Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Maybe The Rama Is Getting Dogpiled (& The Dixon Saga)

I'm a comic industry gossip addict. I hit The Beat & Blog@ everyday...many times. I occasionally hit Journalista and Spurgeon's site. Journalista get hit daily from time to time, depending on how recently Dirk has picked a fight or stirred shit up on some topic.

I go to these sites because it seems to me that blog sites run with bits and fragments of news and stories more quickly. I think it is just the nature of the animal.

So, I'm a fan of the work done by The Beat and by Blog@, regardless of what people at either site might think of me. They are both damn entertaining.

That said...

I feel like the following from The Beat paints a disingenuous picture:

Covering breaking news seems to be a work in progress at the new ‘Rama. While l’Affaire de Chuck Dixon was all over the blogosphere last week, it was absent from Newsarama’s front page, something that did not escape Valerie’s notice. Matt Brady came back the next day with a solid story that was mostly background and no comment but at least it was something.

First of all, Newsarama wound up covering it on Blog@. Was it front page when there was little-to-know meat to the story? No. Could they have linked to the Blog@ coverage from the front page? Sure. But there seems to be an effort to trump it up into a bigger issue.

Then there's trying to frame Newsarama as responding to people criticizing their lack of front page coverage by giving it front page coverage the next day. The Beat seems to try to do this with subtlety in the above quoted piece. Occasional Superheroine did it with less subtlety by following this blog with "Guess What Story Is On The "Front Page" Of Newsarama?" Never mind that the front page article went live at 7:45am that morning, meaning it was certainly being worked on much of the previous night. That would seem to demonstrate that Newsarama was, gasp, trying to focus on good journalism practices more than rushing to get something on the front page that was already covered on Blog@ and countless other sites.

The final bit seems to be critical of Newsarama for their being nothing new in the reporting, despite their best efforts. They can't make anyone talk if they're unwilling (though, holy shit, what a difference a week makes with Chuck Dixon, apparently).

It seems like, due to the timing of this story with the changeover in the site, people want to see a major problem where there isn't one so they can tie it to the site transition.


Oh, while we're talking about the Dixon situation, Val's take seems to view the whole thing through the lens of her life instead of what actually went on with Dixon. Dixon spoke out like he did to defend his reputation and it is partially appropriate because DC wasn't doing anything to explain the situation? That's how I read it from her blog, but feel free to steer me in the right direction if I'm wrong. Because, if that's what she's saying, there are a few problems with it as it pertains to Dixon (but no problem with how it pertains to her; she may have avoided names, but she gave a clear picture of the circumstances).

  1. It would be kind of odd for DC to come out and announce that Dixon has been kicked off the books before there were any solicitations that would necessitate an explanation for his absence.
  2. If there's been any demonstration that DC was leaking negative info about why Dixon was no longer on the books, requiring him to counter by harshly ripping "someone" at the top, I haven't seen it. Feel free to link me to it in the comments if I missed it.
  3. Telling everyone you didn't quit doesn't really seem to defend your reputation. Bashing the conditions at the place you didn't quit doesn't seem to be much of a defense of one's reputation.
It seems clear that Dixon went a touch past defending his reputation in his blog commenting/Didio bashing. I can't argue for or against the comments being warranted or deserved. But I can certainly argue against them being necessary to protect against being slimed by his past employer. No, he seemed to be preemptively sliming his past executive editor. Last I checked (and I'll give you that it's been more than 24 hours), there still wasn't a clear picture of what exactly happened.

Chuck's not really being entirely fair when he says, "BG1, I simply stated that I was off my titles and that I did not quit. This was to get out in front of the rumors."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but no one knew anything to make rumors about until he decided to tell the world that he was off the books. THEN he had to get in front of rumors (that he created a vacuum and market for) by saying he didn't quit, which didn't exactly fill that vacuum.

In all of this, he goes through basically spelling out who the problem was by telling everyone who it wasn't. Shit, at some point, his not naming the person when he was doing everything BUT THAT to make it clear who he was talking about, his continued resistance to naming the name makes it seem like he's missing part of his anatomy. I won't say what part, but it certainly isn't the head and don't blame the shaft.

Funny that I haven't seen anyone (least of all Dixon) refute the rumor that Lynxara shared on the infamous Comics Should Be Good blog:

So I’ve heard an interesting rumor about this, not quite inside info, but sourced well enough I’m inclined to take it seriously. I cannot disclose the source as the information was passed along entirely off-the-record, so you may take this with a grain of salt.

What I’ve heard regarding this situation is that Dixon was approaching the books as regular runs and so had written very far ahead on all of his titles– I’m hearing something like two years’ worth of scripts. However, editorial didn’t give him full details of the outcome of upcoming events like Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis, so the vast bulk of what Dixon wrote ended up being unusable.

This led to sharp disagreements about rewriting the scripts and whether Dixon should have produced that much material in the first place, and presumably the end of Dixon’s employment at DC.

He wrote possibly two years ahead on off-shoot books. He knows that Robin will always be lower on the totem pole than Batman or Detective. Same goes double for Batman & The Outsiders. He doesn't stop to think that the main titles might dictate enough to the spin-off titles along the way to present a problem? Maybe he's just not used to writing a spin-off without having more of a hand in the parent titles?

So...again...he writes ahead, presumably gets told that some elements crucial to his writing ahead aren't usable, and he doesn't agree that he should have to scrap that work and start over? That makes DC the heel and Dixon a saint?

What other type of employment is that acceptable in? What other type of employment is that not basically quitting by fact of refusing to do your job? If I behaved like what his role in that rumored scenario in any job I had, I'd at least be denied several weeks of my unemployment, if allowed to file at all.


  1. Since when does not commenting on one person out of three or four companied with an assumption of a later statement reflecting upon that person constitute "bashing?" Rumors were swirling that Dixon left in a huff from his titles, and he wanted to put it right before other publishers saw those rumors and made a judgment on his character. I think his response was reasonable.
    Some things no one seems to be noting, though, is that Dixon was brought in to clean up BATO after the first issue was written (and probably more were for Bedard to be giving walking papers) and somehow bring the title into a new direction immediately. And then, what, five, six issues in, half of his characters are given away to Robinson's new JLA book while others are forced on him like Batgirl and Geoforce.
    As for working ahead on Robin to the detriment of mismatching a bible Morrison wrote but is apparently unwilling to share, well, who knows what went on there? Maybe Dixon was told to change direction once again, maybe he wasn't even offered the option, maybe he worked ahead on his own, maybe the editors wanted a definitive direction of their own title. Note: Jeanine Schaefer, editor of Robin and co-editor of BATO, has also left DC.
    So, as you can see, there is speculation aplenty to be had, and Dixon felt the need to put at least some to rest by saying he was let go. The thing is, he also said he was never fired in the normal fashion -- what about that? Was he turning in a script and told to hold onto it for a little bit while they worked up a form letter? Who knows, but I think trying to fault him for defending himself against rumors proves why he needed to do so in the first place.

  2. Jammer: There were NO RUMORS until he decided to say he was no longer with DC. And his answers have only allowed there to be more rumors, really, not less. His statements seem more focused on attacking that one particular person than actually defending himself. Go read up on his quotes before trying to suggest that there's an assumption going on and that the statements aren't of the bashing variety.

    I mean, c'mon...really...if you can sit there and suggest that he didn't wind up fine-tuning it to clearly point it at Dan Didio, you're just not being honest with yourself. All the Jim Shooter compare/contrast stuff quickly ceases being anything about defense of personal reputation and is everything about crossing the line over to attacks.

  3. I put in my two cents on this in Val's comments (which Blogger is not letting me link to for some reason), but I agree with you, Dixon's done a little extra work in the "setting the record straight" department.

  4. Thanks for the support, Evie. :) I want to make it clear, again, that I think her explanation regarding her own speaking out fits like a glove. Just don't think it fits what Dixon has done that well.

  5. So, he should have just let the solicits come out, and then everyone would know that he was off all his books since his name wasn't there? There'd be no rumors then, of course! He told his fans on his personal site he was no longer on the books they likely read -- so, he deserves to have rumors come from that?
    That was one of the first articles that appeared right after he posted that he would no longer be at DC.
    And sure, he maybe implying it is Didio's decision/fault, but throwing barbs without specifying anyone is unprofessional but it is not "bashing." Bashing would be for him to come out say, "It sucks that one of the two major publishers still willing to hire me is kicking me out for doing my job and it is Dan Didio's fault solely."
    But it's conjecture, and I think saying one view is more enlightened because you can read between the lines better than the next person seems dishonest.

  6. Jammer, you're still being disingenuous. Have you followed this whole thing? The inflammatory statements he made about DC led him to continually say who he wasn't talking about (not talking about any of his editors, not talking about Paul Levitz or Warner Brothers) until the only person left was Didio. Well, there's that and the fact that all his Jim Shooter talk targeted it at someone in a similar position at DC.

    He named Dan Didio without naming him. You can't honestly have read everything Dixon said from an unbiased position and not see that.

    Should he have waited for the solicits to come out? I don't know. Who am I to say? But I will say that you can't argue that he was put in a position where he had to make a statement to defend himself from rumors when there weren't any rumors to defend from yet. He created the online speculation by putting out such a statement without any details. No one can claim that he's a victim of circumstances as a way to explain his behavior.

    Funny, by the way, that you'd read between the lines and add in liberal assumptions to suggest that he "got fired for doing his job". Writing ahead on work-for-hire done on spin-off titles isn't really doing one's job. When you know that other books really dictate what you can do in your book, writing that far ahead seems to be either done out of naivety or in hopes that getting your ideas out there first might lead the company to let ideas from a spin-off titles steer the parent title.

    I don't know if you're trying to promote or something, but they didn't come close to having anything first or amongst the first. Their article was posted around 6pm on Friday, 6/13, more than two days after The Beat and more than a day after Matt Brady (who even got ripped for not having a front page article on it until the early morning of 6/12/08).

    And, again, if he was so worried about his reputation and that was why he got out in front by announcing his departure, why not explain a little more initially? Why has he still not given a clear picture of what happened? It certainly isn't out of concern for professionalism at this point.

  7. What's worrying about this is that it seems Morrison is making stuff up and changing it when he wants to, and no one is trying to reign him in from the DC editors. Maybe it's because he's got that quasi-editor position, or maybe they want everyone to like them, I don't know.

    All I know is that Dixon is very loyal, and something must have really ticked him off to bring out slams on Didio (and he has a right to be upset, especially with Robin just stopping right after he fixed the Spoiler problem).

    And the argument that Dixon wouldn't change his scripts is kinda half-cocked; he did a lot of tie-ins with other events when he was doing Nightwing/RObin/BoP, such as Last Laugh, OWAW, Bruce Wayne murder/fugitive/cowboy.

    Basically, Morrison has shown he changes stuff when he wants; Final Crisis and the Didio Thanksgiving jaunt, the ending to Seven Soldiers being changed (from what I remember, which added to the delays even more than waiting for JH Williams), and the way Batman is off the September solicits point to Morrison getting different rules than others, and editors not keeping everyone in the loop.

    It's kind of like Oprah getting to kick a couple's wedding party out of a country club in California at the last minute because she wanted to hold a fundraiser for Obama there. She got to do it because she's Oprah, but it doesn't mean the people getting the shaft can't call bullshit on it, which is what Dixon is beating around the bush to say (I'm rambling, aren't I?)

    But the whole thing about the Robin and BatO editor leaving means there was a big break somewhere. Maybe the Dibny's could solve this...

  8. I really don't get all the Grant hate in this situation. Ostensibly, people are complaining that Grant is getting to decide where things go...because it prevented Dixon from deciding where things go?

    Like it or not, Morrison is the more bankable name out of the two. He's on the higher profile book. DC's been pubbing Morrison's Bat run for what...over a year now? If the rumor given is true, he apparently writes far ahead either without personally making sure it won't get jammed up by anything else or having an editor that wasn't checking for the same.

    But who knows exactly why he's not at DC? All I know is that he handled no longer being at DC in a fairly immature and unprofessional manner.

    Being rightfully pissed off doesn't justify the behavior. It just makes bad behavior more forgivable.

  9. I don't think its Morrison hate so much as him not getting to go by the rules as everyone else. You know, fair play and Mr. Terrific and all that jazz.

    And it's not so much Morrison dictating where things are going but changing things at the last minute and requiring everyone else connected, who knew a certain guideline in order to plan their stories at least a few months in advance for artists, to take the burden of scrapping it and making it fit. "Ooops, my bad" is not going to cut it.

    "Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part…"

    DC should know better than to scrap stuff at the last minute, ala Infinite Crisis and Armageddon 2001 and Joker Last Laugh. They always end badly.

  10. "Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part…"

    Gotcha. To my knowledge, there's not been even rumor that Grant changed Bat plans at the last minute...not until people had to try to come up with reasons for why Dixon is gone. There's only a rumor that list minute changes happened with Final Crisis...and that's still just rumor.

  11. First of all, what Dixon did was highly unprofessional. End of discussion, in almost any other field it would be looked poorly upon. It will certainly not help in future interviews.

    What is funny to me is that all of this Dixon/Morrison brew ha ha has led to more speculation on Didio's position. Since when do we take the word of disgruntled (and apparantly fired - although at this point, I am thinking that maybe Dixon was like "well if that's the way it is then why am I here" and he got a nice "don't let the door hit you on the way out" in response)employees and clearly insane people over the words of others.

    What Morrison did, whether correct or not, was just as unprofessional. He threw is boss under the bus in an interview. But to be clear, if he was given carte blanche on Batman and Final Crisis (as he appears to have been) - then DC decided to give him complete control over a flagship title and the big event book - why would he have to cowtow to others? He has been told, do what you want... that's what we hired you for. I certainly don't hear anyone bitching about Geoff Johns in all of this with his corner of the universe and his not wanting anyone playing in his sand box ("that's right Sinestro Corps can't be in Countdown").

  12. I'll give you Morrison's answer not being professional, but I'd not put it in the same league as Dixon running around with blog comments. Grant definitely could have come up with a more PR-savvy answer, but, as with his not working to match up with Countdown, he just didn't desire to.

    Carrying on about how he'd have preferred that they not touch the New Gods between his sharing the idea and the first issue being out crossed a line of professionalism, but at least someone had to ask him some questions, rather than him creating the situation of his own choice and letting it spiral downward while still largely in control of it.

  13. There are no lines as far as unprofessional is concerned.

    Was Dixon, mean and hateful about it? yes

    Was Morrison? No, not at all really.

    However, both are things that would make me weary about hiring someone.

    They were both unprofessional, but the way they carried themselves speaks volumes about their character.

  14. Ah...gotcha. Fair enough, sir...fair enough. ;)

  15. If you noticed, Johns got hosed twice by Countdown.

    First, Kyle appeared there, hale and hearty, just after being possessed by Parallax.

    Second, Supermanboy-Prime showed up, proving that he would survive the war as well.

    In all that, Johns pretty much kept his mouth publically shut, even if he did see it coming that Countdown was a clusterfuck that he didn't want touching his stuff. And like I said, even though he managed to keep from playing into Countdown, they still knee-capped some of the suspense of his story with it.

    I think that what's going on at DC is a classic case of stupid over evil. I don't think that anyone is evil. I definitely think that there's a lot of stupid.

  16. Agreed. Johns handled it well. But, if I remember correctly, Green Lantern was running part of the blame on the timing would have fallen back on his book, rather than completely on Countdown.

  17. I would blame Countdown, since it sucked like a two-dollar whore on "Hey, Everyone Gets Two Dollars Back from the Government" Day.


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