Posted by: Brian Hibbs on February 19, 2010
My very very first thought was “Well, wait, where does that leave Karen and Vertigo?”
My second thought was “Just knowing the little I know about Life and Power, a five-headed power-sharing structure doesn’t seem like it has much practical chance to work.”
My third thought was “Well, good for Jim and Geoff” as this expands on what they were pretty much already doing, and gives them some Portfolio, and, we would hope, a pay raise to keep doing it.
My fourth thought was, and this was my uncharitable one, “Uh… Dan? Really?”
I haven’t made any particular secret that I don’t like many of Dan’s editorial policies and instincts, but that’s all Armchair Quarterbacking on my part. *I* don’t have to like them, as long as enough of my customers do. But that’s just difference of opinion and if Warners like his sales figures, then who am I to say otherwise?
But I have major concerns about Didio in terms of his willingness to engage with the Direct Market retailer; which, given the rhetoric on display about the importance of our segment of the market and the dominance of intent on comics and print makes it kind of all the more nerve-wracking.
(Not that I am not pleased that they crafted that rhetoric in the first place — because that puts them at least a step above Marvel’s historical public statements — but things change when the rubber meets the road, and “say” and “do” are very different things)
From a business-to-business POV, rather than the do-I-like-his-output POV, I’ve found Dan to largely be dismissive of any idea that doesn’t fit his notions, and defensive about the ones he has. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for an editorial position, but I deeply fear the potential problems as the publisher.
I remember Dan angrily yelling at me (I nearly typed “screaming”, but that’s maybe a touch too strong) on the floor at WonderCon… ’07 was it? when I questioned how they handled the solicitation process for COUNTDOWN. I mean on the floor of the con, seriously.
Here’s the thing when dealing with retailers: when it comes to something within their own four walls, they’re almost always correct. When I come to you with, “this is what my preorders have been on project x, y, and z; but project Q had this minuscule fraction of that number because of how you chose to release information in the name of ‘secrecy'” then you have to give that weight, you have to take it seriously, even if it goes against how you’d like to run things.
I want to underline that I’m talking about business-related things, not opinions like “I don’t like title Q”.
I also remember the ComicsPRO meeting where a bunch of concerned retailers from, let’s call them Red States, were really upset about the content that was going into ostensibly “code approved” DCU titles — the drug use in that issue of FLASH, the “God damn”S and so on, and, again, Dan get utterly dismissed these concerns as having any validity whatsoever. I mean, at all — “it’s nothing worse than prime time TV”, I think was the phrasing? Angry raised voices again.
Look, I’m in the Bluest neighborhood in the Bluest City in the Bluest state in the country, and when I hear these retailers say, “We’re really concerned because these things hold a lot of potential problems from angry parents, and we’re afraid it is possible some of us might even get arrested”, and I instantly agreed — because that is the truth within their four walls. I don’t have a horse in that race, but I sure understand that THEY do.
I’ve seen Dan be utterly dismissive of retailer concerns on things like not having the named protagonists even appear in their own books for extended periods of time, and so on and so forth.
I do think that the job of EIC of a super-hero universe might mean always thinking you’re right, once you’ve made a decision, is the only way it can work. But I think that the job of Publisher needs someone who knows that they’re probably wrong a lot, and hopefully you become a little less wrong the next time.
It has been at least a year since I’ve had any interaction with Dan, so this isn’t any recent activity, to be sure; and I’m sure at least one person reading this is slavering to respond with “further proof you hate the guy”, but I don’t. I completely admire his energy and above all else his passion for what he does — I like people who BURN. That’s what moves the world.
But what I want, and what I think the Direct Market needs, is a publisher at DC who is extremely willing to change their mind on business matters when presented with appropriate evidence, and none of my business interactions with Dan have given me confidence he would do so.
My fifth thought was “Well, let’s see how it works”
My sixth thought, and one I had seconds after hitting “post”, so this is an edit about 90 seconds later, is “don’t be a douche, Bri, congratulate him” which is absolutely correct, I’m a douche: Congratulations, Dan.
And, of course, the seventh thought was “Man, it must suck to be the ‘…and the rest’ part from the Gilligan’s Island Theme Song”, so congrats to Caldon and Rood as well. I’m sure they’ll learn to hate me soon enough! (Starting….now!)