Let’s gossip about gossip in the comics industry

Glenn Hauman

Glenn is VP of Production at ComicMix. He has written Star Trek and X-Men stories and worked for DC Comics, Simon & Schuster, Random House, arrogant/MGMS and Apple Comics. He's also what happens when a Young Turk of publishing gets old.

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15 Responses

  1. Kyle Gnepper says:

    It is a touchy subject. Frankly I've been following the site for a while now, and I like that there isnt a lot of hear-say or gossip here.

  2. Richard says:

    I'd say try to ask the editor himself.Either way, this is a story. Where exactly equates to "yellow journalism" anyhow? If such events are real, and they affect multiple persons, is it not then the solemn duty of media persons to present the case?

  3. Heidi MacDonald says:

    Confirm then report. Major personnel changes are newsworthy in any medium. Besides, I'm sure everyone knew about it was within the hour.

  4. Lord Snooty says:

    I feel Kurt Busiek summed it up for me over at Heidi Macdonald's blog, he said that "people feel they have the right to know behide closed doors talks/fall outs (which they don't) and not just judge the comic itself", and over at Rich Johnston blog the comments on this soon got very personal against Gail for just asking the question.

  5. RD Francis says:

    While the comics community is a relatively small one (compared to the people interested in news/gossip about Hollywood, for instance), to some extent the “public figure” rule applies.

    I lean towards news over gossip. That said, what’s the distinction between news and gossip?

    I would say news is verified (at least two reliable sources), and is information that has been explicitly passed on as publicly attributable (as opposed to information passed on in confidence to some degree). I would also say that news focuses on the business aspects of available information, rather than personal aspects.

    Yes, there should be some sense of responsibility in reporting. What’s the negative impact of news? If it is common public knowledge that editor X or creator Y has been let go/removed from a book, and that information is verified, then reporting it is fine. If a lot of people *think* that creator Y is about to be canned, that’s not news. And the fact that he’s been canned because he’s constantly stoned out of his gourd? Even if verified, that’s more gossip than news.

    By the way, Rich Johnston’s various forums over the years, by my definition above, have strongly leaned towards news over pure gossip/rumours, in my opinion. He simply goes beyond press releases and interviews, which many comics news sites do not (and that’s not really intended as a knock on them).

  6. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    When I hear "Gossip", I think personal (juicy and/or embarassing) details of famous people's lives. There's very little comics-related "gossip" out there. I don't think there's enough real juicy stuff to fill a teacup, let alone a comics gossip column. I can think of two really saucy stories from the last couple of years, and neither first saw the light of day at Rich's column. One came from a blog run by a person who obviously had a HUGE mad on at DC for some reason, and the other I just…heard, and it came back in a big way tied to not one but TWO recent stories about things at a particular publisher. The VAST majority of stories that get reported in said rumor and "gossip" columns are about staff changes and upcoming plot twists, things I'm far more interested in hearing about. Movie sites like Aintitcool and CHUD do that all the time. Yes, the film companies are just as loath to see their movies spoiled before they hit the theaters, but but they flip-flop about it on a case-by-case basis. If a spoiler pisses people off and makes them say "I'm not gonna see this movie, read this book, etc" they all over the fan sites, saying how bad a thing these stories are. But if the news gets MORE people interested in the movie or book or whatever, they're talking up the importance of keeping connected to the fan community. I really don't see how the two types of stories can be lumped together.The part I found the most hilarious about the whole thing was that when Gail talked about said question of the need for gossip sites, everyone to a man assumed, nay, KNEW in their hearts she was "really" referring specifically to Rich Johnston. Rich is surely the most well know rumor columnist, but he's scarecely the only one. And as I've said, the most salacious items come from the people with obvious axes to grind. Yes, more often than not he'll report on them after that, but more using the tack of "this is what some people are talking about" (and usually with a link to the original) as opposed to "You have GOT to hear this one".

    • Alan Coil says:

      "…the film companies are just as loath to see their movies spoiled before they hit the theaters…"Congrats on the correct usage and spelling of loath. Many people get it wrong, using loathe.

  7. Rich Johnston says:

    Well contacting the editor and publisher would be my first step, affected talent second.

  8. mike weber says:

    Many years ago, i had just returned from a major SF convention (Worldcon or NASFic, i think, but since it was twenty-plus years ago, i'm a tad vague), and i got a call from the late Karl Wagner, asking me for information on the (reported) death of Atlanta pro/editor/magician Jerry Page.Both Andy Porter (Starship) and Charlie Brown (Locus) had received letters signed by Jerry's brother announcing Jerry's suicide. One of them had asked Karl, Jerry's successor as editor of DAW's "Year's Best Horror" anthologies, to write an obit/qppreciation. (One of the reasons given for the suicide was that Jerry had been despondent over being fired from that gig.)Since Karl ddn't know anyone else in the Atlanta fan community, and knew that i had known Jerry for many years and knew him better than Karl, he called me for info. I told him i hadn't heard anything, and to hold off while i checked around. Nobody local knew anything, and i was reluctant to call Jerry's mother (whom i had never met) to ask about it, but i finally managed to find someone local who was able to confirm that it was a hoax and arranged for Jerry to call me. (Jerry, BTW, has no brother, a fact of which i was unaware at the time.)I called Karl, he called his source, Jerry called both Porter and Brown, and so much mischief was averted.But if i'd gotten home one day later…

  9. Steven R. Stahl says:

    When there are disruptions in a company's normal processes — publication delayed, credits changing, content not consistent with the credits, a writer using a pseudonym, people not showing up when scheduled, differing explanations from official sources, etc., rumors will circulate. In the absence of official, satisfactory explanations, it seems perfectly okay to report the rumors, if only in the hope of obtaining an official explanation. TVNewser's handling of the Glenn Beck rumors — http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser /fnc/glenn_beck_off_this_week_vacation_or_something_more_1… — is respectable.SRS

  10. Richard says:

    I want to keep this going, but something I have not really seen yet anywhere is a solid attempt at answering what separates yellow journalism from the legitimate. Even Gail failed at even bothering to answer this, instead seeing a request for logic as a personal attack.I think "tabloid" journalism is, essentially, anything that sells nothing. (Maybe I'm right and maybe I'm wrong, but how else might it be defined?)

    • Vinnie Bartilucci says:

      As a rule, tabloid/yellow journalism plays up the salacious aspects of a story, or chooses to write about certain stories over others because they will have more populist appeal. A multi-part analysis of corruption in the janitorial industry will either be skipped entirely for a page-three girl, or it'll get a Postian headline like "CITY FULL OF CRAP!"There's a great scene in Citizen Kane where Kane takes a pedestrian story about a missing woman and turns it into a grisly murder in a few sentences. Great example.But again, I don't even see the vast majority of comic-based stories as tabloid. Aside from witty and pun-heavy headlines, I can't think of a single comics-related story that was deliberately jazzed up to draw clicks.The way the argument was set up (at a 140-character limit, I hasten to add) suggested that ALL comics Journalism was being judged in toto. And that's not possible; it's like trying to judge all of television as a unit, both Sesame Street and Survivor.So are the handful of stories that deal with the personal lives of comics creators "Right" to report? Maybe not, but they're what we've come to want from our "news". I just don't think there's enough of it to really get rumpled about it.And I've already said I have no problem with the plot spoilers and industry-based rumors. Again, if it's made clear that it's a rumor, then it's got to be taken as such. I'm ever surprosed to hear people incensed when a rumor doesn't pan out exactly as reported.

  11. ZeroZero says:

    Unfortunately, this is due to the rise of Twitter news. It may not be accurate, or even remotely ethical, but it is immediate. Getting news from Twitter may be wonderful if you get the correct news about a plane crashing in the Hudson River, but it is a nasty evil mess when someone thinks it's cute to say that Jeff Goldblum is dead. Twitter DEMANDS posts. That's why you get celebrities telling you what inane thing they had for breakfast, and it also means you're going to get the Xerox technician at DC's office surreptitiously texting that he just heard an editor getting fired. People think, "It's the web. I can say whatever I want, and there will never be any repercussions." And by and large that's true, so ethics be damned. Is it RIGHT? Hell no. It's a crappy thing to do to the editor, and to everybody involved, including the editor's staff, his boos, and even the editor's family. But that's the way it is now. If you don't post the Xerox guy's twitter feed, someone else will.