Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


An Open Letter to DC Entertainment

DC Comics, we need to talk.

Oh, sorry, I forgot. It’s DC Entertainment now. Hmm…

I’ve been a fan of yours for a while ever since I picked up a copy of Blackest Night #0 at Comic Con. Remember Blackest Night? You know, that big mega-crossover between all of your stories where the dead superheroes came back and started an invasion of life itself? You remember, it had brilliant writing by Geoff Johns and stunning artwork by Ivan Reis. I do. That was the moment I got into comics. After that issue, I bought every comic that was leading up to it from big crossovers like Infinite Crisis to single comic lines like Green Lantern or Teen Titans. Ever since then, I was hooked on your stories and your universe. I was even a big defender of yours when you started most of your stories from scratch in 2011 in the infamous reboot. I figured if anyone deserved the benefit of the doubt, it was you guys.

Now, in 2014, I’m starting to wonder if I was wrong.

I can’t help but notice that there are some disturbing trends cropping up around you. There was the suicide art contest that turned out very poorly for you and the infamous comic where a previously fleshed out and prevalent female character asked someone for sex just because she was bored, but I’m not here to talk about how you treat your fictional characters. I want to talk about how you treat your creators and even fans.

Let’s talk about the sheer amount of talented writers and artists who have quit or walked out from DC. George Perez, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Andy Diggle, John Rozum, all of these amazing talents have left your company, all of them citing constant micromanagement and last minute changes to their stories as creating an unbearable working condition. That’s not even getting into when Gail Simone, one of the most universally loved comic writers, got fired from Batgirl over an e-mail by an editor and got rehired twelve days later after the backlash from fans. Personally, I think that firing someone over e-mail is about as wussy as breaking up with someone via text message, so suffice to say, not your most endearing moment.

But the big one I have to mention is when Batwoman talents J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman left the company after a last minute change banning Batwoman from marrying her girlfriend. The reason given behind said change was that heroes shouldn’t lead happy lives, which is a baffling argument in itself. On a conceptual level, since when are marriages automatically happy? And on a reader level, why should readers care about their heroes if they know that they can never be content? And did you not realize that you would get heat from LGBTQ groups over this?

But the real crime is how this was handled on an editorial level. From what I understand, stories are planned out months, maybe even years in advance, the writers submit their story outlines to the editors, the editors write out notes and changes that they want, and then the writers are free to go from there. These last minute changes are, in a world, unprofessional and unbecoming of a company that has been around for 75 years. What exactly is your plan? What was so important about this that you had to jump in at the last minute? Because this seems like the absolute wrong way to run a work environment.

But you know what? I was going to let it be water under the bridge and move on with my life. After all, most of the stuff I’m bringing up was years ago. I should give you the benefit of the doubt and assumed you learned your lesson, no? But then, come the end of last year, I looked over some facts and discovered that in the 3+ years you’ve been doing the New 52, you have canceled no less than 61 titles. 61 titles? That’s insane! You have gotten rid of more titles than you allow yourself to run. If you do the numbers, that’s as if you canceled a title every two-and-a-half weeks. Fish and Cherries may be a very young company, but even we know that isn’t how you run things. Forget heroes always being miserable, why should readers invest in any of your books when they could be canceled after only eight issues because of some obsession with the number 52?

Maybe it’s the union worker in me talking, but I’ve seen things like this happen before at Wal-Mart, Sears, Dish Network, and countless others. If there was some sort of union in comics, do you think this sort of thing would stand? For crying out loud, this is exactly the sort of thinking that led to the incident with the Bangladesh factory. Haven’t we learned by now that when we treat our workers workers badly, everyone, including the employers, suffer for it? Famed comic writer Neil Adams told me that comic companies sometimes lose money unless they print a license that ties into a movie, but I don’t see how keeping your creators on such a tight leash is going to help you make a few extra bucks. I can also assure you: there has never been a time where mistreating the staff for profit has ever ended well for a company.

So where does that leave me, a once proud fan? Hard to say. It’s hard for me to continue to support you knowing the work conditions that you perpetuate. The big question is, since my dollars are important to you, how do you plan to keep me around and paying? What’s to stop me from, say, giving my money to small comic companies like Mark Waid’s Thrillbent, which was made after he left you guys, or other comic companies like IDW or Pantheon who both create great, forward-thinking stories? I’ve been picking up Image Comics’ stories as of late and I have to tell you, I’ve been more invested, enthralled, and challenged than I have with your books in a long while.

Brian Heinz, a video blogger known as the Last Angry Geek, accused DC Comics of not caring about what the readers want, but rather telling them what they want. And really, he has a point. Few people outside of your staff would say that they want a story with no marriage or personal connections or heroes that are constantly unhappy. So, in response to twisting your creators around, as well as firing then rehiring the most beloved woman in comics, botching an art contest in which suicide was sexualized, refusing to let dissenting bloggers interview your creators until they posted more positive things about you, and making poor marketing decision after poor marketing decision, I ask you the same question I ask myself when I think about picking up a DC book:

What’s the point?

Posted under Musings
  1. Vegar said,

    I have been reading a lot of DC books. And when they announced the “New 52” I looked at it as an opportunity to get into a lot of the new ones…How wrong I was. I purchased the collection of all 52 of them. And I did not even make it Halfway though it all before I gave up. I am the type to finish something when I started it, I have sat through Series I hate (Family guy in case you’re curious), I have sat through Movies I hate (Kick ass 1/2), But THIS, Was Inexcusable. I left DC behind, I considered returning eventually thinking I overreacted or something.. But no, It only got worse. I have considered making an open letter to them myself. But I do not wish to dignify the abomination of a “company” that is left. I hope they end up going bankrupt so someone more capable (or in other words, Someone with actual intelligence) Takes over. (Like Disney. They know how to run a company) But until then. I will not even Pirate this crap, because I would feel Dirty paying attention to it. So I salute you Sir, for this. I doubt it would manage to get through the skull they have grown so thick, But it is worth trying.

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