Editors Note: All editorials are solely the opinion of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of DC Comics News or its staff.
I’ve been cautiously trying to skirt this issue for a while now. Sure, I take my fair share of quick jabs at the current state of DC every now and again; rife with internal struggles as it is. But I think I’m finally ready to fight the big fight.
I’m ready to tackle DC’s editorial problems.
As most of you well know, DC has had its fair share of PR disasters of late. Hell, there’s a whole website dedicated to their various blunders, a counter appropriately named “Has DC Done Something Stupid Today” (dot com). As of today, the counter is at zero. And, since the site went live, DC has not gone more than 16 days without “doing something stupid.”
The vast majority of their failures lie with the editorial staff. Great creators like James Robinson, Paul Cornell, and JH Williams III, have all left the company in the wake of creative conflicts. Mostly, these stem from the editorial department okaying writers’ work for months on end, only to change their minds at the last minute.
I once had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Kyle Higgins (current writer of Nightwing and Batman Beyond) during an event about digital comics. As a side note, Kyle is easily one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met and I have a great deal of respect for him both as an individual and as a writer. I asked him how he felt about the editorial interference DC was constantly getting press for and he replied, quite simply, that DC owns all those characters and has the right to do with them as they see fit.
While I certainly agree with Kyle, to an extent, I have to counter that eleventh hour editorial changes seem, to me, rather unprofessional and counterintuitive when it comes to crafting good stories. I’ve found that these changes are often purely for shock value, rather than adding anything truly worthwhile to storylines.
Given the sheer volume of writers and artists who have left the company, I’m clearly not the only one who feels that way.
But DC’s problems go beyond fickle editors. In some cases, it’s also their sheer lack of tact when dealing with writers and artists. For example, there’s the case of Gail Simone getting removed from Batgirl. As the story goes, she was fired via email with very little explanation. Following a massive fan outcry, she was reinstated, of course. The incident, however, certainly raises a few red flags about the value DC places on its employees.
Then, naturally, there’s the issue of editors doing their jobs properly. I present the case of George Perez. He was working on Superman at the launch of the New 52. Briefly. After a handful of issues, Perez left. As he would later say, the whole experience was a frustrating chore at best.
DC’s editorial department seemed to give Grant Morrison a great deal of creative freedom over on Action Comics, while Perez was basically flying blind, unsure of what was and wasn’t canon or allowed.
On top of everything, DC seems intent on having as many events as possible, often breaking up the flow of certain story arcs. Why does the entire DCU need to get roped into Batman’s “Zero Year”? Because, honestly, event comics temporarily increase sales, at the unfortunate expense of good storytelling.
That’s the bottom line right now: sales. DC managed to temporarily increase overall sales with the New 52, but at the expense alienating many long time readers. They boosted sales with event comics like “Night of the Owls” and “Villain’s Month,” but at the expense of writers’ planned story and character development. There’s a 90’s sense of shock value over substance running rampant there that I can’t quite fathom.
At the very least, DC is slowly reintroducing spec submissions (see DC’s Harley Quinn art contest). And Stephanie Brown is coming back! It almost makes up for the whole “Booster Gold literally disappeared because he sucked so much” thing. Almost.