I think it’s common knowledge around these parts how much I love the Batwoman driven Detective Comics title. And while a great deal of that love comes from my unabashed love of J.H. Williams III’s wonderful artwork, just as much of it comes from writer Greg Rucka, who has turned a character who could have been a throwaway token lesbian into someone fully developed by subtle characterization and organic growth.
Now the news has broken out of Wondercon that Greg Rucka will be leaving the title and focusing on work outside of the comic industry. I’m not going to rant and rave about how disappointed I am, because as an artist I understand that if doesn’t want to work within someone else’s system, under someone else’s mandate, and would rather let his mind work freely, he should be allowed to do so and commended for having the strength to do it. The main crux of this little article is meant to illuminate what I believe to be a major problem with the DC system, namely, the manner in which their writers are promoted as an entity.
Look at the way Marvel handles their writers. Names like Bendis, Brubaker, Fraction, Slott, etc. are treated like they’re members of some holy pantheon. They put their writers up on a pedestal in such a way that even if we have never heard their names before, the marketing forces us to sit with mouths agape in awe. One only need look at the way Quesada pushed the rotating teams of writers on the Amazing Spider-Man title as an example of how Marvel sells the writer just as much as they do the book itself.
And DC does the same thing, to a point. But my main problem with DC is that at this moment, with Rucka exiting, it’s easy to see that DC doesn’t promote their talent roster the same way that Marvel does. I will be the first to admit that DC has just as many good writers as Marvel, if not more. The difference is the way in which they tier them. DC has Morrison and Johns at the top, with Stracynski joining them after getting little fanfare during his little run on Brave and The Bold. But where is the hype for people like Matt Sturges, who is knocking it out of the park with JSA All Stars? Where’s the love for Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray? People will claim that these names don’t sell books, but that’s my entire point. Marvel has an entire marketing machine built around making their writers, ALL their writers, seem like the cream of the crop. You don’t think people would be consistently buying JSA All Stars if DC ran to Wizard every month telling people how important the work he’s doing there will be at some point? If they splattered editorials all over the internet proclaiming him to be the next Geoff Johns? You bet your ass!
I’m afraid that DC is going to rely on the same “established” writers they’ve had on their books for the last several years, like Winnick and now Robinson, who has fallen so far from his wonderful work on Starman to the point that I can barely read any of his work. JT Krul has been getting a lot of high profile gigs but they’re doing nothing to inspire consumer confidence in him as a writer. The same goes for all the new blood that seems to be working their way into the system. In this regard, DC really needs to take a page out of Marvel’s handbook and start working some marketing mojo.
That is all.