Robot 6

Roberson no longer writing an arc of Fairest

Fairest #3

Following his announcement that after an upcoming arc of the Fables spinoff Fairest he’s done writing for DC Comics, writer Chris Roberson said today that the Fairest arc he was scheduled to write is no longer happening.

“Sorry to disappoint anyone, but I won’t be writing a Fairest arc after all,” Roberson said on Twitter. “It was decided my services were no longer required.”

The tweet was soon followed by a show of support from Fables creator Bill Willingham: “Not decided by me. I will work with @chris_roberson any time. Any place.”

If you missed it yesterday, Roberson announced he would no longer write for the publisher based on their treatment of other creators and their heirs. “My reasons for no longer wanting to be associated with DC don’t stem from anything to do with my personal experiences there, but from watching the way that the company has treated and continues to treat other creators and their heirs,” Roberson told CBR yesterday. “The counter-suit against the Siegel estate and the announcement of the Watchmen prequels were the specific incidents that crystallized my feelings on the matter. I’d like to make clear, though, that I have nothing but nice things to say about the editorial staff at Vertigo with whom I’ve worked for the past few years.”

Roberson, who has written not only the awesome iZombie and various Cinderella spinoff mini’s but also took over as writer of Superman after J. Michael Straczynski left the title, has taken a stand based on principle and has now paid the price by having paying work taken from him. No doubt he expected it–hell, given DC’s history, everyone probably knew this would happen–and I give him big props for doing it anyway.

And as Kurt Busiek said in our comments section yesterday, DC ain’t the only game in town. “I am privy to a little inside information of what @chris_roberson will be doing instead of his Fairest arc and it will be awesome. So there,” Willingham said.

Update: Roberson says that he has been paid for the work he’s already turned in on Fairest.

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34 Comments

Now that is petty DC.  Very petty indeed.  

We may not like that these creators don’t own more of a stake in properties that they created but no one forced them to sign bad contracts. Property produced and sold doesn’t belong to them anymore. I like the Watchmen and Avengers too and I respect the creators but it’s a two way street between publishing companies and artists. One can’t exist (prior to Image and digital comics) without the other.

“No doubt he expected it–hell, given DC’s history, everyone probably knew this would happen–and I give him big props for doing it anyway.”

I hope he’d discussed it with Shawn McManus first, though, who may have just lost five or six issues worth of work, plus inevitable reprint royalties.

No one forced him to sign a bad contract? Well, no one forces him to keep working under a bad contract either. So, full respect, Chris Roberson!

As for DC: Sore losers.

Mikel Washington

April 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm

sounds like new 52 amanda wallers handy work

To hell with DC, The New52, Before Watchmen, the lot of it. Chris Roberson, you the man.

I love how there’s a handful of people who always manage to come out in support of the companies when stuff like this happens. Because a contract is the only way a creator can be treated poorly – this is the same as any other industry. What you agree to in a contract doesn’t mean that they’re going to treat you respectfully.

Isn’t he being paid for his Fairest arc? Bleeding Cool says he is.

Roberson quits for ethical reason and for that I respect him, but DC  simply did what every other company in the world does when a former employer (because he still write Izombies and the now canned Fairest arc) talks openly against.

To be fair, it makes perfect sense for DC to cut their losses with Roberson and not publish his arc. Why pay a guy who is bad mouthing you?

 Not that I take DC’s side, I think Chris is a very brave man, making a very important stand. Would be interesting if more talent did.

Well it’s his choice to do as he sees fit. And DC’s right to offer a slot in their publishing schedule to a creator who actually wants to work with the company. I’m sure if it was someone like Grant Morrison who’d made the comment, DC would be happy to publish one last high selling story. But Roberson’s name doesn’t exactly set the sales charts on fire, so good on him for taking the stand he wants, and no slight to DC for choosing to not reward his comments with any further paychecks.

I think you may be jumping the gun by saying “and has now paid the price.” Do we know for sure he’s not being compensated? I support Chris Roberson wholeheartedly (and said as much in the other thread), but DC is doing the sensible thing taking him off the book. I don’t know how great a tagline “From the guy who finds us ethically appalling: Fairest!” would have been had they kept him on.

Frankly I’d be a little disappointed in him if he DID still write that arc after coming out against DC’s policies. 

You bring an interesting point here. If these creators couldn’t see the financial potential of their creations and not only accepted but used the money a distributor gave them for the rights, then what legal obligations do they have to give money to the original creditors? For example, detective comics did a fair exchange, 130 bucks for the rights to Superman. Siegel and Shuster accepted. Personally, I wish they saw the potential in Superhero characters, so they held on to the rights of Superman longer.
 After decades of rebooting and adding on the mythos of these characters, is it still considered your creation? 

As I said in the previous item on this, I applaud Chris for taking a stand he undoubtedly knew would pose some personal (i.e. financial) risk to him. I will definitely seek out the comics he writes from here on out. 

Also, wow, the Disqus era was pretty short, huh? I prefer this system personally; it has personality AND it’s functional.

I wouldn’t say the Disqus era is over just yet … it’s just hibernating while we figure some stuff out.

>> I hope he’d discussed it with Shawn McManus first, though, who may have just lost five or six issues worth of work, plus inevitable reprint royalties.>>

Shawn’s done various FABLES issues and mini-series and is currently doing a backup series in FABLES.

There’s no reason DC would boot him out — they’ll just assign him another arc, maybe even whatever’s replacing the Roberson arc.

All seems fine to me.

Like what I’ve read of Chris’s work and he’ll continue to put books out for other publishers.

Not getting the anti-DC angst though. Chris did some work, was paid for the work, came out with an anti-DC statement, DC decided not to publish the work they paid for. What’s the problem?

This is the most coverage Roberson has ever got! You cant buy this kind of publicity! I wonder if that was his goal? To try and raise his profile while dissing one of the big 2 and becoming a saint in the process. It would certainly put him in good graces with Marvel!

I bet he announces a new project within the next week!

I have tremendous respect for Roberson after hearing his decision and rationale for his exit from DC. As for this news that he’s being shown the door, I’m as disgusted with DC as ever. Screw them in their ear.

What they’re saying is that anyone with the integrity to speak the truth outloud isn’t welcome and to work for them, you have to conform to their sick interpretation of ethics. Its a shame to make everything a partisan issue but it seems DC is drawing a line and saying “This is how we do business, if you object go somewhere else” They’re making the choice pretty obvious for anyone who is aware and gives a damn.

“What they’re saying is that anyone with the integrity to speak the truth outloud isn’t welcome and to work for them, you have to conform to their sick interpretation of ethics.”

Well, to be fair to whoever makes these decisions at DC (and let’s remember that it’s a decision someone in particular must have made, not some facdeless entity), Roberson didn’t just voice his concerns, but also said he was cutting off his relationship with them.

I don’t think scrapping Roberson’s FAIREST arc is something they should (or needed to) have done, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be viewed as a precedent for anyone who speaks their mind– as long as they don’t go and announce they don’t want to have anything to do with DC anymore.

Maybe its time a corporation’s ability to give out “bad contracts” was taken away from them.

@Acer

Actually, like Marvel, DC Comics is well known for taking ownership of characters published in their comics. So, a creator in this modern age can’t complain when DC acts like DC when they are working for them.

@Charlie Wilkins

Good point.

As soon as the story about Roberson broke, I had feeling that he would not be long working at DC. The same happened to Dwayne McDuffie when he complained online about the editors during his run on JLA.

Good on Chris for standing up for what he believes in.

But honestly, he should have quit before making those comments. It’s a bit nervy to badmouth your (then) current employer publicly and accept money from them.

The biggest surprise on this thread: People think that nothing will happen if they publicly badmouth their employers. I am sure that if did what Chris did, I would be looking for a job quickly.

“The biggest surprise on this thread: People think that nothing will happen if they publicly badmouth their employers.”

Well, you’re wrong on two counts. First up, DC Comics wasn’t Roberson’s employer. Second, Roberson has expressly said that DC’s cancellation of his FAIREST arc didn’t come as a great surprise to him.

Frankly I think it was unprofessional of him to make a public statement in the first place while still employed…he did it for one reason…publicity. I didn’t even know of him before this but certainly do now.

His statement would have held more weight if he had resigned immediately and refused any more work or payment from DC.

So he disagrees with Contracts that the company entered into decades ago and are now enforcing their legal rights to defend (whether you agree or not).

So now he can go work for Marvel…y’know the Company that DOESN’T pay royalties in perpetuity. That produced SHIELD reprints overseas to avoid paying royalties to Steranko (Got that from the Horses mouth) or the ongoing issues with the Kirby Family.

I would recommend that Mr Roberson stick with self publishing since any corporation is doubtless to have a practice or two he doesn’t agree with.

As a matter of integrity, I think Mr. Roberson should give the money back that DC paid him for the unpublished Fairest story. It belittles his case if he gives DC the finger with one hand while simultaneously endorsing their check with the other hand.

Mr. Moore refuses to accept payment from DC, Roberson should follow suit.

“Mr. Moore refuses to accept payment from DC”

No, he doesn’t. Alan Moore still gets and accepts royalty payments for WATCHMEN.

Nor, for that matter, was payment ever the issue.

Jesus Christ, folks. If you think you have an opinion worth sharing on the issue, you might as well inform yourselves on the bloody basics first. It’s really annoying to see all this nonsense and half-truths thrown around.

My apologies Marc-Oliver, you are correct. I should have said he refuses royalty payments from the movie adaptations.

But Roberson’s payment was an issue because the above article went so far as to update that Roberson was be paid for unpublished work. I’m just saying that if Roberson is going to make a principled stand he should back that up by returning the money.

I also wonder if he will refuse to work for Marvel which has its own legal issues with creators and their rights.
The Gary Friedrich lawsuit comes to mind.
http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2012/02/people-hate-when-rich-companies-sue-poor-creators/

@Fred: Well, yes and no. McDuffie got booted from JLA, but he continued to do work for DC until he died.

@Samir P: “Employers” is not the correct term (DC was his client, not his boss), but yes, if you bite the hand that feeds you you’re liable to get smacked.

I’m not surprised that DC canceled his Fairest arc, and Roberson clearly isn’t either. But that doesn’t mean they SHOULD have, or that they are above criticism for it.

@Ray F: Yes, I think he was looking for publicity…but for whom?

If he were trying to flog his own book, to drum up sales, don’t you think he would have announced one first?

He’s trying to call attention to an issue, not to himself.

And what makes you think he’s going to go to work for Marvel? Especially considering that the article he cited trashes Marvel just as much as DC.

@Luke: Who said returning the money was an option?

There’s a reason DC paid him for the scripts he’d turned in: now DC owns them. (Or co-owns them with Willingham, as the case may be; I’m not sure what the arrangement is on an unprinted arc for a creator-owned series published by Vertigo.)

If DC didn’t pay him, then he’d still own them.

And, given that the cast of Fairest is based on public-domain characters, all he’d have to do would be to make a few tweaks to make them distinct from Willingham’s versions, and then he could publish them somewhere else.

More than that, there’s a liability issue. Let’s say somebody else wrote a story that was substantially similar to Roberson’s. If DC had never paid him for his scripts, he could claim infringement and sue. But since money changed hands, DC (and/or Willingham) owns the story now. If someone uses his ideas in a derivative story, he might demand royalties, but he can’t claim infringement.

DC doesn’t want the money back. DC won’t accept the money back. DC owns the work he did and, if it ever sees cause to print it (like, say, if he becomes a big name with another publisher), it still can.

What he DOESN’T get — at least, so long as the script is sitting on a hard drive somewhere and not being sold on the racks — is his royalties. That’s what he gave up. And given how well Fables sells, it could well be more than his page rate, and is almost certainly more than the royalties he makes on iZombie.

@Fred
Whatever, I’d rather see either company “lobotomized”.

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