God, this is depressing. How can intelligent people say this stuff and not acknowledge what’s coming out of their mouths? This isn’t journalism, or criticism, this is public relations. Promotion. It’s disgusting.
Participant Johanna has her own comments:
At this point, I said, “I’m glad I have a day job” because it gives me a certain amount of independence from corporate pressure; I don’t care if I piss someone off, because I don’t answer to anyone but myself. (Later, several people asked me if I was a librarian — apparently, I have that air. No, I’m not. I work in a corporate communications department for a real estate-related financial services company, where I write, proofread, copy edit, manage projects, and maintain websites.) Heidi and Matt both acknowledged altering their coverage to keep publishers happy to maintain the possibility of future stories.
I wouldn’t say that I’d “alter” a story to keep a publisher “happy”, but I may have used that word, so I’ll take my lumps. I have certainly run corrections from publishers. As I’ve said many times, here and on the panel, I have too many personal connections in this industry to begin to be objective or have the kind of independence a real journalist needs.
The panel also provides my best friend Dirk Deppey with a new opportunity to give us all a schoolin’:
Still, I’m sure Newsarama and The Beat will get to the bottom of things and set us all straight on the subject. After all, without responsible news outlets like these, we’d all be left with nothing more than wild guesses and baseless speculation to go by…
This was proceeded, I suppose, by Dirk’s attempt to get to the bottom of Marvel’s current overprinting policy, which relied mostly on some message board postings and quoting Rich Johnston. A few days earlier it was proceeded by Dirk writing
The most striking (and admittedly anecdotal) example I’ve heard — from multiple sources — would be the way that Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan was moved from the company’s failed sci-fi line Helix over to its Vertigo division, where it was allegedly resented by editor Karen Berger for being “imposed from outside” and thus treated like Vertigo’s Ugly Duckling ever after, regardless of its obvious sales potential. I’ve been told again and again that this sort of thinking makes up a good chunk of DC’s corporate atmosphere; if this is true, then it must be considered a factor in virtually everything that happens there.
Which was followed up by this from Transmetropolitan founding editor Stuart Moore
While Karen Berger and I had our differences during that time, I can tell you there was absolutely no resistance on her part to bringing the book over to Vertigo. She was nothing but supportive of it. In fact, DC gave issue #13, the first under the Vertigo imprint, an extra promotional push — I think it was an overship, but I can’t swear to that. I do know that Warren worked with Karen and Vertigo consistently for several years after that, notably on the graphic novel ORBITER with Colleen Doran. And TRANSMET, like PREACHER, SANDMAN, and THE INVISIBLES, was consistently and regularly collected into trade paperbacks before that was the norm.
I myself am a member of the legion of TRANSMET editors — we number in the thousands — and I can state that for all the problems I had at Vertigo, TRANSMET being an “Ugly Duckling” wasn’t one of them. It was a hard book to market because it ran chronically late, and only came out at all because Rodney Ramos and Nathan Eyring stayed up for 48 hour stretches working on it. See? That’s what happens when you listen to baseless speculation.
Of course I can’t blame Dirk for getting that level of tittle tattle wrong. Being a real journalist (which I am not) requires building up sources and trust and so on. It takes a while.
It also requires, as the panel audio above shows, a dividing line between editorial and advertising that is made of adamantium reinforced granite. Creatve Loafing editor Carlton Hargro — whom I would indeed have liked to hear more from — mentioned that at his own paper there were pissed off advertisers who withdrew their ads (only to come crawling back eventually) and this is a reality that every professional news source must deal with. Ironically, the waterless toilet ads on Newsarama that look so odd may be the way to getting a little more journalistic independence, but the road ahead is a long one.
As long as I’m on a defensive roll, Joe Willy at Red Flag takes me to task for yelling at everyone for reporting baseless speculation one day while just a few days before I was reporting rumors from the floor. The quote that Willy uses “”While rumors on the floor of the con were running to Didio…”” is actually an accurate report on what people were speculating about, based on — full circle here we come! — Warren Ellis‘s own rather incendiary speculation over who was leaving DC. I don’t run every rumor or bar complaint I hear, but this is one time the rumors themselves were the story.
Anyway, I’m not going to get into any kind of point by point refutation here; I make plenty of mistakes and have plenty of conflicts of interest. I do pledge, however, to bring only the highest level, best-sourced speculation and tittle tattle to this blog, and not stuff like “I heard down at the comic shop that Dan DiDio only got his job because he has naked pictures of Grant Morrison!”
Finally, on one level this is a little alarming and circle-jerky. It’s sad when who writes what about comics gets more play than the fact that Image’s publisher doesn’t know the name of his own books, but, you know, that’s how it goes.