Walter Simonson Asks Why His Art Is On Cover Of John Byrne Omnibus

Walter Simonson is a long-time comic book creator and colleague of John Byrne. They worked at Marvel and at DC at similar times, on similar books and sometimes together, as well as the Legend creator-owned imprint from Dark Horse Comics. Walter Simonson also drew the covers to John Byrne's run on the Fourth World books, at Byrne's request. But the collection of such books under the title John Byrne's Fourth World Omnibus using one of Walter's covers instead of an art piece by Byrne, rubbed Simonson up the wrong way. He posted to Facebook;

Very recently, thanks to John, I obtained a copy of John Byrne's Fourth World, a DC Omnibus of his work from many years ago when he labored in the Jack Kirby fields of the New Gods et.al. a bit before I did. I'm delighted to have the collection and it's a pretty hefty tome. Thank you, John.

That said, I was appalled when I got it to see that both the front cover and back cover are drawings by me. The idea that DC Comics would publish a John Byrne hardcover collection with Walter Simonson covers boggles my mind. Now be it noted that, at John's request back then, I did do all but one of the covers for his run. But for Pete's sake, it's a John Byrne volume! If there aren't any big drawings in the material by John you want to stick on the cover, shell out a few bucks and hire him to do a new drawing, damn it! If you're going to put volumes like this out, and I think you should, then at least do them right! How hard can that be?

Walter Simonson Asks Why His Art Is On Cover Of John Byrne Omnibus

He also pointed out in the comments;

all the covers I did ARE inside the book in front of the issues they belong with. I just think not giving John the actual cover of his book was a strange choice. And a flawed one.

I don't think John was happy with the decision. Don't know about seeing the book before it went to press, but I know I did not see anything about the ORION Omnibus that DC published some years back of my own work in the Fourth World fields until I got my comps. If I had, I would have had the back up stories arranged differently. I was crabby about that on social media at the time, got a call from Dan Didio, and when the paperback volumes were published some years later, all the back up stories had been restored to their original locations.

While in the comments, one Neil Gaiman took time out of his busy schedule on two TV series, to comment on other commentator's criticisms of editors on these books, saying;

I don't think that the collected editions editors are arrogant. As Lawrence said, they are rushed, overworked, short staffed, and working during Covid, which means nobody gets to wander past the desk and go "Had you thought about having John Byrne do the covers to the John Byrne collection?"

Facebook is a dangerous thing, at any moment Neil Gaiman may pop by and correct you.

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Rich JohnstonAbout 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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