Try as we might, we couldn’t unearth the smoking gun of yesterday’s news that the Dabel Brothers and Marvel were parting ways. Maybe there isn’t one. The word from our usual sources is that the parting really was amicable.
But enigmas remain. As numerous author interviews, like this one with George R R Martin that just ran in PW Comics Week, attest, Les and Ernst Dabel did it the old-fashioned way with persistence and elbow grease:
It was Les Dabel with his persistence. Les wrote me, and he actually wanted to option A Song of Ice and Fire, so he sent me some artwork and told me a little bit about himself and his brothers. It was a nice letter, but I didn’t like any of the artwork he sent me. As I looked at what Les was saying, they almost had no credits of any sort. A Song of Ice and Fire is my magnum opus, of course; it’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done. I wasn’t going to license it out to what seemed to be a couple of kids with little experience, so I said no, as I’ve said no to other people who have occasionally written me with offers.
But Les refused to take no for an answer, and he came back a month later with another appeal and he sent more artwork, and more character concepts. I didn’t like this any better, so I said no again. We went back and forth for half a year, and he just kept not taking no for an answer. Finally, he sent me some artwork and character concepts that were actually quite good, that were much more the style that I like.
While wooing authors is a lifelong passion for Les Dabel, sticking with publishers is less of a concern. The most credible theory we heard is that the Dabels simply grow disillusioned with each publishing deal they sign, and decide to go it alone. The pattern has repeated with Image, Alias, Devil’s Due and now Marvel. Reportedly, they’ll be doing the adaptation of GRRM’s newly-revived Wild Cards anthology, and have another project in development.
At any rate, it’s quite likely that DB Pro will keep doing what it’s been good at, and Marvel got some lucrative licenses out of the deal, so maybe everyone did walk away happy.