April 26, 2012

Open Letter to Chris Roberson

Dear Chris,

I'm posting this publicly one in fannish admiration (I loved your Star Trek/Legion of Superheroes Crossover, and liked what you did on Superman), but also to offer my support.

You've come under fire for quitting DC Comics due to its impending Before Watchmen series, as well as its overall treatment of creators. You have cited this article as an impetus, and you've also made your thoughts more apparent in this Comics Journal interview. As a humble blogger, I just want to say....

...thanks for taking a stand. And having the courage of your convictions.

Many of my colleagues have either taken the obvious Roberson's-being-egotistical, or more likely, "It's a shame, but at least we'll have Before Watchmen." Online, we're more likely to hide behind keyboards and screens and declare what should be done, but we rarely - if ever - take a hard line ethical stance. It's easy to forget that behind one of our favorite art forms there are business and ethical matters that we may not take an active interest in.

It's easy to be a cog in the machine - I'm proud that you are actually not just quitting an unethical company (a company that's going to play the "creator's-family's-lawyer-is-an-opportunist" card in order to protect their interests), but making it clear that this is ultimately about rights, not about money, or credit, or anything.

It's also a shame that many of my comics-loving brethren have been vocal about looking forward to Before Watchmen - from a business standpoint, it makes sense (DC has characters, and they're reusing them); from a creative and ethical standpoint, it's bankrupt, showing that corporate interests are being moved forward at the expense of - and not in service of - creative ones. I think it's particularly damning when you said, about one of the supporters of the project (and whom you replaced on a book given his other writing commitments):

As I said on Twitter then, anyone who uses past injustices against creators to justify new injustices against creators is beneath contempt. I think that that is despicable and abhorrent. The mindset— I don’t agree with that, I guess you could say.

Such honesty and directness is frowned upon not just in the comics industry, but in our day-to-day lives. When given the chance to take such a high-minded stance, some of us avoid it, because we don't want to rock the boat. We allow ourselves, to misquote one of my favorite shows, to be pushed, filed, indexed, stamped, briefed, debriefed, and numbered. I'm very heartened and inspired that someone, at the very least, is saying, "No, I won't. This is wrong."

So in that spirit, I'm going to start seeking out your other, non-DC, creator-owned work, and look forward to reading your future efforts. After all, it's the least that I can do. I appreciate anyone willing to put their reputation on their line in such a positive way, and that shouldn't be flamed....it should be encouraged.

Thanks again,

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