This afternoon comics legend Matt Wagner (Mage, Sandman Mystery Theater, Batman) took to Facebook to tell a rather curious tale regarding his work on the fill-in issues Batman #54
In case this post disappears at some point, here’s the text:
Hey gang…sad to say, I’ve got some distasteful news to share. As previously announced here, I recently signed on to provide the art for an upcoming issue of the monthly BATMAN title for DC Comics (#54) from a script by Eisner Award-winning writer, Tom King. Brennan Wagner was, of course, enlisted to color as well. I finished work on the issue several weeks ago and Brennan was nearing completion on his end of things, producing his typically beautiful, thoughtful and evocative color renderings over top of my B&W art. But just yesterday I received word from Batman group editor Jamie S. Rich that the DC “powers that be” found Brennan’s coloring to be too different from their regular fare (because, y’know…different is bad) and so have decided to pull him off the book and have the entire issue re-colored by one of their in-house colorists—at this point, I don’t even know who that will be. Even though Jamie went to bat for us, claiming that both he and Tom King loved the way things looked…he was over-ruled from the higher-ups. Tom’s script is a heartfelt look at a father-and-son relationship and, rather than capitalize on the fact that they had a celebrated father-and-son art team on board for this issue…DC instead elected to fire the artist’s colorist/son for producing distinctive work. Needless to say, I thought Brennan was doing a fantastic job and think this is a terribly shoddy way to treat not only him—this would’ve been his first full-length job for them—but also me, one of their longtime and supposedly respected creators. Regrettably, I’m now sorry I ever agreed to this gig in the first place…because this is just fucking bullshit.
It does seem rather sad that a father/son creative team should be bounced off a comic about fathers and son…especially since Brennan Wagner has worked with his famed father on many books, including the current Mage book and on DC work including variant covers. And no one threw the books in questions across the room in a rage because the coloring was “different.”
The outpouring if industry report in response to Matt’s post was universal, including several artists saying they would REQUEST Brennan’s coloring in the future.
Brennan Wagner had his own pithy response.
Neither Wagner has minced words here – they’ll get plenty of work elsewhere should DC bridges burn – and the idea that “Different is bad” marks the return of a certain DC mindset that had vanished for quite a while. But more on that soon.
Here’s the cover as solicited:
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.