John Rozum explains his exit from Static Shock
When Danny Donovan shared some thoughts about what went wrong with Static Shock, he ended up inspiring John Rozum to reveal his own insights into the recently canceled series. In the comments to Donovan’s post, Rozum writes:
I went into Static Shock with a lot of high hopes. Among them was showing that Static wasn’t simply an A-list character, but one of the most powerful in the DCnU. I really wanted this series to be fun and exciting and to bring the same degree of creativity to it that I put into Xombi balanced with making Virgil’s personal life at least as engaging as his superhero life. I also saw Static Shock as an excellent gateway through which to pull the rest of the Milestone characters into the DCnU.
I quickly learned that none of these plans were going to see fruition. I wound up being shunted to the sidelines as the writer while Scott McDaniel’s “high concept” criminal syndicate made up of Power Rangers and a big monosyllabic thug took center stage and Harvey’s ideas of the 2 Sharon’s and slicing off Static’s arm were implemented as desperate means of trying to draw attention to the book.
I tried my best to keep it from being a total turd, but as I said, I was completely sidelined. My main contributions were the Pale Man character, Guillotina, naming the school after Dwayne McDuffie, and including Hardware, along with random lines of dialogue. I decided it was unethical to stick with a title that a) I thought was garbage b) that people were buying because of my involvement, due to Xombi, when really I had nothing to do with it c) because I wasn’t being utilized on the title.
Frankly, Static deserved a lot better.
Rozum talked more about it on his own blog:
Initially, I had never intended to openly discuss the reasons why I chose to leave Static Shock. My reasons were my own, and I felt that after expressing them to the powers that be at DC Comics and after discussing them with Bob Harras that the situation was resolved amicably and that there was no reason to say anything further than acknowledging that I had indeed left the series. However, since the announcement that Static Shock would cease publication with issue #8 ( I was only involved with issues 1-4) there’s been a lot of online chatter about why the series failed, and I’ve received a lot of angry email blaming me for wrecking the series, the character, and the opportunity for an African-American character to take center stage at one of the big publishing companies. I’ve had people announce that due to the low quality of comic that they would no longer buy anything that had my name on it. I’ve had an editor at a publisher other than DC say they weren’t interested in having me write for them because they thought Static Shock was a poor comic book series.
There’s more to his post and you should read the whole thing. It’s an enlightening, but sad story. As one of the people who was interested in Static Shock because of Rozum’s involvement, I dropped the series as soon as he announced his departure. Rozum’s one of the most under-appreciated writers in comics today and if you only know him from Xombi, check out his work on Milestone’s Kobalt and his two Midnight, Mass. series for Vertigo. It’s too bad his thoughts about what would make a Milestone series work for DC weren’t taken into consideration, but it’s a tragedy if his brief association with that series is affecting his ability to get more work.