This thing is going on with a new publisher called Joe Books, and the credits on Boom! Studio’s long ago (2010) Darkwing Duck series. Yes. The Outhouse has a succinct round-up but as best as I can make out, here’s what happened:
* In 2010 Boom! published a Darkwing Duck comic book, edited by Aaron Sparrow and written by Ian Brill.
* Sparrow left Boom! after three issues were published. Depending on who you ask, he either left notes for Brill or actually wrote most of the subsequent series, leaving Brill’s name as writer on the credits.
* In the intervening years, Sparrow and Brill engaged in an internet kerfuffle over who actually wrote these books. (Links are in the Outhouse piece, and I’m not gonna look them up.)
* In recent days, a new publisher has emerged, Joe Books, led by Adam Fortier, formerly of Speakeasy and Boom and several other places. While they haven’t been making a lot of pr moves, they did announce a Darkwing Duck omnibus in this month’s Previews…with Sparrow rewriting it to bring it closer in line to his vision, as related by artist James Silvani:
Aaron Sparrow, the editor and driving force of the DW comics has gone back and painstakingly rewritten the book to bring it in step with the classic Disney Afternoon series. I also had the opportunity to revisit the art and make this edition the true Terror That Flaps In The Night. This omnibus also features the stellar work of Darkwing creator Tad Stones, artist Sabrina Alberghetti, writer Ian Brill, colorists Andrew Dalhouse and Lisa Moore, letterer Deron Bennett and cover artist Amy Mebberson.
* This led Brill to take to Tumblr to state how hurt he was by all this:
Currently a reprint collection of the Darkwing Duck comic that we worked on in 2010 and 2011 is being offered in Previews. In the announcement of this collection it said to be “painstakingly rewritten” to “bring it in step with the classic Disney Afternoon series.” We believe that this will not be the book that readers enjoyed when the series was originally published. We do not feel it is right to rewrite comics for a reprint collection. Since we feel this book will not reflect our intentions for the material we wish for our names to be removed from the book, and for our names to not be used in the promotion of the book. We have contacted Joe Books and made this request. This is our only and final comment about the situation.
-Former Darkwing Duck writer Ian Brill and former Darkwing Duck editor Christopher Burns
* So heated was the controversy that former Boom! marketing director Chip Mosher chimed in on the situation with his own timeline, supporting Brill.
Could James, the artist on the book, have communicated with his good friend Aaron about each issue and then incorporated some of Aaron’s comments in future issues even though Aaron wasn’t officially involved in the series? Sure. I expect as much as they are very close. But that’s not “writing” or “co-writing.” Ian sat down at his laptop on every script. He broke down the pages and story beats and wrote the dialogue. That’s what writers do. They write!
It’s always disappointing in comics to see someone take credit for another’s hard work. I give Aaron a ton of credit for getting the series going at BOOM! and keeping the Darkwing Duck flame alive for the past three years. But I have real problems with him taking credit for Ian’s work and I think everyone who has written a comic would find it painful to have their former editor re-write their work without asking them about it first. It’s just a really sad, sad situation.
And there you have it.
What no one has come out and said is….IT’S FREAKING DARKWING DUCK, NOT THE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE!
I poked around and found…passions running high on this topic! Disney fans seem to have taken up the “Sparrow Is The Original Author” campaign on various forums, which is…just like Disney fans. That is all I will say about that. I also understand that many times Disney proper tinkers with licensed work in various formats, and this may be one of those things.
Still…it’s Darkwing Duck! A character I worked on during my Disney years and loved very much. Gosslyn and Launchpad and Negaduck…it was a pretty good world. I’ve never read these new comics, but I’m sure they’re fine whoever wrote them, but my advice to Sparrow (who I don’t know) and Brill (who used to write for me when he was a journalist) is move on and create something of your own!
If you want a REAL Darkwing Duck scandal, read this post by the great Doug Gray on how I, as editor, ruined his marvelous “Darkwing vs. Fluffy Trilogy” stories from 1993! This was one of my favorite stories I got to edit at Disney Adventures, and I don’t remember why I made so many changes but…Doug, I’m sorry. I would do it all differently now.
I haven’t seen much press from Joe Books aside from some stuff on BC. The website is minimal. Piecing all this together it looks like they have the Disney/Pixar comics license for a while, so all I can say is: TALESPIN. IT IS TIME.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.