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.