Walter Simonson On The Order Of Orion (UPDATE)

61TetmW03CLWalter Simonson wrote on Facebook about the upcoming Orion Omnibus, collecting his New Gods-based series. He wrote,

I received comp copies of the Orion Omnibus from DC Comics late yesterday afternoon. I believe it's due out in a few weeks.  The physical package is nicely done, but I have decided to express publicly, in a way I rarely do, that I am very disappointed in the book.

As some of you may remember, many of the issues of my run on the title consisted of a lead story and a short backup story. I got a lot of my friends, including Dave Gibbons, Frank Miller, Howard Chaykin, Jim Lee, Eddie Campbell and others to draw the back ups. I wrote most of the twelve stories. Generally, the backup stories were related in some way to the lead story.  Sometimes, it was matter of atmosphere.  Sometimes it was some sort of continuation of thematic material from the lead story. In the case of the Arthur Adams drawn story in Orion 10, there was a direct connection to the lead story, focusing on and specifically answering some of the questions I'd posed there.

My only connection to the Omnibus was early on.  I learned of the upcoming collection like most other folks, by catching the announcement at last year's San Diego ComicCon.  I had some brief contact with DC afterwards about the Omnibus, and supplied a few high res scans for drawings as requested. I also drew a new cover for the volume.  And that was it. I will say that in the case of other reprints elsewhere, I have generally been kept in the loop more, often to the extent of seeing pdfs of the entire volume and collaborating on the final form of the book before it heads off to press.

Nevertheless, I was thrilled Monday afternoon when I received a box of complimentary copies in the mail from DC.  As I said above, it's a very nice package.

However, I was dismayed when I began looking through the book and discovered that all of the backup stories for the issues, although included in the volume, have been separated from their lead stories and stripped of their context by putting them in the back of the Omnibus, in a separate section behind all the lead stories.  And they aren't entirely in order in that section either.

To say I was dismayed at these discoveries is probably too gentle a word, but what's the point of going further? What's done is done. It seems unlikely that there will be future collections of the same material. I feel it's some of my best work, and I am very unhappy that the stories in this collection are never going to be read in the correct order by anyone except perhaps by extremely die hard fans of the work, or by people who simply go back and buy the original back issues.

The one bright note is that Dan Didio told me, after I spoke to him about the matter this afternoon, that if the book is reissued in paperback at some point down the road, he would do everything he could to see that all of the stories are printed in the correct order in that edition.

That would be nice.

If you want to risk it, the Orion by Walter Simonson Omnibus is scheduled to come out from Amazon on April 14th, but my appear in stores earlier.

UPDATE: Walter adds:

I need to eat a little bit of crow regarding my post: A Few Notes about the upcoming ORION OMNIBUS. I said that the backup stories were printed not only in a separate section of the book, but out of order. That last is incorrect. Now that I've settled down, I've discovered that I misremembered the order of the first two back up stories. I had thought Dave Gibbons drew the first one I wrote, and Frank Miller the second. That order turns out to be reversed, and the correct order appears in the book. My apologies to all concerned.

I've made corrections to my original posted note.

I'm still cranky about putting the backup stories in a separate section in the back of the book, but I've already groused about that. And I do have to say the backups location aside, the volume is a very nice package of practically everything I've ever done with the Fourth World, including pencil sketches, some finished pencils and an unpublished cover.)

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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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