Category: Glenn Hauman

DC’s REAL Doomsday Clock: Dan DiDio, 5G, and the End of the Trinity

DC’s REAL Doomsday Clock: Dan DiDio, 5G, and the End Of The Trinity

By now, you’ve probably heard that Dan DiDio is out as the co-publisher of DC Comics. Heidi covers a lot of it:

The departure of Dan DiDio as DC Co-Publisher on Friday was both long expected and shocking. His exit was rumored many many times over the years, and every contract renewal was a will he or won’t he suspense movie.

Originally at ComicsBeat.com

Rob Salkowitz over at ICV2 notes that this could be the first clear sign of some major changes in direction since DC’s parent company, Time Warner (now WarnerMedia), was acquired by AT&T last summer.

DiDio was something of a polarizing figure because of the direction of DC’s publishing strategy over the past few years. That has led to a lot of speculation about what was behind the sudden move, and whether it’s related to specific issues like DC’s impending “5G” initiative or some pent-up dissatisfaction within the company over his leadership.

Originally at ICV2

But what is/was 5G? Rather than that new wireless spectrum that’s being talked about for phones and wifi, DiDio had something else in mind:

The basic idea has been floating around since the middle of last year, and is seemingly yet another response to flagging sales. The idea was sort of to Ultimatize DC: all of the main heroes would be replaced by new younger versions, a tried and true comic book procedure which ends up giving you a great wave of cheers when the originals return AND new refreshing characters with youthful appeal.

Originally at ComicsBeat.com

Rob goes into detail about some of the financial issues behind this, focusing on AT&T’s purchase of WarnerMedia for $85 billion, doubling their debt to $170-odd billion, making them the most indebted publicly-traded company in the world by a factor of at least two, and about $70 billion in BBB-rated debt is coming due in the next 4-5 years, which must be repaid on schedule to maintain investment-grade status for its bonds.

But Rob missed the giant concrete block suspended over the wizard’s head…and the thread breaks in 13 years.

Because in 2033, unless there’s a big change in legislation… Superman enters the public domain.

Followed by Batman, Sandman, and the original Captain Marvel in 2034; Robin, the Flash, Green Lantern, Dr. Fate, Hourman, the Spectre, and Johnny Thunder in 2035; and Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, and Aquaman in 2036.

What percentage of the overall value of DC Comics is made up of those characters? 50%? 75%? 90%??? Whatever it is, it’s a lot. And it’s going to start going away very soon.

Now, DC won’t lose all of that value immediately. But there’s not going to be a lot preventing anyone from reprinting those stories, or making new stories from them. Or new movies and TV shows. Heck, there won’t be anything preventing Marvel from publishing Superman stories.

My take on 5G is that Dan was trying to get out from under by creating new characters that could still be held under copyright, holding on to value for the company going forward. And now that Dan’s gone… what are they going to do?

Tick-tock… tick-tock…

Glenn Hauman: On Kickstarter, their current situation, and what we’re doing

Glenn Hauman: On Kickstarter, their current situation, and what we’re doing

You may have heard that Kickstarter has had some internal strife recently, which has included some recent firings of various people who have been involved in efforts to unionize the workforce there. Those workers, and the union they have been working with, filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the crowdfunding company of wrongfully terminating them.

As a company, Kickstarter has been helpful to the comics and publishing ecosystem, helping thousands of projects find both funding and an audience, raising over $15 million for comics last year alone. We here at ComicMix have raised over $150,000 on Kickstarter for various projects, contributed to other campaigns both personally and corporately, and helped others raise more for their projects. And right now, I’m writing a short story for a campaign that ends in less than three days, Pangaea:

Clearly, they’re an important platform for comics. But, as Slate reported, there have been in-house problems— and it started with a comic.

(more…)

ComicMix beats Dr. Seuss; federal court has found fair use

Summary judgment at last we’ve received,
And our victory has been finally achieved.
The judge ruled at last that our book is fair use
And so we’re allowed to mash-up Trek and Seuss.
We don’t want to brag. And we will not gloat.
Allow us instead, to gratefully promote—
We thank the lawyer who brought sound defeat
To DLA Piper— we think Dan Booth’s sweet!
Michael Licari helped us out as well,
And Ken White lit his signal, which really was swell.
We thank all our backers who gave us their aid,
Which helped us to battle our legal crusade.
You all gave support as the motions dragged on,
Without you it’s impossible to have boldly gone.

Glenn Hauman: Neil Gaiman Does Not Need A Pity Hugo

Jeff_GilloolyRemember this class act, America?

This is Jeff Gillooly. You may remember him from the 90’s. He “masterminded” the hit on Nancy Kerrigan’s knee on the eve of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 1994, to prevent Kerrigan from skating and making the U.S. Olympic Team, for the benefit of his ex-wife, Tonya Harding.

What does this have to do with the Hugo Awards? Well, it should be obvious. Theodore Beale, by slating again with his Rabid Puppies, has decided to kneecap the 2016 Hugo Awards… and just to add to the fun, this time he’s trying to create poison pills by nominating famous authors in some categories, so he can take the credit if they win, and cry persecution if they are rejected with the rest of his slate.

John Scalzi, talking about the Hugo mess on his blog, takes the position:

…I see some people here and elsewhere swearing they’re going to put anything that was on the Sad/Rabid slates or recommendation lists below “No Award” this year. Bluntly, you’ll be foolish if you do this. As I noted in my LA Times piece yesterday, the Puppies this year slated things that were already popular outside their little circles, like, for example, The Sandman: Overture, by Neil Gaiman.

Come on, folks. Does anyone really think Neil Gaiman holds active membership in the Puppy brigades? Or Stephen King? Or Alastair Reynolds (who specifically asked to be dropped from the Puppy lists, and was ignored)? Or Lois McMaster Bujold? […] Don’t give credit for the Puppies slating already popular work and then acting like they got it on the ballot, or for dragooning unwilling and unwitting people onto their slates for their own purposes. That’s essentially victim blaming. Rather, use your common sense when looking at the work and people nominated. The Puppies would be happy if you didn’t do that, mind you. I’m hard pressed to understand why you would oblige them so.

With all due respect, John’s way off base here. Hugo voters are more than entitled to say, “While Sandman: Overture is worthy of nomination, I’m voting No Award for everything that was slated because the nomination process was corrupted. Because of slate voting, books like Saga, Bitch Planet, Chrononauts, and Kaijumax weren’t allowed to compete. It’s a fixed fight against weaker opponents.” After all, if the slate pushed off more worthy contenders, is whatever’s left actually worthy of being called “Best”?

By the same token, King, Reynolds, Bujold, and any other person whose works were placed on the ballot by Beale’s machinations are perfectly entitled to withdraw their works from consideration without any loss of honor, because Beale’s slating tactics insured a uneven field. Beale publicly admits this, claiming “even when we don’t control the category, we still have the ability to decide who will win and who will lose when the SJWs don’t No Award the category.”

Neil Gaiman is well within his rights to say, “Yes, I believe Sandman: Overture is Hugo-worthy, but I don’t think I should win just because Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor was pushed off the ballot. I said The Sculptor was the best graphic novel I’ve read in years, it says so on the cover of the book. If I’m not going against that, it’s not a fair competition.”

Neil Gaiman does not need a pity Hugo. He’s already won five Hugos, fairly. He does not need a fixed fight to win them.

Lois McMaster Bujold does not need a pity Hugo. She’s already won four Hugos for best novel, tying the record. She does not need to play against the literary equivalent of the Washington Generals.

Stephen King does not need a pity Hugo. He’s Stephen Goddamn King. (And he won one in 1982.)

And getting votes for being the only good candidate in a bad field, a deliberately weakened field, is getting a pity Hugo.

One author has already realized this. Thomas A. Mays says he has decided to withdraw his Hugo-nominated short story “The Commuter” from the ballot:

I did not ask to be part of any list, but I hoped at the very least that it might bring other eyes to “The Commuter”, readers that might appreciate it for what it was and perhaps honor me with an uncontroversial nomination (or at least a few Kindle purchases).  But, now that all hopes for a clean nomination are dashed, it is my turn to speak:

Rather than eat a shit sandwich, I choose to get up from the table.  

You know who needs a pity Hugo? Theodore Beale. And he’ll never even get that. Maybe there should be a participation Hugo for him. The type some teachers give to a little boy who eats too much library paste, so he can feel better about himself.

Saying Beale wins by provoking others to further damage to the prestige of the Hugos is just silly– it’s Beale himself who kneecapped the Hugos. Beale’s claim of “You’re pushing worthy authors off!” is self-serving, because he pushed them on us in the first place— just because his actions insure someone other than him benefits is no reason to reward him for swinging a wrench at Nancy Kerrigan’s kneecap.

Here’s what Beale doesn’t get, not being a very good creator himself: good creators want to be judged on the quality of what they create. They don’t want to race against hobbled runners. Can you imagine the Cincinnati Reds felt good about beating the Black Sox to win the World Series? Beale is trying to force an affirmative action awards program, because he and his are not good enough to win on their own merits. And in doing so, he’s become the Jeff Gillooly of science fiction.

What Do You Do To Rabid Puppies? (Answer Below.)

You may have  heard about how the 2015 Hugo Awards nominations have been disrupted this year by two separate slates of nominees and their respective voting blocks.

There’s a lot of coverage on the matter, with some of the best from io9,  the Daily Dot, and George R.R. Martin (yes, Game Of Thrones fans, these people compelled GRRM to take valuable time away from writing to respond to the situation. Add that to their list of offenses.) If you don’t want to click through on everything or read our previous post, here’s what you need to know for this column:

There was a slate released by the Sad Puppies on February 1 that included a varied list of authors, many of a conservative bent, including authors that have been previously nominated for Hugo and Campbell awards.

And then, one day later, there was a slate released by Theodore Beale that he called the Rabid Puppies slate, which heavily copied the Sad Puppies list and added many items that he published through his publishing house, Castalia House, which was founded just last year.

Theodore Beale is… an interesting fellow. He came to prominence writing for WorldNetDaily, a website partially funded by his father, a convicted tax evader. Theodore Beale, who often goes by the presumptuous pseudonym Vox Day, happens to believe that marital rape is impossible, that autism causes atheism, that vaccines cause autism, that Obama’s birth certificate is forged, that there is no global warming, that feminism is failure, and on and on and on.

He is the only person to be expelled from the Science Fiction Writers of America for using an official SFWA Twitter account to link to a blog post that called SFWA member and African-American author N. K. Jemisin “an educated, but ignorant half-savage.”

And he boosted his Rapid Puppies slate by reaching out to the #Gamergate community, a group of people (the word “class” seems inappropriate here) that he has long supported, and who clearly tipped the balance in many of the Hugo categories.

In short, we find Mr. Beale to be a racist, sexist, homophobic, inflammatory, self-aggrandizing troll who who has no compunctions about burning down an entire community to exact revenge and gain his own personal amusement. His choice of the name “Rabid Puppies” is spot on, along with his logo choice that blows up the Hugo Award.

But what to do about it? More to the point, since the Hugo Awards won’t be given out until WorldCon in August, what can we do about it right now?

Ironically, Beale has given us the answer himself.

Of the unique items on the Rabid Puppies slate, nine are works that Mr. Beale had a hand in, either as a writer, editor, or publisher through his house, Castalia House, or where he previously blogged at Black Gate. (Hat tip to Mike Glyer for compiling the list.) Replying to a commenter about the quality of his works, Beale said:

No problem. I can objectively prove their superiority. Average Amazon ratings out of 5.

4.64 Sad Puppy Best Novel recommendations
4.60 Rabid Puppy Best Novel recommendations
4.46 2015 Hugo shortlist 4.46
3.90 2010-2013 Hugo shortlists

In short fiction, Amazon ratings and number of reviews

4.6 (63) One Bright Star to Guide Them (2015 finalist)
4.3 (121) Big Boys Don’t Cry (2015 finalist)
4.4 (48) Lady Astronaut of Mars (2014 winner)
4.3 (152) Equoid (2014 winner)

The Sad Puppy nominees are objectively superior as rated by Amazon.

We’d like to thank Mr. Beale for reminding us that Hugo Award nominations aren’t the only things that can be gamed…

You can game Amazon ratings as well.

Here’s a list of all of Mr. Beale’s nominees, complete with handy links to Amazon. It might be a good idea to take a look at the reviews and see which ones are helpful. If you’ve read the works, you should add your own review.

NOMINEES APPEARING ONLY ON RABID PUPPIES 2015 SLATE ON AMAZON

BEST NOVELLA

BEST NOVELETTE

  • “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” by John C. Wright, The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House
    UPDATE 4/14: “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” by John C. Wright was previously published on a web site in 2013 prior to its inclusion in The Book of Feasts & Seasons in 2014, so it is not eligible for the 2015 Novelette Hugo and has been removed from the ballot.

BEST SHORT STORY

BEST EDITOR (Short Form)

BEST EDITOR (Long Form)

THE JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD

If you’d like to look at the reviews for the other nominees from Castalia House:

Oh, and to answer the title question: what do you do to rabid puppies?

You put them down.

Glenn Hauman: Why You Damn Well Better Be Charlie Hedbo

censorshipSadly, I’ve started seeing the backlash. You probably have too. A lot of people are being contrarian and saying “I’m Not Charlie Hedbo” in response to this week’s shootings. The most prominent example is David Brooks in the New York Times, but I’m beginning to see similar comments from people I actually respect.

To which my response will be muted, because I’d rather not make this into a not-safe-for-work rant.

If you’re an advocate for free speech, you don’t always get the luxury of advocating pretty things that you approve of. You know – the nice stuff. Freedom of expression is not just limited to Michelangelo’s David and the pope who insisted loincloths be painted onto the Sistine Chapel. Sometimes you end up defending the words of pornographers. Or Nazis. Or Islamic fundamentalists. Or even Republicans.

And it’s the same with comics.

You don’t just get to defend Watchmen, Doonesbury, and Mad magazine. It’s not all Elektra: Assassin, Love & Rockets, Ms. Tree, Elfquest, and those issues where Green Arrow’s sidekick does drugs. If you’re committed to free speech, you have to defend Zap Comics and Mike Diana and Omaha The Cat Dancer and Howard Cruse and Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend and Swamp Thing meeting Jesus.

And yes, that means defending Charlie Helbo when they publish cartoons that tick some people off.

To say that the creators at Charlie Hedbo had it coming beggars belief. They courted controversy, they offended people. But they certainly didn’t commit capital offenses, and neither did the civilians caught in the crossfire, nor did the Muslim police officer who was shot doing his job to serve and protect the citizens of Paris. It’s bad enough when censorship is done with a marker, it’s horrific when done with a bullet.

The correct response to offensive speech is more speech, hopefully better speech, and perhaps even better behavior. And defending the right to speak of those who speak out even when they offend you, as you would want them to defend your right to speak when you offend them. Criticize their speech, but don’t censor it.

Because as we all know, the worst part of censorship is