Speaking at the LA Times Festival of Books this weekend, DC co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee broke their silence about the public resignation/hurried removal of writer Chris Roberson. Roberson, who tweeted last week that once he completed his agreed-upon work for the publisher’s Fairest title, he wouldn’t be working for DC anymore in light of business practices he couldn’t reconcile with his own ethics (particularly around Before Watchmen and the treatment of Alan Moore), was then removed from Fairest by the publisher. Lee responded to the issue by saying that,
I don’t know the writer Chris and it certainly would have helped if I could have talked to him or if he had reached out to me. I didn’t know he felt that way so it was surprising to see that. It seemed odd to me as a creator, I would not publicly state I have a problem with the company that’s paying me to do work for them and I’m going to quit after I do this one project. It would seem wise to me to wait until you finished the project to voice that complaint. You have to imagine from our perspective, for our own internal morale, what does it say for a company to hire somebody who’s that vocally against our principles and yet we’re still paying them. From that standpoint, it doesn’t make any sense.
Didio was far more blunt:
As far as I’m concerned, he made a very public statement about not wanting to work with DC and we honored that statement.
The entire panel, in which Didio and Lee respond to criticism of DC over Before Watchmen publicly for what may be the first time, is worth looking at. Somewhat controversially, Lee, famously one of the “nicest man in comics,” suggests that public opinion of the DC vs. Alan Moore debate is based on a misreading of the situation:
This is not a situation where we have taken things from Alan. He signed an agreement and yet he said ‘I didn’t read the contract.’ I can’t force him to read his contract. So there’s all these things that people don’t know and Alan has said that explicitly – there are all these things that mitigate or go into the analysis. It’s not as clear-cut as people want to make it seem… It’s not a situation where we’re using the characters and Alan’s not being compensated. For everything that’s been done for Watchmen from the books to the movie, money has gone his way. The right amount that he deserves based on the contract. So we have honored that part of the agreement. It is something that can definitely be debated but to say that there is clearly one side that is right, I will dispute that.
Didio, meanwhile, sticks to the company line of “It’s all about the work”:
And we would not have gone forward if we didn’t think the talent was available to be perfectly honest. That’s actually one of the things that slowed us down. And the talent didn’t want to participate unless they felt they had a key story to tell. Darwyn Cooke was one of the first people asked and he turned me down because he didn’t know what to do with it. And then a year later he comes back and he knew how to make the story work. Then we’re off to the races.
Go read Collider’s transcript here.