Yesterday Bleeding Cool reported Matt Wagner's unhappiness with the upcoming Batman #54 comic which he had drawn, after his son, colourist Brennan Wagner, was fired off the book after colouring the issue in question, to be replaced by someone else.
I understand that as a result of Bleeding Cool's report, it made it to DC publisher Dan DiDio fast — the man who made the decision. Cogs started to turn, and things started to shift. A little.
This morning Matt Wagner followed up on last night's report, including regarding the cover image to the comic:
Brennan utilized both of the color schemes you see here in his approach to the interior art…before being told, after he was nearly finished, that this was wrong. Secondly, I'd like to share the latest updates in this controversy. Perhaps feeling the sting of public outcry from so many of you, the DC "powers that be" have back-pedaled a bit and offered to let Brennan take another crack at this issue… provided he conforms his colors to match the style of Tomeu Morey, the series' regular colorist.
Nothing at all against Tomeu, but Brennan can't simply change his stripes to be something he's not, any more than I could somehow crowbar my drawing style into looking like the work of Lee Weeks or Tony Daniels, the series' regular (and incredibly talented) artists. Besides, this tone-deaf attempt at reconciliation basically amounts to a whole lot of too little, too late. Brennan was told to cease coloring BATMAN #54 and he did. But he then had to immediately shift gears and he's now drop-dead busy finishing the colors to the next issue of a lil' thing called MAGE: THE HERO DENIED.
Any chance to make this right by him has passed. Lastly, I'd like to provide a bit of clarity. Several of the comics news websites that picked up this story have focused on the final lines of my original post with some claiming that I regret ever drawing this issue whatsoever…which isn't quite what I said or meant.
I regret nothing about the creative end of things. Jamie S. Rich is a sharp and supportive editor and I thought Tom King's script for this issue was both clever and humane. I heartily enjoyed drawing it and Brennan loved coloring it. What I regret is accepting a gig that would subject our creative efforts to such arbitrary and heavy-handed corporate intervention.
I'm no stranger to mainstream publishing…I know how things work. But I thought that they'd treat us both with more respect…and unfortunately, I was wrong. Thanks again, one and all.
It is worth pointing out that Brennan will be paid for in full for his completed work. And I guess DC Comics now has more work for Tomeu Morey, who has been colouring Tony S. Daniels's work on the Batman book.
If you want a positive to come from this, there would have been a time when which colourist worked on a comic would not be an issue. This demonstrates a greater appreciation of the form, even if there is disagreement over that appreciation. And hey, two freelancers got paid for the same job…
We look forward to the inevitable compare-and-contrasts.
Talking of Mage, here is something to cheer the mood.