Chris Roberson Talks About Leaving DC

It was just a simple tweet, but things ramped up very quickly for comics writer Chris Roberson (iZombie, Elric: The Balance Lost), who said this last week:

Citing some of the reasoning written about by David Brothers, and some of the questionable business practices by Marvel and DC over the years, Roberson pulled the plug on his association with DC Comics, who quickly terminated their relationship with him. This set off a firestorm of chatter on the comics internet, both of praise and vilification of anyone within spitting distance.

Today, an interview with Roberson popped up on The Comics Journal, where you can go to read the whole thing. Here’s a little of what’s there:

What led you to decide you could no longer work for DC?

Well, this has been building over the last few months, and mostly had to do with what I saw DC and Time Warner doing in regards to creator relations. I think the first thing—you have to understand that when I first started working for DC in 2008, the Siegels had just recaptured half of the copyright for Action Comics #1 and I felt very good about that. That seemed like a very positive step. And then over the course of the last few months there has been the counter-suit against the Siegels’ lawyer, Marc Toberoff, and I was less sanguine about that, and starting to get a little itchy about it, and then there were just a few general things about the way that it seemed that DC regards creators now that are working for them—and I can talk about that more in detail—but the real kind of proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was the announcement at the beginning of February of Before Watchmen, which I just thought was unconscionable. And so I had already signed a contract by that point to do six more issues of iZombie, of which three of them had been turned in, and so I just made the decision to go ahead and turn in the remaining three, not wanting to jeopardize the livelihood of my collaborators Mike and Laura Allred. But once I turned in the last one, even though I had other work lined up, I would have to at least—if only for my own peace of mind—let people know that I wasn’t happy with it.

On how it happened:

And that’s really an issue above and beyond why you decided to leave DC — making your decision and motivation publicly known via Twitter. Was that something you deliberated about before doing?

Over the course of the last few months, I have been reining myself in from complaining too vocally and publicly about things like Before Watchmen. I couldn’t completely restrain myself so if you go through my Twitter feed or my Tumblr posts back through February there are an awful lot of quotes from Alan Moore from interviews and panel descriptions dating back to 1987 about what the terms of that deal were. But then I was very much trying to bite my tongue and not be too vocal about it. I had literally mailed in my last script and had that morning read David Brothers’ essay on Comics Alliance, which I thought was a very concise and thorough examination of all the problems I had with DC and also that I had with Marvel. Those kind of collided in a very unscripted unplanned declaration of my feelings on the matter, and to be quite honest I thought that that would be read by the few thousand people who follow me on Twitter, who would then shrug and it would be no big deal. I’m not walking back from those statements in the slightest, but I was in no way prepared for the kind of response it got.

There’s a lot more to the interview, and it’s well worth the read.

This is the part where you, the reading public, chime in with your opinions one way or the other. Before we get to that, I’ll tell you how I see it. I understand and respect the decision entirely. There are dozens of creators out there who likely feel the same, but either can’t or won’t make that call. It helps to have another avenue to fall back on in terms of work. If you’re a penciler, and your whole career has been at DC comics, it’s a hell of a leap to just walk away for ethical reasons, and wonder how you’re going to support your family. I don’t blame that guy either. Personally, I’d be very torn on it. I know lots of people who work at comic companies. I know people working the much debated Before Watchmen. They’re not scumbags. They’re people trying to work in the medium they love in what is a very tough time for that medium. But at the same time, I get where Robertson is coming from, and the fact is, he’s making it harder for himself, based on a principle. These are the kinds of things we’re taught are right to do. These are the kinds of lessons we should learn from reading superhero comic books all our lives.

So have at it, but please remember to be respectful and mature, or we’ll zap those comments faster than a speeding bullet.

Comments

  1. I respect the hell out of Roberson for doing this and I don’t fault him at all for going public with it the way he did. Sometimes you feel so strongly about an issue, you just have to let it be known. I hope this passion is channelled into some really great comics in the future.

  2. scottdfane scottdfane says:

    So Josh,
    How much more Izombie is left? Do we know?

  3. JokersNuts JokersNuts says:

    I have a feeling Chris Robinson is going to be just fine. He’s an established creator with a good track record, and if anything this incident has only given him increased exposure.

    The bottom line is that this is only about one man following his heart and what his conscience is telling him is the right thing to do. Any and all consequences of this decision very likely will not affect you, the ifanbase, in any way. (outside of the fact you won’t be reading Robinsons work at the big 2 anytime soon). So hopefully most can remain supportive-

  4. Firemass13 Firemass13 says:

    Much respect to Roberson for doing this. It’s good to see someone with the intestinal fortitude to stand up for what they believe in and go public with it.

    As for Beyond Watchmen? I absolutely LOVE Watchmen…it is hands down the best graphic novel I have ever read. Does it need a prequel? Absolutely not. Am I buying it? Absolutely.

    • moodydoom moodydoom says:

      I would suggest that if you vocally support Moore or Roberson’s side of the argument, then you should do so financially as well by boycotting the book.

      I my eyes, anyone that buys it is endorsing it and has made their stance cleat. I think fans easily forget that they are as complicit in this kind of behavior as DC is.

  5. harwellpkg harwellpkg says:

    In the end it’s his choice and that’s the end of the story (HAHA!).

  6. jgraff jgraff says:

    I also respect Roberson for taking this stand.
    I could not disagree with him more (bring on Before Watchmen), but I applaud him for acting on his values.

  7. wangman31888 wangman31888 says:

    way to stick it to the man

  8. vmars vmars says:

    Did you guys mention at all that he was also pulled off of Fairest after all this? I forget who they have replacing him, or if they’re just gonna scrap the Cinderella arc altogether.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Sort of: “Roberson pulled the plug on his association with DC Comics, who quickly terminated their relationship with him.”

      I don’t know what’s going to happen with the book.

    • ctrosejr ctrosejr says:

      To be in tiny bit selfish, losing a Cinderella Super Spy story is the worst bit of this fallout, IMO. DC will go on. Chris will go on. But, man, did I love how he handled those mini-series! Here’s hoping it still sees the light of day, however unlikely.

  9. Seriously, good for him. He used his voice to registrar his disgust in a respectable manner.

  10. I don’t buy the logic of his argument, vis a vis Moore or Siegel and Shuster. I think tweeting his discontent while in the employ of a company was a little juvenile, but if that’s what his conscience compelled him to do, then that’s fine.

    My main concern is that this issue is not black and white and that those creators that do work on Before Watchmen or other properties are not “sell outs”. We in the comic reading community tend to be emotional about our opinions and this can lead to harsh statements being thrown around haphazardly. Reasonable people can disagree fundamentally without name-calling.

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      He wasn’t ‘in the employ of the company’. He had sent in his last scripts, as a freelancer. At that point, he had no more relationship with DC than you or I.

    • Roberson never calls any of the artists or writers working on Before Watchmen “sell outs”. His beef is with the DC/WB corporation that allowed a move like that to happen in the first place and made his decision having wrangled for months about whether he wanted to associate himself with a company that would treat past creators in the manner that DC has treated Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Siegel & Shuster, etc., etc. I, for one, respect his decision AND his initiative to speak about it publicly. Methods and practices like the ones Marvel and DC are employing with their artists and writers should be open to public debate. That’s the only way that things will change.

  11. adrianrigter adrianrigter says:

    Roberson said he didn’t want to work for DC anymore. DC said……ok.

    good deal. eervrybody’s happy.

  12. Cronin Cronin says:

    If DC stuck me with trying to write a way out of JMS’s Superman run – I’d be pissed too.

    • Cronin Cronin says:

      The man has a solid point though. That being said, I don’t really understand why anybody chooses to work at Vertigo, which I love, when they could work at Image. I believe Veritgo retains the rights to your work, where as image does not. I’m sure there’s some kind of trade off when advertising and editing are factored in, but still… I will leave this voicemail for the podcast.

    • mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

      brilliant ;)

    • AceBathound AceBathound says:

      I’m sure some people use Vertigo as a way to get “in” with DC. Do you think Snyder would be on Batman and Swamp Thing if American Vampire was an Image book?

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Vertigo deals are varied. It’s not the same for everything. Some gigs are work for hire. Some are partially creator owned. You go there to work for several reasons. For one thing, in exchange for some of that ownership, you get a page rate, up front, allowing some people to live and pay their bills. Over at Image, they don’t own anything, but you get paid on the backend, and only if the thing sells enough copies to make money. Many don’t.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      @acebathound: I actually always thought it was the opposite. I thought DC used Vertigo to keep their bigger name creators happy by giving them an outlet for their creator owned stuff. Kind of like Marvel does with Icon.

    • AmirCat AmirCat says:

      haha … I think that’s main reason he is leaving! very funny!

    • TomSwift TomSwift says:

      Josh- You mean they don’t own anything besides the copyright to the characters and the intellectual property they create right?
      Big distinction.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      @TomSwift: Image retains no rights at all to any characters or intellectual property. They all remain with the creators, which is why creators only get paid on the backend.

  13. AceBathound AceBathound says:

    Reading that interview, I can’t help but thinking he sounds really bitter. Almost like there is something going on he isn’t talking about. That, or this all comes from his series being cancelled.

    I could be wrong though. I tend to be a bit cynical.

    • Kmanifesto says:

      I got the same impression when this all started, but, without knowing his career in-depth, it’s only a hunch. Having a series cancelled would truly suck and people react to that in different ways.
      It seems Mr. Roberson may have hung his hat on an issue that will never be fully resolved in his lifetime.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      I honestly don’t read that at all. I get that from a lot of other creators, but not Roberson. It’s all speculation though.

    • AceBathound AceBathound says:

      It just strikes me odd that he was perfectly willing to stay quiet while they were publishing iZombie, and keeps bringing up that he was just a “peon freelancer.” I don’t know the whole situation (obviously), and I freely admit that my opinion may just be me being cynical. At then end of the day all that really matters is that DC lost a creative guy, and as a fan of DC Comics that’s not a good thing.

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      In the TCJ interview he discusses how he aired his discontent in various venues prior to this, including on Chris Sims’ podcast for Comics Alliance (which I listened to, and recommend). I assure you, he has been quite vocal about this before, although not to the point of taking a firm stand on his own position.

  14. mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

    Josh, i agree entirely with you final paragraph. He took a giant risk doing this. I just find it sad that so many people jumped all over the man for standing up for what he believes in. I completely respect the man for taking such a bold step

  15. bobby2889 says:

    Respect this guy for doing what he thought was right as an industry insider. As someone outside the interview on Comics Alliance was interesting. For me it tends to be that creator politics do not effect my readership. As an English grad something you study early on is the relationship between author and work and it becomes apparent the only answer to the question of how you should study and interpret work when reading it is ‘its your personal choice’. So for me I find it hard to boycott something if I think I will enjoy the story as for me that is an individual identity. Voices and opinions within a work, no matter how strong, do not always reflect the author and so I generally separate the two instinctually.

    Its interesting to hear the argument that JMS has a problem with logic thus he has no right to be writer that book (or rather that someone wont buy the book based on that). I’m not really saying he’s wrong its just not an attitude I’d come across. Boycotting companies whose business structure you think is immoral and damaging to an industry makes sense but the JMS thing was kinda new to me in a way. Or at least it was new to hear it expressed so well and coherently and without unnecessary profanity and ignorance

    • fd fd says:

      @ bobby–Well said regarding the distinction between work, creator, and politics–Holds true in every medium.

  16. Metamorphic Metamorphic says:

    He’s entitled to his decision and his opinion, of course. But calling Before Watchmen “unconscionable” seems a bit extreme to me. Remember that at least part of the Watchmen creative team is not objecting to the idea. And whether or not Moore’s approval diminishes the work is up to each person to decide. Personally, I tend to be among those who finds Moore’s disaproval slightly disengenuous given that some of his most famous works involve characters he did not create.(Which is a debate unto itself).

    As I have said before, I might have had more respect had he made his decision earlier. After all, it’s easy to take a stand when your work is pretty much complete. Telling off your boss as you go out the door is a grand gesture but means little.

    But again, let me reaffirm: I’m in no way suggesting DC is blameless in all this. There have been several high profile creators who have left or had a falling out with the company. One or two might mean nothing, but with the number seemingly higher than that in a relatively short period, it suggests DC should take a good hard look at their practices.

    I was especially appalled at DC’s lack of respect for Mark waid who has written some of the best comics out there. As I understand it, they didn’t invite him to the premiere of “Justice League: Doom” which was loosely based on his story. That’s petty, and does nothing to help the image of a “heartless corporation.”

    The long and the short of it is, there IS such a thing as bad publicity. I love DC Comics, but every time something like this flares up, their brand takes a hit. And in these times, that’s not something they can afford.

    • AceBathound AceBathound says:

      Mark Waid didn’t get a story credit for Doom either. Which is really telling, as Cooke and Morrison both got credits for the adaptations of their works.

    • TomO TomO says:

      i think Metamorphic pretty much just captured exactly how I feel, so consider his post seconded.

  17. vinylhed says:

    I’m wondering what the comic environment would be like today if Moore and Gibbons had been allowed to use the Charlton characters for the Watchmen as originally proposed? The success of a Charlton Watchmen, would surely have seen sequels spinning out of the original series a lot sooner than now.

    DC must still be kicking themselves for tuning down the first proposal.

    Just a thought.

  18. CaseyJustice CaseyJustice says:

    Man, I had not read that David Brothers essay before just now, and having all of that information contextualized and collected like that really messes with my head, as far as supporting Marvel and DC. I’m still gonna, but I think it’s more because I like the books enough to internalize that sin, like eating meat.

    The Kirby stuff especially gets under my craw. I didn’t even know I HAD a craw.

  19. Fair play & best of luck Mr. Roberson! (Won’t be joining Marvel then either?)

  20. I respect Roberson’s choice to walk away from DC, at the same time, I won’t disrespect any creator for fulfilling their duties at either of the Big 2. Its a personal choice, but one that is facilitated by a source of income outside the comics field.

  21. Rhymer Rhymer says:

    One cannot but feel respect for Roberson, I’d say.

  22. Kmanifesto says:

    Good luck to Chris Roberson and his principles. It’s a rare beast nowadays.

    If there is one thing anyone should know/learn about working for a big company is that, if you are being paid by them to produce, create, design, invent or anything else on their dime, they legally own it. They provide the arena for which you work, thus any exposure you get for your work while playing in said arena, is due, in large part, to the company and it’s position in the market.

    Not being privy to Moore’s, Siegal & Shuster’s or Roberson’s contracts, but this is standard knowledge going in and leaving a company.

    If DC,IBM, BMW or any large corporation skirts a contract, then there is reason to make noise. Outside of that, it’s a cold world out there. The new digital age was suppose to change all this. It doesn’t appear to be doing so.

  23. Grandturk says:

    Life’s not fair. Get over it.

  24. wulfstone wulfstone says:

    I’d have more respect for his opinions on creator rights if hadn’t worked on Superman a character in the midst of a years long lawsuit

  25. Heroville Heroville says:

    I think I like Kurt Busiek’s idea about grandfathering equity rights back to creators a whole lot.

    • Heroville Heroville says:

      Although I wold also really love the see the actual math on that to see just how much people would getting and how much that would eat from the profits.

    • Kmanifesto says:

      @Heroville – Although I like Busiek’s overall concept, the idea that you retrofit a current rule to apply to those in the past, will not happen in my opinion. To many court cases have come and gone. Also, too much money has been and will be made off those shoddy dealings.

  26. kirkjt kirkjt says:

    I may get blasted by everyone for this opinion but I struggle so much with the “creator’s rights” arguments. If you want sole possession of your creations (or even joint) then write a contract that gives you that right. It will usually mean more risk for you though. If you do work for hire and agree to the terms you were hired under, then deal with it.

    I am not creative. I don’t write and I don’t draw. However, I work in IT and there are many systems I have written that have made many companies millions and millions of dollars but I have no claim to. I was paid to write that software and the company took it from there. I see no difference between that work and creating Superman or The Watchmen. And if I had created the same software on my own, without large capital behind me and corporate momentum it would have been worthless. The same is possibly true for Superman and Watchmen. Moore could have done Watchmen and self published or back then he could have gone to maybe Dark Horse (it was before Image) and maybe struck a deal to publish it with him retaining the rights. He didn’t do that, he took the paycheck and created something that has become huge. However, there is a guy who retired a few years ago who created CTRL-ALT-DELETE as the sequences of keys to “soft-reboot” an IBM PC. That three fingered salute has been used for years and still is used today but he received nothing other than a paycheck. He doesn’t get a penny every time someone uses it (if so Windows would have made him an incredibly rich man).

    Now, I love creators and I love these characters, but if you want the rights then take the risks. I respect Roberson’s stand but I disagree with all the issues over the Superman rights and Before Watchmen.

    • Kmanifesto says:

      kirkjt stated, “…If you want sole possession of your creations (or even joint) then write a contract that gives you that right. It will usually mean more risk for you though. If you do work for hire and agree to the terms you were hired under, then deal with it.”

      I agree.

      As a creative (video production, graphic design), this is what my friends and I call, ‘The Ultimate Compromise”. This is the reality of the world we live in. What happened to Siegal & Shuster, Jack Kirby and others in the early days of comics is pitiful, but a current artist should learn from this and design their career path accordingly.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      This is a fair point but also a little flawed. I work in television and, much like comics, have to pick between for hire work that guarantees a paycheck regardless or personal projects that usually only make you money if they are very very successful. It’s a tough beast, total creative freedom or guaranteed money. When you have a family and bills to pay the decision becomes even more difficult. All that said, regardless of if it is creator owned or for hire, you can rarely dictate the terms of the contract to the distributor/publisher. There is always some flexibility but unless you are a really big name, most of the big details are out of your control. IT was still Moore’s decision to sign whatever contract he did, but he probably didn’t have all that much control over the terms.

    • as someone who’s worked in various creative industries ranging from Hollywood Film Industry to Advertising i’ll tell you that every job and choice you make requires you to compromise something. Creatively, career, money, ethics…its really rare that you get an opportunity to have a win/win/win scenario all in your favor. Whoever has the cash calls the shots, and you have to decide how badly you need/want that opportunity and what you’re willing to give to get something in return. Even fine artists in their studios have gallery owners in their ears, telling them what sells and what doesn’t.

  27. I was pretty surprised that he went that public with his feelings. Its ballsy and commendable for taking the stand and burning those bridges for something you believe in.

    What i found so surprising is that within any creative industry all of this stuff is always there. Questionable ethics, bad treatment of employees, questionable contract and money stuff…but its rare that it jumps from the professional gossip circles and into public forums like this.

    I dunno…its pretty obvious that he felt so strongly about this, that he felt that was the best way to make his feelings known, so you can’t judge for that. Hope he can still can work in comics, if thats what he wants to do.

  28. Zhurrie Zhurrie says:

    DC has become a joke of corporatization and minimization of the creative professionals working there. I commend Chris 100% and hope more speak out and move away from supporting this. I have cut all of my DC titles from my pull list and I won’t be supporting them with my dollars, not just because of this incident but because of the direction and overall moves by them. I’d rather support the creator-owned and indie titles and artists directly at this point.

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      Good for you (seriously). I am close to that point myself, but mainly because creator-owned / indie stuff just tends to be more interesting and better. I mean, the Kirkman/Moore flap is evidence enough that contracts elsewhere are likely similarly onerous. I think some degree of moral compromise is intrinsic to almost any act of media consumption these days (whether it’s supporting Rupert Murdoch’s evil empire by watching football on Sky or condoning lack of credit to Kirby by going to see the Avengers or supporting EA’s crunchtime employee abuse by buying Mass Effect 3…). I’m happy to remain blinkered about some of this stuff just because it would drive me crazy to even attempt to eliminate all the evil.

  29. ctrosejr ctrosejr says:

    If Chris Roberson wanted to finish the project he was on, he should not have said, “After this next job, I’m done with DC,” on Twitter. You say something like that to your wife or best friend, but not the whole world. If I said something like, “In 3 months, I am going to quit [major company that I work at] and start my own business,” on Twitter, I could reasonably expect that the company I work for would be pushing me out the door before long. While what he said was not inflammatory, it was naive to think that there would not be some repercussion.

  30. WheelHands WheelHands says:

    These kind of stories are really starting to pile up.

    Anyone else feel the floor rumbling underneath us?

  31. USPUNX USPUNX says:

    It’s interesting to see how many people are supporting Roberson in this thread compared to the story posted two days ago where many people were bashing him. Glad to see so many opinions changed.

  32. Quinn says:

    I was talking about this with someone last night, and I kept answering questions with, “well, it’s complicated, but…” It *is* complicated. Both Roberson and DC are right, and wrong. Both the Siegel&Schuster heirs and DC are right, and wrong.

    Is it okay for Jack Kirby to have spent his life being ground down and taken advantage of because he was a bad businessman? Probably not. Is that how America works? Absolutely. Is it DC or Marvel’s job to mollycoddle artists who sign bad deals in good faith? Not legally. Would it be nice if they did? Sure. It’s complicated. The things is, boycotts don’t work unless they are led by a major national figure. David Brothers, despite the lovely article, is not such a figure. Neither is Chris Roberson. And if enough people did boycott Marvel or DC that their parent companies noticed, Disney or Time Warner would just shut the doors on the comics arms, rather than change the policies or pay back royalties out of the goodness of their corporate hearts. (That’s an oxymoron, after all.) All the same, Jack Kirby not getting his due isn’t workers dying on factory lines. It’s not farms without sanitation. Unless we plan to give up computers and become locavore vegans, it seems little silly to get stressed about people being ripped off two generations ago.

    At the same time, how small a thing does a “right thing” need to be before we should do it? If an industry you love if breaking your heart by abusing the people who make it possible, isn’t it right to support those people? Or do we just accept that every comic book writer and artist, no matter how talented or beloved, is just a cog in the machine, and that, at the end of the day “Brian Michael Bendis” is just as replaceable as every nameless 70′s writer? If every single writer and artist quit the industry over this, tomorrow, the characters and the books would continue with new names, who would be just as beloved and “famous” in no time at all. Creators don’t matter: the company matters. Because the company owns the characters, and even the greatest Marvel or DC writer “owes their soul to the company store.”

    As fans, so do we. Because it’s complicated.

  33. diebenny diebenny says:

    Where are the mean people? This article needs more excitement.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      I held them at bay with my stern authority. Or they’re not done with lunch yet.

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      Hank Pym to be star of new Before Watchmen ongoing series. And…….go!

    • edward says:

      Edward “What are comic books worth? $3.99 and iFanbase…… go!” – What Are Comic Books Worth? April 23, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      Edward: “I get the feeling you may not get so many comments on this one, Josh, so just me me say HANK PYM to start that up again” – Top 5: Superheroes with Lightning Bolt Logos, April 24, 2012 at 9:47 am
      Mark: “let me help you out: HANK PYM and BEFORE WATCHMEN.” – Top 5: Superheroes with Lightning Bolt Logos, April 24, 2012 at 2:29 pm

      Just what is going on here?

    • Kmanifesto says:

      @diebenny – To be fair, I have been here less than a year and this is the first time that I have seen an iFanboy article end with a warning like, “…please remember to be respectful and mature, or we’ll zap those comments faster than a speeding bullet.”

      If you want excitement, just bring up ‘comic book pricing’…that ‘ll make some people lose their S#!@

  34. mongo says:

    After reading this article and going back to Josh’s Making Comics podcasts I keep going back to the axiom about not being a jerk. Roberson is valid to have his opinions and choosing to leave working for the big 2, but I think that his comments are somewhat regressive to acting as a professional. You might not always love or have difficulties with the people you are working with, but you don’t have to be make backbiting comments for the people you have to work with or work for. Go jog, have a drink, hang out with friends. Don’t carry these burdens with you for too long. Things change and people change (you or the people you had worked with) so throwing a match to burn your bridges doesn’t work progressively for you.

    • Rhymer Rhymer says:

      People who work for a company can’t criticize it. People who have ended their work relationship shouldn’t? The result would be that a company is NEVER to be criticized. I think it’s much more important to voice your concerns about unjust behaviour than to be “professional” and respectful towards a company that itself doesn’t show much respect towards its employees and freelancers.

    • mongo says:

      Did anyone at either DC commit any act that was hurtful or illegal to Roberson personally? No, his complaint was that he felt that those companies that he had done business were wrong in his opinion. His opinion on the Before Watchmen and Superman issues has no bearing on his work or how DC had treated him. Did DC violate any part of the contractual agreements that Roberson agreed to? No they did not. So by making his remarks he closes a door to any relationship with those companies in the future. Now that is his decision and he will have to live with those results, but from the interviews and articles written about this situation he was never had any given cause to criticize the relationship he had with those companies. Did DC throw him under the bus over the Superman grounded storyline after JMS left? No, they did not from anything I saw. Any artist or writer can leave a project, or ask to end a contract if they so choose. Another choice is also to either leave gracefully or go out in flames.

      If Roberson was subjected to any illegal or ethical action then he does have the right to speak up and is obligated to do so to protect his integrity and work. I’ve been in situation where I could have left the same way that Roberson has, but I’ve kept my mouth closed because I wasn’t wronged personally. I’ve also been in a situation where I’ve made my situation public because I was personally wronged. If someone burns the bridge down with me then I don’t have any obligation to keep the truth to myself. I’ve also been able to take advantage of opportunity because I did keep my mouth shut.

  35. Neeks Neeks says:

    I mean sure the fact that he feels a certain way about how people are treated there is understandable and the fact that he would rather not work for them is a ballsy move in its own right because you pretty much cut his options of to work for in half in an industry that’s hard as it is.

    I just feel the way he went about it was stupid by going public with it on twitter and making comments while still working for the company and maybe not expect them to respond in the way that they did. There’s been plenty of creators who have had problems with DC over the years but im sure some have had more sense to ethier just refuse any more work and leave on somewhat good terms just in case they needed to work for them again at some point.

    Now some people would call this keeping your pride And sticking up for what you believe in or taking A stand on the issue but me personally i have always lived by the fact you should always try to leave somewhere you had a working relationship with on good terms for this reason. I’m not saying you aren’t reserved to your own thoughts about the company but sometimes it’s better kept to yourself.

    • vadamowens vadamowens says:

      He stated explicitly that he knew what would happen once he tweeted it.

    • Kmanifesto says:

      vadamowens stated, “..He stated explicitly that he knew what would happen once he tweeted it.”

      I’m not so sure that is the case. Consider this quote from Roberson in the above article.

      Roberson stated, “…to be quite honest I thought that that would be read by the few thousand people who follow me on Twitter, who would then shrug and it would be no big deal…. but I was in no way prepared for the kind of response it got.”

    • vadamowens vadamowens says:

      Did you read the article it was based on?

    • Kmanifesto says:

      @vadamowens – yes, but it is your responsibility to provide evidence of your point (quotes, pictures, etc…). I will not do that for you. Let this be a debate, not a squabble.

      Fair?

    • vadamowens vadamowens says:

      Dude, what are you talking about? If you had read the article ALONG with the links, this conversation wouldn’t be necessary. There would be no need for me to provide any of that stuff if you had been thorough.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      kmanifesto asking someone else to provide evidence for their point!?! Is that a joke!?!?!?

    • vadamowens vadamowens says:

      Sigh. All I’m saying is if I had pulled from another source, other than the article itself and its supplemental links, I would’ve gladly provided a link to said source. I did my reading, so please do yours.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      I agree. Nothing worse than someone commenting before they’ve actually read the information.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      You want to talk about this story? Super. You want to argue with each other about how you’re arguing? Not super.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      Okay you’re right, that was a little petty.

    • Neeks Neeks says:

      Ya I don’t know why my comments led to all this but anyways admittingly I read most of te article above but wasn’t aware he claimed he knew what would happen… My opinion still stands that was a stupid move then

  36. edward says:

    Here’s a question, Who is Chris Roberson and why do I care?

    He wrote some crappy superman and Fables issues. Oh, right…. why do i care?

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      Martin Luther King hasn’t made any great comics that I’m aware of, and yet he took some interesting moral stands that changed his culture…

    • edward says:

      oh, wow, that’s a nonsense argument

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      You won’t have any trouble refuting it then! I’m here all day!

    • edward says:

      Seriously, what are you talking about?

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      Your contention that we should care about nothing else Roberson ever does because of your view of his comics work is an absurd ad hominem.

    • edward says:

      Correct, we shouldn’t care about what he says.

    • kennyg kennyg says:

      It is ridiculous to compare MLK to Roberson. Roberson isn’t in any danger of being shot or lynched for taking his oh-so-safe “moral stance” against DC. In fact, it seems like he did it on the way out the door. It’s not like DC is taking his sole livelihood and kicking him out into the street. He has other sources of income, he and his family are not going to starve. He’s not blacklisted in the industry (maybe at DC, but that can change too with a change in management).

      We’re not talking about labor reform during the Industrial Revolution. We’re not talking about little kids are getting their arms ripped off while unjamming dangerous machinery in some oppressive factory. We’re not talking about human rights violations, slavery, human trafficking, indentured servitude, or animal cruelty. Let’s keep it in perspective.

    • edward says:

      @kennyg: absolutely correct

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      It was a deliberately absurd example in response to a ridiculous conflation of the man’s (perceived) artistic ability and the point he was making.

      To spell it out: You do not have to have made good comics in order to be worth paying attention to. The vast majority of interesting thinkers in human history have not been comics artists.

    • edward says:

      let it go.

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      Okay this particular discussion is going nowhere. Let’s move on.

  37. AceBathound AceBathound says:

    Here’s another thought I had on the whole,”DC is wrong for doing Before Watchmen because Alan Moore got screwed” thing…

    Dave Gibbons seems to be perfectly okay with DC continuing to produce Watchmen comics, toys, ect. Does one creator’s wishes take precedent over another’s? I understand, in an ideal world, you would want both creators to be happy, but that simply isn’t going to happen here.

    • Kmanifesto says:

      AceBathound stated, “Does one creator’s wishes take precedent over another’s?”

      Good point.

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      Gibbon’s endorsement message was the very definition of ‘grudging approval’.

      Until I hear otherwise, I’m assuming that he had to be coerced into it, either with direct financial incentives (i.e. a decent cut of the royalties) or by the promise of future work. Gibbons is surely aware that going along with this would be the final straw in his relationship with Alan Moore.

      Anyway, co-creation goes both ways. If you say it’s ok for just Gibbons to be happy with it, then Alan Moore’s legal representation would say the opposite – that it’s not ok because Alan Moore is not happy with it.

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      @Cormac: Moore and Gibbons have already passed the “final straw” stage. They no longer speak, at least according to Moore.

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      Yeah, I know things are grim between them (I was on that Harvey Pekar Kickstarter talk with Moore where he discussed it). Still, my understanding is that things could still be patched up if Gibbons had just said ‘thank you’, even belatedly which seems not unreasonable. But endorsing this project is a whole ‘nother deal. Hard to imagine how they can find common ground now.

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      I should perhaps have phrased that as ‘ends any chance that their relationship can be repaired’.

      Which is still no small thing. A good relationship with Alan Moore is still pretty damn valuable in the comics field, I’d say.

    • AceBathound AceBathound says:

      I’m not speaking legally, I’m speaking morally; which I assume is Mr. Roberson’s beef too. DC can legally do whatever they want with Watchmen. My point was more, Moore doesn’t want DC to do this, Gibbons does (for whatever reason, I assume he wants/needs the money). From a purely moral standpoint, why is it better for them to *not* publish Before Watchmen? Gibbons wants it, and his name is on the cover too.

      I was watching the Director’s Cut of Watchmen last night and Dave Gibbons said something that stuck with me. “I always thought we ere going to do more Watchmen, but Alan went on to do other things and it never happened.” (I’m paraphrasing, can’t remember the exact quote.) It would seem from that, that Gibbons always intended for something of this nature to happen. This exact project? Probably not, but something. Since neither creator owns the property, why does one’s wishes hold more water than the other’s? Is it because his name is Alan Moore?

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      Yeah, there’s no reason why Gibbon’s wishes shouldn’t carry equal weight. But it manifestly doesn’t matter – they went ahead with it WITHOUT Moore’s approval. From which we can infer that they don’t need the approval of EITHER of them.

      So I’m interpreting this as a case of Gibbons choosing to go along (rather begrudgingly) with a fait accompli, rather than burn bridges with a company that still employs him as a freelancer on occasion. I bet they would still have done it without him being on board though.

  38. stasisbal stasisbal says:

    On one hand I want to respect Roberson for standing up for what he believes is right. On the other hand I’m completely unsympathetic to what he believes is right. I still need to read the whole interview (though I’m not sure I care enough to) but I find the things he brings up in the quotes here, Before Watchmen and the ownership of Superman, to be largely inoffensive. If nothing else, he probably should have waited until his business with DC was completely behind him before commenting on it.

    Admittedly, I’m not really a fan of Roberson’s work. I’ve tried a few issues of iZombie and an entire Cinderella story and thought they were pretty boring. I’m not sure if I would thing differently of the situation if a writer I really like did the same thing.

  39. SmoManCometh SmoManCometh says:

    If you have a problem with DC, don’t buy their books. Plain and simple.

    I’m just so so tired of this poor Alan Moore dribble. Remember when Jason Aaron wrote that F**K YOU letter on CBR to him and everyone cheered? Remember when he bashed Geoff Johns for you using something from his Green Lantern run even though he did the same thing?

    Now Before Watchmen is announced and he’s back to being a messiah who died for our sins.

    I’ll be happy person when I don’t have to see another article about this on sites. I guess that’ll happen the day Comics Alliance stops posting anti-DC articles — HA!

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      That’s nonsensical. We all, including Roberson, have a right to debate this stuff whether we buy the books or not.

      If you’re not clear on why the treatment of Alan Moore is important to comics creators, allow me to spell it out. He is what they all aspire to, in one way or another (whether they want to make similar books or not, they want that kind of critical or public recognition/acceptance). If they perceive him as being shoddily treated by Marvel or DC, it saps their desire to work in comics. Same thing for Kirby. If they can’t do right by Kirby, why should anyone less talented even bother picking up a pencil for them?

    • mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

      Dude, if you are sick of all the articles about it, stop clicking on them and commenting :P

    • SmoManCometh SmoManCometh says:

      I’m referring to the general mind set of people not the actual number. And Cormac…really? Tell that to Jason Aaron. I’m sure he’d like to be enlighted as well.

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      Jason Aaron was the biggest Alan Moore fanboy on the planet! And you think he’d be cool with DC letting someone make ‘Before Scalped’ and ‘Scalped: The Movie’ without his permission? He’d howl to the rafters.

  40. SmoManCometh SmoManCometh says:

    I also like in the interview how Roberson refers to his tweets as if they weren’t full of venom. “IZombie will be the last time I ever write for DC” and “I’d write legion if they were owned by a more ethical company” are not even PASSIVE aggressive. They’re just bitter.

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      Well, how about your last couple of posts? No doubt you think they are perfectly calm and reasoned. I perceive them as being bitter/venomous (which I’m fine with, by the way, i have no problem with heated emotions). Roberson no doubt feels the same way about what he said on twitter. Attributing emotion and assigning motivation to tiny bits text on the screen is a very dangerous thing.

    • SmoManCometh SmoManCometh says:

      Oh no, you read my posts right. Plenty of venom. Roberson’s are pretty spelled at as well.

  41. thered thered says:

    i really appreciate roberson for sticking to his guns, even when he works in an industry where it’s tough to make a buck. pissing off one of the biggest comics publishers takes guts. and he’s not the only comic creator who feels this way. i wonder if we’re on the verge of another image revolution…

  42. I’m really just repeating what I said in Jimski’s article on Monday but I’ll just recap quickly:

    I don’t disagree with Roberson’s opinion nor do I fault him for wanting to leave DC. I just question his motivations and timing of it. If he clearly had a problem with how DC handled the Siegel/Shuster case then why would he agree to take over Superman? He sorta explains in the interview why he would work for DC even if he had issues with their ‘ethics’ but I still don’t understand why he would wait this long to voice his opinion. Also, that excuse of “Well I didn’t think anyone would really read it outside my followers” is total bullshit. He knew he was going to get huge press over his stance against DC and since Twitter is ‘THE BEST’ place for controversy now a days then it makes since he went on his rant there.

    Again I don’t fault him for wanting to leave DC or having these opinions. I just know there had to be a much more civilized, and better, way to handle this. I think DC, specifically Didio and Lee, look a lot better then Roberson at this point. To me I think Roberson just looks like a bitter writer who wanted out while Didio/Lee look like convincing bosses. Maybe that isn’t the case but I think more outsiders on this case are going to side with DC on this. But I bet companies like Image are salivating right now on wanting to get Roberson before anyone else.

    • Cormac Cormac says:

      I dunno what your work experience is like but from my experience, discontent with a company’s practices increases over time as your awareness gradually increases. It takes time to sort through the ins-and-outs of the Kirby or Siegel/Schuster cases and figure out what side you are on. Most of just procrastinate and keep on buying the books we like (or making the books we get paid to make).

      Roberson could easily have found a more explosive time to drop this news. It’s not like he issued a press release, or was standing on stage beside Jim Lee and Dan DeDio when he said it. A simple message on twitter hardly compares to say, Marko Djurdevic’s bridge-burning enterprise.

    • mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

      I responded to your same point in Jimski’s article, but in summation: people’s opinion can change or strengthen over time. Mine did. There have been a ton of BW articles as of late, outlining (very succiently) both the reasons for and against this initiative, perhaps the more coverage he read, the more his opinion on the matter intensified. To quote my original post:
      “People are allowed to change their mind. I have more respect for people who will listen to others opinions, both for and against, weigh both sides and make up their own minds after thinking about if for a time. I have no patience for people who are closed minded, make up their mind on something after immediately hearing about it without considering it from all sides. There’s too much reactionary commentary on the web already, we don’t need more of it. We’re all imperfect beings and we should be able to change our minds over time. nothing is written in stone.”

  43. kwilli says:

    Kudos to Mr. Roberson for acting on his moral compass. I think his case is valid when he mentions the Superman lawsuit(s) and likely many other similar instances. I think Joe Gill (rest his soul) and Steve Ditko could have more of an issue with Alan Moore for his “ownership” of the Charlton characters in Watchman form than he has to be angry at DC for Before Watchmen.

  44. Kmanifesto says:

    In order for changes to take place in the comic book industry as it relates to creator rights, it’s going to take bigger names than Chris Roberson, Siegal & Shuster, Jack Kirby and Alan Moore.

  45. b_RAD b_RAD says:

    Is it true that Alan Moore was so poorly treated? Think about what Moore has told us in his own words, repeatedly. DC gives him a contract saying Watchmen would revert to him if it goes out of print. He doesn’t read the contract but DC verbally tells him the same thing. After all, it’s in the contract. If DC had verbally lied about the contract then that would’ve been an illegal act in itself. But they didn’t. This means Moore probably would’ve signed it even if he HAD read it. It wasn’t the first DC contract he had signed. So far, so good. The difference this time was that DC didn’t predict the longevity of Watchmen. Moore admits he didn’t foresee it either so why should DC? In Moore’s mind, this was their immoral (not illegal) act. He’s taken that supposed original sin and transformed a dispute over action figure royalties into a decades long personal jihad of good versus evil where every interview adds to the swaths of population he insults. No comics artist has had an original idea in twenty years. Gibbons is a corporate Judas. DC and Marvel are gangsters. Anyone who pays for his books AND Before Watchmen has his personal disdain. To my mind, he’s so over the top and irrational these days that he has no more credibility than Mr. Miller standing on his porch yelling at the Lords of Warcraft to get off his lawn. (At least Miller had the decency to keep it to 400 characters or less). I think Jason Aaron was right to be angry two years ago but now Moore just instills sadness. He’s mentally deteriorating while Watchmen stays beautiful and pristine, like he made some reverse Dorian Gray pact with the Gods of Sequential Art. His older work towers over everone else’s and will stand the test of time. But his business tactics give us a textbook example of how not to act like an adult, even if it turns out that he was the aggrieved party.

    This doesn’t mean Corporate Comics are pure. The industry still needs reform. Roberson may have been engaging in “activism theater” but enough acts like that may have an effect in this digitally connected age.

    • b_RAD b_RAD says:

      Actually, a tweet is only 140 characters.

      But you knew that.

    • Gerry Lopez Gerry Lopez says:

      Yeah, that’s pretty much my take on the Moore deal. However, as for Roberson, he went with his heart. Agree or disagree with his reasons, I know a bunch of times I wish I’d had the nuts to do that, so I can’t knock it.

  46. mongo says:

    I read the article by David Brothers on Slate a couple of months ago and read the interview from Roberson and all I see are people who have talked them out of corporate comics. If they feel more comfortable working at more indy comic companies then so be it that’s the choice their actions have left open to them. I wrote earlier that the weakest part of the arguments that Brothers and Roberson have put out there is that Marvel and DC have screwed over older artists for their actions. How does that have any relevance to how Marvel and DC treated them right now? Did Roberson have any legitimate contractual grievances? From what I understand he objected to DC making Before Watchmen comics. Was he going to write any of those titles? Did they promise him that he was going to write one of the titles on his work for hire agreement? DC never did anything to him personally, but he lashed out at them publicly. This doesn’t show any professionalism on his part and has closed a door for his career. We’ve all seen people flame out their career over some inconsequential grievance. The people who succeed over the long run learn the difference between personal grievances and the indirect boneheaded problems that any job will accumulate. Roberson will probably regret his actions in the future, but will not be able to take his actions back. I wish him luck and hope he will gain some wisdom at some point.

  47. OliverTwist OliverTwist says:

    It’s a shame he didn’t just ended his contract quietly and left, thereby not burning any bridges. This is where being encouraged to post for the benefit of the comics industry comes back to bite you in the ass. Post your thoughts, but watch what you post, nothing controversial. In the end it’s his own opinion and choice and best to him in the future.
    The internet is a great asset, but it’s voluntary big brother, and the case in point can be something to bite you in the ass. Although I know it would possibly effect their sales, most artist in this field should drop the whole twitter stuff( except to announce dates for conventions and related stuff.) Just stick to discussions at the pub with their colleagues when it comes to this type of personal feelings about the business.

    • TomSwift TomSwift says:

      What are you talking about?
      That’s like saying the B in Half Baked should have quit his job at the burger joint with a handshake and a polite goodbye.
      The whole Point of this was a big Fuc* you- Fuc* You- Fuc* you- You’re cool- Fuc* YOU- Annnnd I’m out.
      He was Trying to make a statement. A quiet departure would not have drawn the attention to this issue that he wanted.

    • AceBathound AceBathound says:

      @TomSwift While I agree with you, he claims in the interview that he thought his comments would only be read by a small number of people. I call shenanigans on that, mostly because we live in a world where tweets are reposted on news websites everyday.

    • TomSwift TomSwift says:

      True.

    • OliverTwist OliverTwist says:

      @TomSwift, I agree with his choice, but ultimately Chris isn’t a big enough name voice to scream F*** Y** and step off with a huge following to support him. I am commenting from the view point of a working artist. Obviously my point wasn’t clear. A person whom illustrates an opinion for or against in the comic industry, as artist they really have to cover their bases. Everyone can name the big successful guys whom stood for a point, but we don’t know what happened to many of the smaller guys/gals whom have had to deal with these types of situations.

  48. Everyone should read Heidi MacDonald’s excellent retelling of the history behind all this creator-bashing at DC:

    http://www.comicsbeat.com/2012/04/25/the-creators-position-viewed-through-the-lens-of-alan-moore/

    There’s a lot of insight in that article that people on the internet are not taking into account. Also, in all of the fact-checking and analysis, she tries to give the industry some hope:

    “As an industry we need to try to let creators create and let new ideas flourish. And support a market that supports new ideas. Some would say there isn’t the money going around for that. Maybe. But we should try.”

    I agree.

  49. doyleclark doyleclark says:

    The medium that should be bringing people together, seems to be ripping them apart. I’m a very big fan and supporter of Image comics (and others) and the creator-owned movement, but I’m also a fan of people supporting themselves by doing what they love.