Paul Smith asked one question last week that would have been answered an entirely different way if not for a call where it was made clear that the only way Milestone will get any damn respect is the way I’ve gotten respect all my damn life.
What I’m about to say is my opinion and does not reflect the opinion of Denys Cowan and Derek Dingle both of which told me to calm down and ‘not do anything stupid.’
Paul, you my friend are about to become a very real part of Milestone history. It’s doubtful that after this that history will include me but just think what a story you will have to tell.
Paul, you wanted to know if I thought Milestone would be better off away from DC?
Yesterday morning the answer was no.
Yesterday late morning the answer was oh, HELL YEAH.
There’s a new editor at DC. She’s a woman and a person of color she has been given an editorial position which includes overseeing future Milestone projects.
How is that anything but great for Milestone?
I’ll tell you why: because she’s about as knowledgeable of the Dakota Universe as the Pope is about who killed Tupac and Biggie.
From the very little I could understand she headed up a pretty successful comic book company in India and was been hand picked by Jim Lee to head DC’s new diversity push.
The new head of diversity at DC had no idea Static was Black.
But wait—there’s more!
The new head of diversity and DC’s new Milestone point person is spearheading the Milestone Audio Books being announced at this year’s Comic Con.
Did I let that tightly guarded little secret slip?
I’m overreacting right? So what if she did not know anything about the Milestone universe? Who cares if she didn’t know Static was Black? She could learn all those things right?
She could and very well will. However there’s another and bigger reason I’m FURIOUS!
It’s impossible to understand her!
She has the thickest accent known to man; of this I’m positive. She sounds like a freakin’ customer service rep from the lowest bidding company in the history of India an American company ever outsourced to.
That was the extent of most of the Milestone side of the conversation. I swear at any moment I just knew she was going to ask me for an account number—and who knows, she may have.
I’m sure this is a knee jerk response to Marvel’s recent success with diversity. Marvel’s timing on the Black Avengers, Black Spiderman and Muslim Ms. Marvel seemed perfect. Perhaps DC thought they were running out of time to make a big diversity splash and couldn’t wait until Comic Con when the series will be announced.
Sometime timing isn’t everything. I wrote an entire damn article apologizing for missing my ComicMix Tuesday deadlines and yes I’m well aware its freakin’ Wednesday but you can still understand what you’re reading, can you not?
The head of diversity at DC Comics should not have to be told Static is Black. Anyone charged with a product where SOUND is the single most important element MUST be heard loudly and clearly.
Last week I wrote to both my audiences at ComicMix & Bleeding Cool that I’d answer any and all Milestone questions. (Well, that’s any and all questions except the ones I won’t answer.)
Over at Bleeding Cool I got a TON of questions. So many in fact I’m missing my weekly deadline so I can better organize my responses.
And what about ComicMix?
ONE guy supplied ALL the Milestone questions.
Translation…WHAT THE FUCK?
I just erased a few hundred words of righteous WTF wisdom. Why? What’s the point? I’ll just answer Doctor R-Man questions and spend the rest of the week pouting.
Does DC have to pay Milestone any amount of money to either publish Milestone titles or have Milestone characters appear in their books? i.e. in teams or in guest appearances? Hence, no Icon in the Justice League or no Static in Teen Titans?
Sorry doctor-that’s a business question best left alone.
Going from the previous question, is the reason DC isn’t publishing Milestone titles or having Milestone characters make appearances in DC books because there’s not enough people purchasing them or enough demand to justify publishing them, as a result of those fees DC has to pay? Hence, little return on their investment?
They are rival sites much in the way the Yankees and Mets are rivals, both play the same game but play it a completely different way.
Like the two powerhouse sites the history of the Yankees and Mets, their pedigree and reason for being are as vastly different as a crazy Right Wing Fanatic and a Tree Hugging Liberal.
I grew up hating the Yankees until that magical October in 1977.
That’s when I watched Mr. October, Reggie Jackson damn near all by himself SMOKE the hated L.A. Dodgers in game 7 of the World Series. I hated the Dodgers as a young kid in Queens, N.Y. I hate them still as a grown man in Los Angeles.
Why no love for the Dodgers?
Because my mom was a die-hard Brooklyn Dodger fan and when the ‘Bums’ left Brooklyn millions of fans left them, my mom being one of them.
Why the hatred for the Yankees before they bitch slapped the Dodgers?
The New York Metropolitans, a.k.a. the New York Mets, came along and won the hearts and minds of the lovesick fans of that team that must not be named. Hating the Yankees came as second nature if you rooted for the team from Brooklyn.
Becoming a Met fan gave your Yankee hate a new home.
Very, and I mean very, few people root for the Yankees and the Mets. I became one of the few when I watched Reggie Jackson hit three home runs on three pitches in that dreamlike World Series.
It was MAGIC— and just like that I was a die-hard Yankee fan.
In 2000 my beloved Mets and much-loved Yankees played each other in the World Series.
I rooted for the Mets. They were my first love and as much as I LOVE the Yankees I threw my alliance to the boys from Queens.
Very few people write for Bleeding Cool and ComicMix. ComicMix is my first love and what and how I write for CM is different than what I do on BC.
A few years ago I wrote a series of articles on Milestone for ComicMix.
A four part (maybe more I can’t recall) series which I thought (because I’m an idiot) would be the end all and be all to the millions of Milestones questions out there.
I’m writing another series but this time I’d like to answer questions fans want to know. As BC and CM are immeasurably different I’d like to open the forum to both sites because I’ll get greatly different questions I’m sure.
So-I’d like to know what you would like to know. I’ll try and cover as much as possible and unless it’s something I just can’t talk about I’ll give you the inside scoop. Feel free to present your theories, rumors any and all crazy shit you want to know about.
If you would like to know how I presented this at BC check out my article from last Friday, which I’m pretty sure, the good folks at ComicMix will post the link here.
I’m very interested what will come from each site and I’m sure if asked the right question I’m sure you will be interested in the answers.
Will you look at that?
A well-written ( I think) informative and interesting article with nary a bad word or rant.
It’s been a while since I’ve taken someone to task with a good old fashion rant, so…
Last week I missed my ComicMix deadline.
Not that anyone noticed.
Usually when I missed a deadline it’s because of illness or stupidity.
Not that anyone cares.
I drive myself pretty hard and take on a lot of stuff and there are times when I drive myself too hard. When those way to often moments happen I’m subject to the worst migraines and I’m unable to work.
How bad are these headaches? You know the expression; ‘I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy?’ Well I would, because I’m just that kind of bastard. If I miss a deadline because of illness a migraine is almost certain to be the reason.
I did not miss list week’s deadline because I was ill. So that leaves being stupid. (more…)
In the years I’ve been writing these rants I don’t think I’ve ever written about love.
I’ve written about sex many times but not love. I’ve always wanted to write about love but somehow never got around to it. Funny-perhaps I thought love and sex was the same thing.
Is that why I have not written about love? Have I, all these years simply assumed that love and sex were one?
Anybody that assumes sex is love I’m willing to bet has an appointment every week that begins with being asked about their relationship with their mother or father and ends with being told their hour is up.
You may love sex but sex is not love. Trust me on this; I’m a doctor.
I’ve been in love. I suck at it. I’ve had sex. I’m pretty good at that.
How good? I’ve heard, ‘you’re my daddy’ so often someone reported me to social services who showed up at my door and asked where all my children were.
Pine Valley, in case anyone’s wondering.
I think my problem is I’m way too much of a realist. I can’t pretend something could be just because I want it to be. Then again maybe I’m too much of a romantic, I’ve often pretended something that isn’t could be.
Or maybe I’m just a motherfucking idiot clearly the above statement is a blatant contradiction and sadly its also true. I wish I would just pick a side.
Why don’t I have a weekly appointment that begins with being asked about my mother? Because someone talking about my mother is grounds for me putting my foot up that someone’s ass. Paying someone who’s going to end up with my foot in their ass seems mighty ‘crazy white people shit’ to me.
Translation: Black men don’t go to shrinks.
Damn I’m a mess.
But-if I know I’m a mess am I really a mess? If you are aware you are crazy or you really? If I’m aware that I can’t love someone from a distance why do I think I can make a long distance relationship work? How can I be black and love the music of Florence Henderson.
I freely admit I love the music of Mrs. Brady and don’t give a shit who knows it. The great thing about loving her music is I don’t have to think rather or not her music is going to fuck a bunch of guys and them blame me.
Yeah- that happened to me once, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It’s times like that when you turn to the things you love that cannot hurt you, things that cannot break your heart.
Like the music of Florence Henderson or comic books. Those things can never hurt you.
A funny thing happened to me the other day-my heart was broken. Broken by those I consider my extended family, fellow comic book fans.
The racism brandished on-line by some in comic fandom from the second a Black actor was cast, as Johnny Storm was agonizing for me.
It’s agonizing for all Black fandom and I dare say most comic fans of any color.
Yeah-I continue to be stupid and think people in comics, fan and professional are above this type of hatred.
I believe in my heart that the vast majority in our shared community is not what I’ve read on-line or saw in news reports.
Sad days are in my opinion, the one thing that the comic book business knows better that any other entertainment business. Yes, other media has its share of sad days but those are usually the death of someone.
I wish (and so do you) I had a dollar every time I’ve heard some newscaster, after lowering their voice, state with deep, deep sorrow:
“It’s a sad day in Hollywood, Bart Simpson was shot and killed this morning when he smiled at a man in Florida. After the man shot the famed Simpson he told police he thought the smile was a gun. This was the latest in what has become a wave of ‘colored’ killings. Florida’s ‘Stand your ground ruling’ accomplished what critics of the law thought it was intended for, the elimination of Black kids from the cites of Florida. Once the last Black child was eliminated, killings of other colored youth (including cartoon characters) spiked to new highs.
Here’s a list of some of what’s happening in comics to celebrate the annual spotlight on Black America!
Let’s see now…
Over at the fantastic website Comic Book Resources (CBR) my friend and Milestone Media alumni Joe Illidge is doing a wonderful series of articles called The Color Barrier. I just finished a three part series over at Bleeding Cool titled Code Black.
Milestones: African Americans in Comics, Pop Culture & Beyond, the major exhibit currently showing at the Geppi Entertainment Museum, has Black History month programs planned although I’m not sure why.
The exhibit itself is history all year round so I fail to see why special programs are needed for an already special exhibition. I can’t see it but by NO means does that mean Black History month should not be recognized as such at the gallery. I don’t see it but don’t go by me—I didn’t see the need to disclose to a woman that I once dated her mother.
THAT was a mistake.
What else is happening in comics for Black History Month?
My last ComicMix article ran Tuesday past, January 29, 2014. When first posted the image used was so small it almost unreadable. Mike Weber posted the following in the comment section
Heh. That S.H.I.E.L.D. cover you reproduce so illegibly small at the column head was knocked off in the ‘80s for the back glass on a pinball machine named “Blackout”.
I had nothing to do with the art, Mike.
I think since no other art on the site is in such a state, perhaps Mr. Gold did so purposely. He’s fed up with my stuff arriving with but a few minutes to spare and what better way to show me he’s not standing for my shit than sending me a “I’m not standing for your shit’”email this?
There are many reasons why the art is reproduced in such a manner. The top four are listed below:
a) He’s not standing for my shit.
b) Because I’m black.
c) He’s not standing for my shit and I’m black.
d) Or, maybe (and let this be real the actual reason), there’s an issue with the site.
Guess which reason won’t be mentioned during the annual Black Panel at the San Diego Comic Con?
Someone is bound (A Plant? No!) too ask the question, “why is ComicMix disrespecting the most influential and sexist black man who has ever worked in comics?” That person I have never met will certainly follow up with “how can ComicMix hate when he’s committed to finding a cure for sex addiction in pretty women between the ages of 18-21, feeding the hungry and preaching the gospel?”
Then the completely unknown to me person will undoubtedly bring up how each of those noble undertaking are more time consuming than the other (from last to first…give that a sec) and ComicMix should be boycotted.
The following was posted by Doctor R-Man
A bit OT, but I have a question.
Exactly what licensing issues are preventing Milestone characters from seeing use in DC stories?
Could you guys please allow DC to continue to use the characters? I’m hoping you could give DC a chance and sort this out.
It really doesn’t help for a character like Static to be stuck in limbo.
Milestone has decided if DC wants to use our characters they are forbidden to use any person of color in any of their books. They must also stop using the word and the color black. Frankly, we don’t see what the big deal is. We see this as neither unreasonable nor racial.
What do I consider an unreasonable demand?
Let’s see…a letter from a lawyer telling me to stop doing something a million other people are doing. Well, I can’t stop doing it because I have no control over where it’s being done.
But! If I could stop it I would.
Not because I give a flying fuck about some lawyer that my lawyers would destroy like the Seahawks destroyed the Broncos, no, I’d do it just to see the realization of just how dumb a move this was dawn on those who had the letter sent.
That realization would come fast, hard and often when they have to answer the question of why send a cease and desist letter on the eve of Black History Month that demands the removal of a black iconic character from a place where that character is being recognized as a part of black history?
That’s what I would consider unreasonable and what the black press and public would consider racial. I don’t see it as racial but what I see can’t stop what people think.
But Doctor, I (sorry Peter) I digress.
The above two examples are just plain stupid and I’m sure you get the joke that they are two fictional (as of now) instances that illustrate just how wrong a wrong move could be.
To your question about Milestone and DC: other than non-compete clauses and then only when necessary, I don’t comment on contractual agreements when those agreements are still valid that has all the making of a wrong move.
I have no idea where you heard this from, but I’ve got a pretty good idea – if I’m right I feel it’s a bit of a bitch move to say a contract is preventing you from doing something as it always cast the other party as the bad guy. It’s like the police saying someone is a person of interest. Everyone thinks that person is guilty.
Consider the source, when one party feels it needs to speak on what they cannot do because of an agreement there is always a self-serving agenda.
I’ve heard everything from Milestone is preventing DC from using the characters, Milestone is going to Marvel, Milestone runs the east coast drug trade and DC owed us money so Doomsday was sent to kill Superman because of that debt.
My dear Doctor, even if something is true, until it’s confirmed it’s hearsay. On that note, I’d like to take this time and confirm rather or not it’s true or not. The hell with not commenting.
My subtitle is the title of a great Bill Withers song, but an even greater Creative Source song. If you are of the age where you think of Twilight as a classic film, chances are you have never heard of Bill Withers, Creative Source or that song.
I could understand not being aware of Creative Source. They were a bit off the beaten path. However any music fan not aware of Bill Withers should drop less Ecstasy and lighten up on the trance. People, Boom, Boom, Boom with an occasional auto corrected voice may be music, but a song it is not.
Whatever age you are, if you are a fan of comics you should have heard of Jim Steranko, or simply Steranko as he is better known.
A comic fan, a true fan of the medium, not aware of Steranko is akin to a history buff thinking Lincoln is only a carmaker.
I’m not about to, nor am I qualified to give a detailed overview of his work. Please, yes I’m saying please, do yourself a big favor and look him up.
As I said, I can’t even begin to cover his contributions to our industry but I will share with you what I hope is a small indication of his importance to an industry he changed forever.
In the mid to late 90s I ran Motown Animation & Filmworks, (MA) Motown is the most famous record company in the world and if you doubt that name three record companies and do so without Goggle.
Oh. I’m sorry. You’re quiet now.
MA was a film and television division of Motown that at the time Motown was owned by Polygram and both were Phillips Companies.
Phillips is a enormous corporation and anything what comes under their umbrella is protected with an army of lawyers that will crush any affront to their intellectual properties (IP), patents, products and the very saying of their name is like a lone Klan member yelling “jungle bunny” at the Black Murderer convention.
On the flip side, if you make any move while within a corporate structure that has even the smell of being problematic you could be bitch slapped.
Bitch slapped like I was when I appeared on a CNN financial news show and answered “Fine” when asked how I thought what I was doing would affect the stock price.
The show was live and after I unclipped my lapel mic – if that long – my cell rung. The booming voice of Clarence Avant, Chairman Of The Board of Motown Records told me to, “Never, ever, comment of the stock price, anywhere, anytime for any reason!”
He was not happy.
And that was just over one word.
That was a serious blunder on my part. I simply didn’t know but ignorance when you head up a key division of a major company is no excuse.
I learned fast that without first running some decisions past Business Affairs I’d run the very real risk of a very bad day.
IP was at he very heart of my core business at Motown and because of such I created a comic book division called Motown Machineworks. One of the titles was a book and character called Stealth.
As soon as the press broke on that book I got a call from a fairly well known artist. I won’t mention his name because what I’m about to say may cause him to pop some shit in my face when next we meet and I don’t need that kind of noise in my life. Hell, I’m already on probation because of the last two people who popped some shit in my face.
This creator said he had a friend who was producing a book called Stealth. I said that was a problem. He agreed. But he said the problem was mine.
I explained to him that MA owned the trademark to that character name and suggested whatever he was smoking he stop. He boldly told me that he would create a P.R. nightmare for me if we did not “Cut the kid a check.”
“So let me get this straight. I pay someone to stop you from causing Motown a public relations problem over a trademark we own.”
Yep, that’s what he meant.
“Fuck you.” I cheerfully said with a pretty good chuckle. “Tell that kid to lawyer up and I’ll make sure he knows you were the one to clue me in.”
C L I C K.
Never heard a word from him on that matter.
Even if I wanted to cave like a little bitch when I had no reason in the world to do so, the amount of time and effort dealing with this would be a needless waste of resources and resources mean money and losing money in corporate America is bad but wasting money on a non issue?
I may have been shot.
What, pry tell, does this have to do with Steranko and his importance to the comics industry? I’ll tell you.
A couple of days later I get a call from Jim Steranko.
What follows is the word for word exchange between Jim and I. This I know because I have journals going back to high school. The time of the entry is 2:20 pm. That means I did not wait to get home to write about it.
“I’ll get to the point, I created a character called Stealth some time ago and I read recently that you are launching a book about a character with the same name. I’m sure my character predates yours and I call on you as a gentleman to step back from that name.”
“Take it. It’s yours.”
How important is Steranko to comics?
His impact in the field commands and deserves that kind of respect.
Last year Marvel made big news with the Black Avengers book they are doing or have done or will be doing.
Truth is I don’t know if it’s been done or not because these days I rarely read comics that get massive press. Unless I know the creator I’d rather pass on hype – especially if that hype has to with new black characters.
I’m sick to death of some making a big deal out of the black character they are bringing to comics.
Two reasons. The first is because two seconds (if that long) after the story appears in the press or the book goes on sale I’m asked to comment.
“DC is doing a book where two black people are in a street scene. What are your thoughts?”
“Well I think that anytime a major publisher puts two black people in a scene it’s another step towards Dr. King’s dream.”
That’s what I’d say. Sure I would.
If ever some asswipe asked me such an asinine question I’d be doing hard time for putting my foot up their ass. Not the 300 bullshit hours of community service I’m doing now. I don’t think anyone’s stupid enough to be that stupid but trust me some have come close.
Because of my so-called status as an African American creator I’m subject to many a question about Negro progress in the industry, so the easiest way for me to avoid going to jail is to tell the truth which is “I have not seen it so I can’t comment but I hope it’s good and if so it succeeds.”
Or, maybe my status has nothing to do with it maybe they know I’m good for a rant or two because I’m either fearless, careless or always high thus I will tell the bare truth no matter what. I’m not fearless, I’ve been careless won’t comment on being high but stupid I am not
Imagine the co-creator of Static saying, “What the fuck is Static doing fighting a fucking giant fucking fish? Fuck fuck fuckidy-fuck!!!!!
I waited to comment on the recent new 52 Static book from the DC well after they killed the book, which, by the way, should have been killed. I’ve heard all the “DC should have given it a chance” bullshit on the net, but let’s get real. The book had issues and was not getting the support from the fans so what is DC to do? Continue to take a loss?
Wake the fuck up world. This is reality this is not some chat room where some pussy deprived little fan boy thinks he knows better than Diane Nelson, Jim Lee or Dan Dildio.
News flash: they don’t.
Truth is I don’t comment on any black book unless I love it. I refuse to say anything negative about black comic book content, not because it’s all-great because let’s face it a lot of is horrible. I won’t comment because I’m not that guy. Never in my life have I publicly stated any bad, adverse or harmful remarks against any black comic, creator or publisher…
Unless said creator or publisher invites a response by putting out straight up imaginary bullshit about Milestone. Then it’s on.
I won’t even comment publicly when a black creator says there are simply no black women characters created by black creators that have reached a mainstream audience.
Milestone’s teenage girl superhero Rocket reached and was an overwhelming success in the mainstream market – before she got pregnant. Then she was mainstream news. You can’t get more mainstream than the Washington Post and CNN, to name but two.
I did send the guy who was saying that in interviews an email saying “really?”
Dark Horse has a new book coming out called Skyman. Everything I’ve read about Skyman mentions he’s black.
The Black Age Of Comics Convention (yep, I stole the name of this article from them) promotes black creators, publishers, comics and black pop culture in general. The goal of the convention is to reach black people and black kids in particular because there are so few black heroes for young kids of color to relate too.
That’s a wonderful thing and they do great work.
99.9% of everything I’ve ever done in comics, television, radio and mainstream publishing the main characters are black because that’s what I do. I’ve always tried to reach a mainstream audience and I’m well aware that black anything is a difficult sell in the first place.
So the second reason (this is so long you forgot I said two reasons eh?) is that I am sick of media news that spotlights the African American aspect of some projects because never, and I mean never, do any of these news stories even attempt to acknowledge what has gone before and most publishers co-sign that bullshit.
So that young black mother or father who sees that TV news report on Marvel’s Black Avengers will think this is the first time ever for a black character in comics and run out to get it for their kid.
To put it another way, it’s like saying Elvis never listened to or was influenced by black music. Eminem is a great rapper and I’m sure if FOX News had a music channel they would have you believe he started Rap and discovered Dre.
Milestone is the most successful African American line of comics in history. We were not the first to publish black superheroes. Not even close. And we said as much and still say as much in public.
You can bet when black kids attend the Black Age Of Comics Convention they are told repeatedly about the vast history of black characters in comics and all media.
My dear friend (to me more like family) Lana Walker is one of the very few people I won’t question if she wants me to meet someone. If she called and said “Michael, I want you to meet with this axe murderer who will try to kill you” I’d take that meeting. No question.
I hate Hollywood parties. Hate them. Lana asked me to come to a Hollywood party and meet some people. That’s like asking Superman to come to a party at Kryptonite mountain – it kills me. I went to the party, no questions asked.
I’m pretty damn sure Lana did not tell those people, “You should meet Michael Davis, he’s black. When I showed up it was pretty damn obvious I’m black. When a new black character shows up and the media covers it, the publisher promotes it as if it’s the first black character ever it is not only, in my opinion, fucked up lazy journalism. it feels to those who know it’s bullshit like yet another total disregard of African American history.
I’d just like publishers to at least give a nod to what has come before when promoting black content.
Or do like Dark Horse and make it about the character.
If you feel the as a journalist the black angle is a good one, do some fucking research and at least write something about what has come before even if it’s something like this:
Black Dick, the story of an African American private eye is a new comic from Poon Tang Publishing. It’s the very first black comic ever… I think.
If people like the character and the idea behind it color will matter not. Blade and Spawn are perfect examples. Yeah, Spawn is black. If you can’t tell because of his mask ask yourself what’s up with that third leg.
BTW, “Black Dick” is trademark & copyright Michael Davis 2014 All Rights Reserved and is not the first black character.