Note From The President, Cerebus 95, February 1987Copyright 1987 Dave Sim
The very odd thing about Howard Chaykin, Frank Miller, Marv Wolfman and Alan Moore announcing their intention to create no new work for DC because of the handling of the recent ratings issue is that (lam sure) no one at DC has the slightest idea what they have done wrong; why their post-Crisis golden age is so suddenly and so seriously crippled. It is hard for fans to understand just how inept this company is since the fans have demonstrated such a voracious need for an alternative teat now that they feel can’t, in good conscience, rub their cheeks against Marvel’s chair leg any more (to mix a metaphor).
I was telling one of the DC execs (you know he’s an exec because his name is on everything) at Matt Wagner’s End of Mage party that DC was blowing it. (Please bear in mind that the individual in question is a sweet guy and I consider him a friend). I told him that wherever Frank Miller and Alan Moore are at the moment, that is where Comic Books are; as a medium, but, more important to DC, as an industry. At this point, I continued, DC is still treating their creative people as secondary manufacturers. They are not consulted on print runs or anything of importance to the business side. It was Frank Miller and Alan Moore who gave DC their present credibility and they were still considered little better than field hands. Use ‘em up and when they lose it throw ‘em away. Plenty more where that came from.
By this time I was ranting. But we’ve got you, I said. By this time next year Frank and Alan will be publishing their own work. I am sure of it. All that is needed is one public fart-at-the-table and the jig is up. DC is going to learn that not everyone in this business can be bought for nickels and dimes and kept out in the fields at back-(and mind-)breaking labour for decade upon decade. DC hasn’t changed a bit in fifty years. Everyone there somehow believes that they are the ones creating all those comics on the wall. And why not? By law they are. By law the tenth floor of 666 Fifth Avenue created Superman.
At this point my friend’s face had become a bit grim to say the least. I reassured him that everyone up at DC is a nice person (which I sincerely think they are) and he brightened visibly. Although I was still ranting this threw me off-balance. I realized I was never going to explain in such a way that he could understand exactly how thoroughly DC misunderstands creative people. They talk about negotiating but what they mean is “This is what we’re offering you. You can have a lot of it now and less later or you can have less of it now and more later.” That is hardly negotiation. Their way of encouraging good work is to take top rank talent out for expensive dinners. They really haven’t the faintest idea why the best lobster dinner at the best restaurant in the best of cities is not a reward to a creative individual - that it merely reinforces the Jester in the Court of the Crimson Queen syndrome. You know talking to Herself that she considers you countless rungs down the ladder from the rarefied atmosphere in which she functions, socially or otherwise.
What she (and the entire DC hierarchy) has failed to understand is that this is no longer a corporate but a creative world. DC needs Alan Moore and Frank Miller a lot more than either gentlemen needs a dinosaur pimple on Warner Communications’ butt.
And so, in the Court of the Crimson Queen comes the rifle crack of the basest kind of flatulence. A ratings system for comics --- a way of forestalling any hypothetical attack by the mindless on the gutless.
Not being courtiers, hangers-on, attendants, underlings, field hands, footmen, servants or slaves Frank, Alan, Mary and Howard exchange glances and hurriedly leave the room.
And none can tell the Crimson Queen (who is now quite crimson indeed) why it is that all those lovely creative fellows have left.
Nor when they might return.
She chews her food carefully and ponders.
To no avail.
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