Sunday, August 30, 2009


I don't want to make a habit of responding to months-old message board threads, but I happened across this recently over on CBR, and the thread is closed to responses. It was one of those stupid threads where someone who doesn't like how a particular comics creator or editor handles things complains about them having a job. In this case the thread drifted into how a book gets cancelled. My friend Kurt Busiek weighed in with:

...Canceling a book is a financial decision. It gets made by the financial side of the company, not the creative side. An editor can't decide, "I don't like this book, so I'll cut off all the profit my company is making from it" any more than he can decide, "I like this proposal, so I'm going to put a new book on the schedule."

A poster replied:

See, this is not how I understood it from reading an interview of Cully Hamner about Mosaic's cancellation, in which he claimed the book was actually selling pretty well but was cancelled because DC Editorial didn't understand it, I wrongly assumed Mike Carlin was the big wig at DC Editorial at that time. I guess he was mistaken.

And Kurt responded thusly:

All due respect to Cully, but I doubt anyone called him up and said, "We're canceling this because we don't understand it." He's offering an interpretation -- and a guess -- based on whatever information he had. But it's not eyewitness testimony -- Cully lives a long way from the office, and wouldn't have been at the meetings.

True enough, Kurt. But the only problem with this is that it wasn't my interpretation, and it isn't what I said. What I did say was this:

...As I was told at the time, it didn’t fit with DC editorial vision (whatever that means). Sales didn’t matter, fan support didn’t matter; the first issue sold about 210,000 copies and my last issue sold about 70,000, so there was plenty of support for the book. It was marked for cancellation when issue #5 came out, and they allowed Gerry Jones a year to wrap it up, but there was no doubt that it was being canceled because somebody upstairs just didn’t care for it.

All due respect to Kurt (who is one of the most reasonable men of all time), the fact is that I was told this same thing by three different people at DC, including the EIC at the time, Dick Giordano, that it "didn't fit with DC's editorial vision." I was told that DC had plans to take Green Lantern in a drastically different direction and that Mosaic didn't fit the plan. This is not my interpretation of what I was told-- it's what I was told. And it came to pass within a year of the final issue of Mosaic that Hal Jordan became Parralax and Kyle Rayner became Green Lantern, so I tend to believe what I was told-- no interpretation required.

Now, if it had been canceled purely due to low sales, I see no reason why I wouldn't simply have been told that. In fact, it's the simplest answer to digest for a freelancer in most similar situations. Thing is, I was privy to the sales figures via my royalty statements, and word of the cancellation came down a year before the end of the series, while sales were still good. So, I took them at their word that Mosaic didn't fit with their plans to reinvigorate the core Green Lantern book. I was also told more than once that the title wasn't well-liked up at DC, and I do understand that this is subjective on the part of the teller, but it is what I was told. Again, not my interpretation, and not a "guess."

Maybe the difference is subtle, but I just hate being misunderstood. So, now and for all time: I didn't say that DC canceled it because they didn't understand it, but rather that it didn't fit with their larger plan for reinvigorating Green Lantern as a whole. Financial decision? Sure, they all are to varying degrees, but in this case it was indirect. Mosaic wasn't canceled due to its own sales, but the core title's. The decision to revamp Green Lantern was surely a financial one, but the cancellation of Mosaic was at least in part an editorial call to help facilitate the revamp. Again, I was told this in no uncertain terms.

So, make of it all what you will. But you know what? How cool is it that a book I did seventeen years ago is still being talked about? :)

1 comment:

Lan Pitts said...

It's a good read, man. I actually just pulled my copy out and will be bringing that and a few other oddities to have signed.