Here’s Warren Ellis on recent rumors around the Big Two publishers’ editorial practices:
I’m hearing a lot lately about writers being put into foot races on gigs. And not only do they not know who else is running for the job – but many of them seem not to be told they’re in a foot race at all. Writers who assumed they were writing the gig are being told that they never had the gig at all, that other writers have been run parallel to them. Even though they were put through multiple drafts. They didn’t know they were in competition.
He went on:
Commercial comics can be enough of a snakepit even in relatively benign times. But bringing back a process both demeaning and creatively inferior, and just fucking lying to people about it? I don’t like what that says about the next cycle in the field.
Over at the Millarworld message board, Mark Millar adds his take:
Never underestimate how much Joe Quesada saved the industry back in 99-2000. Comics are at their best when creators are put first and allowed to write and draw the stories they’re passionate about. Marvel was famous for publishing comics that were in some cases completely rewritten and within 12 months Joe created a climate of trust that’s produced a decade of great comics. I think the noughties ranks up there as one of Marvel’s best periods ever. My concern is that the DC reboot really does spike sales in the short term and the events become more important than the people again.
Part of me wonders if Millar’s responding to something other than what Ellis was initially talking about – After all, haven’t events been more important that the people for a lot of fans for awhile? Compare the sales of, say, Avengers to Powers or Takio, for example, and there’s definitely an argument to be made for that attitude (Similarly, Tom Brevoort’s “Bendis is writing the Death of Spider-Man, but if he didn’t want to, someone else would have” from a few weeks back) – but I’ll admit that Nu Marvel, as it was called in those earlier, more innocent, days, changed a lot of attitudes about the way to make superhero books appealing to fans again.
Outside of that, though, is what Ellis is talking about, which is… well, disrespectful to creators, to be extremely polite about it, and something that’s much more worrying than whether or not events are seen as more important than creators; it’s the idea that editors are considering creators as the least important part of the process, and entirely interchangeable, which seems so toxic, and so worrying – If creators are given no value or respect by their employers (“bringing back a process both demeaning and creatively inferior, and just fucking lying to people about it,” remember – The lying part is as important as the competitive process, here), then what does that say about the quality of work that those creators will be willing to offer to those editors? What about creators who’ll realize that they can get better treatment in other media, and abandon publishers as a result?
Disturbing times ahead, perhaps.