Milestone: If I'm Not There, You Won't Get It – Michael Davis, From The Edge

davisMichael Davis is the co-founder of Milestone Comics and a current graphic novelist. He runs The Black Panel at San Diego Comic Con. And he now writes a weekly column for Bleeding Cool.

Sorry for the long delay.

Within the last six weeks, a seemingly never-ending series of calamities, each far worse than the previous, have rained down upon me.

I'd explain more, but I think it's best that I don't.

Seeing the events written down may tempt me to finish the description and article with "I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away," put a shotgun to my head, and be done.

Before life as I knew it simply vanished, I told my readers at both Bleeding Cool & Comicmix to ask whatever questions about Milestone they want answers to.

Comicmix readers, perhaps because I did an extensive 5 part Milestones series for the site, had much fewer questions than Bleeding Cool. I was able to deal with and finish those fairly quickly. I assumed I could do the same with Bleeding Cool's inquiries.

Nope. I'm an idiot.

Most of the questions couldn't be answered with a quick paragraph, or at least I could not answer them that way. I tried and failed; so much so, that missing a week turned into missing two, and so on.

There was no favoritism towards Comicmix, nor did I fear some of the Bleeding Cool questions, as some online trolls are saying. The simple truth is I was just overwhelmed. I didn't think writing the articles would be a problem, and perhaps if my chaos were absent for just a little bit, it would not have been.

Well, that will teach me not to think.

Here we go; keep in mind that my views may not necessarily reflect the views of the other Milestone partners or DC Comics.

Matt Krotzer asked the first question, and at least ten other people echoed him.

"I'd really like to know why DC isn't using more Milestone characters, for starters. I'd love to hear your thoughts on where each of Milestone's characters might best fit into the current DC lineup."

Matt, first and foremost, DC is in the Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman business. Those characters will always be the core concern at DC.

That's not as cold-blooded as it may sound if you consider that, to DC's parent company Warner Bros., the DC characters are the only concern.

For a fan, that may seem cold, but it's not. Far from it; regardless of whether the company is as small as a hot dog stand or as large as AT&T, one rule of business will drive them both, and that's the rule of revenue. Specifically, spending as little money as possible to make as much money as achievable.

Low overhead, high revenue.

Those four words influence everything in for-profit corporate America.

DC Comics stopped being in the comic book business years ago; they're in the branded entertainment business. Those who hadn't already figured that out should have when DC Comics became DC Entertainment.

Their intellectual properties are among the most recognized brands in the world. They control and protect those brands with laser beam focus, and rightfully so.

DC does not own Milestone; our character Static Shock, although popular, is nowhere near the level of Batman.

If you own Batman, Batman in a very real way, owns you. Batman is such a mammoth property; any brand with that sort of reach will forever be THE agenda, not part of AN agenda.

That does not mean some DC editor is not excited at the thought of a Robin and Rocket mini-series. DC ideas for Milestone are discussed frequently, but to any fan waiting for anything, talk is cheap.

What many in fandom ignore or don't understand is an idea, no matter how good, can only move as fast as the environment in which it was born. I'm always amazed at those who think it's easy to get something done just because the idea is so darn cool. The world simply does not work that way.

Consider the following: except for some extreme assholes on the Right, most people would agree that equal rights for women are a good idea. Yet still, the Equal Rights Amendment, originally written in 1923, has not been adopted in 2014.

That's pretty fucked up.

The entertainment world certainly does not work that way. Static Shock was a smash hit on television; most people would agree a Static Shock action figure is a great idea. Yet there isn't one.

That's fucking reality and pretty fucked up.

Again, that does not mean scenarios that make a Static Shock toy a reality don't excite Milestone. In a nutshell, the atmosphere has not been precise enough for Milestone characters to get more play in the DCU or to make a toy deal. There's no one at DC (well not anymore) trying to screw with the Milestone Universe for dubious reasons. Speaking of which: how you doing, Bruce?

The Robin and Rocket scenario is all I can give you, my friend, on the sort of thing I'd like to see happen with Milestone characters in the DCU. You asked for thoughts on "each" of the Milestone characters. Dude, there are hundreds of Milestone characters and dozens of main characters. I'm late enough with these articles as it is so I'm not even going to think about going there.

Saidestroyer submitted the following;

"I would like to know what are the chances of getting some reprints of the MILESTONE universe series."

Actually, I think that may happen sooner rather than later, so I'd say the chances are good.

Evilwilma came up with this gem;

"I seem to remember being promised a FADE miniseries a gabillion years ago. I thought he was an excellent, multifaceted character, and was super-disappointed it never materialized. Wanna spill the gist of what his story might have been?" —

I love to spill. Once in band camp…heh.

I'm calling your question a gem with love, not sarcasm. It allows me to tackle a pet peeve of mine, so thanks! The truth is I don't remember or perhaps I never knew in the first place. No one at any company knows everything that happens within said company. It's been a great romantic notion that Milestone founders somehow mind-melded on every creative thing that happened at Milestone.

We didn't.

Among the many times over the years I've been taken to task over Milestone, not knowing particular things has been the reason more often than not. I had a guy yell at me (YELL!) because I couldn't answer a question he had about some Milestone something.

"How can you work there and not know? You're either an idiot or you're not Michael Davis!"

"Or," I began, "I am Michael Davis and an idiot." Which, I've admitted on many occasions and just did again.

The genius had no idea what to say to that. What level of idiot do you have to be to let that go?

Dog Welder had a good question:

"Does DC even currently retain the rights to the Milestone characters, or have they reverted back to Denys and/or Michael?"

Milestone has a publishing deal with DC. That deal gives them certain rights to certain characters. Included in that deal is the right to publish. By no means does certain mean all. DC does not (nor have they ever) owned Milestone; because of that, they can only use what rights have been granted.

A lot of people think DC has absolute editorial power over Milestone. No, they don't. They have no editorial 'power' at all. What they do have is editorial input, which is welcome…most times. The power that DC has is they can elect not to publish something.

Every publisher in comics and mainstream books holds that power.

Nobody in publishing has what Orson Wells had in his FIRST movie deal. If you don't know what deal I'm talking about, a word of advice, don't post that on this site. You will be destroyed.

Mike H may have been a little tipsy when he asked this;

"How did John Byrne get involved in providing the covers for the first issues of Milestone's opening lineup?"

Funny story — John got himself in a bit of trouble and he needed my help. I won't say what trouble, but here's a clue: Mexican Cartel. I made a couple of calls, and his troubles went away. In return, John agreed to do all the first issue covers and enter into a 12-step program.

What I'd like to know is how you got access to a Boom Tube, the Power Cosmic, or the Cosmic Cube? I don't know what universe you were visiting, but in this one, John Byrne did not draw the Milestone premier issues — Denys Cowan did.

I'll end on Mike's question. If not, I fear instead of editing down into separate articles all I've done, I'll keep writing and editing, and like that idiot I can be, never finish.

I'll endeavor to get the other questions answered with little or no lull. Thanks for your patience I'll try and steer clear of evil sprits as best I can. Although that might be a little rough I'm pretty sure I'm the only person on my block that does not belong to the GOP.

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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