Robot 6

Joe Keatinge says his ‘Vertigo Quarterly’ story was ‘drastically altered’

3790755-01Following the debut today of Vertigo Quarterly: CMYK, a four-issue anthology series from the DC Comics imprint, writer Joe Keatinge was quick to speak out about his collaboration in the first issue with artist Ken Garing, which he says was substantially rewritten by editorial without any consultation with him.

“The issue is advertised as featuring a collaboration between Ken Garing and me, with me on story and Ken on art, but there’s an issue with this and I felt the need to make it clear,” Keatinge wrote on his blog. “The story as published does not entirely reflect what we conceived and I originally wrote. I’m going to make this as quick possible as there’s a lot going on in the world that actually matters, but I felt like, after the warm reception to Shutter and Planetoid, some people reading this might buy comics with our names on them and thought it was unfair to them to not say something.”

He explained that he was approached to contribute a story to Vertigo Quarterly, and he looped in Garing, with whom he’s working on an upcoming series. Vertigo editor Mark Doyle was “very accommodating,” Keatinge said, but upon receiving a mock-up of the completed story the writer discovered it had been changed significantly — without consultation or an opportunity for him to address the issues Vertigo sought to address.

“The story Ken and I conceived together, which I scripted, ended up coming back in a proof PDF where — despite Ken’s art looking even better than ever — our story and my dialog were drastically altered, specifically our ending,” Keatinge wrote. “We were told by editorial that it was locked in and set for publication without further explanation as to what happened or why.”

While he speculated that “maybe it was the right call, ” Keatinge stated feeling “uncomfortable” being credited for writing the story, given the editorial changes.

Shortly after the writer’s post, Vertigo Group Editor Will Dennis took to Twitter to admonish him for going public with the situation, stating “Joe, really saddened that you’d go this route. I heard you’d worked it out professionally w/ [Doyle] guess not.”

A brief Twitter conversation followed between Keatinge and Dennis, with the editor saying the writer didn’t relate “nearly the whole story,” and that Keatinge’s post would detract from “all the hard work everyone put” into the issue.

ROBOT 6 reached out to both Keatinge and DC Entertainment for comment; Keatinge referred to his blog post as his final statement, and DC declined to comment.

(via Bleeding Cool)



I’m sure more will come out. The bottom line is that the editor should feel free to fix typos or grammar, but if the text is being changed to the point where the tone of the story is changed, the editor has an obligation to discuss it with the writer first. If he was told that it was being published as is and it’s too late to change anything, I don;t blame the writer for being clear on this. He has a reputation as does D.C.

I’m still wondering about the changes to Batman and Joker’s dialogue in the Death of the Family TPB. They altered a bunch of the “Batman darling” type of dialogue, taking it right out in a lot of cases. My knee-jerk reaction was this was some sort of homophobic choice from DC to alter the Joker’s love affair with the Dark Knight (even though this sort of angle has been well established since at least as far back as TDKR). Then i thought maybe they were actually in some way afraid that continuing to play up that the Joker is in some way in love with Batman was some how homophobic itself. Basically I have no idea why they changed the dialogue but I preferred it the way it was. They got rid of the best line in the whole storyline, where Batman turns the tables on Joker and calls him “Joker darling.” How can you axe that moment? So ultimately I wonder if this was Snyder’s call or DC’s and of course what the reasoning behind it was either way.

I kind of understand flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants editing in DC’s superhero comics, but a one-shot anthology story? What on earth could come up that requires a last minute rewrite? Granted, I haven’t read the short and I’m sure we’ll never get to read Keatinge’s original draft, but surely editorial read the script before art was even started. Surely there’s nothing in a standalone anthology short story that could remotely be affected by a last minute change to something else. Surely the editor must appreciate that rewriting the *ending* of a one-shot story is basically altering the entire nature of that story as perceived by the writer. None of this computes.

So all negative comments get deleted now – even ones that don’t insult individuals – only the work?


Sure you can criticize without insulting, can’t you?

I appreciate Keatinge speaking up. Something tells me that this more common than we fanboys realize.

*this is more common


Bob, I’m not seeing that any of your comments were deleted or flagged by the filter.


May 1, 2014 at 3:18 am

Without being there I can only judge based on the information that’s available and it sounds like another editorial screw-up of which DC has many examples in the last 10 years. Given that, I’d take Keatinge’s word for it. Perhaps DC should start hiring veteran comic book writers as editors like it was done in the old days.

Haha, since when does “working it out professionally” means just sitting back and letting editorial change your stories to the point of altering the tone and meaning, without any sort of consultation, much less approval from your part. At times it’s as if DC’s editorial is comprised of some of the best trolls in the world. They just can’t be that bad at their work. Can they?

Flávio Martins

May 1, 2014 at 5:13 am

And another “DC hate crapfest” started! Fasten your seatbelts, kids!

Thank you for the link.

Weird that no one’s referencing this part: “with the editor saying the writer didn’t relate “nearly the whole story”.” This doesn’t negate Keatinge’s point, but it might.

It’s Vertigo, the imprint that regularly features gore, hyper violence, drug abuse, mental illness, and every sexual perversion ever invented (though that count goes down if you take out Garth Ennis’ work lol). What I’m asking is what could have possibly been so offensive in a Vertigo story that it had to be changed?

I think the main reason why this tends to offend the writer is because it implies that editors jump to the assumption that the writer (ANY writer) will be too difficult to work with and supposedly throw a tantrum. If it’s someone they’ve worked with before then it must feel like when a third party tells you everyone in the office can’t stand you behind your back. Ouch.

The Outhouse said it best, DC is stupid for scolding their creators publicly. If Marvel is the House of Ideas, DC is in the words of their own editor, The Evil Empire. Which is funny because Disney owns Star Wars and Marvel not Warner Brothers . . .

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