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 Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team

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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:40 pm

Like so many others, I look at the example of the Beatles. Their initial contract was the standard horrible beginner's rate. I think the group as a whole got an entire British penny for each copy of a single that was sold. Divided four ways - slightly more to John and Paul as the credited writers - that didn't give them much. When Beatlemania took off, that one band increased the record company's profits by 80% the following year, after they broke into the American marketplace.

EMI was totally willing to renegotiate. Unlike in comics, the record company recognized that someone who created a hit property deserves better treatment than newcomer scum. But the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein refused to renegotiate. He said a gentleman doesn't go back on his word, and was obviously not too bright, so the most successful act in the history of showbiz were paid like beginners up until "Rubber Soul" or "Revolver" when the initial contract finally expired. I'm too lazy to look it up, but I think the Beatles were done with "Sgt. Pepper" by the time they had a new contract.

Get it? They did three albums in less than two years (plus non-album singles) without even being under contract, much less having a deal which benefitted them in any way.

Brian Epstein won a new contract, with a sizeable increase per record sold, but it was still far less than bands like the Rolling Stones were making. The Beatles got a cash bonus for signing, which was essentially what they'd earned while working without a contract, and they were now bound to produce X number of songs per year for *TEN* years. If you know Beatles' history, you know they didn't last ten years after "Sgt. Pepper."

It was mostly the productivity from The White Album era that got them out of that obligation, as well as Brian Epstein's death and replacement by Allen Klein. Klein got them a new contract, with a decent increase of royalties on *all existing product.* "Abbey Road" was the first album the group recorded under that contract, and the last album the band recorded. [I don't know how "Let It Be" falls into things, being recorded earlier but released later. Still a hit though.]

Klein negotiated the initial solo Beatles records into the deal, and although John had few initial flops, long-term sales unquestionably met the contractual obligations, so the Beatles were in line for a huge influx of money in the early-70s. Then John, George and Ringo broke up with Allen Klein, and subsequent lawsuits between them, the record company and Paul put all the money into a bank account until the mid-1990s (and the Beatles Anthology) when they got it all straightened out. The company could afford an accountant to keep track of the money all along, and were willing to renegotiate in the first place.

Put that in comics terms, how much time is Joe Shuster or Jack Kirby supposed to spend *AWAY* from the drawing board to argue about this stuff in the first place? Hours spent in a room listening to legal nonsense are hours that could be drawing Supporting Character A in the pivotal moment in his/her life, and then moving on to draw the next panel. At least musicians deal in spaces of time so that an hour of playing in a studio can yield two minutes worth of riffs and solos to make a hit song. Paul McCartney recorded "Yesterday", "I'm Down" and "I've Just Seen A Face" on the same day.
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James Ritchey III



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Sat Apr 27, 2013 1:26 pm

Not interested in counting myself among righteously indignant comics fans. Earth has real problems. Didn't buy any of Before Watchmen, HATED the idea, hated that anyone in editorial thought it was a good idea--either morally or from a creative standpoint, but I'll buy anything interesting by a handful of those creators from here on in. Because some of them are very good, and you don't turn down work from the only factory in town if you want to live indoors. I'm glad Steve Rude got money from DC, although I'll never own that comic. I never would have done it, but these guys have families and houses to worry about, a tiny market with a career cycle that is right up there with the longevity of a fruit fly. I will avoid anyone who was satirically confrontational towards Moore in the pieces they did, though. 'True Believer'-level of douche'-y.
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:13 pm

I'm certainly not indignant about the spin-off series. "Earth has real problems" is as good a summation why I'm not indignant as any I've heard. The writers and artists need the work and God knows, comic creators have worked under shittier circumstances over the last 70 years than a prime new DC franchise, intended to lead to something new.

My suspicion - and obviously I have no evidence for it - is that high-level legal and editorial decisions were made to accomodate a workable 30+ issue comic book story. The Marvel Movies are demonstrating how well it works when it does work. Frank Miller's Batman stories were definitely a major inspiration for the recent movie franchise, but they don't cohere as an overall story and, interestingly, very few of the details made it to the screen. [Mostly the end of "Batman Begins", as Commissioner Gordon mentions the guy who's going to poison the resevoir. Calls himself the Joker.]

[Also worth mentioning is "Dark Knight" was, to my eyes, inspired first and foremost by "The Killing Joke." How that could be when there's no similarity beyond being a Batman vs. Joker story, I hear you ask. You shouldn't talk to a computer like that. It's creepy. Anyway, it was *very* effective translation of "The Killing Joke"s scene where the Joker explains that the only thing separating him from society was one bad day. The climax was intended to show Batman fighting the Joker to prevent the boats blowing up, and we see that, for different reasons, both boats decided not to kill the other, even if it cost them their lives. The only thing that could have improved "Dark Knight" - besides better sound mixing - in my eyes was actually using the phrase 'one bad day' and 'maybe it wasn't them. Maybe it was just you all along!" BAM POW BOOM!]

In the case of "Watchmen", it's not that they want new stories with Rorschach, Ozy, Comedian, etc. It's that for high-level legal reasons, progress can't be made until they've actually done a sequel. The failure to create new stories featuring the same characters impeded progress in the same way that "Watchmen" would have gone nowhere if Alan Moore had said he wouldn't be satisfied until Rorschach was a Happy Meal toy for McDonalds. To its credit, DC refused to move forward with the property for 30 years out of respect for Moore and Gibbon. The comics business being what it is, it takes a finished movie and further published comics to make anything intelligible for the 'suits,' especially in the labyrinth of AOL/Time-Warner.

They drove away Alan Moore, they failed to get him back, they tried to show respect in the ways they knew, they used a long-range method to get him back (the ABC line) they finally won over Dave Gibbons, they finally got a movie into theaters, they finally got a few dozen comic books to shove in people's faces and say 'here's the Silk Spectre we all love, right?' [Yay or nay, an honest answer would give them more clues how to sell comic books, which can only make the promoters look good, so I really don't think they're actively shoving garbage out. A Mothman story that catches fire with the public would be just fine.]


Conversely, they could be taking the Ayn Rand approach that mediocrities seek to destroy the truly exceptional. Paul Levitz was quoted announcing a new edition of "Watchmen" to comic store owners and asking, flabbergasted, "who are you selling these things too???" Hasn't the market gone dry yet? But if they were trying to destroy the successful creators, who achieved despite all the limitations, they could just let the book go out of print and let Moore and Gibbons fail trying to sell it on their own. It's not like Moore has much of a track record of selling anything without a big company to vouch for him.

As I say, I think the overall decisions were made at high-levels. And yes, the decisions were precedent-setting. In a sense, you can't treat Alan Moore better than any newbie cranking out pages, and in another sense, that newbie will be influenced by seeing how you treat Alan Moore [Jack Kirby, Siegel and Shuster, etc.] Both viewpoints will be relevant to those who reach the higher levels. Otherwise it leave individuals who achieve the higher levels vulnerable. ["Before Watchmen" will be a huge success no matter what!]
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Terry M (Ditko Fan)

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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:39 pm

James Ritchey III wrote:
...and you don't turn down work from the only factory in town if you want to live indoors.
I think that's a hugely important point in all this.

No matter where anybody stands on the BEFORE WATCHMEN project. Artists and writers have very little power in this industry. There have been moments. But ultimately it falls back to the fact that there are two major comics publishers and if you want to be in comics, it's a hard thing for some to take a stand when it amounts to nothing more than, you've cut your own earning potential into a smaller pie.

I admire those artists and writers who take a stand, but I can't begrudge anyone who chooses not to.

Didn't someone say earlier the fella that made the blacklist was wearing an X-men shirt? Santoro? Seems like as a creator AND a reader he thinks he gets things both ways. How is it right for him to hold anyone to a higher moral standard than he lives by.


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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:55 pm

Her royal highness Lady Montgomery has posted a black list too, but he plays coy as his kind is always want to do, and calls it a, "BEFORE WATCHMEN Scabs List," and says it's "Purely intended for educational purposes." Does he honestly think he's fooling anyone?
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Tue Apr 30, 2013 6:55 pm

The Montgomery BW Boycott?
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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:45 pm

ChrisW wrote:
The Montgomery BW Boycott?

lol!
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Lawson



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:52 pm

James Ritchey III wrote:
Earth has real problems.

Do I never get to kvetch about anything other than famine in Somalia and war in Syria?

Smile

I understand what you're saying, but I think it's OK to gripe about stuff that's less than Earth-shaking.

At some point, everyone around me started using the phrase "First World problem," which makes me a little nuts. I mention that rabbits keep eating from our backyard garden. They roll their eyes. "First World problem," they say. "At least you have a home and food to eat." And then I pull out a knife and open their throats.
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:41 pm

Don't do that. The corpse draws vermin and spreads further disease.

I've only heard the phrase "First World problem" a few times, and to me, it's a measure of how wonderful our lives are that we can gripe about things that aren't really important. Like comic books. Or internet access. How did the world survive without internet access? Gee, let's turn back ten or twenty years and find out. Halle Berry says that being distantly related to Sarah Palin is the worst thing in the world. That sure puts Syrians/Darfurians/Bosnians/Rwandans in their place. They may be slaughtered en masse, but at least they aren't distantly related to someone they politically disagree with. Ohmigod, how embarrassing!!!

The horror of creating something interesting that other people want to add to is rather new in civilization. It's like objecting to The Odyssey and the Anaeid being appended on to the Iliad. The fact that Alan Moore can have a legitimate complaint instead of being dead for centuries before anything comes of it represents genuine progress. The fact that we can care about (or not care about) "Before Watchmen" says more about our society than any previous civilization in history. Did we care so much about Machine Man getting rebooted by Barry Windsor-Smith, after initial appearances in "Eternals" (or "2001", I forget.) Did Jack Kirby somehow not believe as much in what he was doing as Moore did? How do you know? One can 't even think about these questions without enough time, energy and motivation. Kirby, BWS, Moore, Gibbons, and the "Before Watchmen" crew at least had time, energy and motivation to spend on their particular endeavors.

The success of "Watchmen" is genuinely exceptional. I think we can all agree on that. A 12-issue limited series superhero murder mystery could have been much less important than this one turned out to be. Even for the time. Mark Greunwald did a JLA rip-off for Marvel that worked the same in many ways, but didn't catch fire in remotely the same way. [I've never read "Squadron Supreme" and have no interest in ever doing so at all, ever, so there, nyeah.] If you want exceptions to be treated exceptionally, you have to make rules which accommodate the exceptional and the non-exceptional. Giving Moore and Gibbons a veto over "Watchmen" is fine, but it means Moore has to accept Gibbons disagreement. And for that matter, has to accept Veitch and Bissette disagreeing about "1963", morally if not legally. Alan Davis disagreeing about "Miracleman" and "Captain Britain." Steve Bissette and Eddie Campbell disagreeing about "From Hell."

It's the thought process that led Dave Sim to the 'self-publishing uber alles' viewpoint. If the people at the typewriter/drawing board aren't the ones making every decision and seeing it through to completion, at some point they have to accommodate people who don't write or draw in the decision-making process. It does have a benefit. "Watchmen" would not have been the smash success it is if it were published by Fantagraphics, and they *did* make an overture in the early days.

"Watchmen" has earned money for people who had nothing to do with "Watchmen." [the cgi artists who went out of their way to depict Dr. Manhattan's wang being a good example.] That's job creation. That's what separates a successful property from an unsuccessful property. Siegel, Shuster, Kane, Simon and Kirby, Will Eisner, Stan Lee, could hire a roomful of artists to create their visions, and those profits went towards paying salesmen and advertisers and tv/movie-makers.

If you want the exceptional to be treated as exceptional, you have to allow for the exceptional, emphasis on the word "Exceptional." "Camelot 3000" is not "Watchmen." Don't pretend otherwise. You can look for commonalities and reasons to treat the creators respectfully and adjust contracts to make it so, but they aren't the same, and you can't pretend otherwise.
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Lawson



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Wed May 01, 2013 10:54 am

ChrisW wrote:
I've only heard the phrase "First World problem" a few times, and to me, it's a measure of how wonderful our lives are that we can gripe about things that aren't really important. Like comic books. Or internet access.

In the immortal words of Louis C.K.:

"Everything is amazing right now and nobody’s happy.

"Like, in my lifetime the changes in the world have been incredible. When I was a kid we had a rotary phone. We had a phone that you had to stand next to, and you had to dial it. Do you know how primitive – you’re making sparks – in a phone. And you actually would hate people with zeros in their numbers because it was more – you’d be like 'Uh this guy has two zeros in his number, screw that guy, why would I want to-uh!' And then if they called and you weren’t home the phone would just ring lonely by itself. And then if you wanted money you had to go in the bank, when it was open for like three hours. You had to stand in line and write yourself a check like an idiot. And then when you ran out of money you’d just go ‘Well, I can’t do any more things now. I can’t do any more things.’ And even if you had a credit card the guy would go 'Uh' and he’d bring out this whole 'shunk-shunk.' And he’d write, and he’d have to call the President to see if you had any money.

"Now we live in an amazing, amazing world and it’s wasted on the crappiest generation of just spoiled idiots that don’t care, because this is what people are like now. They’ve got their phone and they’re like 'Uh! It won’t…' Give it a second! Give - it’s going to space! Can you give it a second to get back from space!? [laughs]

"I was on an airplane and there was high-speed internet on the airplane. That’s the newest thing that I know exists. And I’m sitting on the plane and they go 'Open up your laptop, you can go on the internet.” And it’s fast and I’m watching YouTube clips – it’s amazing! – I’m in an airplane! And then it breaks down, and they apologize the internet’s not working. The guy next to me goes “Phff - this is bullshit!' Like how quickly the world owes him something he only knew existed ten seconds ago."
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James Ritchey III



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Wed May 01, 2013 1:56 pm

Not accusing anyone here of the blistering rage I've seen elsewhere, Lawson. Just saying--if I let what DC has done to Moore get under my skin, I'd be perpetually pissed off. I just want to write good comics, go 'Dave Sim' and AVOID THEM, as sad as that makes me. If it's an omen of the future of mainstream, I don't want any part of it. They seem HORRIBLE people to work for.
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Lawson



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Wed May 01, 2013 4:31 pm

James Ritchey III wrote:
They seem HORRIBLE people to work for.

Evidently. There are happy exceptions here and there, but most comics pros who work at Marvel and/or DC eventually come to hate one or both of them. If I had a nickel for every interview I've read where a bitter old comics pro complained about how he got shafted by Marvel and/or DC, I'd have ... well, $7.35. Which is a lot of nickels!
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Wed May 01, 2013 8:40 pm

"My internet just went out for four straight minutes.
"I'm ok, but the 911 operator was a real jerk about it."
- Something I read on Facebook
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James Ritchey III



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Wed May 01, 2013 10:45 pm

Lawson wrote:

Evidently. There are happy exceptions here and there, but most comics pros who work at Marvel and/or DC eventually come to hate one or both of them. If I had a nickel for every interview I've read where a bitter old comics pro complained about how he got shafted by Marvel and/or DC, I'd have ... well, $7.35. Which is a lot of nickels!

Yeah, it's being bitter and old only sometimes, though.
Gail almost got shafted by some uppity ex-Wizard Magazine fan press editor du jour--before fan outrage (one of the sparse examples of it being useful) got DC to un-fire her.

Morrison collaborator Chris Weston sent Jerry Ordway a heart-warming message of support, after he was forced to ride out his exclusive contract with DC without getting any actual work for a year--because one of these douches decided his work was outdated. He pointed out that his 10 year old son's favorite artist was Jerry Ordway. At ten, I didn't like Neal Adams, Jack Kirby and all those old EC Comics artists who did amazing work almost 10 years before I was born because they were 'hot'--I loved the art because it was beautiful. The 18-34 demographic is not their only source of revenue, but they treat it as such. Ordway's work does well when he's assigned to top properties, but they start putting him on shite because of some surreal 'observer phenomenon'-addled thinking, or to quote Charles Foster Kane, the idea that "They'll like what I tell them to like!". I'm 52 (lol). I like Ordway. I've been known to BUY Ordway, unless it's crap writing. Doesn't occur to them to pursue different demos, because they KNOW EVERYTHING, having their 'finger on the pulse of the industry!', while 'what everybody knows'-based behavior is shedding shops and customers with renewed finesse every year.

It's the same mentality as the (apparently true) example of a comic shop owner who got a dozen people asking about a comic, but didn't preorder the comic afterwards because he didn't think it would sell.

The level of hubris is staggering.
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Lawson



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Wed May 01, 2013 10:54 pm

I've enjoyed Jerry Ordway's artwork since he drew all of Roy Thomas' Earth 2 comics back in the early 1980s. It baffles me that he can't find regular assignments at DC anymore; he's better than most artists they've got.

That said, Ordway and John Byrne displaced longtime Superman artist Curt Swan in 1986 with the Super-reboot. Swan, a dedicated DC man, was nowhere near ready for retirement. But after losing the Superman books, his career went into a downward spiral. He was reduced to couple of minor projects, including an Aquaman mini-series.

Back then, Ordway was the hot new talent. Now he's the forgotten old-timer.
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James Ritchey III



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Wed May 01, 2013 11:13 pm

Ordway committed the greatest sin a comic book artist can commit--he AGED.
I like Swan now, but I thought he was dated as early as 12.
Aging hasn't affected Ordway's work (as it certainly HAS Byrne), hasn't dated his work, but perception is everything among these shallow morons.
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Lawson



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu May 02, 2013 10:24 am

It's true, very few artists have remained productively employed at DC and Marvel since my young fanboyhood in the Bronze Age.

I can think of George Pérez, whose projects are now far and few between ... Keith Giffen, a loyal company man if ever there was one ... and I dunno that a third name comes to my mind. Can anyone else think of an artist from the late 1970s, early 1980s whose name you still will find on a Big Two comic today?

A lot of the artists who stopped getting calls, like Jerry Ordway, Steve Rude and Bob McLeod, are as talented as ever, in my opinion. It seems hard to dispute that they seem less attractive to young editors because they're now middle-aged or old.
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James Ritchey III



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu May 02, 2013 12:46 pm

They seem to think that comic artists are lingerie models...
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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu May 02, 2013 12:59 pm

James Ritchey III wrote:
They seem to think that comic artists are lingerie models...
Very Happy
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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu May 02, 2013 1:11 pm

Or ballplayers! Sports is a great analogy here. Most players don't play the game forever whatever sport they are in and there are only so many on-air positions available, don't a lot of these guys move on? Parlez their connections, or name recognition into a bigger position with a company, or start a business or go into politics.

We talked about this a little in the Ordway thread a while back too, but shouldn't the older guys aspire to move away from Marvel and DC. There should be a different path for these guys, they have years of experience and skills. Start a creator owned project, or become a senior partner at a small publishing company. Own something.

There are some good examples out there of alternative paths, like Mike Mignolia, Alex Ross, I'm sure it's easier said than done, backseat driving always is, but why would any artist aspire to retire while working at Marvel and Dc when NO ONE DOES THAT? Not even Kirby or Ditko?
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Lawson



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu May 02, 2013 1:54 pm

Joe Lee wrote:
Shouldn't the older guys aspire to move away from Marvel and DC. There should be a different path for these guys, they have years of experience and skills. Start a creator owned project, or become a senior partner at a small publishing company. Own something.

Logically, you make complete sense.

Realistically, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Some people have no skill for or interest in running their own business, even as one-man freelance shops.

I admire the hell out of someone like Robert Kirkman -- married with a family -- for doing a short stint at Marvel and then devoting all his energy to creating and owning his own stuff, and even plowing some of his money back into creator-owned ventures for other young pros. Guys like Kirkman are the future of comics. His THE WALKING DEAD is a consistent top seller in every format -- monthly comic, digital comic, trade paperback collection in comics shops, at Amazon and at major retail bookstores. The TV deals? He owns them. The merchandising? He owns it. If he had stayed at Marvel, he might be writing a couple of X-Men titles for a little longer.

But not everyone is Robert Kirkman.

Jerry Ordway wants to work for someone.
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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu May 02, 2013 2:04 pm

Lawson wrote:
Realistically, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur...

But not everyone is Robert Kirkman.

Jerry Ordway wants to work for someone.

Most people do. In real life as well, I mean. One way or another. But even people who work for someone need a little entrepreneurial spirit to succeed. Or they get eaten up by the system, not every company looks out for their employees.

Jerry Ordway's dilema was not unpredictable. It's the norm in his business. Did he think he would be the exception to the rule? He should have had a little foresight. Planned ahead.

Not saying it's right, it's just the definition of insanity isn't it, to expect a different outcome after seeing the same outcome over and over.
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Lawson



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu May 02, 2013 2:18 pm

Joe Lee wrote:
Jerry Ordway's dilema was not unpredictable. It's the norm in his business. Did he think he would be the exception to the rule? He should have had a little foresight. Planned ahead.

Not saying it's right, it's just the definition of insanity isn't it, to expect a different outcome after seeing the same outcome over and over.

We're agreed. Others, including Erik Larsen, have said this as well.

I understand why Ordway, at the age of 55, with family responsibilities, would not relish the idea of hanging out a shingle and trying to build his own business -- particularly in comic books, an industry that is going through revolutionary technological changes (best-case scenario) or slowly dying (worst-case scenario). Go tell a middle-aged artist that he needs to draw Web comics and post them for free and try to make a few bucks on advertising. See how happy he looks about it.

But ...

... yes, you're right.

Almost nobody gets to finish their career at DC or Marvel. So ... yeah, realize that going in at the age of 22.
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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu May 02, 2013 2:28 pm

Lawson wrote:
I understand why Ordway, at the age of 55, with family responsibilities, would not relish the idea of hanging out a shingle and trying to build his own business...
Which is why you don't wait til you're 55.
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Lawson



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu May 02, 2013 5:57 pm

You're right, of course, but 55 has a way of sneaking up on you.

I dunno when the assignments dried up for Ordway. I recall him staying busy at DC through the 1980s and most of the 1990s. By the 2000s, it seems like he was maybe getting calls only for fill-in stories and quickie story arcs between the regular creative teams. The editors and writers he originally had worked with were gone.
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