Tagged: Dan DiDio

THE INFLUENCE FACTOR: Part 2: Dan Didio & My Studio 54 Philosophy

THE INFLUENCE FACTOR: Part 2: Dan Didio & My Studio 54 Philosophy

Writer’s notes: All DC Comics references imply past events. They do not indicate any criticism or suggest answerability from current management.

I’ve built my career around what I call my Studio 54 philosophy. It’s that philosophy that I’ll use to explain how those dancing on Dan Didio’s grave do so at considerable risk.

If you have not read last week’s article, please do so. If you don’t, this is gonna read strangely.

There’s no way to say this without sounding a bit full of myself, so here goes… I’m the Master Of The Universe. Yep, call me Motu if you like, but I am indeed the Master, etc. etc.

To be the Master of anything requires intelligence, the ability to reason, and self-confidence. Believe it or not, reason and self-esteem are more critical than being smart. If I had to pick one overall, it would be confidence.

Another way to put it is a force of will.

Studio 54 was a fantasy, a wish, a dream to me. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be able to roll in there at will.

Well, rejection is a great motivator.

I was NEVER rejected from 54. My most painful rejection was from the most excellent high school known to mankind the universe (of which I am Master) and all of creation (that’s not me) the High School of Art & Design.

WHAT? But we’ve read dozens of articles where you tell of the love for that high school because you went there. The fans of Michael Davis (both of them) are saying.

I did go there— but was rejected my first try. I tried in the ninth grade for admittance to the tenth grade. DENIED! I’ve wanted to go to that school since I found out it existed in the fourth grade. At that age, waiting six minutes is agony— imagine waiting six years.

I could try again, but there was a catch.

The odds of getting into A&D for admittance to the 9th and 10th grade were four people admitted out of every ten that applied. The 9th and 10th were foundation years where you learn the principals of art. Anyone hoping to get into the 11th grade, the odds were 1 out of 25.

The odds were that low because you’re skipping the foundation years. You major immediately. I was told this by my guidance counselor, no doubt hoping to spare me the pain of rejection for the second time.

“An artist is wishful thinking for one in your position Michael.” Translation: “Nigger*, PLEASE. There’s always work at the Post Office.”

I got in.

That was the moment I realized what my boy Lee calls; THE POWER OF DAVIS.

It wasn’t too long after that I was getting into 54. Because I began to look at things differently.

It wasn’t a Black and White world; there are plenty of shades; this underaged Black kid was now made aware of. My friend Earl and later Lee would hop (not pay) the train from Far Rockaway to Manhattan just to stare at what we thought we would never take part in, life like white people lived.

We would stand outside of Broadway plays, hoping to see whatever TV stars we heard were appearing in the play come out. Stand outside movie theaters showing blockbuster movies. One night we noticed the usher tearing ticket stubs dropping his half. One of us would pretend to trip while walking by, grab the discarded stubs go to the back of the line, and MOVIE NIGHT was born. The highlight of our Manhattan nights was always Studio 54. The street was packed with people all trying to get in; we stood there for hours just happy to be near a place we saw on television.

No such ‘stub’ opportunity at Studio 54, but watching the news one night gave me an idea. There was a story about this woman who gifted Steve Rubell a Studio 54 sculpture. I did a drawing and went down to 54 during the day.

I knocked on the door, a lady answered, said with a smile, “No.” When I asked for Mr. Rubell. That ‘no’ caused me to refine my plan. I knew I’d get in eventually Why? One out of twenty-five is why.

There were photos of all the top doorman from the top clubs in a magazine story that for the life of me, I can’t remember the name of. I did caricatures of all of them. Then I talked to an editor of a pennysaver circular. I’d met her at my cousin’s house, she gave me her number. I was studying illustration at the world’s most fabulous high school, and she told me to come to see her when I graduated.

She ran the art.

The “magazine” came out, my intention; give the originals to the doormen.

I set about dropping the artwork off at the clubs. The first club I got into was Xenon, the only real competition 54 ever had. Funny thing the doorman, Charles, had not seen the drawing just undid the velvet rope for me and my girlfriend Renee. An hour or so later, I caught him by the bar and told him about the drawings.

Valerie Perrine dances with Disco stars The Village People at Xenon.

He sent someone to the office to look for them. Turns out Roger, the other head door guy at Xenon, was recruited by 54 and took all the art with him. Charles was so moved by the gesture he told me to come down anytime then introduced me to Brian, Roger’s replacement. From that moment on, I was VIP at the 2nd biggest nightclub in NYC.

This was the night that started to shape my Studio 54 philosophy.

My Studio 54 philosophy:

Get to the decision-maker.

One night I showed up at Xenon, and neither Brian or Charles were at the door. The guy there was someone I’d seen before from his swagger I knew he was the boss. I rolled up to the rope and dropped a “Charles always lets me in” all I got was a look and a view of his back when he turned around on me. I was heartbroken, so I started to leave when I hear—

“WHERE ARE YOU GOING?” The voice belonged to a stunning Black woman who was always at the club.

She was standing next to the guy who turned his back on me. Now I was being waved in by the same guy. Turns out, I was right; the guy was the owner Howard Stein and the woman was his girlfriend Tawn Christian. I’d happen upon some guys crowding her once and told them to step off (white folk, that means “leave her alone” ). I’d forgotten all about that. She hadn’t.

Now not only was I getting into Xenon, but I was also getting in free.

It’s not easy getting to the guy on top, but once you do that makes it much more manageable. Put another way, if you know Jay-Z you now have access to his infrastructure. Work your relationship with Jay first. If you’re interested in just milking connections for whatever you can get, you will quickly be found out.

Once that happens, you’re DEAD. Jay makes a call telling people you’re a dick, you are done done done.

Safeguard your relationships.

I learned the hard way to guard your relationships like its water, and you’re in the desert. At one point, I’m riding high thinking my shit don’t stink (white folk y’all got that I assume), so I bring my boy Lee who invites his boy Lenny who invites his girl Ghetto to Studio 54. I don’t remember her name, but Ghetto fits. While working through the crowded dance floor, Ghetto steps on the foot of a Princess. A real honest to Jesus Allah Jehovah Buddha Kirby Princess.

That was bad enough, but Ghetto acted her name. I’m still surprised the Princess’ bodyguards didn’t shoot Ms. G. That’s kinda what saved me. I quickly owned up to bringing the group that almost caused an international incident. What else could I do? It’s a fair bet we were the only Black people from the hood there. Ghetto’s “YEAH, WHAT? That’s what you get for BE IN IN MY WAY!” Made it more visible.

When wrong, apologize.

If possible, bring up the wrong and take responsibility before you’re summoned to explain yourself. Trust me, seldom will that not get you points.

My apology featured:

  • A promise never to bring thugs with me again.
  • A plea to continue coming to Studio 54, the highlight of my life.
  • A plan: “If you want to bust a cap in the back of her head, I’m ok with it.”

That I said to the bodyguards a laugh from those guys and a hug from the Princess saved my Studio 54 privileges. Roger slapped me on the back, then whispered, “Michael, well done, but if it happens again, you’re gone.”

Consider who brought you in.

No one can control how someone you don’ t know will act. If the Princess wasn’t even-tempered if Roger was in a bad mood, if any of those were in play—I’m dead at 54. Roger then makes a call, I’m gone at Xenon, I’m gone everywhere.

Never again would I make the mistake of hooking someone up with people I don’t know. Roger may have been fired if the incident had turned into a critical issue why? Because of his relationship with me. He was the reason I was there, and in business, if you bring someone in, they are your responsibility at the start of their involvement.

Remember, most likely, YOUR contact has a boss.

Don’t sever a relationship when someone is fired.

This may be the most crucial part of my Studio 54 philosophy.

Roger going to 54 worked out great for me. He was truly touched when he was gifted with the original artwork.

Xenon was my favorite club; however, this was Studio 54.

I was getting into the most famous nightclub in the world and for free.

Talented People always end up somewhere else.

ALWAYS.

Charles went to a new club ‘X’ Roger went back to Xenon, and Mark from 54 ended up in LA, where he was on the door at a few clubs.

Wherever those guys went, I had carte blanche.


A lot of people are dancing a gig on Dan Didio’s grave. Dan isn’t dead. Far from it.

He’s got almost two decades of insider information from one of the two top comic book publishers on Earth. Dan possesses relationships with world-class talent, and there is no-one except idiots who won’t take his call.

Dan did great things at DC that non-competes he no doubt signed don’t mean shit in reality. All it does is buy DC time to change some internal workings. It also stops Dan from writing DC COMICS: THE UNBELIEVABLE STORY OF SUPERMAN’S METH HABIT.

That’s a joke title, everyone knows Superman does not do meth. The hardest thing he does is drink coke he tried snorting it but sneezed and blew his dealer’s head off.

Yeah, that was uncalled for. I’m going to remove it. But if I do that, you won’t see I did such a noble thing. That means its YOUR fault that silliness is here.

Wow. GROW UP, will ya?

If Dan’s non-compete is one or even two years, during that time, he’ll be working on what his next act is anyway. When my year-long non-compete with Motown expired, my next project with Simon and Schuster was announced a day after it ended. By the end of the month, the project was in the market place.

Dan will not have any problem maintaining his boss’s status because he’s a smart, talented, capable executive.

The dumbest— I mean DUMBEST— thing a creator without the influence of a significant playa could do is go online and bath in a glowing victory they had nothing to do with.

Figure out what real power is.

Roger, Charles, Brian, and Mark, actual power wasn’t because they were the doormen at elite clubs. Their power is WHY they were the doormen.

The doormen at clubs like 54 and Xenon were not just some lucky guy who filled out an application. Anyone could recognize Mick Jagger or Andy Warhol.

Doormen at 5-star clubs were put in that position to spot CEO’s, Senators, royalty, and the like.

Could you spot those people?

Many doormen from the Studio 54 era came from an Ivy League school, an influential, wealthy family, or both.

Don’t take it personally.

Dan was once a friend. I did a giant solid for him, and he never returned the gesture. How could he? His boss tried to destroy me, and Dan would have been an idiot to cross that line.

I’m gonna do exactly what I did when Disney canned him. I’m going to call and offer him a hand. If he needs anything and I can be of some help, I will.

It’s never a good thing to rejoice when someone is suffering a setback.

Once Frank Sinatra was the biggest star in the world. He fell hard from that and was back playing very small singing gigs. Also, an actor his acting career was all but dead. He had to beg to audition for a part in the movie; From Here To Eternity.

He won the Academy Award for his role.

Just like that, he was a headliner again. Within a year, he was the biggest star on the planet again.

Remember if a person screwed you once they may do it again. They may not, but why chance it?

Sinatra never forgot those who were there when he was on top but deserted him when he hit bottom.

Keep the true nature of all your relationships on the down-low.

What many young people don’t understand about influence is this; let’s say you said nothing about Dan’s dismissal. If buddies with someone who did that puts you at risk.

It works another way also.

DC Comics has relationships with many of my Bad Boy Studio Mentor program alumni. Although DC wants nothing to do with me.

Almost to a person I’ve heard this from my former students; “Michael, would you mind if I did x for DC? “Or “Say the word Mike and I’m done with them.”

The ability to remove a revenue source from a company is real power. Why haven’t I done that?

I did.

Twice I killed a project that directly affected my house. It wasn’t revenge; it was business.

When I was a kid, I read The Fountainhead. I loved that book. Then I grew up. Now the book and its writer, in my opinion, are jokes.

I will admit the characters in the book are excellent as examples. Everyone wants to be Howard Roark, the novel’s hero, a brilliant architect of absolute integrity.

Not me.

I’m Ellsworth Toohey. Like Toohey, I’ve built an influential brand command a large part of (Black) content talent and distribution.

UPS Hilton Hotels and DC learned I’m a dangerous opponent AKA the wrong nigga* too fuck with.

As is Dan Didio.


*Writer’s notes yet again: The use of ‘nigga’ in this narrative means imposing dangerous and formidable. It’s a hip-hop term used in this manner, not a racial one.

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…

Marc Alan Fishman: What I’m Thankful For – the 2017 Edition

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping … into the future.

In a few short days, we’ll be breaking bread with our loved ones and indulge in a day where we give thanks by cooking and consuming more food than we need. Some sanctimonious scads will also donate time, money, and food to charities to actually be good people. And then, for some, comes the relatively new tradition of lining up at brick and mortar stores to purchase items at rock-bottom prices in the name of some long-lost holiday spirit.

I am thankful that I don’t partake in that particular assholery. But I digress.

This has been an awful year for an awful lot of reasons. Our President is a blowhard buffoon who has only succeeded in raising the collective blood pressure of the people he swore an oath to protect. Hollywood blew up, and it turns out it’s full of absolute monsters. That Donald Trump dick is an idiot and attained the highest job in the country, and that some of the most powerful men of media used their position to pray on unsuspecting women and men does not come. It’s just that it all piled up at the same time. So much so that I’m having a hard time finding the silver lining amongst the low-hanging clouds.

But I’m not a sex-predator. And despite all his idiocy, President Trump has not personally affected my day-to-day life significantly enough that I’m in any worse station. So, I venture forward. These are the things I am most thankful for here in 2017:

  1. Unshaven Comics finished our first graphic novel.

After over five years of work, me and my studio mates have put to bed our very first trade paperback. Collecting issues one through four of The Samurnauts: Curse of the Dreadnuts, and packing it full of bonus materials has produced a 192 page tome that represents literally the very best thing we have done in our lives – specifically speaking of our creative output. As of this writing, the final details are being laid into the file that will be gleefully sent to our printer. The only thing left to do with it this year is toss the necessary shekels to pay for it. This will allow us in 2018 to pursue bigger and better things. More Samurnauts. A refreshed brand. A commitment to sell harder than we’ve ever sold before. 2017 was the year we limped across the finish line.

  1. I’ve held a steady and stable day job at the same place now two years running.

Understand that for most of my career, I’ve worked for some ahem challenging people. After paying whatever dues to the universe that might have existed – I think – I’ve finally found a position that is just right. As an Interactive Media Project Manager, I’ve found a place that challenges me without overworking me. That offers me day to work from home. Actual vacation time. And most important… Support for my personal endeavors like making comics, without ever questioning my commitment to the company.

  1. The indescribable joy of fatherhood (but yeah, I’ll try to describe it)

In 2017, I’ve watched my older boy, Bennett, learn to read and write. Seeing him figure out words and have passion to hold a pen and write his name fills me with emotion that frankly my younger self would declare as trite to be enamored with. But younger me is an ass and an idiot. To see the world through my children’s eyes, is to remember joy that has long been stolen by a weary world. To both Bennett and Colton Fishman, there is no debt, fear of heart disease, crippling insecurity, or the ever-present feeling that we’re nigh on to nuclear Armageddon. In its place is unadulterated glee over video games, comic books, TV shows, and the high fives and hugs of supportive parents. And trust me, until you see my younger, the hilarious CM Fish himself, boisterously vibrate with pure delight over being handed a spoon to eat his yogurt? You don’t know joy.

  1. This space.

Yes, you read that right. In 2011, I submitted my very first column to ComicMix. And ever since, I have tried to carve out a tiny little spot on the big world wide web where my specific brand of snark could plant a flag. In 2017, I’ve been able to touch on all my favorite nits to pick. From yelling at DC’s Dan Didio for declaring comics are dead, eulogizing a lost friend, to ranking my favorite meals as a comic book creator, I’ve enjoyed being able to spout off whatever tickles my fancy, all while you – my adoring public – have afforded me the luxury of doing so without posting inside a vacuum. Every week, my Facebook feed teems with well-wishers, cage-rattlers, and crafty cohorts alike… all instigated by the words dribbled out of my mighty(ish) pen. Having this space is a boon to my psyche. Knowing that I can commiserate with all of you over every bit of pop culture bric-a-brac that floats past my cerebellum is something I can’t ever take for granted.

  1. Gummy Bears.

They’re still awesome.

  1. Injustice 2 announcing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be playable.

Take my Rao-Damned money.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Marc Alan Fishman: Comics Are Dead. Thank you, DC!

So, spoiler alert. The comic industry as we know it is going to die. Well, according to Dan DiDio and Jim Lee it is. At the San Diego Comic Con – which I clearly didn’t attend because I already knew comics were dying – the DC honchos all but shook their rain sticks at the assembled retailers to eulogize the industry before revealing how they would save it.

Forgive me. You no doubt heard the thundering cacophony of my right eyebrow arching high on my face at a speed worthy of Barry Allen. The speed at which it jutted there clearly broke the sound barrier in a reflex akin only to those meta-humans with the ability to transcend space and time.

There’s literally too much to unpack from all they blabbed on about for me to fit in a single column. And rather than present evidence how the comic industry isn’t dying at all, I’d like to specifically snark back on one particular point DiLeeDoo made.

“Comic books have become the second or third way to meet characters like Batman and Superman, and we want to change that.”

Uhh… Why?!

The statement itself is a bland platitude at best. It’s big-wigs trying fluff up their retailers – as well as comic fans – into believing their medium is purer than the first or second ways fans meet their heroes. That somehow, DC’s publishing arm will find a way to get kids into the comic shop before they see any licensed character on TV, movies, or frankly… the Internet. Of all the laughable things said at this panel – forgetting the whole part where they confirmed Dr. Manhattan made Rebirth happen – trying to pit comics against their motion picture counterparts takes the cake and crams in a pie to boot.

I am 35 years old. The first time I ever saw Batman? It was Adam West on the campy syndicated re-runs, in between episodes of Happy Days. Superman? Learned about him second-hand on any number of references dropped during episodes of Muppet Babies, or an errant episode of Challenge of the Superfriends. And while I would eventually seek the printed page for more mature and significant adventures of those (and all other) characters, the tent-pole flagship Trinity of DC Comics was met in motion long before the pulp.

Furthermore, as a Gen-X/Gen-Y/Millennial/Whatever I’m classified as these days, my generation learned and loved superheroes first via these extraneous ways, because the comics themselves were mired in the muck of massive continuities. As I’ve long detailed in this space previously, when comics peaked my interest it was because of an adaptation of an X-Men cartoon I’d seen the week prior. Investigating at the local Fiction House stressed me out when I saw an actual X-Men comic was on issue 568 (or whatever), and the shop keep made no qualms telling me he wouldn’t even know where to start me out if I was wanting to collect the book.

Times have since changed aplenty, but that doesn’t mean the same issues still exist if we are to take to heart Dan and Jim’s sentiment.

A 9-year old girl goes and sees Wonder Woman with her mom. She falls in love with Diana of Themyscira and begs her mom to learn more. They venture into the local comic shop, and what then? If the cashier is worth her salt? She’ll have a great big display of the now Eisner-Award Winning Wonder Woman: The True Amazon ready and waiting. But peer over to the rack, and where does our 9-year old go? Is the current issue of Wonder Woman ready and waiting? And where is Batgirl, and any other female-driven comics all set and ready for their newly minted fan?

And beyond that, how on Gaea’s green Earth would you ever suppose you’d find a way to get this 9-year old girl into the shop before she’d been enticed by the multi-million dollar blockbuster action film. Simply put, that’s proudly brandishing a knife in a nuclear bomb fight. It’s dumb to even think it, let alone declare it like a campaign promise.

To this point, credit where it’s due: Dan DiDio denoted the need for more evergreen books – titles that live outside any common continuity to tell great one-off stories – to specifically meet the needs of fans who come in (or come back) to comic books. The truth of the matter is no book will ever compete with a big release movie or a weekly television show. Video killed the radio star for a reason. And the Internet murdered the video star and put the snuff film on YouTube. To cling to printed fiction as some form of hipper-than-thou solution that could wage war with more ubiquitous platforms all in the name of changing the way the public meets their heroes is a dish I’ll never order, even if I’m starving.

To declare this was all in part to save the industry … well Dan: is it fair to have cultivated the problem only to turn around and say now you’ll save us from the very issues you created? That is some Luthor-level vertical integration if I ever did hear it.

Save me, Dan DiDio. You’re my only hope. Well, barring Image, Boom!, Lion Forge, Valiant, Aw Yeah, Oni Press, IDW, Dark Horse, Action Lab, and Unshaven Comics.

Martha Thomases: Winners

The Eisner Awards were handed out last Friday, and I have to say, I’m feeling just a little bit smug.

No, I didn’t win anything.  There is no Eisner Award for the Best Procrastinating by a Writer.  However, quite a few of the prizes went to people and projects that I championed as an Eisner judge this year, selecting the nominees.

I’m not going to tell you which ones I’m talking about because to do so implies that I met with resistance.  (You’ll have to get me drunk the next time we’re together.)  As I said before, talking about the selection process the committee used, “I can say that none of us got all of our first choices, but all of us got some of them.” In other words, we had different tastes and different criteria, and that is as it should be.  We talked, calmly and respectfully, about why we liked the things that we liked.  We worked it out.  You should send us all to Congress.

But a lot of my tastes and criteria meshed with those of the people who voted for the final awards.  And that makes me feel like I have my finger on the pulse of Pop Culture Fandom.

Yay, me!

So many different kinds of books won awards.  Some of this is a result of the categories because a superhero story isn’t going to win a best nonfiction award, nor will DC or Marvel win an award for Best U. S. Edition of International Material.  The inclusion of several different categories for younger readers means that there will be prize-winning books for children.

Although I might not know you, Constant Reader, I feel confident in saying that there is at least one book on this list that you’ll enjoy.

This expansion in the audience for graphic story-telling is a wonderful thing, decades in the making.  It should be an opportunity for all sorts of publishers.  You would think that DC and Marvel are in the best position to take advantage of this since they own characters known to the entire world.  They should be, but, according to this, at least one of them does not.  The link describes a panel at SDCC with DC’s Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, talking about how they plan to navigate the future of comics.

They say a few things with which I agree.  There should be excellent graphic novels about the characters that customers might know from the movie.  These books should contain stories that are accessible to new readers, people unfamiliar with decades of continuity.  I’ve been arguing such a position for decades, so I’m glad to see that there is at least lip service in that direction.

However, when DC actually publishes a book like that, Jill Thompson’s Eisner-winning Wonder Woman: The True Amazon, there is very little promotion when it first comes out, and it isn’t included in the ads that tied into the movie release.

Lee and DiDio also think that resurrecting the Watchmen universe and integrating it into the DCU will draw in newcomers.  Leaving aside the morality of this (given series co-creator Alan Moore’s resistance), and only talking about it in marketing terms, I still think this is a terrible idea.  The movie is nearly a decade old and does not seem to have been successful enough to earn out.  The characters require a lot of explaining, which is only a disadvantage if you’re trying to sell them to people who don’t read a lot of comics.

If I had been a new comics reader today, I’d have problems wading into the Big Two waters.  It would be much more appealing to me to check out Valiant or Lion Forge if I wanted a connected universe because I wouldn’t have so much to catch up.

I still think the way to draw in audiences who want to sample comics after seeing the movies and television shows is to create multiple imprints.  There can be a line for geeks like me, who’ve been reading comics since the Fifties, and a line for younger readers and a line of self-contained short stories.  There can be all sorts of other lines that I haven’t yet imagined.  These can be tested through digital sales, to keep development costs down, and then published in paper if there is demand.

And, yes please, a line of Super-Pets.

•     •     •     •     •

Flo Steinberg died this week.  She was part of the original Marvel Bullpen, Stan Lee’s assistant back in the days when that was the best job a woman can get in comics.

I met her soon after I moved to New York in the late 1970s, and since I wasn’t a big Marvel fan, I didn’t know enough about her to be intimidated.  To me, she was the kind of kooky New York character I’d moved to New York to meet.  She had a funky cadence to the way she spoke (at least, to this Ohio girl), and she was outgoing and enthusiastic in a manner discouraged by the prep school I attended.  Flo was one of the best people you could invite to a party.

My two favorite Flo stories don’t have much to do with comics.

1)  When I worked in the events department of a New York department store, I had to hire extra people to be entertainers during the holiday season.  One job was to dress up like a Teddy bear.  The costume was really hot and smelled after a while, but the job paid $20 an hour, a fortune back then.  I was able to hire Flo for this gig a few times, and from her, I learned how many children like to punch costumed characters in the chest.  Also, we called her “Flo Bear,” the kind of joke Ivory Tower elitist East Coasters love.

2)  A few years later, I had another job, and I was telling her about a place I would go to get lunch.  They had a salad bar, and every day, I would stare at the barbecued spare-ribs, tempted by their dripping sauce, but too worried about the fat and calories.  Really, I would dream about these ribs.  Finally, one day, I ate one.  Later, talking to Flo, I confessed my sin.  It went like this:

Me:  So I finally ate one of the spare-ribs.  It wasn’t very good.  Definitely not worth it.

Flo:  Well, at least you tried it.

Because that is who she was.  She didn’t talk about life in terms of denial and defensiveness.  She talked about life as something worth trying.

Joe Corallo: Love Is Patient

Before I go into this week’s column, I wanted to acknowledge the passing of Carrie Fisher. Mere hours after my column went up last week it was reported that she had passed. It was truly tragic for her family, friends and legions of fans whom include myself. Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher.

Last week I picked Love Is Love, the joint DC Comics and IDW publication to raise money for Equality Florida benefiting the victims of the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting. I had written about this book’s announcement back in September and how it filled me with pride that this was happening, but that comics still has more to do towards creating stronger queer inclusion. Now that the trade is out and I got the chance to read it, I have more to say.

This charity project organized by Marc Andreyko was originally a joint project with DC Comics and IDW. As of last month, Archie Comics added itself to the mix and included two separate Kevin Keller stories for the anthology, one by Kevin Keller’s creator Dan Parent. We get a short comic featuring Chalice from AfterShock’s  Alters. The Will Eisner estate even gave permission to use The Spirit for a comic in the anthology as well. All of that combined with an introduction by director Patty Jenkins and you have an anthology with more star power and support for a cause than I, at least, have ever seen before in comics.

Love Is Love opens with an “In Memoriam” page with the names and ages of all 49 victims from the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting. It’s then clarified that this is an IDW publication with editorial and related services provided by DC Entertainment. Following that is Patty Jenkins introduction then nonstop one or two page comics and illustrations, followed by Marc Andreyko’s afterward and a plug for Equality Florida.

While I was aware of quite a few of the people who were working on the project, there were plenty in the book I had no idea were in it up until I read their contributions. Stories from people like Dan Didio and Brian Michael Bendis. Dan Didio is someone whom members of the queer community were upset with after his mandate that characters including Batwoman could not get married. While I personally wasn’t as upset by this decision as some people were, I did understand it.

Brian Michael Bendis is someone who I’ve met, admire, and is at least somewhat responsible for getting me back into comics with the launch of Ultimate Spider-Man back when I was in high school. One area I’ve been critical with him on is his handling of Iceman being retconned as gay. While this was out of ignorance and not malice, it still made it hard for me and others to get interested in Iceman again. Now with Sina Grace on board, a queer man and another contributor to Love Is Love who contributed a great personal two page comic, I’m more than happy to give Iceman a shot again.

Two other contributors I were aware of who have had mixed responses from the queer community as of late are Paul Jenkins and James Robinson. Paul Jenkins is the creator and writer of the AfterShock comic Alters with Leila Leiz and Tamra Bonvillain. For his contribution to this anthology, Paul did a two-page story about the trans character Chalice with Tamra Bonvillain and Robert Hack illustrating instead of Leila Leiz. It’s a two-pager about how irrelevant those oppressing the queer community are becoming and it’s a positive message. The series at AfterShock has received some criticism from people in the comics community, including myself, concerned with trans representation in comics and how the character could potentially have a negative impact.

While I had qualms with the first issue in particular, Paul Jenkins has since been using the back of each issue to have a conversation with a trans person and to stress how important using proper pronouns are and other topics people in the cis community need to be more educated on.

James Robinson is a writer whose previously been nominated for a GLAAD award for his thoughtful portrayals of queer characters in comics and has been writing queer characters in his comics since the 90s. Back in the summer of 2015, James had gotten backlash over his treatment of trans people in his pseudo-autobiographical comic Airboy with Image comics. After a couple of days of online onslaught, James Robinson released a thoughtful apology. Further reprints of Airboy #2 have been edited to make it less offensive.

What do Dan Didio, Brian Michael Bendis, Paul Jenkins, and James Robinson all have in common? That despite the fact that in their long careers they’ve had at least one instance where readers questioned their portrayals and handling of queer characters, they showed up to volunteer and dedicate their time and talent to help the queer community during what’s easily one of the communities darkest times in modern American history. Allies are important, and actions do speak louder than words. And although they may have had missteps, they showed up when it counted the most and that needs to be recognized and celebrated.

While it is important to highlight allies, I would feel horrible if I discussed this anthology without highlighting more of the queer contributors. Mainstream queer talent like Phil Jimenez, Sina Grace, and James Tynion IV offer us autobiographical looks at their life and how being queer impacts it. Although Howard Cruse isn’t a contributor, he’s the subject of Justin Hall’s comic along with Howard’s beloved husband Eddie Sedarbaum. Steve Orlando gives us a touching one page comic about a queer family. Trans comics creator and journalist Emma Houxbois, an important voice whom I admire, has a touching one page comic about how important places like Pulse are to the queer community.

There are far more queer contributors in this book and I wish I could spend time talking about all of them. Two other allies I’d like to mention, Jeffrey Burandt and Sean Von Gorman, created a one page comic with public domain superhero Rainbow Boy where they save Rockbar from a bunch of Spider-Haters. Rockbar is a bar here in the West Village that I frequent fairly regularly and it’s great to see them being represented.

Love Is Love is not just an important milestone in comics history and a loving tribute to the queer community that will help benefit them, it’s also just good comics and a fun read. It took a great deal of time and a saint’s patience for Marc Andreyko to get this book from a desire to see the comics community come together after the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting and the over six months that followed for it to hit the stands. We should all be grateful for Marc’s kindness and generosity as well as the dozens and dozens of contributors that made this book possible.

At $9.99, there really is no reason not to pick up this full-length trade paperback. If you didn’t pick it up last week, please pick this up when you grab your comics this week.

Michael Davis: The Dream Killer 3 – Know The Game!

motupix-copy-4

Please read the first two installments in the series if you have not done so.

From Dream Killer 2:

Full discloser: For two decades I was not welcome at DC.

“What did you do?” I’ve gotten that question countless times. “What did they do?” Not as many have asked, but more than a few. What’s the difference between those who ask the first question as opposed to the second?

And why and how despite being blackballed by one of the big two was I able to not only survive in the industry but thrive?

What did I do? I refused to accept unjust treatment and called attention to it often. That was my right.

What did they do? They got fed up with dealing with me. That was their right.

I haven’t any idea rather or not I’m welcome at DC Comics these days. The perception is there is a feud between Milestone and me. DC is in a deal with Milestone, so that may mean I’m not a desirable. There isn’t a feud; there is an incident.

Milestone made what no one is disputing a real dick move. Not telling me they were moving ahead with plans without me was as fucked up as can be. Now add they were supposed to be “friends.”

That is as horrible a thing. An absolutely disgusting thing.

Well, to me it is.

Except for a few brave souls, there has been not a peep of anyone giving a fuck.

That’s OK. Pity isn’t my thing. My thing is to do what’s right. I’m doing that by not creating a front page Black vs. Black lawsuit and not detailing events that go back 20 years.

Milestone is the single most important event in the history of black comics. For over two decades I’ve led a campaign to keep Milestone relevant and make sure the phenomenal history of Milestone is correct and accurate. More people are aware Milestone is not owned by DC Comics and was Denys Cowan’s idea because of me.

I’ve devoted more to that effort than the three partners combined. My struggles to create opportunities for people of color in comics also dwarfs their collective work in that area. The talent program they now tout as their own was created by me, as was the universe for their most successful character Static Shock.

All of the above is easy to verify.

All that said, Milestone, the idea is more important to African Americans kids at large than anything I’ve done. A chance for black kids to see themselves represented fairly in the media is much more significant than Michael Davis.

Character counts in this world. Some think my character is lacking because I use words like fuck, shit and nigger in my written narrative. Many believe that somehow dilutes my good character. I think those individuals should get a clue.

Here’s a hard truth about this industry. People talk the talk, but few walk the walk. When it’s time for my annual San Diego Comic-Con party, everybody’s my buddy. When there was a rumor that Milestone stole its business plan a great many of my buddies were quick to co-sign that bullshit.

When my heart lay in a broken heap two years ago over the Milestone slight, there were those who said it was my behavior that caused Milestone to do me like they did.

Really? That’s the same behavior every single partner at Milestone as well as countless others benefitted from over many years.

I write and say what I think. When I think I’ve been used like someone’s bitch, I say so. I also say something when others are prescribed the same medicine.

Milestone’s treatment of me is relevant to the black comic book industry. How we treat each other is essential to future generations When black people are good to each other which is the vast majority of the time rarely does it make the news when those uncustomary moments are demonstrated black kids see integrity and leadership when bad it’s the lead story on Fox News.

Why use my account of the Milestone story when it’s so negative?

A few reasons. As said earlier it is only negative to me but used as the example why relationships are important it’s a grand one, and in the big picture, it’s positive.

I still support those books and the company. Regardless of what they did, I’m going to do the right thing.

That brings me back to DC Comics.

Dwayne McDuffie died in 2011. I was invited to I write a piece for the Static Shock tribute issue. My last published work in a DC comic was over twenty years ago. My exile ended officially two years before in 2009 when Diane Nelson took over as president. I’d met Diane ten years before that at Warner Bros and liked her immediately and vice versa. She assured me I was welcome back at DC and I have had a meeting there since.

That’s all cool on the surface but so is thin ice. Once you fall through, it’s colder than most can stand.

Let’s recap. I have an excellent relationship with the most influential person at DC Comics. Still, I don’t know my status. That’s because of Milestone. Why? DC has a relationship with Milestone in the bullshit world of Hollywood once you reach the boss and recount your tale of wrongful woe all is right in the world.

Why don’t I just call Diane and use her to pave the way for any project I may want to do at DC?

Respect.

  1. Respect for Dan Didio and Jim Lee, comics are their lane and going to Diane is as disrespectful as I could be.
  2. Respect for Diane Nelson. Sidestepping Dan and Jim is calling them incompetent which they are far from being. Also doing so calls into question her judgment which I’d never do.
  3. Respect for myself. I couldn’t sit in a room with Jim and Dan without addressing the Milestone elephant. Why resign them or me to that drama? If I weren’t already suffering from depression, that would do the trick.

That, boys and girl, is called knowing the game. Those who don’t shouldn’t play. So despite being blackballed by one of the big two how was I able to thrive?

Alternative means of finding distribution, budget and happiness.

The vast majority of top tier creators in the industry use one option.

There are numerous more, and I’ll touch on those next time. As well I will break down what option was preferred and why for the project I’m using for this series.

I’ve been in the game for a long time. What I use as examples are not intended as a ‘how to’ to get into the comics biz. If so the series would be named ‘how to ruin your career.’

The underlying point is to look at the big picture when entering this field. I believe with every fiber of my being one should always look to do the right thing. Comics are a very very small industry and to have a real shot, it’s counterproductive working on how well you write or draw without working on your relationships skills.

Put another way, when people tell who they are and what they are about, trust but verify.

John Ostrander, Temporary Celebrity!

DC Suicide Squad Pre Party

Last week I gave a review of the Suicide Squad movie. This week, I’m talking about my trip to NYC for the premiere.

I got in to the East Coast on 7/31 and stayed with my friends Tam and Kev English over in New Jersey, near to where I used to live. Tom Mandrake and Jan Duursema, who also live in the area, were going to be in town Sunday night before going on a trip so we all got together for a nice meal. Hilarity ensued.

Viola DavisTom and Jan also gave me a box full of Kros: Hallowed Ground booty. This is stuff that will be going out to our subscribers and it is killer cool.

I took the train into Manhattan on Monday to join my old bud and oft-time editor and my date for the evening, the lovely and effervescent Mike Gold.  We were meeting for a pre-festivities lunch. Among many other projects, Mike edited Legends, which is where my version of the Suicide Squad first appeared. True to form, I screwed up both the time and the location but eventually wound up where I was supposed to be, a little hot, a lot sweaty, but there.

It was a nice meal at Virgil’s BBQ (when with Mike, you’re quite likely to wind up eating barbecue) and then it was time to head out to the pre-premiere party being hosted by Dan Didio and DC Entertainment. On our way to a taxi (Mike suggested the subway but I was already overheated), we went to the heart of Times Square and there – lo and behold – was a huge frickin’ ad for the movie up on a building. It was at least four stories tall and wrapped around the building on either side. I was staggered.

On to the DC pre-party up at Pappardella on the upper west side. We were met outside by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Connor; seeing Jimmy always guarantees a good time and Amanda graces the company of wherever she is.

All sorts of DC stalwarts were inside including some old friends like Paul Levitz, Mike Barr, and Keith Giffen. Was also joined by Adam Glass and his wife at our table in the corner. Adam had written the initial issues of the New 52 edition of the Squad and we were able to chat Squad shop. Great guy, good writer, and a fun table companion.

I also got to meet Geoff Johns face-to-face for the first time. We’ve traded more than a few emails but have never been able to be in the same place at the same time. Geoff has recently been promoted to President as well as Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment and I had a chance to congratulate him. He sat down and we had just a really good chat. In addition to being a really good writer, Geoff is a hell of as nice guy.

Ostrander DivaThey got some group photos of all of us at Pappardella and then it was time to walk over to the nearby Beacon Theater for the premiere. We got off the buses and it was amazing: there was major security, both private and city, and barriers and people behind barriers looking for stars and celebrities. I was dazzled and dazed. I started to follow the herd towards the theater until I heard someone calling my name. It was Dan Didio as well as my date gesturing me over to a large air conditioned tent right there on Amsterdam Avenue. I mean, the air conditioning units were huge. I was supposed to go in that way. I wasn’t sure why but I went there.

Inside there was a backdrop and lots of press and photographers. I was in a spotlight and, swear to God, they were calling “John, look over here.” “John. Over this way.” “John, look straight ahead.” Flashes flashed and I had on my best deer caught in the headlights look. It was weird.

My baptism by strobes completed, I was escorted out of the tent and to the theater and given my assigned seat. The Beacon is no small theater (albeit a beautiful one) and every seat was assigned. I sat in the middle of the DC row and settled in. Geoff Johns was two seats to my right but the one right next to me was vacant. I decided that seat belonged to my late wife and frequent Squad co-writer, Kim Yale. Knowing Kim, she was having a blast.

Pete Tomasi, my one-time editor on a lot of The Spectre, Martian Manhunter, and The Kents, came over for a chat. It was great to see him; it’s been far too long. Pete‘s also a freelance writer these days and a good one.

I’ll admit to being dazzled. A lot of fuss was being made over me and more than a few people came up and said that this was my night as well; that none of this would have been happening without me. I guess that’s technically true but it’s a little hard for me to wrap my brain around.

Anyway, it comes time for the movie and the director, David Ayer, comes out to say a few words and he brings out the entire cast of the movie. Loud cheers all around. The cast walks off and the movie begins.

I reviewed the movie last week and I’ll double down on it. I’ve seen it again since then, with My Mary (who couldn’t make it to the premiere) at IMAX and in 3-D and I liked it even more. I understand that there’s people who don’t agree with me and that’s fine; different tastes for different folks. For example, Mary likes broccoli and I can’t stand it, referring to it as “tiny trees”. But I loved the Squad movie and I’ll see it still again.

One note about it and it’s a very minor spoiler. I knew ahead of time that they had named a building used in the movie the John F. Ostrander Federal Building. I knew it was there, I knew it was coming up and yet, somehow, I missed seeing it. The DC row cheered but I didn’t see it until we went to the IMAX. Go figure.

There were cheers when the movie was over and then it was time to get onto the buses and go to the after-party. It was held in a huge hall with parts of it made up to look like Belle Reve (I’m told it was on display at SDCC and then moved east). There was food, there was drink, there was a DJ and loud music; DC had a private area off to one side. I understood the stars of the movie were in attendance and had their own area as well.

This may surprise some folks but not, I think, those who know me well. I sometimes get a case of the shys; I feel awkward where I feel somewhat out of place. I saw Kevin Smith there and wanted to go up and talk with him but he was talking to someone else so I wandered off. I didn’t want to bother him.

The one person I did want to meet was Viola Davis who played Amanda Waller. Amanda is special to me and Ms. Davis did a superb job, IMO, and I just wanted to tell her so. First, I had to deal with security. I walked up to a guy guarding the artist’s area; the Hulk is smaller than this guy. Real tall, shoulders the size of a football field – nobody was getting past him. Nobody.

I went straight to him, explained who I was and why I wanted to see Ms. Davis. He was polite, got a hold of someone who had to go check on me. While I waited, he deflected two or three others. The guy was good at his job.

Finally, someone came up to take me back the handful of steps to –. I introduced myself and then told her how much I enjoyed her performance. She was very gracious and lovely. I think, although I’m not certain, that I did not babble unduly.

And then I was done.

I might have liked to say hello to some of the other actors and especially the director but, plain and simple, I’d run out of nerve. My date had already left to catch a train and it was time for me to do the same. Penn Station was only a block or two away and that’s where I need to go to get back to Tam and Kev.

I’m reasonably certain in my heart that Kim was there at the party. She would have been in her element. She was an extrovert and she would have been dancing and drinking and chatting with the stars and flashing that megawatt smile. I’m also reasonably certain she’s still there; at many a Con, Kim would still be partying while I went to bed. I couldn’t keep up with her.

I said goodbye to Geoff Johns, got to Penn Station and went back to my friends in Jersey.

It was an experience totally unlike anything I’ve ever had. I don’t know if I’ll ever have another one like it. Even if I went to another movie premiere, this was my first one. As they say, you never forget your first.

I was a temporary celebrity. I’ve done lots of interviews connected with the event and I’ll probably do a few more, told the same stories or given the same answers a lot of times. I’ve been dipped in the waters of fame. There were faces on the other side of the barriers in front of the theater or the after party, looking at me, wondering who I was. I must have been Somebody. For the moment, maybe I was.

I’m home now. The dishes need washing, this column has to be finished, and one of the cats wants attention. That’s who I am and I’m happy with that. The rest will fade as it should. I’ll tell you this, though – it sure as hell was fun while it lasted! For that night, I was John Fucking Ostrander with my name of the side of a building in a big ass movie..

Yeah. That was cool.

Michael Davis: Dan Didio, Dorothy & The Case For Kool-Aid (Uncut)

DiDio

Mr. Khosla,

I read your piece “The Case Against Dan Didio.”

I’m rarely impressed, but you wrote an impressive article. The attention to detail, footnotes, research and overall thoughtfulness you put into making your case was indeed extraordinary.

Kool-AidI’m a bit taken aback by your use of my article as the motivation to write yours. My article why are we still complaining about Dan Didio had little written about Mr. Didio. It certainly wasn’t a defense of his work nor a damning of it. He and others mentioned were only used to illustrate my outlook.

Much of what you wrote regarding my views and work can do with a bit of clarity. I fear what you’ve constructed in your narrative is somewhat unbalanced and frankly unfair.

For example, placing quotes around a word when no one is speaking gives the distinct impression you don’t believe, care or respect my resume. You choose to describe mentor as “mentor.” For the life of me sir I have no idea why you would cast such an adverse slight at me.

My Bad Boy Studio Mentor program has achieved a fair amount of success. By all means feel free to ask Bernard Chang, John Paul Leon, Shawn Martinborough, Aaron McGruder and Brett Lewis, who mentored them.

There are more whom you are welcome to request confirmation from; I’ve been very fortunate to have had a small hand helping numerous young men and women join our beloved profession.

You could also speak to Chris Claremont or director Bill Duke. Both called me looking for a talented young person to work with them.

That girl I referred to Chris was Ali Morales. Ali went on to become DC Comics and perhaps the industry’s first Latino woman editor. Tatiana El-Khouri started as Bill’s assistant and finished running his company; now she’s running her own.

Thinking of my Bad Boys (and girls) swells my heart and moistens my eyes. I dare say those who came from my Bad Boy program are some of the best of the best. It matters little what else I’ve achieved in life nothing compares with the love and pride I feel for them.

I’m sure you can now appreciate why “mentor” cut me to the quick.

Hopefully, speaking to any of the above will result in a bit of lucidity into my background If you ever see fit to write about my mentorship program again.

You sir, forgive me for saying so, were a bit heavy handed in your use of conjecture. Nonetheless, it’s not surprising you would write about me in such a manner.

Sadly, that’s the industry model these days. I wrote about such in the very article you referenced so often. The venom and hate displayed in comics today and my hope for a reversal of that trend was the point of my column.

Sir, when you have a moment I’d like for you to clear something up for me. I just can’t fathom why you would use my article to go and do the very thing I wrote may damn us and please spell your name phonetically so if we meet I pronounce it correctly.

And it’s all anyone is talking about.

I mentioned I consider you a wee bit unfair in your analysis of my words.

Please consider the following from my article: The movies making the most money are from our house. But we’d rather bitch about Dan Didio still running DC than applaud Eric Stephenson, publisher at Image Comics. Eric gave the greatest comic book speech since Uncle Ben told Peter Parker; with great power, comes great responsibility.

“I’d like to talk about the future, but first, we’re going to do some time travel, back to a time when there was no Internet, no Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram. A time when there were no comic book stores.”

That was Eric’s spectacular opening and it got better from there.

We should still be talking about it. The industry coverage of that speech?

Almost none. Perhaps if Eric had started his speech with the following, we would still be talking about it.

“I’d like to talk about the future, but first, we’re going to do some time travel, back to a time Dan Didio wasn’t screwing up DC, Marvel didn’t suck, and there was no Dark Horse because there shouldn’t be any damn Dark Horse.”

Yep, we’d still be talking about that.

I dare say with your musings put in the manner you put them, we are.

Mr. Khosla, I don’t know you but from your writings, it does appear you are an educated man. You certainly have a passion concerning comic books and I do believe you have comics’ best interest at heart.

I’m very much at my wits end pondering why you transformed what I wrote into something I did not write with your explanations.

I wrote: I once loved the comics industry with a passion almost incomprehensible even to myself but the industry I loved so is gone. What remains is a fat out of shape ghost of its former self. A snake oil salesman selling a yearly new everything hoping fans will consider it a glorious new tune.

You wrote: This is how we’re starting a defense of Dan DiDio – by having to acknowledge that comic industry under his supervision has become an “out of shape ghost of its former self.”

Uhm. Okay. Great argument.

And the victim of comic fans, according to Mr. Davis?

Mr. Davis, eh? If you insist of addressing me so formally, please afford me the courtesy of doing it correctly. I feel it’s only fair after your “mentor” slights you address me as Dr. Davis as I have a Ph.D., please forgive me for my rudeness if this offends you, it is not my intention.

The following is another example of the slanting of my words.

You wrote Mr. Davis continues by trying to identify the culprit – not Mr. DiDio, but of course, comic fans.

I wrote What slays me and I fear will destroy us all is how we see, speak and represent ourselves. Character assassination over a creative decision. Damning a company, creator or content because someone wrote or drew something someone took issue with, rumors perceived as news, news handled like press releases were all once virtually repudiated as just being silly.

The problem with comics is the fans are not nice enough to the people who make them.

That is patently unjust my friend and even more so given life for me these days have been incredibly unfair. I won’t burden you with my many tales of woe. However, I do think the following incident is somewhat appropriate to share with you.

Within the last year, I’ve lost three dogs. I cannot express to you the pain that caused me. No, you have not caused me any pain sir. That’s not the reason I’m sharing that with you.

After some time, I intend to get another dog. To that end it just so happens your article appeared on the day I was wondering when the next time I’d have to teach another little bitch not to shit in my house.

It seems that day is today and the time is now.

We interrupt this professional rebuttal for a word from the wrong nigga to fuck with:

Motherfucker, where the fuck did you see Dan’s name anywhere near the quote you used? Where did you read I blamed the fans?

Nowhere. It’s not there. You made that up.

I’m simply amazed how you pulled that “response” to my article off. No one points out the level of bullshit that you shovel down their throats. Sure, I’ve seen people disagree with you, but I have yet to see anyone take you to task for the little fact that nothing you contribute to me exists anywhere in the article.

Nowhere. Like the emperor, the little bitch has no clothes.

The industry is eating up what is the comic book equivalent of weapons of mass destruction. Just like Bush, you picked a target to attack because it was convenient and you made a convincing case by writing smoke and mirrored attack on me.

Just like Bush, there was nothing there. It didn’t exist it was all bullshit.

I didn’t defend Dan’s leadership at DC anywhere in my article.

I also didn’t dismiss Dan’s leadership at DC anywhere in my article.

I don’t write in riddles my friend; don’t write leaving room for interpretation and I don’t write in some vague style, so later I can wiggle out of what I said.

Within my writings there is no need for deliberation, you don’t have to ponder shit nor is there any reason to think there is a hidden meaning. I write what I mean; say what I mean. You used me and my work to advance your agenda.

That was a bad idea.

I could give you a list of people and companies who tried that and but for one they all wrote me a check. The one that hasn’t got a pass up to now.

Relax dude; I’m not going to sue you. You’re a hell of a writer. That’s not a backward dig I mean that. Where you need help is in reading comprehension

Help is here, Bitch. Get out a pencil and paper because you’re about to get schooled.

Math

How many words were there between “I once loved the comic industry with a passion almost incomprehensible even to myself but the industry I loved so is gone. What remains is a fat out of shape ghost of its former self. A snake oil salesman selling a yearly new everything hoping fans will consider it a glorious new tune.”

And Dan Didio may be the most hated man in comics and for what?

  1. 325
  2. 6
  3. 9

The answer A. 325.

How the hell did you tie the two together? Oh wait, you used the weapons of mass destruction technique. Attack somebody who had nothing to do with the attack you wanted to make. Like Bush, you thought you could get away with it.

Surprise.

If I may paraphrase the immortal words of Bill Duke, bitch, you know you done fucked up, don’t you?

How many words are there in the entire article?

  1. 2564
  2. 10,000
  3. 1278

The answer is A. 2564

You gave every impression I’d devoted all my article to Dan. Apparently the people who backed you did not read what I wrote, or they are drinking the stupid flavored Kool-Aid.

Of the 2564 words how many words were written about Dan?

  1. 2563
  2. 2567
  3. 190

The answer is C. 190

I’ve heard about it but never tried it. How is the stupid Kool-Aid?

Geography

Using the following paragraph below show where Dan first appears.

“I once loved the comic industry with a passion almost incomprehensible even to myself but the industry I loved so is gone. What remains is a fat out of shape ghost of its former self. A snake oil salesman selling a yearly new everything hoping fans will consider it a glorious new tune.”

Where is Dan first located?

  1. 325 words before
  2. 325 words after
  3. In the same paragraph

The answer is B – 325 words after the quote.

Can you get addicted to Kool-Aid?

History

When did Michael Davis stop working with DC?

  1. He never stopped working with DC
  2. 1993
  3. 2016
  4. The day DC realized he was black
  5. The day he told a DC executive to suck his dick
  6. The day he refused to shut up about how fucked up DC was treating him while at Milestone.
  7. The day a VP at DC tried to prevent him from becoming President & CEO of Motown Animation and Filmworks
  8. The day the Earth stood still
  9. The day Abhay Khosla realized Doctor Davis has no goddamn reason to kiss DC’s ass, never has, never will.

The answer is late 1993. That’s 23 years.

Fun fact: E, F, G, and H are all true. You think perhaps there was no love lost between DC and me?

Rich Johnson changed my original title, which was “What’s Love Got To Do With it?” Why are we still complaining about Dan Didio is all Rich and being the Johnson that he is he knew full well someone would take his bait.

I like Richard. He’s an important part of our industry. He’s got his critics, but a man without critics is a man with no success. I let what he does slide because he knows his audience.

But, like anyone else if I have an issue with him I voice it, and I have two. Editing my work, so you get F**K instead of what I wrote and that so-called comics power list.

But I digress. Peter David! Hey! As always I look forward to seeing you at my annual Comic-Con party!

Your article paints me as defending Dan with a passion; I didn’t. In fact, I gave an example of how I stood by him when he was at ABC and he, for whatever reason, has not shown me the same courtesy since being at DC.

That to me is a dick move but if that’s how he wants to be let him be that. I got other shit to do, and I certainly don’t need DC Comics to pay my mortgage. Yeah, I’d like to work with them again and on paper, I should be.

I have a long albeit novel relationship with Dan. I met Diane Nelson when she was still at Warner Consumer products, and we still exchange the occasional email. Lastly, Jim Lee and I have been in business together it was Image who published my Machineworks imprint.

I think fondly of the 3 am meeting I had with Image at the Hyatt during Comic Con way back when. I bare no one at DC any malice, and I’m glad to see each of those people whenever our paths cross.

Fun Fact: DC Comics is still my universe of choice, and I’ve said that regardless of the state my relationship is with them.

But, like I said I got other shit to do.

Why’d you do it? Nothing in my article was interpreted correctly so again, why’d you do it?

The first step is to admit you have a problem. It’s the Kool-Aid isn’t it?

My clearly made point was this; all this negative energy spent on Dan would be best spent trying to create a forward movement for the industry. People have been trying to get Dan fired for well over a decade.

How the fuck is that working out for you?

I’m always amazed when someone’s goal in life is to fuck up someone else’s.

You’re like a guy who desperately wants to date a girl. When she repeatedly says no you set out to impress her even more. Flowers and candy don’t work so you post something sweet on her Facebook page a poem. Danielle is her name and your name for your little limerick.

She blocks you.

You then embark on a campaign to make her pay. Your poem becomes a book-length attack designed to shame, sadden and hurt her.

You post, The case against Dan Didio, I mean Danielle secure in the knowledge this will destroy her.

She laughs it off. She laughs you off.

Soon you realize a cruel irony. Like Baum’s Dorothy who wanted nothing but to find a way home, she realized the way was her.

She became her way home.

The thing most wanted from “Danielle” is what you’ve become.

A little pussy.

The truth that you damn well knew unless you’re a fucking idiot was Dan made a minor part of an extensive article.

Nothing you attribute to me concerning Dan, fans and my point of view is accurate. The article’s use of my work is not just inaccurate Zero is written remotely slightly, somewhat or vaguely like you describe.

I’m a simple guy I don’t write in riddles I don’t write with conjecture as my primary source. I never blamed the fans for anything.

Bottom line. If you want to pick apart something I’ve done, criticize something I wrote, have at it just don’t rewrite it to suit your personal bullshit.

I wrote While many in the industry continue to turn on each other, some even creating another tempest of hatred once the last storm has lost the wind that propelled it Len Wein just writes another story creates another character all done without a hateful word towards his fellow creators.

Did you skip over that?

Or

kitten-1You’ve just being a dick?

Pick a side, pussy? Dick? Which one are you? You can’t be both, unless you pronounce your last name Kardashian.

Oh, and one more thing about being a “mentor” you might want to check with Walt Simonson as well. Walt came to my studio to see how I ran my mentorship program after accepting a teaching position at the School Of Visual Arts.

Fun fact: Rosamond Bernier did the same when she decided to add a young adult series to her career. I never assume anything, but I have a feeling you’ve never heard of her.

Google her; that may give you a small window into who you’re dealing with and at what level I operate.

You’re passionate about the industry I get that. I’ll be the first to tell you I’ve made many mistakes, and I own up to them.

Many years ago I labeled Bob Chapman a racist. I was young and hotheaded and saw things through a lens of bigoted pain. Bob isn’t a racist he and his family are the salt of the Earth.

I wrote and published Bob an apology the very next week when I was proved wrong. When next I saw him I did so in person then I found his wife and then so again. I was young and hotheaded, but I was not stupid. I was wrong, and I owned up to it.

You are wrong. Do the right thing.

You may think I’m writing this in anger. I’m not, this is far from reaching my level of rage.

I’m saddened by the amount of work you put into this was used to fuel yet another fruitless attack on for better or worse one of the leaders of our industry. You’ve added another reason comics get no respect. Hollywood should be our partners, but instead, we are their bitch.

Lastly, if you want to get black boys into your van, it’s easy. Simply tell them you’re a little pussy.

Michael Davis From The Edge: All You Need Is Love

BLEEDSTORM

My mom died thinking she threw away a copy of Superman number one from 1938.

Yes, I do indeed realize just how lame that must sound, and it would be if I gave a flying fish about that book with regards to my mother. I don’t but it’s important to the story I’m trying to write and just so I’m crystal clear, I’d happily burn the last copy left on Earth to spend just a minute more with my mother.

It was Superman number two she tossed out, and you can read the whole story entitled A Comic Book Tale on ComicMix.

I told her it was number one while trying to make the point that she should never throw out another comic book of mine, ever, and she never did. I have been keeping that my secret weapon for when I needed a real ‘gotcha’ to use on my mom. She was always just to quick for me when it came down to… well… to anything.

I’m a funny guy, but she was funnier and smarter than me, and I’m a smart guy. Despite what you may have heard, I am not a loud mouth, thug, tasteless or immature. Bizarre is a matter of opinion as is nauseating and although a 160 IQ does not preclude me from being stupid (been there, be back soon) I’m nobodys’ moron.

I know. I didn’t believe it either.

All my life my mother said goodnight to me one of two ways: “Goodnight genius child of mine” or ” Goodnight Bartholomew.”

“Bartholomew’ was my mom’s way of stopping me from asking the same question repeatedly, such as “Why don’t I have a middle name?”

The last time she said goodnight to me I was in her hospital room during what would turn out to be her last two weeks on earth. “Michael, you are a genius. However, I have forgotten more than Scooter ever knew. So keep that in mind.”

That was brutal. Mortal Combat fatality, your 90-year old sweet as sugar grandmother, shouts Ooooooooh Shit all up in your face, brutal.

Scooter, the childhood nickname for my world renowned artist cousin William T. Williams.

Scooter once told me he had forgotten more than I would ever know. He said this to me after I refused to concede a point during a discussion about Picasso.

“Picasso can’t draw!”

I boldly told this to a man whose paintings hang in some of the world’s greatest museums. So badass is he when DC’s long-time publisher (and former art critic) Jenette Kahn found out he was my cousin she insisted on meeting him. In my defense, I was 12 or so when I threw down such stupidity, but the fact of the matter is his statement made today would still ring true.

In those two weeks with Jean (yes I call my mother Jean) I’d let her have her fun recounting my childhood antics then, always before any visitor departed, I’d hit them with the Superman #1 story. That tale always brought a smile to Jean’s face, and she would follow with an embarrassing story of my youth.

Without fail those accounts began with her patented; “Mike and those comics of his…”

It turns out a great many of my mother’s favorite stories had to do with my love for comics, like the time my sister got me to cease my evil little brother antics for an entire week after her friend Yvette promised me ‘lots of new comics.’

Damn Yvette and her evil lying demon eyes!

I was amazed at the amount of remembrances conjured up in that hospital room with comic books the lead or supporting a narrative. I always thought my comic book hobby was, like me, a wee bit annoying to my family.

It appears I was not paying attention.

My cousin named one of his paintings Batman, which at the time, I considered the coolest thing ever and that’s saying something because that was the year I discovered girls. One day I had a choice between seeing Sadie Jackson’s boobs or debating with Julian Butler, my then-best friend, why Swamp Thing was much cooler than Man-Thing. I choose to argue with Julian who I thought would forever be my best friend.

Then one day he just punched me in the face and ran away. That’s true, and I had no idea why. Damn, that keeps happening to me and still no explanation or Sadie Jackson titty action.

I never realized how comics played a part with others in my family.

It was my mom who turned me onto the original Captain Marvel and taught me the art of the comic book deal, buy two, trade one. It was another cousin, Greg, who sold me seven golden age comics including that Superman number two for a buck.

Those and other memories, once among my most cherished are now painful to relive. Without my mom to co-sign, my trip down that lane brings little joy these days.

I once loved the comic industry with a passion almost incomprehensible but that industry I loved so is gone. What remains is a fat out of shape ghost of its former self. A snake oil salesman selling a yearly new everything hoping fans will consider it a glorious new tune.

But it’s the same old song.

I watch as new universes are considered original ideas and wonder who else thinks the same characters in a different setting, i.e., ‘universe’ isn’t new?

Tom Sawyer in another setting is a new story to be sure, but it’s still Tom Sawyer. You make Tom a black kid and he’s still Tom. You put Black Tom in another setting where he’s painting a fence; he’s shot by the police who take his white paint covered brush for a gun, but he’s still Tom.

It’s most likely just me but that ‘new universe’ thing now feels fake and a lazy way to avoid trying anything new. No, originality is not dead in comics, but most of what are unquestionably original concepts are happening far, far away from where I live which for better or worse is DC and Marvel.

That same old song is a problem, but it’s not the problem.

Some of the brightest people in entertainment are in comics, so this too shall pass I’m sure as it always does.

What slays me and I fear will destroy us all is how we see, speak and represent ourselves.

Character assassination over a creative decision. Damning a company, creator or content because someone wrote or drew something someone took issue with, rumors perceived as news, news handled like press releases were all once virtually repudiated as just being silly.

Like the once King of Rock & Roll, I fear comics have left the building for perhaps the last time and like the king will die on the bathroom floor face down in the shit we’ve made.

Dan DiDio may be one of the most hated men in comics and for what? For doing his job? Back before Dan was running DC, he was a network executive at ABC. I sold Dan and his partner at ABC Linda Steiner an animated show called “Monkey But…” That’s not a typo – that’s how the title of the show is spelled; it was a nutty idea. The best way to describe it was how I pitched it: Animaniacs on crack.

Dan and I spoke every day and got pretty friendly. Then Disney bought ABC and Dan, and Linda’s jobs were in play. The Hollywood game was to wait until Disney settled on whoever would be running ABC Saturday mornings, I made it clear I wanted Dan and Linda on the MB team even after it became apparent Disney did not.

When Dan and Linda were let go, I called to offer support keeping in mind talented people always end up somewhere else. Dan ended up at DC Comics and although we’ve had two project meetings getting them were, let’s say, not as easy as you would think given our history.

Yeah, that sucks.

I thought he and I had become friends and have the emails to back that thought up. I thought the same of Bob Wayne, who for a brief moment in time was my DC Comics running buddy, until he wasn’t.

In today’s comic industry climate, I’ve ample reason to dislike or even hate Dan, Bob, Paul Levitz and others if I rolled like that… but I do not.

Dan brought a TV series from me; Bob took me to the single best convention ever in Texas no less… and Paul was an extraordinary mentor and friend.

I couldn’t hate these people if I were paid too and trust me people have tried. I’m just not that guy. That’s not who my mother raised. Each of those men represented a piece of my comics’ journey, and largely it was good.

weinI’ve voiced what issues I’ve had with each of them at some point but hate them because of such? I’m an adult with what I hope is a bit of integrity so, no.

Dan, Paul and Bob all love comics, in fact, I know not one single person who got into comics just as a job. Everyone I know who writes and draws comics got into it because they loved comics.

A few months ago I had dinner with Len Wein and his lovely wife, Christina. Anyone looking would have thought it was just three friends having a meal.

But across from me sat the man who has created more iconic characters than anyone with the possible exception of Stan Lee. Stan usually gets the nod outright, and his work is the work of legend to be sure. That said consider the following, Len has created A-list characters both at Marvel and DC. Although he ran Marvel for a year, most of his creative output as a writer had to find a home whereas Stan’s creation already had one.

Stan is still the man the man his mark on comics and pop culture so high it’s doubtful anyone ever reaches it. The same could easily be said for Len. Len’s been in the game for over 40 years; I’ve known him about 20.

Marv WolfmanIn all that time I’ve never heard Len rant against anyone, and if anybody has a right to pitch a fit, it’s Len Wein. Whatever issues Len has if he voices them the goal is never to harm anyone. Len still talks about comics as if he were still a kid going taking the DC comics tour with his best friend, Marv Wolfman.

Both were hoping against hope that they would be discovered and start to work in comics. They were, and few creators can match what these two have done in comics.

What they haven’t done is take offense to someone’s work because they don’t agree with the person who did it. They don’t call creator’s horrible names or damn an entire company because they don’t like what one individual is doing.

Len, Marv, Mike and Paul all still talk about comics as they once did, with love and respect for the medium. Those guys have done more for the industry than every hater who is talking shit combined.

Be you a new fan who brought your first comic today or a superstar creator in the industry for 40 years jumping on a bandwagon of hate, bitching about something other than story or art adds nothing and takes away much from an industry already thought of as childish and immature.

I understand and support if attacked then by all means have at it. But piling on a creator because it’s the flavor of the month? It’s that sort of thinking that keeps us Hollywood’s bitch.

The movies making the most money are from our house. But we’d rather bitch about Dan DiDio still running DC than applaud Eric Stephenson, publisher at Image Comics. Eric gave the greatest comic book speech since Stan Lee told Peter Parker that with great power comes great responsibility.

“I’d like to talk about the future, but first, we’re going to do some time travel, back to a time when there was no Internet, no Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram. A time when there were no comic book stores.”

That was Eric’s spectacular opening and it got better from there. We should still be talking about it. The industry coverage of that speech?

Almost none. Perhaps if Eric had started his speech with the following, we would still be talking about it.

“I’d like to talk about the future, but first, we’re going to do some time travel, back to a time Dan DiDio wasn’t screwing up DC, Marvel didn’t suck, and there was no Dark Horse because there shouldn’t be any damn Dark Horse.”

Yep, we’d still be talking about that.

I believe, and I could be wrong its love that motivated the modern comic book industry. We live in an age where artists and writers have become publishers and owners; love guided them in, and it’s that love that’s been forgotten.

The love my mother showed by indulging my comic book passion became clearer to me during those two weeks with her. She explained how happy my reading made her and happier still when comics lead me to art. No easy thing to co-sign for a woman raising two kids by herself in the projects.

The Jon Cnagy; learn to draw art set was an early art gift from Jean. Soon I graduated to Dr. Martin’s 16 color starter kit, black bound sketch books and about a thousand Rapidograph pens. Not essentials by any means but my mother made sure if I wanted something for my artwork I had it.

A career in art wasn’t on the list of jobs that would lift you out of the ghetto. But it was all part of the plan to keep me off the streets and alive. Comics lead me to art which brings me to apprentice in my cousin’s studio which leads to a career in professional art.

I once loved my profession with a passion, now not so much and that just fucking sucks. I can use as much love as I can get these days, hell who couldn’t?

Like I said, I think it is love that’s missing from our industry. Love of our craft, love of our history and most importantly a love of ourselves.

No idea how to fix it, but somehow I’d very much like to get back to feeling about comics the way I did when I teased my mother. The way Len, Stan, Paul, Marv, Eric and yes Dan still talk about comicsL with love and hope for the future.

Bitch and moan all day about the work that’s the right of anyone who buys comics. That right does not extend to slandering, threatening or spreading rumor as fact, leave that to the Donald.

While many in the industry continue to turn on each other, some even creating another tempest of hatred once the last storm has lost the wind that propelled it Len Wein just writes another story creates another character all done without a hateful word towards his fellow creators.

That’s not to say Len can’t create a storm. He has. She’s in the X-Men.