200806271228Every once in a while we feel a little bad for picking on DC around here, then we read something like this and we have to put on one of those ruffled collar things to keep from scratching our head to the bone. It seem DC refused to let Lynda Barry put an excerpt of Paul Pope’s BATMAN 100 in the BEST AMERICAN COMICS anthology. Tom Spurgeon reports:

As for the cartoonist and creator of the well-received mini-series, Paul Pope further confirmed the refusal and described what he saw from his perspective on the negotiation. “I know there were people both at DC and HM who campaigned very hard to convince DC as to the benefits and soundness of having my Batman pages appear in the collection,” the popular artist and designer wrote to CR The benefits would seem rather obvious to most. I have since found out it was not because of licensing money that DC refused (I don’t know the actual reason to be honest, but it wasn’t money, the only thing I could legitimately see as being an impediment in this case…).” He added, “DC’s formal refusal letter was one line.”

Calling all Kremlinologists!


  1. I often wonder about this, regarding both Marvel and DC. Last year, I noticed several titles in the “Honorable Mentions” appendix, and wondered if these were titles which were not available for reprint. (Sergio Aragones’ “Solo” was nominated for a Harvey Award.)

    I hope that both Marvel and DC will publish more “Best of” annuals. DC had a strong tradition with their digests, and continues to offer character-specific “Best of” graphic novels.

    I would espeically love to see an Eisner Awards series from DC, Marvel, or anyone else, so that fans everywhere can show with pride the best the medium has to offer.

    So… who signed the letter?

  2. How weird. I’m not the type to complain about DC and Marvel corporate decisions as though I know what I’m talking about, but sometimes something like this comes along and just makes me scratch my head. Really, why would any publisher NOT want their material featured in a “Best Of” anthology? “You want to name one of our publications as best of the year? Absolutely not!”

    Also, for some reason really, really surprised that Lynda Barry read Batman Year 100!

  3. That’s too bad. It would be great if this comic (clearly one of the best!) had been included. I’d like to see the comic genre walls break down a little. I hope we some explanation from DC.

  4. What the hell is wrong with DC??? This will hype a DC book as one of the year’s best, which could prompt “indie” readers to at least check it out, meaning sales for DC, yet they say no? Looks like Countdown and Death of the New Gods are NOT the biggest slips of editorial policy DC has made this year. Looks like things are getting better, eh?

  5. Jimmy P., when you start running DC Comics in July, please reverse this decision and get BATMAN YEAR 100 included in some anthologies.


  6. “Any sex or drugs in the anthology? If so that may be the reason DC wouldn’t want Batman in it.”

    Exactly. DC is worried about having their character in with indie stuff where non-code sanctioned things are happening.

    As if any kid will pick this up for the Batman pages.

  7. “Exactly. DC is worried about having their character in with indie stuff where non-code sanctioned things are happening.”

    “Batman Year 100” didn’t ship with code approval, and I’m fairly certain that it had some pretty nasty, non-code sanctioned things happening in it. If this was the internal justification that they used to deny the request, then it sounds like DC editorial didn’t read the comic. That may be true, but I tend to doubt it.

  8. Maybe DC decided not to have “Batman: Year 100” appear in a Best of 2008 anthology book because it was originally published in 2006. And if that’s the case, then the company is more on the ball than anybody! (Fun/sarcastic mode enabled for this post, thank you.)

  9. That is a good point on the dates. I wonder if DC just didn’t want it excerpted, but that might be assuming too much. Either way Batman: 100 was not that ‘bad’ in terms of Code at all and was/is the best Batman story since Dark Knight, in my opinion. Gordon up in that cabin on the floor going over old files? FORGET ABOUT IT. I take back everything I said awhile ago that the “Best of” editors were snobby though, clearly they were trying to bring some superheroes into the mix (and what a choice) but it didn’t work out. I hope it doesn’t scare Paul away from more superhero work though. I like THB and all but he draws the best Ben Grimm since Kirby.

  10. Likely it’s a control issue more than a “fear-of-being-tainted” issue.

    Some years ago, DC also wouldn’t let images of Batman be used for the academic anthology MANY FACES OF BATMAN, which hardly could be accused of being a hotbed of sex and drugs.

    At least DC’s consistent over lo these many moons.

  11. “Any sex or drugs in the anthology? If so that may be the reason DC wouldn’t want Batman in it. ”

    Yeah, DC just HATES when their big characters like Superman and Batman appear in comics featuring sex, sex crimes, child sex slavery rings, drugs and extreme violence in them.

  12. As an attorney, my guess is that an attorney advised them not to allow it as a routine matter. Intellectual Property attorneys can, sometimes, be shortsighted. Just a guess, though.

  13. The sex/drugs thing seems pretty likely. I wonder if it’s also a marketing thing — can’t have Weird Future Metal-Fanged Batman appearing in a mainstream publication when there’s a movie on the way, you know?

  14. I agree that Batman Year 100 was one of the coolest Batman stories in recent memory (that’s why I acquired it for the SFBC way back when). If the 2006 release is the reason why not picked up, well then so be it. But I recommend that book all the time to non-comics readers and science fiction fans because I loved Pope’s take on a near-future Batty.

  15. Oh, who cares.

    This is a matter among 2 people and a corporation, and it’s none of our business why they didn’t allow it to be used. The corporation owns the rights, and they can do with them as they please. If we don’t like it, we can just kill ourselves. After we are dead, it will matter just as much as it does now—NOT AT ALL.

  16. So the book is put out by Houghtin Mifflin and DC is distributed by Random House, right? Any chance that plays a role in the decision making since now you’d have Random House giving us bookstore distro of a DC property?

    It’s too bad since it’s been a very valid criticism leveled against those “Best” books- that they don’t have enough of what is considered mainstream comics. Personally, I’d rather see an excerpt from Army At Love or another Vertigo title since they could use the push and might fit better thematically, and then use one of PP’s more personal works (which aren’t always the easiest to find anyway). For the record, I’m a HUGE Paul Pope fan but it seems obvious that DC would be reluctant to not let a Batman story be used in a book like this (not even featured on the cover, next to lots of “scary” indy comics like David Heatley sex dream comics or Gilbert Hernandez big breasted craziness) even if for no other reason than big companies want to control their properties and by putting a big character in a book like this it kind of “diminishes” the brand as they likely see it. Too bad. No winners in this one it seems.

  17. Doesn’t DC routinely not allow their comics to be reprinted in anthologies? I remember the MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST WAR COMICS had a few names listed when solicited that clearly would have meant DC (Kanigher, Kubert), but they were missing from the published book. I think the Smithsonian book had some DC stuff, but it was Watchmen/Sandman stuff, not super-hero (and a request from the Smithsonian might carry more weight).

  18. “So the book is put out by Houghtin Mifflin and DC is distributed by Random House, right? Any chance that plays a role in the decision making…”

    Anything’s possible, but that strikes me as unlikely. In typical publisher/distributor relationships like this (where DC is the publisher and Random House is that publisher’s distributor) the distributor generally doesn’t get heavily involved (or want to get involved) in decisions about the publisher’s content or the publisher’s business decisions involving rights, permissions, or licensing its content.

  19. There are no comics property to DC in the MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST WAR COMICS-anthology. Dell, Dark Horse, yes … but no DC. I checked the credits. There are comics in it, that have been published at DC, but they are property of the artists.

    It is fairly simple, I guess: DCs licensing-departement just don’t step into action below an significant amount of money offered for an significant amount of comics that anybody want’s to (re)publish. At least, that’s the situation for foreign publishers, who want’s to publish any DC-material (Vertigo, Minx etc. included). But I guess, it’s the same situation if you just want to buy some pages for an anthology. DC won’t give any license for free and they won’t give any license below an significant amount of money. They probably don’t even read your letter, ’cause that costs time, and time is money.

  20. I can totally understand why BTMN:YR100 wouldn’t make it into a “Best of” anthology. In this work, Pope’s art is at times incomprehensible. Also, the story didn’t add anything novel or insightful to Batman mythos. It was an underwhelming read.

  21. I kinda agree with DC on this one. The Batman Year 100 collected trade is available just about anywhere comic book trade paperbacks are sold. It’s not like it’s out of print or anything. I thought the idea behind the yearly Best American Comics was to get exposure to material that people might not have access to normally. For instance, my local Borders sells the yearly Best American Comics, but I don’t think they stock many of the comics that appear in the yearly book.

  22. We hit a similar problem with Studio Space and had to scale back the amount of DC images in the book. Ironically I think it’s a better book now with less DC images in it but if DC wonder why their market share has shrunk and their influence is less than it used to be, perhaps they should look at decisions like this…

  23. Does DC have a button to push that says, “No comment.”? I think DiDio could save a bunch of time if they had that or put it on their answering machine.

    Maybe we should be happy they let Pope even make a Batman story. Still, this is pretty rotten. What’s the point of publishing it if you don’t back it? It was even requested by the people wanting to hype it. What? Crazy libertarian Batman too scary a thing for DC to promote? Comments like Pope’s have sold me a bit more on that political philosophy. It rather shows up in this very interesting Batman story. Though I don’t want to bring up the whole politics at DC debate again.

    Not he first time they’ve hyped up crap while ignoring books that others found fantastic anyway. Remember when they hyped the hell of dreck like Identity Crisis and hardly pushed New Frontier at all?

  24. Obviously DC can do whatever it wants with the characters that it owns. But Houghton Mifflin’s BEST OF anthology series (things like Best American Short Stories, Best Essays, etc.) are some of the most prestigious anthologies in American publishing. Particularly the Best American Short Stories (dates from 1910 or something, HM took over publishing the series in the 1970s I think) which the rest of the series is patterned after. These works routinely collect the work of the best American writers and include excerpts from across the broad range of American publishing houses.

    It seems short sighted and a little weird to not have Batman (particulary Paul Pope’s vivid and imaginative version of the character) included in this series. I just don’t get it. There are some things that are more important than licensing policies. It’s one thing to talk about comics being part of the American literary canon and another to step up and make sure that comics are included in the traditional American literary registries, like HM’s BEST OF anthologies.

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