[This is a really great interview from The Comics Journal with writer Chris Roberson about his recent - very public- break with DC Comics. I’m posting the entire interview because it’s a really important piece, but I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU CHECK OUT THE ORIGINAL ON TCJ’s SITE TO READ THE COMMENTS AS WELL. FOR MYSELF, IT’S A SAFE BET THAT I’M GOING TO TRY TO BUY EVERY COMIC AND BOOK THAT ROBERSON PUTS OUT THERE. ETHICS ARE SEXY.]
Last week, Chris Roberson, a novelist and publisher who has worked on several comics titles for DC and Vertigo, including his own co-creation iZombie, announced via Twitter that due to ethical concerns, he was no longer comfortable working for DC Comics. The remarks, following in the wake of several other comics-related controversies (Before Watchmen and general disappointment over the handling of Jack Kirby’s legacy, among numerous other things) very quickly spread throughout the comics internet, and shortly led to DC terminating Roberson’s contract. Roberson’s public statements, and the sometimes fiery arguments that they have provoked, seemed in some way to augur a possible modest paradigm shift, and we were very pleased when he agreed to speak to us about what happened, his relationship with DC, and the ethics of the comics industry.
What led you to decide you could no longer work for DC?
Well, this has been building over the last few months, and mostly had to do with what I saw DC and Time Warner doing in regards to creator relations. I think the first thing—you have to understand that when I first started working for DC in 2008, the Siegels had just recaptured half of the copyright for Action Comics #1 and I felt very good about that. That seemed like a very positive step. And then over the course of the last few months there has been the counter-suit against the Siegels’ lawyer, Marc Toberoff, and I was less sanguine about that, and starting to get a little itchy about it, and then there were just a few general things about the way that it seemed that DC regards creators now that are working for them—and I can talk about that more in detail—but the real kind of proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was the announcement at the beginning of February of Before Watchmen, which I just thought was unconscionable. And so I had already signed a contract by that point to do six more issues of iZombie, of which three of them had been turned in, and so I just made the decision to go ahead and turn in the remaining three, not wanting to jeopardize the livelihood of my collaborators Mike and Laura Allred. But once I turned in the last one, even though I had other work lined up, I would have to at least—if only for my own peace of mind—let people know that I wasn’t happy with it.
Did you hear about Before Watchmen at the same time everybody else did?
Yeah, I’m not on the super-secret don’t-tell-anybody list at DC and so I’m never told anything before anybody else is. To be honest, I think it was a weekday and so we were up early getting our daughter ready for school and when I came across the headline I swear I thought that I’d misread the calendar and it was April 1 because I couldn’t believe it was actually a thing that was happening.