him that I had pages underway but none completed and that I was still awaiting the promised paperwork. He said that they really needed pages to get their colourists working on and asked if I would be able to get 4 pages to them by Friday June 13th (that day sounds ominous in retrospect). I said that would be no problem and I’d get more to him if I could. We also agreed that thereafter I would send out whatever I had finished on each Monday to keep a steady flow of pages for the colourists.
“Over the next few days, even though I had still not received the promised contract, I not only finished the 4 pages that had been requested but every other page they had sent me as well. I sent off all seven pages on Thursday June 12th and they received the pages the following day.
“On the morning of Monday June 16th June Rick Magyar called to tell me that my services would no longer be required. He said that he hadn’t been in the office the previous Friday when my pages had arrived but that Andy Smith and Bart Sears had gone over them and decided that I “wasn’t a good match for Andy”. He assured me that they would pay me for all the work I had done.”
Since Robin was fired, four pages of The First #34 featuring his inks have been published as advance website solicitations (www.milehighcomics.com) and the cover that he worked on has appeared in Previews, despite the fact that he has not paid for the reproduction rights to those images. And CrossGen does not have any paperwork signed by Robin relinquishing the rights to the pages he worked on.
Robin says that he’s sent emails asking about the status of his payments and he has received no replies.
- “It’s now 98 days since they received the cover I inked for them and 61 days since they received my interior pages. I have received no payment for any of the work I’ve done for Crossgen. The account due is for one cover @ $250.00 and seven interior pages @ $150.00, a total of $1,300.00.”
After reprinting Robin’s message, Elayne goes on to say that he is not the only unpaid freelancer and that a lot of what has been happening is being swept under the rug. She says she’s heard reports of CrossGen employees ripping Robin’s work and spreading false stories about courier problems as the reason for the quick inker change, and have also implied that Robin turned in pages late, “when they were actually early and well in advance of the contracts he’s still never seen.”
Elayne adds, “Marvel and DC have always paid Robin promptly, and have never fired him so brusquely and illogically. But CrossGen’s been like this teflon comics company — no negativity seems to stick. Well, maybe I’ll get lucky, and this post will prompt something to happen.”
This Has A “Rigged to Explode” Factor of Ten Out of Ten
In more Crossgen related news, my favorite comic book writer Ed Brubaker (Catwoman, Sleeper), recently wrote an essay for his website, www.edbrubaker.com, on the page orientation of CrossGen comics. He says:
- “Okay, so this is twice Crossgen have screwed me.
“A year ago I bought the collection of Ruse’s first storyline. I liked the art, and Waid is a writer who’s stuff I’ll usually check out, and I love mystery stuff, and everybody was raving about how good the book was, so I ordered it. About 4 pages in, I start to get confused, though. Not by the art or the story, but as to what order to read the pages in. See, all the pages are set up as double-page spreads with a bunch of panels on them, so you’re supposed to read across the top and then the bottom of both pages. But in the collection, the spine is a lot thicker, and a lot of panel borders are either very close to the spine, or actually somewhere down in the fold. Which caused the confusion. I’m reading an even numbered page the way I normally do, and suddenly things seem jumpy. Then I notice that black line that might be a panel border, and realize my error. Then I spend the next hour reading the book all the way through, constantly folding the book open as much as I can, literally breaking the spine a few times so I could see the damn art the way it was meant to be.
“Ruse would be a great genre comic if not for the stupid double-page spread constraint they decided to use that makes the trades a hassle to read.
Brubaker says he had the same problem with The Path. He was so frustrated he nearly threw the book across the room. Ed says that “double-page spreads and full bleed pages ruin collections, because you can’t make the book wider than the usual comic, and the border between the pages is often lost.”
- Look at
- . It was comic size, but the trade is about two inches wider than the comics were, because Eddie Campbell wanted you to be able to read the story as intended, without having to rip the book apart to see all the art. This is a problem that is singular to comics, and one they need to recognize and remedy if they intend to compete in the bookstore market, really.
I have to say I completely agree with Ed. I’ve actually ruined trades trying to read captions stuck in the binding. Oh and buy Catwoman and Sleeper. They are my two favorite books, hands down. If you love comics you owe it to yourself to pick them up.”
This Has A “Ripping Out The Spine” Factor of Ten Out of Ten
I’m told that GeekPunk’s new indie comic Super Hero Happy Hour may be turned into an animated series. That’s all I know.
It’s been rumored that Howard Porter (JLA, Fantastic Four) may become the regular artist on The Flash despite a previous announcement that he will only be doing a four issue arc featuring the JLA (http://www.geoffjohns.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=1&topic=1159). Flash fans have been asking Howard to give them the skinny on the geoffjohns.com message boards. Yesterday he had this to say:
- “This is what I know for sure: just what you guys have said earlier, I will be drawing some
- . I don’t know exactly how much. As far as I know Alberto is still the man, and it should stay that way until he is tired of drawing speed lines and lightening bolts! That guy can draw his butt off…
“I just didn’t want to comment on anything until it was actually happening. I don’t want jinx myself, I am really looking forward to working with Geoff & DC again. No one wants to draw Flash more than me.
“When I do start, you can count on me asking you guys advice on how to draw/handle situations. I am not going to let this great resource go to waste!!”
This Has A “Head for the Port, Har” Factor of Seven Out of Ten
One last thing before I go. Jason has finally convinced me that I need to go to detox center, so I will be taking off the next 3-4 weeks in order to rehabilitate myself. There will be fill-in columnists during this time of healing, so someone please tell J Michael Strazcinski not to email me about rumors I don’t write over the next 28 days. Thanks. See you when I’m clean.
PS If anyone has any rumors or stories to share email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or IM me via AOL Instant Messenger. My screen name is Automatic San. Thanks to everyone who has been sending stuff in. It’s greatly appreciated.