The first thing that popped into my mind when I turned on MSNBC’s Way Too Early With Willie Geist – yes, I get up for work “way too early”– and saw, instead of Mr. Geist talking about the Presidential campaign or Jon Stewart’s latest and brilliant riff on the newest foolishness in this nation’s ongoing political foibles, a deployment of cop cars and ambulances flashing red, white, and blue – an ironic picture, actually, now that I think about it – in the parking lot of a movie theatre complex in Aurora, Colorado was, “Oh, shit, now what?”
Then, as I discovered that a mass shooting had taken place at the first showing of The Dark Knight Rises, my second thought was, “Wonder how soon it’ll be before they (the media) connect it to comics?”
By the time I got to work, changed into scrubs, and was in the staff lounge sipping my tea and watching the television along with everyone else – which was 6:55 A.M. EDT – FOX News was already claiming that the alleged shooter, James Holmes, had stated that he had done it because “I am the Joker.”
*Note: Never saw or heard this supposed statement repeated on any other TV or radio news show. FOX News stopped running this bit of faux information, but also never retracted or apologized for it.
“But Heath Ledger’s dead,” said a staff member.
“Oh, shit,“ I said to myself again. Out loud I said, “The Joker’s not even in this one. Bane’s the villain.”
“Who’s Bane?” another staff member asked me.
“Stupid fucking comic book people,” said another. Then she looked at me and remembered that I had worked in comics and that I write this column. “Sorry,” she muttered.
I bring this up because of Mike’s column.
Yeah, San Diego got a lot of “mainstream” press, but how much of it was about comics? Not much. Most of it, even in Entertainment Weekly, covered movies and television. The stuff that was about comics was of the usual KA-POW! BAM! variety about the fans showing up in costumes. Except for the announcement of a new Sandman story by my friend Neil (Gaiman), which made the pages of the “old grey lady,” i.e., the New York Times.
It doesn’t surprise me that the Times got the story of the origin of comics publishers and creators’ rights wrong. The paper also got it wrong when it did a story about Gail Simone being the first woman to write Wonder Woman. Gail called me to apologize, saying that someone (I forget who) had told her “you’re not the first, Mindy Newell was.” She also told me that she tried to tell the reporter this, but that the reporter didn’t want to hear it.
“Of course,” I said. “Because if DC admits you weren’t the first woman to write Diana’s stories, then where’s the publicity for DC, and where’s story for the New York Times to print?”
The point is that the story about Image was a publicity thing, Mike. Their P.R. department did their work, and the New York Times picked up the story. And if – that’s a big if – the Times reporter did his due diligence, as a good reporter should, and discovered that ‘the creators’ rights movement on a publishing level started with Denis Kitchen and his fellow ‘underground comix’ providers’ and that ‘the actual creators’ rights movement pretty much started…when folks like Will Eisner, Bob Kane, William Moulton Marston and Joe Simon and Jack Kirby negotiated their own deals with the existing publishers and retained certain rights and/or received cover billing and/or creator credit and/or royalties’ and that ‘First, Eclipse, Comico, Now, Malibu, and the rest – took all that several steps further. Creators received certain ownership rights, cover billing, creator credit and royalties,’” and if that reporter took this information to his editor, and if his editor had given the go-ahead to write all this…
Well, then, where’s the story about Image?
Well, yeah, the story could have still been about Image, and about how it’s following in the steps of its predecessors, but that not what the P.R. department of Image started.
And also, imho, the Times would not have cared about Image’s twentieth anniversary except for two things: The Walking Dead being such a huge hit on AMC, and the award-winning (rightly so) Neil Gaiman’s much publicized lawsuit with Todd MacFarlane.
‘Cause it’s all about the image.
And just for the record (and this has absolutely nothing to do with Gail herself)…
That article about Gail being the first woman to write Wonder Woman?
It really pissed me off.
TUESDAY MORNING: Michael Davis
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Emily S. Whitten