If you’ve been keeping track of the comics internet over the last few days, you know that there’s this story over on the main Newsarama site that came out of WonderCon that a lot of people are talking about, and one particular quote that everyone’s commenting on:
“When you’ve got an environment where someone can come in, cut their teeth with you, then turn around and walk out, taking the stuff that you put money into with them, it’s just not a healthy way to do it,” he said. “I would not offer creator-owned contracts, I’d own it; I’d own it all. And sure, maybe there would have been things that wouldn’t have come our way, but I guarantee you if we’d had an equitable way of taking those properties on, if I’d owned Johnny, if I’d owned Milk & Cheese, if I’d owned Lenore, if I’d owned everything I’ve published over the last 20 years, this company would be in a lot better shape as a company. So that’s what I would do differently, and that would be my advice: no creator-owned comics.”
The quote’s from Dan Vado, from the Slave Labor Graphics panel on Friday. The reporter? That would be me.
Yesterday Dan Vado responded on his LiveJournal:
First, to clarify, I was asked what I would do differently, what I might change if I had the chance. You have to understand this about the timing of the question, it was the final question of the panel. Some Star Wars group was making a ruckus’s about needing to get into the room, so there was no opportunity for a follow-up or elaboration. But the question was what would you do differently. I answered that question based on my experience of the last 21 years in this business. There was no follow-up or opportunity to elaborate in a public forum.
So a bunch of people have chimed in on the subject, not a major firestorm of any sort, but enough of it that I felt I should post some kind of response to some of the comments. Using the miracle that is Google Finder I was able to find several blog postings about my panel. I’m not the kind of person who likes to go to message boards and engage in endless discourse on minor nonsense and this kind of ego-surfing just bugs me. Neither am I someone who enjoys seeing their name in print, on other people’s blogs or even really anywhere. I am a pretty private person and maybe the thing I really would have done 21 years ago when I started this was to come up with someone else to be me so I could just do my thing and never have to read about myself.
(The ruckus was behind me, so I’m not sure exactly what was happening, but I do know there was a crowd waiting to get in as I walked out. They were there to see the One Man Star Wars Trilogy performance by Charles Ross).
Vado goes on to respond to some of the online comments from various people, such as Colleen Doran, James Owen and James Kochalka.
If you’ve been to a convention and seen a typical comic publisher panel, you know what to expect … some nice cover images or other art in the form of a PowerPoint presentation and a laundry list of upcoming projects, followed by a Q&A where people ask things like why their favorite comic is late, when their favorite character is coming back, why one fictional character died/gave birth/got married/etc. You know the drill. When I volunteered to take on the SLG panel, I did so because I was interested to hear more about EyeMelt.com and what they were doing with it. But honestly, I was expecting more of the type of panel I just described.
And boy was I wrong.
Sure, it started out with the typical presentation of projects, but once Dan Vado, the only one on the panel, started taking questions and firing back answers, it was on. There was no spin, no attempts to swerve around the big issues or to hype a project instead of answering tough questions … he was very open and honest about everything. That really jazzed me, and I was really happy to be there covering it. (I don’t think I’ve seen any other reports from that panel, even though the person in front of me looked like he was also taking notes).
I didn’t have a chance to write the story up until later that night — around 11 p.m., actually, after my wife went to bed. I was up until about 2 a.m. writing it, mostly because I was listening to, and subsequently rewinding, the digital recorder I had used to record it. Rewind, listen, rewind, listen, over and over again because I knew it was good, that I had a lot of meat that would make this something different than your usual convention panel report (and don’t get me wrong … I want to know things like when Manhunter’s been given new life and when Wally West is coming back as much as the next guy). And when I finished at 2 a.m., I was wide awake and still jazzed about it. (Which made Saturday a really rough day).
And it was that last quote that I was extra careful about, that I wanted to make sure I had down exactly right, because I knew it was going to be showing up in other places around the Internet. Heck, as we were walking out of the panel, Dan said to someone else from SLG that he figured that would be the quote that would be showing up on blogs around the ‘net. I think he even used the term “blog-flogged,” which he repeated in his LiveJournal entry.
When I put the story together, I knew that quote would get attention, but I was hoping the other stuff, particularly about EyeMelt.com and how SLG is adapting their publishing model to meet the demands of the ‘net generation, might get some as well. But the only commentary I’ve seen on that part of the story has been over at the original Newsarama post. Maybe the controversy of that statement just outweighs the rest of it, which is too bad.
In any event, I did make an offer to possibly do a follow-up article, and while Dan said he’d be happy to answer any questions, he didn’t think any elaboration beyond what he said in his blog post was really necessary.
In his LJ post, he even makes the offer to any comics journalists out there to pick up the phone and talk to him … which I would wholeheartedly recommend, because based on what I heard at WonderCon, the guy has a lot to say. You can ask about why he had to pulp an issue of Haunted Mansion, and the small number of copies of that issue that made its way into fans’ hands in San Diego. What, you think I put all the good stuff in the article? I had to save something for the blog …