DC Comics, Diamond, and A New Hope – Michael Davis, From The Edge
Michael Davis is an artist, writer, mentor, entertainment executive, co-founder of Milestone Comics, co-creator of Static Shock, Hardware, Icon and Blood Syndicate and creator and host of San Diego Comic-Con's The Black Panel. He writes for From The Edge for Bleeding Cool and for ComicMix. He writes;
Writers note: Many websites pick up my column. One is a well-known entertainment portal. I was sent a note from a famous producer who says if I cut out the not funny asides I could 'go places' and 'he'd be looking to see if I "…did what I say." Not "follow his advice" or "…give it some thought" but do what he says. I've given a lot of thought to how I'd respond and came up with the perfect response that shows the level of my righteous uppity anger.
Best Regards, Michael Davis
On Facebook, Influential retailer Brian Hibbs took DC Comics to task over their decision to distribute directly to retailers. I wanted to give props to the man. Well done, dude, well done indeed. As an aside, I had one of the most fabulous nights of my life when I attended a Wonder Con party at your store many moons ago. You're a class act, my friend.
As everyone knows by now, DC announced they would distribute without Diamond. What's not being discussed (or I haven't seen) is ONE tiny thing. DC is exclusive to Diamond. That is unless something changed since the Great Heroes World Stupidity of 94 when they signed that deal. I'm not privy to the details, but if DC thinks a worldwide pandemic is a cause to break that agreement, I will wager it's a power play. A not too smart power play, in my opinion. Only an idiot would agree to an act of God clause in an agreement that allows you to vacate the contract. Steve Geppi is no one's idiot, nor is Paul Levitz, who was in charge, back in the day nor is Jim Lee who's running things now. Perhaps the new peeps at AT&T&A don't know or care about Diamond's pull among retailers. They may assume Diamond needs them to such an extent they won't take action. I'm betting that's WRONG.
Geppi's a big fan of comics many times, taking a hit for the benefit of the industry. The new owners of DC are not from the comics business and may be under the impression that makes him vulnerable. The man buys sports teams, and that's no game for the timid. DC does this new distribution; they can expect a severe backlash from all sorts of people and companies. That's already happening.
I belong to a Facebook retailer group that has many influential players involved. Combined, the group generates millions of dollars in comic book sales. Revenue is the one true God in any retail business. You would think from social media Steve Geppi and Diamond are hated to such an extent they would welcome DC's distribution move.Total dangerous bullsh-t is customarily my call when responding to stuff like, "Donald Trump says the virus gives you superpowers." But in this case, it works just as well.
Steve Geppi is considered by many the reason comics have NOT gone away like the minds of the GOP.
He may not be universally loved, like me, but, ba, bah BAHahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!! Michael Davis universally loved? ME? THAT'S HILARIOUS pronounced-HO is LARRY'S wish) for those who struggle with reading. But I digress, Geppi may not be universally loved, who is beside Maggie Thompson, Walter and Louise Simonson, Jackie Estrada, Rich Johnson, Andrew Rev, and my boy Rob Liefeld? What?
However, he is loved by many, and Geppi's respected to such a degree the talk among retailers in the group was they would let DC go before him. Now it's just talking, likely it's just frustration, but that's a clear signal this is a BAD MOVE for DC. This DC, Diamond situation, I'm sad to say, may end up something of a self-proclaimed prophecy. The naysayers have been saying for decades comics can't survive. Cable would kill it; the internet will kill it, video games, digital comics, audiobooks, iPads, cellphones, nerds, finally getting some poon tang, and about a thousand other things would kill comics FOREVER. This rift might not kill it, but it would undoubtedly put it on life support even more so than it is now.
This much seems clear AT&T cares not one bit for the comic book industry. That's my opinion, I hope not fact. The margins are way too small; they're carrying a sh-t load of debt, and the current climate in the stock market is as bad as it can get. Those are the sighs of possible liquidation, dilution, or worse. It's worse. Those are the sighs of possible liquidation, dilution, or worse. I wrote that line and sent my first draft to Rich 3 days ago.
TODAY Friday April 24th Randall Stephenson, retired as CEO but becomes Chairman of the Board of Directors until to "ensure a smooth leadership transition" That is not good for DC Comics. Anytime a new CEO is named there's a MAJOR shakeup coming and if you're in the middle of some sh-t, you're among the first to be looked at. But there may be hope.
Long time readers of mine know that my history with DC is, let's just say dicey. The odds of me ever working with them again was zero to less than zero. I held a lot of anger over the last two decades towards DC. I've decided it's about time I move on from that place, or it will end up destroying me. Before I came to that decision, I posted a DC comics ate my dingo AND my baby on Facebook. I didn't say that exactly, but it was a negative post. An executive at DC, part of the new guard, reached out to me.
Reaching out to a critic at his corporate level is rarely done. Doing so in a public forum is NEVER, done. Both Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa contacted someone on a public forum. Seriously, litigation is always a clear and present in corporate America that's why DC never comments on anything I say. Any comment made on my claims suggests it has merits. The DC individual and I had a good chat, and it turns out he's a pretty cool guy. My decision to let go of my anger concerning DC wasn't because of our call. I'd been considering that for a while. But without a doubt, the call did help me make up my mind. So, guess who's now in the middle of the DC Diamond duel? Before you do, say -DC Diamond duel-5 times. It's Me. I hashed out a deal and now own both DC and Diamond…. and I'm back from Fantasy Island.
No, I'm not in the middle of anything, that's way above my pay grade. No, that's not correct, a better answer would be you couldn't pay me to be in the middle of that. I did connect Steve Geppi with a DC VP but only because there's s film project that screams Steve's involvement. I've run divisions at major entertainment companies. I've learned influential people often miss opportunities because of an incorrect assumption mix-up or timing. Timing is nothing but luck.
Example: I was a breath away from signing a publishing deal with Marvel when Image Comics head, Larry Marder, just happened to stand next to me. At a urinal. Yep. Man, I'm SO tempted to insert a joke here. That chance encounter was the end of my Marvel talks. I did my Motown line of books with Image.
I asked Geppi if he'd speak to my new friend regarding the film he said 'sure' as did my new buddy at DC. What could it hurt? It's what I call the lonely pretty girl approach. Many of us Nerds and Geeks won't approach a beautiful girl because we (YOU) Figure she's taken, stuck up, or out of your league. But often they would welcome an exchange. What's the worst that can happen if you talk to her? Rejection. What's the best that could happen? Erection. What? Just keeping it real.
What's the odds of the most powerful man in comics calling an industry leader FOR any reason besides to settle a current dispute? Not great, but it was a slow day, so I made the call. "Admit you're my daddy, give me an allowance and avoid my releasing the DNA test," I said. Then I woke up. Regardless of the film project works out or not, it shows that Geppi is genuinely down to earth, and his love for the comics industry is real. Most importantly, he's not one of those people who blame EVERYONE for issues he's having with one.
It occurred to me later that DC is one company, and if in the middle of a dispute, most I assume would ignore any request to deal with any part of DC. This was a favor for me, he ignored whatever else to grant me that kindness. He kept his word and did so during a time where he easily could have just said no. So, like I said, there is hope. Malcolm X said, "If you have no critics, you'll likely have no success." Steve, like most successful moguls, has plenty of critics. But on the other hand, he's got the kind of supporters DC cannot afford to lose.
I have no skin in this game, but I'd be remiss if I didn't say what motivated me to write a second article on this topic. Three things; Steve called when my mother died, I'd rarely talked to him in years. His words were appreciated, but I was at the beginning of what would turn out to be a six-year slide into a personal hell and wasn't the most gracious person. On one of my rare positive moments, I called to apologize for being a dick he pretended he didn't know what I was talking about. When Milestone excluded me, I received another call. He asked if there was, anything he could do for me. I was bitter and now deep in my depressed state. "Yeah, don't distribute their books." He said, "You're bigger than that." I assure you at the time I wasn't. Later, when he read a pro Milestone piece I had written, he texted, "Like I said, you're bigger than that." He was right; I am bigger than that, but only because I know people like Steve Geppi.
Lastly, my new friend managed to convince me it's a new day at DC. Not an easy thing to do. How? His passion for his projects told me everything I needed to know. I hope the bump in the road between Diamond and DC does not become a roadblock. There are good people on both sides. Yeah, you've heard that before.
This time it's true.