Recently Joshua Hale Fialkov posted commentary on his time at DC Comics, his move to Oni Press and his move into TV work.
Greg Theakston, who gave his name to the "Theakstonisation" process of bleaching printed comic book covers to retain the black inkwork for archival processes, in the days before scanners and Photosop, posted something openly on Facebook that seemed a little confused…
Whiney little bitch. "I wanted to kill Hal Jordan but they wouldn't let me!" Spent a lot of time freelancing for companies and always did my job based on what they wanted. Always found a way to do a good job that satisfied every one. Clearly, this fan-boy never worked under those conditions. Boo-f-cking-hoo. "But I want to kill Hal Jordon but you won't let me!" Saw fan-boys enter the big-two and get their hearts broken because they didn't have the skill-set to do what was asked of them for a check. Look, if you can't deliver a job that the company wants, you don't belong in business.
"It nearly killed me when I didn't get to do just what I wanted to!" Then they cry like a little French girl.
Then they bad-mouth the emploryer because they didn't get to do excatly what they wanted to. "They wouldn't let me do what I wanted to and it quite literally nearly killed me." Amateure.
Fellow comic book creators pitched in
Steven Grant Hell, lots of things Marvel & DC wouldn't let me do. I never lost sleep over any of it. The editor or publisher says no, you go on to the next idea. The only guys I ever knew who got upset about having ideas shot down were guys who rarely had more ideas. Ideas for superhero comics are easy to come by.
Especially – sorry, Josh, but a fact's a fact – if they're ideas the company has already done…
But then… a fact got in the way,
Steven Grant Just read the article linked to & have a question: where does Josh say he wanted to kill Hal Jordan? It sounded more like he wanted to not kill John Stewart… I'm confused…
Stuart Moore That's exactly right.
Paul Carbonaro I read the article and I don't see where it says he wanted to kill Hal Jordan. I only see what Stuart stated; that is, that he did NOT want to kill John Stewart as directed by dictatotrial (I mean 'editorial'). What's the basis for this thread then, Greg? I am very confused.
Greg Theakston Two-bit writer who couldn't figure out how to play well in the system and bitches about it. That's all.
Larry Hama If you're working on characters you don't own, you're a hired gun, and if the people who hired you tell you to shoot somebody, you lay out the shower curtain and duct tape, and get on with the job.
Dean Haspiel He didn't want to kill John Stewart, the black Green Lantern. NOT Hal Jordan, the white Green Lantern. I commend the writer for not wanting to do that. He had good reasons. So he quit. He has his ethics. Comics aren't always about a paycheck. And, he went on to write much better comics and other stories in other mediums than those editorially directed — by a bunch of fanboys. (for what it's worth, we're ALL fanboys)
Tony Bedard Yeah, Dean, I can't decide whether to laugh or throw up reading this thread. There are few people in the business I respect more than Fialkov. Clearly the guy who posted this doesn't know him.
Ethan Van Sciver I make a "real living" in comics, and thoroughly enjoy working in the "DC Cave". Still, you could pay me twice what I make at DC to do storyboards for Michael Bay, and I'd pine for comics again. I find that a lot of people feel that way.
Not everyone felt this way, and there were one or two points to nitpick.
Jill Thompson Who is this guy?
Larry Hama I think people who have actually worked jobs that can "literally kill you" might be a bit put off by the headline. The thing comes off whiney and pouty, and his picture doesn't help. I don't know the man, nor his work, but that's the impression I get from this piece. He may be the second coming and God's gift to graphic storytelling, and a stand-up dude who's nice to sick kittens, but you can't tell from what's presented.
Stuart Moore Josh is being a little dramatic here, but he's a good guy who's worked well in a variety of situations. I see nothing unprofessional about quitting a job when you disagree with the editorial direction. Why not leave it to someone else who's a better match?
Tony Bedard Josh walked away from a major payday and his biggest break in the industry because he was unwilling to be the guy that killed off DC's most prominent Black hero and he was unwilling to give his audience a story he didn't believe in. That took more balls and creative integrity than I've ever showed in my career. Frankly, I'm embarrassed for Greg for even writing this ridiculous post about someone he clearly doesn't even know.
Vincent Lavarello well, I would have killed off the whole DC universe if asked, the next month we have found out it was only a dream sequence or red kryptonite anyways…
Brian Augustyn Josh Fialkov is a fine writer, an even better man, and a person of admirable principal. When sharing a story, you might want to read the story, Josh didn't leave because he didn't get his fanboy way, he left rather than produce material he objected to. That's the very definition of professional; avoid putting your integrity on the line for projects you don't believe in.
When Josh was "taking the paycheck," as a freelance writer, he was never known as one to throw tantrums over characters he didn't own. He did the jobs he was hired to do, and turned in scripts with far more than professional adequacy of craft. As a dedicated and talented creator, Josh poured all he had into work he clearly loved–he gave, as the best creator's do, more than he was paid for.
And when you pour your heart and soul into your work, as Josh and the best comics creators do, rotten work conditions can affect your health.
So, the denigration of a guy you don't know, over details no one bothered to check, is ridiculous and unfair. Many people buying into the misrepresented story and piling on with increasingly bizarre invective, dumping on someone they characterize as unprofessional, or unprepared for the way things are, as near as I can tell, not comics professionals themselves. They hold Josh to a standard they haven't been held to themselves. They criticize him for complaining about pressures they've never experienced.
Whether one has worked in the business or not, however, read before responding. That's a grown up thing to do.
James Hudnall It's always bugged me when people want to get into comics so they can ruin other people's characters.
Stuart Moore Agreed! But again, that's not what was going on here.
Ethan Van Sciver I'm not sure what's so morally and ethically challenging about killing the John Stewart character. It goes without saying that this is Comics, and comic book deaths only mean godlike resurrections for big sales events later. But as the writer, he's presumably being given the leeway in choosing HOW John dies. If it's important to him morally that a character, because of it's skin color, gets a magnificent send off, why not write the most incredibly brave and moving death story for John, one that makes readers cry and scream "nooooo" in disbelief and shock, anxious to read the next issue of GREEN LANTERN?
That's what professional creators do. We do have to work within editorial guidelines. But we can still spin wonderful yarns within those guidelines. And frankly, a good sense of diplomacy makes convincing editors our ideas are best a lot easier.
I don't know Josh, but if he cares about these characters THAT much, he blew it. He failed them and himself. DC Comics is a great place to work. You just have to not be so sensitive and inflexible.
Brian Augustyn Or opt to not do a story you don't want to– for what ever reason you have. To further opt not to work for the company for his own reasons–even if others don't understand those reasons. That's the man's choice. And why not pursue his profession in more genial climes?
Ethan Van Sciver He WANTS to work at DC. That's what he's saying. But he refused to do his job as outlined for some sketchy ethical reason. So he insulted the industry as "evil" on his way out. I don't admire that.
Ethan Van Sciver But we agree that what you've written is what he should have done. But that's not what Josh did. There's nothing evil about wanting to do a Death of John Stewart story. If anything, it was a nice opportunity he was being handed to write a beautiful and sad story.
It's true! He could have been replaced by Green Lantern Trevor Noah and everything….