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Marko Djurdjevic ends Marvel deal, blasts editors [Updated]

FF #1, Marko Djurdjevic

If you’re breathlessly awaiting for more Marvel work from Marko Djurdjevic, you may be disappointed. The acclaimed artist, known for his character designs and for his covers for FF, Daredevil and Thor, revealed last night at FanExpo Canada that he’s ended his exclusive contract with the publisher — a split that apparently couldn’t come soon enough for Djurdjevic.

“When I get hired for movie work or video game work, I get hired for my creativity,” Djurdjevic said in the ironically named “Team Spirit” panel. “At Marvel, I get hired for what they know sells. It’s really just a pigeon hole for an artist.”

According to the Comic Book Resources report, softspoken FF artist Steve Epting stood in stark contrast to a joking yet visibly frustrated Djurdjevic, who complained about interference from Marvel editors and repeated requests for revisions without additional pay. “I was fighting with the guys at Marvel about this,” he said. “You can’t make people re-work your shit because you can’t decide what you want. Either pay or leave.” After showing the audience numerous mock-ups for his redesign of Lady Bullseye — mocking editors’ comments in high-pitched tones — Djurdjevic added, “When they would not interfere with my direction, they would get results that would amaze even me.”

He didn’t restrict his criticism to the editors, however. Asked by Epting whether he wished he’d done more interior work at Marvel, Djurdjevic replied, “They never put me with any writers that I liked.” From there, CBR reports, he launched into a tirade about the company and fired a few shots at former Thor writer J. Michael Straczynski, who he said writes “like toilet paper.”

Read full coverage of the “Team Spirit” panel at Comic Book Resources. FanExpo Canada continues in Toronto through Sunday.

Note: The post has been edited to reflect that Djurdjevic was actually criticizing J. Michael Straczynski, not Duane Swierczynski.

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Comments

48 Comments

That’s too bad, on all sides.

Djurdjevic may not be wrong, but there are two sides to every story. I expect Marvel’s stance is that Djurdjevic is a primadonna and difficult to work with.

marko sounds like a real debbie…

sounds like a right snot and Marvel’s better off without him…

Sounds like someone burned a bridge to high heaven.

Except Djurdjevic never did anything with Duane Swierzynski. He did the vast majority of his interior work with Joe Straczynski though. Did the CBR guy mishear?

Wow!

It almost sounds like he figured he’d have free reign to do whatever he wished.

There’s probably more behind the scenes that lead Marko to blow up like that. From an artist’s POV, like I am myself, I could understand his shear frustration about being at a company for a quite awhile, get hired for your style and creativity, then being pigeonholed and being told what to illustrate, and going against everything you are known to do. Also, having to change your work constantly and not get compensated for it, can get on any artist’s last nerve. The panel wasn’t the place for it though. He probably burned a bridge there lol

I recall him saying in an interview a year or two ago (in conjunction with the release of a book featuring his Marvel cover work) that he’s not really a comics fan per se. It sounds like he was used to a certain kind of protocol and working relationship with editors from his noncomics gigs and was frustrated to find that the comic industry doesn’t do business like the businesses he’s used to working in.

Uh, yeah… I’ve never worked with Marko. Unless you count the one variant cover he did for an issue of CABLE?

It’s one thing to have to redo your work for good reasons, it’s quite another to have to do it purely because people in certain positions cannot make up their mind. I’d imagine you start to feel like a play thing.

Being asked by an editor or publisher to do revisions, for whatever reason, is a common part of any business that generates editorial content, for both writers and artists. It’s SOP, really.

Anytime I have ever tried to hire an artist to pitches THEY ALWAYS make not that they charge for revisions after the 2nd time…so I mean if thats the case… I completely agree. However totally wrong way to do things.

come to DC, I mean go to DC.

Duane. Could it be your surname being confused with another writer, whom he has done a lot of work with?

Yeah, I’m guessing he meant Straczynski. You’d think he’d be sensitive and careful around names with lots of consonants…

The bigger question is: Who put him on the panel? Marvel higher-ups couldn’t have been surprised that this was his attitude.

I can see why he’d be frustrated, so I’m on his side, though all this coming out during the panel would definitely be awkward.

Understand his frustration. But it’s never a good idea to air dirty laundry in public. Rise above, be the better professional. Maybe comic work isn’t the best fit for his talents.

kalorama, sure. But in most creative industries the artist would be paid for said revisions. Not so in comics.

Hurricane Islandheart

August 26, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I wish artists understood that this is what comic work is like BEFORE they get into it. :/ Too many artists seem to think the artist is able to take some script and go to town, turn out their masterpiece or whatever, and everybody calls it good. As far as I know, the only comics that do that are a handful of webcomics. The publishing industry has ALWAYS been dominated by editors and constant revisions.

@tom daylight,

In some creative industries; I don’t know about “most.” But really, that just underscores my point.

It seems to be common practice for comic editors to ask artists and writers for routine revisions without extra pay, so Djurdjevic’s little tantrum is misguided. Marvel was simply asking him to work under the same rules as every other artist they employ. If he didn’t know what those rules were before he took the job, then that’s on him, not the Marvel editors.

And I don’t know for certain how exclusive contracts work in comics, but I was always under the impression that creators on exclusive contracts are basically treated like salaried employees for the duration of the deal. If that’s true (and it might not be) then that’s another reason why his expectations weren’t realistic. If you’re a contracted/salaried employee, that usually means you’re working for a predetermined, flat fee/salary, as opposed to an hourly rate or commission. In that circumstance, employees don’t generally have the option of negotiating additional fee for extra work.

@Duane Swierczynski

I don’t know what Djurdjevic is on about, but I just wanted to say I really, really enjoyed the Punisher: Six Hours To Kill TPB.

I bought his Marvel art book long time ago. Thought it was a very nice looking book, elegant and great for the coffe table. And I remember saying to miself he’s not so famous but I really admire Marvel for displaying his art and giving him a great book. I don’t know what or with who where his problem but I would be more humble to the company who gave him such a spotlight. Maybe I’m wrong and he’s ultra famous and rich and don’t need their business.

Normal in comics to have revisions like that without pay. In advertising and web designs etc.you’d set a number of revisions and then charge for anything over that.

Bad for both sides indeed.
Maybe marvel’s biggest cover artist, and maybe the most famous work of the european artists.
They should work the differences and follow this wonderfull alliance, and keep the GREAT art.

Hey JoeQ, you made it a few years before with Waid (when we were about to leave the F4) , so do your magic again, and keep Marko in the house of ideas!

Man, that must have been one awkward panel.

I appreciate Marko speaking honestly about how he feels.

It’s a breath of fresh air, instead of the usual watered down, kiss ass, politically correct statements most creators spew when yanked around by editorial.

Just how does toilet paper write?

oh man… that toilet paper quote….

DC I smell an opportunity

@Todd. I doubt it. He seems to have an issue with the way editors and assignments are in comics. I don’t see him doing much comic work in the near term.

Maybe he meant that he writes like what goes ON toilet paper, heh.

Toilet paper!! Ahahaha, I love it. Almost all comics creator fights are really sad because they come off as being nerdy, sensitive, mostly middle-aged men with easily hurt feelings typing angrily at their keyboards. It’s uncomfortable to witness, because it’s just so lame.

But at least Marko D talks trash with style, complete with doing a high-pitched mocking voice. And he does it in front of an audience, so he gets extra points.

Charging when the client can’t make up their mind and starts wanting changes/extra work is standard practice in most professions. It’s frequently called a change order. DC and Marvel do have a tendency to turn on a dime in such a way that would get them billed for changes if you come from an agency background. Of course, if he had trouble with too much of that at Marvel, he should stay far, far away from DC.

@kalorama no, exclusive contracts don’t mean a flat salary, they don’t even guarantee you’ll always have work. (Although they do seem to include perks such as health insurance and free entry to Disneyland.) A little back-and-forth is to be expected on a design job, but two weeks of it is rather taking the piss.

We always need people like this around, to remind us why we should keep our thoughts to ourselves.

AHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Loved his comment about JMS. I’ve never understood people’s love for that guy. His Spider-Man sucked, and his Superman (“You will believe a man can WALK!”) was even worse. Plus he can’t seem to stick with a title for any length of time. Oh, and B5 was a really overrated show too.

after his remark for JMS,its very unlikely for him to be on the same company with JMS for sure.
ugh,toilet paper,lol:-)

from http://geek-news.mtv.com/2011/08/26/fanexpo-canada-2011-building-the-ff-with-jonathan-hickman-steve-epting-and-marko-djurdjevic/

“Continuing on, asked how Straczynski writes scripts, Djurdjevic said, ‘It’s full of him.’ Djurdjevic then told a story about getting fed up on a Thor arc, which was so ridiculous he, ‘just gave up.'”

Okay, I am really interested in just what was the “ridiculous Thor story arc” that MD objected to. Anybody out there have the details?

Gee… An artist discovers that being an easily replaced cog in a machine kinda sucks if you’re not a drooling fanboy and says so.

Drooling fanboys call him an idiot for not being an idiot.

Just another day in comics.

Surprised and disappointed at how many are siding AGAINST an apparently talented, hard-working individual.

Just because that’s the way Marvel treats everybody doesn’t mean that it’s okay. Actually, it makes it worse. The fact that the argument against Marko is, basically, “Marvel has always been run by fickle, relatively over-demanding editors, so what makes him think he’s special?”…that’s just really sad. Fanboys need to get a grip.

Two sides to every story, and this isn’t the first Marko has come off as an arrogant diva who thinks his “creativity” and “amazing” talent should come before market, editor, and writer considerations.

Judging from the designs of his that got through editing, his sense of style seems pretty one note and far off the mark for superheroes, so maybe his lordship needed to go back to the woodshed and actually draw something appropriate?

I love Marko Durjevics art, hes an inspiration to learn from an be inspired from, there are many artists i love but hes pretty hot on the scene right now, I ve learned many good things from viewing his work , an i do alot of hulk art an other stuff so I greatly look an anticipate other books from him sincerely Richard Ramirez ( bad boy hulk artist)!!!!!!! HULK library. web site.

I dont blame marko Durjevc for calling it a day with Marvel, the man is a gifted phenominal artist period, but when you have someone nit picking over you like there the artist an not you well, I can say honestly you shouldnt have to take any bullshit you should have 100 total free reign thats the kinda book i really want from this man in all its glory but these editors are gonna muck it up so true to his artistic an highest ideals he quit better that than than to dissapoint his fans, kudos to you Marko 100 percent behind you my man. Me Im a master blaster when it comes to artwork, an Im as mean as they come when i draw my hulk art, but i hold the same view point let me take care of the art you just worrying about publishing an dont bust my eggs about it, or ill hand you some toilet paper an let some other artist deal with you but it wont be me, sincerely bad boy HULK artist RICHARD RAMIREZ. richteken@hotmail.com / web HULK LIBRARY

On Marko Durjevic the guys a power house artist, his art is very inspirational love his work his composition is something to truely marvel at, as for editors well they are a tough lot to please i guess thats why he got so feed up. I draw mostly for my pleasure at my own pace, great art comes from inspiration and if done right its a masterpiece but if you feel like people are kinda under driving you nuts sorta speak im sorry your heart not gonna be in it, i love art i would like to work in video concept design lets hope when i send game informer another packet of art they take my work seriously, hate parting with original art but i photograph my work to keep in my visual liberary keep rocking durjevic cant wait hopefully for your next skecth book even if its with another company.

Id like to pose a question to all the fans knocking down Marko Durjevic, basically you really dont know how frustrating it could be when your working extremely hard an from a passionate perspective that Marko Durjevic approaches his art, it would be amazing easily to tell a Marvel editor to go stick it, Marvel really mucked up a good thing with this artist because a sketchbook or any project done by this artist no doubt would have sold like hotcakes an i mean that sincerely. Ive researched his work, line perspective an the kinda flair he brings to the table is pretty serious stuff, my honest message to Marko Durjevic hey if you have to go it solo to preserve your piece of mind so be it, self publish but as a fan Im buying your book regardless whether it has a Marvel stamp or not, do different takes barbarians, monsters, themes, whatever, hands down the best, yeah i know it wasnt professional what you did but then again they really must have busted your royal balls , an they probably did it to such a degree just wish i was there to see their faces turn red that would have been fun. Just keep cranking that amazing art. thats whats up an what the fans really want period, sincerely Richard Ramirez (HULK artist).

grumkins and snarks

July 7, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Oooold, but figure I should add my two cents anyway. Marko does seem like a guy that isn’t afraid of speaking his mind, often not bothering to mince words, but at the same time I think he comes across as a humble and straightforward fellow. I have a kind of respect for people who don’t bother to be all professional and politically correct all the time, especially when they feel like addressing a system that’s clearly in the wrong. That kind of behavior might make you come off as kind of an asshole, but I don’t think this is the case with Marko.
I don’t imagine you really get to “unleash your full artistic potential” at any big comic book company (nor should you really expect to, I guess), it always reminded me more of a factory than anything else, Marko is clearly a very skilled artist and very skilled artists don’t appreciate their work being nitpicked by editors. There’s a reason the best art directors are accomplished artists themselves and I’m pretty sure Marko was happier at Massive Black and his own studio.

Sad to hear about him falling out with Joe Straczynski as I’ve always liked and respected the both of them; I’ll feign ignorance to JMS’ comics work though, superhero comics never really interested me all that much, but I’ll always respect the man for making Babylon 5 happen. One of sci-fi’s greatest in my book.

As a professional, that is not the place to air one’s grievances with a former client, especially in front of that clients fans. While I can relate to being frustrated with multiple revisions, it’s still part of the job. But it can be abusive and affects creativity. I do sketches and give the client 1 round of revisions on the finished part of the assignment. After that, I charge. On another note, did anyone notice that logos on the FF costumes look like Mickey Mouse? I didn’t read all of the comments so someone may have mentioned this idea.

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