Batman #54, out at the beginning of September, was solicited as being drawn by Matt Wagner, best known as the creator of Mage and Grendel. But he's worked on many DC Comics projects as well, including plenty of Batman titles over the years, a long run on Sandman Mystery Theatre, and a short one on The Demon. His return to DC Comics with a one-shot issue written by Tom King was much lauded. But it has not gone as he planned.
Hey gang…sad to say, I've got some distasteful news to share. As previously announced here, I recently signed on to provide the art for an upcoming issue of the monthly BATMAN title for DC Comics (#54) from a script by Eisner Award-winning writer, Tom King.
Brennan Wagner was, of course, enlisted to color as well. I finished work on the issue several weeks ago and Brennan was nearing completion on his end of things, producing his typically beautiful, thoughtful and evocative color renderings over top of my B&W art.
But just yesterday I received word from Batman group editor Jamie S. Rich that the DC "powers that be" found Brennan's coloring to be too different from their regular fare (because, y'know…different is bad) and so have decided to pull him off the book and have the entire issue re-colored by one of their in-house colorists—at this point, I don't even know who that will be.
Even though Jamie went to bat for us, claiming that both he and Tom King loved the way things looked…he was over-ruled from the higher-ups.
Tom's script is a heartfelt look at a father-and-son relationship and, rather than capitalize on the fact that they had a celebrated father-and-son art team on board for this issue…DC instead elected to fire the artist's colorist/son for producing distinctive work.
Needless to say, I thought Brennan was doing a fantastic job and think this is a terribly shoddy way to treat not only him—this would've been his first full-length job for them—but also me, one of their longtime and supposedly respected creators. Regrettably, I'm now sorry I ever agreed to this gig in the first place…because this is just f-cking bullsh-t.
Brennan is Matt's son, and his other DC credits have been colouring Tim Sale's variant covers for Batman, Green Arrow, Batman/The Shadow, and others. But he has also fully coloured a number of Dynamite series including DC crossover Django vs. Zorro, Will Eisner's The Spirit, and The Shadow and he coloured the final volume of Mage.
Brennan also posted in response,
This was painful for me professionally and personally. The integrity of a colorist in this industry as a creator and a contributor is passed around board meetings like a nerf football.. In this case, it feels like the office dog got me in the end
Here is the solicitation:
(W) Tom King (A/CA) Matt Wagner
Dick Grayson-the original Robin-gets to spend some quality time fighting crime with his mentor for the first time since Batman popped the question to Catwoman. It's a walk down memory lane as Bruce Wayne helps Dick get over the loss of his high-flying acrobat parents, which in turn led to his crime-fighting career. Guest artist Matt Wagner (Mage, TRINITY) jumps on board for this special issue! In Shops: Sep 05, 2018
Final Orders Due: Aug 13, 2018
And the solicited cover: