The comic book industry is essentially a business. Like any other business, there are people behind it – writers, artists, executives etc – and, also like any other business, those people can be temperamental and have disagreements.
The comic book movie industry has many high profile examples of this. Edward Norton stood down from his role as the Hulk so he wouldn’t be typecast – and, in part, due to tension with Marvel Studios. Edgar Wright left the Ant-Man project due to creative differences with Marvel Studios over his screenplay – it was deemed too quirky. Terrence Howard didn’t reprise his role as James Rhodes AKA War Machine over issues with his salary; apparently Marvel Studios went back on their word and offered to pay him substantially less than he was promised, because they knew the sequel to Iron Man would have been successful with or without him.
Those same issues, and worse, arise when it comes to the challenging creative process involved in the making of the material that influences such movies. Comic book writers have departed projects of their own accord for a wide variety of reasons over the years, some under particularly contentious circumstances. These are ten controversial reasons why comic book writers quit.
10. Criticism Over Racism & Sexual Violence (Alan Moore)
Alan Moore is an English writer who is something of a legend in the world of comic books, having been responsible for writing the likes of Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell.
He didn’t quit a particular project – he quit public life.
Severe criticism of his work included allegations that his stories featured racist characters and an excessive amount of sexual violence towards women. In January of 2014, Moore opted to call the superhero genre a “cultural catastrophe” and decided that he would “more or less curtail speaking engagements and non-performance appearances” after his commitments had been fulfilled. He did so on the basis that he would let his work do all of his talking from that point onwards.
9. He Was Benched By Harvey Richards & Scott McDaniel (John Rozum)
John Rozum was brought in by DC Comics to write for the Static Shock series in their New 52 timeline. However, in September of 2011, he quit the series after just four issues and it was cancelled entirely after just eight issues.
Rozum has since spoken out about the negative experience he had with the company, specifically citing being brushed aside and undermined by editor Harvey Richards and writer Scott McDaniel when it came to his ideas; they simply didn’t listen to him.
Rozum wanted Static Shock to be a real powerhouse, but Richards and McDaniel had other ideas. The series has been critically panned and Rozum has taken a lot of the blame for it – but he insists he had very little input, given the stubborn positions of the other people involved.
8. Ethical Concerns (Roger Langridge)
In 2012, New Zealand-born writer Roger Langridge (who is most well-known for the likes of John Carter and Judge Dredd) announced that he would never again work with Marvel or DC. He had worked with both in the past. His choice was thanks largely to the tricky ethics that dominate behind the scenes at both companies.
Langridge was writing the last issue of John Carter when he was made aware of the fact that Marvel had won a lawsuit against the heirs of company legend Jack Kirby. In reaction to the questionable lawsuit, comic book artist and editor Steve Bissette had written an extremely passionate piece about the ethics of working for Marvel under those circumstances. It put Langridge off both Marvel and DC (who operate similarly) for life.
Langridge is aware that Marvel and DC don’t need him and he knows he has a lot of other work to fall back on, so won’t associate himself with either company again.
7. Editor Pissing Contests (Rob Liefeld)
Rob Liefeld is an American comic book writer and artist who is best known as the co-creator of Deadpool and creator of X-Force. He’s a controversial figure in the world of comic books, known for his strangely proportioned drawings and his outspoken nature.
In 2012, he quit DC Comics after working on the likes of The Savage Hawkman, Grifter and Deathstroke. Within mere hours of his departure, he took to his Twitter account to tell the world exactly why.
Never shy to speak his mind, Liefeld cited “LAST minute changes”, “editorial battles”, “editor pissing contests” and people covering for a guy who “kept slipping and tripping all over his deadlines” as his main reasons behind leaving the company. He did, however, say that he believed in what DC were doing, but signed off that day by saying “Don’t look for any tell all interview with me. Just follow this feed….the best stuff has not been shared–not even close!”
6. He Was Taken Gross Advantage Of (Greg Rucka)
Greg Rucka unequivocally severed ties with both DC Comics and Marvel Comics. In the case of Marvel, it was simply a case of creative disagreement but, with regards, to DC, Rucka believes the company took “gross advantage” of him.
Rucka claimed that DC weren’t concerned with the quality of the comic books they were putting out and that they just wanted to make sure they were released on time – essentially only being concerned about the fact that Rucka’s name was on the front, regardless of the content.
He also claims that DC executives considered his work to have little value, in spite of the fact that his sales were extremely strong. Rucka challenged that, if that really was the case, they should remove his work from shelves so they don’t make any more money from him. He left the company in 2010.
5. An Unpleasant Encounter With A Survey Worker (Patton Oswalt)
Patton Oswalt is a well-known American stand-up comedian, writer, actor and voice actor known for roles such as Spencer Olchin in The King of Queens, Eric, Billy and Sam Koenig in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the voice of adult Adam Goldberg in The Goldbergs and for voicing Remy in Ratatouille.
He has also been known to do a little bit of comic book writing – namely for DC Comics – but he won’t be doing so again after an unpleasant situation was inadvertently forced on him by the company while he was (rather ironically) buying some DC comic books in a comic book store.
Whilst in Meltdown Comics in Hollywood back in 2011, he was accosted by a “douchey” man from the Nielsen Company, whom DC has commissioned to conduct market research regarding the New 52 initiative. So persistent was the man that Oswalt decided to sever all ties with DC and never buy their comics again.
4. DC Wanted To Kill John Stewart (Joshua Hale Fialkov)
Back in 2013, Joshua Hale Fialkov was scheduled to start putting pen to paper for DC Comics by writing the new Green Lantern series. However, before he even started writing for the company he opted out, due to the fact that DC wanted him to weave the death of an extremely important character – Green Lantern John Stewart – into the story.
Fialkov had pitched “a crime story on a galactic level” to Geoff Johns – DC’s Chief Creative Officer – and it had seemingly gone down very well with him. However, at the last minute, Fialkov was told about the John Stewart situation and opted not to proceed with the project.
It would have been great exposure for a man whose biggest previous job was writing I, Vampire for DC, but he opted out based on not having total creative control.
3. To Form Image Comics (Seven Marvel Writers)
In the early 1990s, a number of writers who were doing freelance work for Marvel Comics were growing increasingly frustrated with the company’s policies and practices when it came to hiring their creative staff. As a result, seven of them decided to go their own way and form a brand new comic book company.
That company was Image Comics, and the seven writers in question were Todd McFarlane (pictured above), Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, Erik Larsen, Whilce Portacio, Jim Valentino and Marc Silvestri.
Image have since created such popular characters and series as Spawn, Invincible, Sex Criminals, Savage Dragon and, of course, The Walking Dead – so it’s safe to say that the risky venture turned out to be a very wise move.
2. Last Minute Changes (J.H Williams III and W. Haden Blackman)
The co-writing team of J.H Williams III and W. Haden Blackman were responsible for the Batwoman series up until September of 2013. They both departed the project at that point due to a conflict with DC over last minute changes demanded by the company.
The pair said that they were told to discard a number of plans that had been in the works for more than a year, including plans to delve into Killer Croc’s origins and, most crushingly for them, plans to have Batwoman marry her lesbian lover Maggie Sawyer.
Batwoman and Sawyer were already engaged, but DC told Williams and Blackman that the marriage couldn’t go ahead – though Williams was keen to stress in the aftermath of his departure that DC weren’t anti-gay in any way.
1. His Own Self-Confessed Shortcomings & Ineptitude (J. Michael Straczynski)
American writer J. Michael Straczynski has written for comic books, television and film amongst other media. He co-wrote the story for the 2011 Thor movie – a film in which he made a cameo, along with Stan Lee himself, as one of the men trying to move Mjolnir in the New Mexico desert.
Whilst he was writing for the Thor comic books in 2009, Straczynski controversially exited his role, citing his own “shortcomings and ineptitude” as the reason.
When Straczynski started writing comic books, each one was generally a self-contained story. He started writing the Thor comic on the basis that this would be the case. However, Marvel wanted Thor’s story to lead into the large “Siege” event and Straczynski realised he would have difficulty linking his intentionally self-contained story to such a huge arc. Thus, he opted to depart.
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