Rob Liefeld is explaining some of his DC woes on Twitter, talking about at length about the situation that led to his resignation earlier this week:
When I speak of re-write’s at DC, I’m speaking of having to implement the latest editorial directive. Mostly at the last minute. Deathstroke was left alone, mostly due to the fact that the sales on that series went up the most, furthest. GRIFTER is an important book to DC they want it to succeed. Grifter was supposed to be part of a huge fall cross-over. Grifter was to cross-over into a larger story with Helspont and the Daemonites. The other titles were Superman, Supergirl, Red Lantern[s]… I was told that Voodoo was ending and to implement her into the story. I had to connect to the events in the Superman annual. Grifter was featured in the Superman annual, as was Hawkman. I wrote Grifter #13 and it placed him in the center of the Daemonite plot. I arrived at Comic-con to be informed that the Superman office changed their mind, whatever that means and there was now no fall cross-over. So issue #13 had to be re-written from page one. The Superman annual was also changed and Grifter was removed as was Hawkman. Voodoo still needed to be featured though as Grifter was her new home. All fine and good. You take a corporate assignment you take direction.
But when I speak of re-writes, they are of this nature and agenda. Then followed by, how are we going to get Grifter sales up? Again, part if the freelancer workload, but wanted clarification as to what I’m referencing in regards to re-writes. Not a dialogue change. After getting clearance on Grifter #0, late in the process, he could no longer be of alien heritage as I was writing him in issues #9-12. Took pride in making every change as fast as possible. But eventually U realize the loop is non-stop. I chose to exit-Loved the opportunity. Deathstroke had not been problematic, the smoothest sailing until the #0 and the co-opting of Dstroke origin by another office doing Team 7.. You roll up your sleeves and try to be fair dividing the baby up, fought to keep important plot and origin motives in the Dstroke book. Lots and lots of territorial fights. The entire time you must keep in mind that your book needs to show sales traction. loved being deep in the corporate culture for a year. Did my best to be a good team player, was well compensated.
Hawkman really worked, they let me rip, then there was an editorial shift and everything I’d laid out and was approved was unraveling. I stood my ground in defense of what I thought was a strong, positive vision. Felt the editor wanted to write the book himself, quit July 4…
On July 5th I was assured that there would be an editorial change, this cat had a bad track record and had previous creator conflicts. The top brass approves, is enthusiastic and then the editor says, let’s change things. You’re like, no, this is what has been approved… There was a directive of let’s make Helspont and important figure, let’s make him the focus. I like Helspont, no problem, then, sea change. And no, this isn’t juicy stuff, this is nuts and bolts stuff. Work process. The new corporate culture of both companies has never been more stressful because they are in the cross hairs of parent companies. Hope that clarifies the nature of changes, comes with the game if you accept the assignments. The burn out [is] accelerated on your workload.
There are plenty chairs that are being re-arranged as I type this. Guys on books now that won’t be there in January. Ann Nocenti, God bless her, read my Hawkman #0 and suggested that it be a dream, uncertain, something we could drag out… I said NO, the readers deserve clarity and certainty, a reward for their investment of the last 6 months. My editor entertained her notion… So I left. Then they said they would remove him. He was gone and 3 months of trying to undue what I’d started with previous editor was gone. By July, I had a new editor, my 3rd on Hawkman in 6 months.
There is so much in this to unpick and speculate about, but something that I get from this is that the editorial level at DC – Not the Group Editors or Publishers or anyone like that, but the people actually putting the books together – seems to be in this really weird, really uncomfortable position where they’re being treated as entirely disposable by the company at large (Three editors on Hawkman in 6 months? Being replaced and badmouthed by, I assume, group editors and executives when there’s conflict with creators?) while being expected to carry out mandates from higher-ups that will put them in direct conflict with the creators on their books.
That isn’t to say that Liefeld is wrong in quitting or whatever; the back-and-forth he describes above sounds exhausting, and frustrating to a level that I can only imagine. But I wonder if his scorn is somewhat misplaced, and that the real problem is higher up the food chain: those making the (changing) decisions about directions of the universe at large that trickle down to individual books. The way Liefeld makes it sound, the problem with indecision and lack of respect sounds systematic at the publisher, not simply happening on an editor-to-creator level.
(Still, at least we have more of an idea about what happened to the Superman Annual now.)
And, this just in from the irony desk: While Liefeld was tweeting the above, his former Image partner turned DC Comics co-publisher tweeted this: