Shame Day: DC Comics

shamedcThe fact that I got home and remembered the title of this post, but not what exactly DC got wrong is not a good sign. Sorry, let me rephrase that. It was difficult for me to remember which PR catastrophe DC pulled off to warrant me finally dedicating a Shame Day to them.

Today [I am writing this on Monday night] is a dark day in comic book news because one of my all time favourite sites, ComicsAlliance, is no more. That doesn’t have anything to do with this post, but I needed to take the time to mention those writers and the years they dedicate to that site. It was nominated for an Eisner; come on, AOL.

That horrific news was followed up by the announcement by fellow comic book site The Outhouse that they had been blacklisted by DC.

To provide a little bit of context, The Outhouse has long been running on snark, a fuel they report having turned to after trying to go through  hoops trying to meet the demands of marketing reps. Satire is very much at the heart of what they do, and from what little experience I have with them they handle the style of writing quite well.

What happened was that this past weekend one of The Outhouse staff writers was told to speak to a DC representative in order to gain access to some of their creators. A meeting was actually scheduled, only for the staffer to show up and be told that all interview requests would be denied because the publisher does not appreciate the satirical articles poking fun at their recent editorial decisions.

Let’s keep in mind that The Outhouse does not refrain from ridiculing anyone. DC and Marvel alike are not spared their scrutiny, nor are any of the smaller publishers. In spite of being told this the marketing rep expressly communicated the fact that until the site stopped posting such articles, the ban would remain.

Keep in mind that this is a little over a week after DC discontinued their monthly column on CBR [Comic Book Resources], a little Q&A feature called B&B after Editor-In-Chief Bob Harras and Editorial Director Bobbie Chase.

In spite of it being a fantastic way for fans of the company to write in and find out more about their favourite books, CBR announced that:

After ensuing discussions on the matter, CBR regrets that DC has decided not to continue what we consider a valuable discussion for readers, retailers and creators. We will however continue to cover the company’s comics, editorial moves and broader impact on comics to the best of our ability – including future interviews with DC executives and editorial staff as they are willing and available.

One of the reasons that DC saw fit to put a stop to this column was the discussion of some of their more sensitive topics, primarily a letter written by Jerry Ordway, a veteran writer with more than 25+ years of experience, called “Life over fifty.” In the letter Ordway laments his inability to find work with the company, saying: 

“Do I think DC comics owes me anything? Yes and no. I understand that no company owes anything that isn’t contractually stipulated, but in my heart, I think I deserve better than being marginalized over the last 10 years.”

While Harras and Chase declined to comment on questions regarding this, on the other side of the pond Axel Alonso was happy to, in Axel-In-Charge, his own weekly column on the site.

In all honesty, DC has not been doing well in the editorial department for some time. They fired fan-favourite writer Gail Simone off of Batgirl before rehiring her less than two weeks later. They had writers Andy Diggle and Joshua Fialkov walk away from titles after excitedly publicizing said books with their names. Just last week there was talk about how DC doesn’t credit their colourists on their book covers or give incentive payments, both of which Marvel does.

Those are all pretty awful, but it took this recent blacklisting of The Outhouse to really get my hackles up. The publisher is denying a website access to their creators because of jokes. This is like if Obama began refusing to answer questions of news agencies which painted him in an unflattering light. It’s like if NBC stopped issuing screener episodes to The A.V. Club because they kept reviewing their shows poorly.

It’s the worst kind of way to run a company, and DC has been making decisions that cause more and more people to stop buying from the company, though obviously not enough to actually change anything. Because of all of this, I’m going to have to stick with Marvel for now.

Not like they’re blameless, I mean, they keep giving Greg Land money.

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4 responses to “Shame Day: DC Comics

  1. DC seem to stumble from one PR disaster to another. Shame that the focus is so much on the behind the scenes than the actual comics.

    • I agree that DC editorial has been garnering more than its fair share of attention lately, but the truth is that these decisions [referring to Simone, Fialkov, etc.] do have an effect on the comics.

      Synder’s doing some great work on Batman right now, no one can deny that, but across the board the consensus appears to be that DC has to get its act together. Marvel’s been surpassing them in sales for a little while now, and while events like Age of Ultron may bolster their numbers, it speaks to the quality of the books being put out.

      Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye was nominated for Eisners in Best Continuing Series and Best New Series; none of DC’s titles showed up in either category.

      I really do want DC to do well; I want to be buying their books and reading great stories about comics’ most iconic characters. They just really have to change what they’re doing.

  2. Pingback: Shame Day: Spoilers |

  3. Pingback: DC Is Terrible, But They’re Not Homophobes | Culture War Reporters

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