By Todd Allen
In a rare instance of a DC/Marvel creator being candid about how they perceive the environment, Greg Rucka has given something very close to an exit interview to Mark Millar’s CLiNT magazine. The upshot, to paraphrase Popeye, he’s had enough and enough is too much. His final straw at Marvel was The Punisher joining a team and finding out about it after the fact. (I’d have to agree that seems out of character for Rucka’s take on the character.)A few quotes, courtesy of the Mighty Johnston Transcription Service:
I’m sick to death of the way the Big Two treat people.
I gave seven very good years to DC and they took gross advantage of me.
Despite what the publishers say, their interest in the talent is minimal now, the interest is only in promoting the financial worth of their properties. That was not the case as of two or three years ago, when there was an ‘Exclusives war’, but that’s all gone by the wayside now. Ultimately, they are saying, “We don’t need you,’ because they can get a million more just like you.
There’s more to the interview than those pull quotes. Rucka is no martyr and fully acknowledges that the characters are owned by corporations and said companies have every right to try and maximize their revenues. (Technically, they have a responsibility to their shareholders to maximize revenues.) He’s just grown weary of the game and doesn’t like how he perceives it to be played right now.
And if you look at the recent influx of creators over at Image, he’s probably not the only one thinking it. He may be the one saying it most bluntly, though. Seems like an awful lot of people, particularly the writers are looking to spread their options around a little.
Now, in other threads the question of whether or not graphic novel collection / tpb sales can save a comic from cancellation. Rucka takes that topic head on:
Dan DiDio has gone on record, and this is the same man that said Gotham Central would never be cancelled as long as he was there, telling people what a great book Gotham Central was, but it never made any money.
Well, take a look at your trade sales! That book has made nothing but money as a trade. What I’m now being told is, ”lt was never worth anything to us anyway.”So, you know what? They can stop selling the Batwoman: Elegy trade and stop selling the Wonder Woman trades and everything else I’ve done, because clearly I’ve not done anything of service and those guys aren’t making any money off me.
Now, that’s just one man’s experience, but this backs up the theory that long tail income from the book trade is of secondary importance at best. Is reasoning based on the different cash flow of the book trade from the monthly serial? Is it considered more of a risk to wait for the collected edition to push a series into the black? IIRC, when they re-worked the Vertigo contracts a while back, they changed the royalty structure of the collected editions so they needed to finish earning out the page rates from the monthly comics. There are different interpretations of this.
Still, that’s a check mark for titles at DC living and dying by their monthly (dare I say quarterly statement) sales.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.