DISCLAIMER: All individuals, sales figures, situations and occurrences involved in this editorial simulation are completely fabricated as part of the game, and do not in any way reflect the actual real-world opinions, viewpoints or situations involving any of the creators or titles named. THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION!
All right, I can see that all five of our players got their moves in over the course of the last week. So let’s get into things and see how everything works out for them. As a matter of organization, I’m going to regularly list out the responses in this order: Marvel editors, DC editor, Image editor. However, in terms of evaluating the moves and their results, I’m going to make the assumption that if two parties are reaching out to the same creator or vying for the same resources, the one who posted first is also the one who reached out about it first. That doesn’t mean that they’re always going to get their way, but it does mean that there is a bit of a strategic advantage in getting your move in earlier rather than later (though the counter-balance to that, of course, is that the earlier you get your move in, the sooner the other players can see it and react to it.)
Mark Russell is happy to be offered AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and come on board. However, there’s some disagreement over putting Tom Grummett on AMAZING–the EIC feels that Grummett’s style may strike some readers as being too old-fashioned. He’d be more comfortable with Grummett on SPECTACULAR, but AMAZING is the flagship of the Spidey line, it needs to lead and be commercial. In this, the EIC’s judgment is backed up by the Head of the Sales Department. he tells you that while he’s a fan of Grummett’s work, he doesn’t think that the Retailer base that orders the books is likely to have a strong reaction to Grummett being on the title.
Peter David is interested in doing SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN–though, having done it before, and time on other, similar Spidey books as well, such as FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN, he’d like to find a way to do something different in this run. He doesn’t have the idea quite yet, but he’s lived the life of being the guy who needs to plan stories around what the guys on AMAZING are doing several times already–so he’s looking for a different angle. In passing, he floats the notion that maybe the book should star his creation Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099, as that would avoid some of these pitfalls for him and allow him to tell the stories he might want to tell without restriction.
Phil Jimenez is open to coming back to do SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, though having done AMAZING SPIDER-MAN a while back, his interest isn’t enthusiastic, so he’s really going to need something in the stories or the treatment to energize him or else his output is likely to slow to a crawl. In terms of your scheduling plan, the VP of Ops likes it in principle, but in practice both he and the EIC agree that Sara Pichelli is too important a resource to the company to be keeping in a “second chair” position. She’s a launcher, and so they don’t want to waste her draw power on the middle issues of a run, they’d rather put her into play elsewhere.
On the MILES MORALES launch, Kyle Baker is flattered to have been asked to take this on, and he’s up for writing the series and maybe doing the occasional cover. But he’s got enough other work of his own both in animation and his own graphic novel career that he can’t commit to drawing the series as well. But he would be up for writing it depending on who the two of you can find to illustrate it.
The EIC is happy that you’re already planning to build up to a particular big story, though he cautions you that we’ll need to talk through those plans further and officially ratify them, locking down their content and timing, as we get closer, probably at an Editorial Retreat. But he’s glad to have something to pencil in to the publishing plan down the line that can potentially generate some excitement in the industry.
Jason Aaron is up for taking on IRON MAN with you, but Ryan Ottley isn’t sold. He doesn’t have any particular affinity for the character, and he’s worried based on the approach you’ve described to him that he’s not going to have as many opportunities to illustrate the sort of explosive action that he thrives on as he would like. Additionally, the VP of Ops tells you that Laura Martin’s coloring rate is greater than what the book is budgeted for–every Marvel title needs to operate within certain fiscal parameters in order to meet the necessary margin numbers. If the EIC feels strongly enough about the choice, you may be able to get special dispensation to offer the gig to Laura. But it has the potential to also make it harder to hit your margin on the title.
Donny Cates is enthusiastic to get your call about doing CAPTAIN AMERICA, but before you can tell him about your ideas for the book, he starts to tell you his–and he’s got an absolute ton of them. None of them sound at all like what you were about to lay out–they’re a lot more expansive and energetic, not quite so ground level as what you had in mind. And they don’t involve the Heroes for Hire or vampires. You eventually get off the phone with Donny with the situation undecided as to whether he’s going to come onto the book or not. Sanford Greene, however, is on board to do CAP.
On THOR, Kelly Sue is up for taking on this assignment, as is Mark Bagley who’s never done a run on THOR before and so is looking forward to it. But the EIC cautions you that before we can get things moving in earnest on this series, we’re going to need to have some conversations with folks higher up the food chain about the prospect of Thor and Jane having a child, as that’s a story element that could have ramifications on lines of business beyond just publishing. At the very least, he’s going to need to get the Publisher’s sign-off on it, and depending on how those conversations play out, he may also want to get weigh-ins from people in consumer products, at Marvel Studios and in the animation world–for their notification if nothing else. He asks you to put together a document outlining your plans and explaining why they make sense and are additive to the property.
You have a nice conversation with Al Ewing about the possibility of him writing X-MEN and he says that he’ll go away and have a think on everything you’ve spoken about and come back with some thoughts about what he might like to do. Everybody is keen on the idea of Jorge Jimenez drawing the book, but at the moment he’s still excursive with DC, though his contract will be coming to an end in a few months. That said, Jorge is going to be expensive to pursue, and it’s also possible that DC will simply outbid you for him, especially as he’s already got relationships there. If you do want to try to bring Jorge on for the launch, you’re going to need to stopgap for at least a few issues with something.
On WOLVERINE, Gene Luen Yang thanks you for the reach-out, but his schedule is already booked up with other projects–he’s really begun to blow up in a big way in the YA market, so the demands on his time are greater. He wishes you luck in finding somebody who can make the series you want to make. Dan Mora, however, is ready to come on board and take over WOLVERINE.
On X-FACTOR, both Tini and Leah are interested in what you’re proposing, especially since they’re friendly with one another. But you do get a sense that either one of them would prefer to have sole ownership of a series rather than having to split time with somebody else in a stop-and-start fashion. It’s almost as much work given the coordination involved, for only half the pay. On the artist front, both Jamal Campbell and Luciano Vecchio are ready to play.
MARVEL OFFICES GENERAL
The EIC reiterates to everybody the sales goals that the division needs to hit during this financial period, and also reiterates that there’s an end of a fiscal quarter coming at the end of Move 5, so all books need to ship by that point and not fall behind and out of the month if they’re going to count towards the profitability of the group. He also reminds you that for all of the money stuff, you are still here to make great comics, and not to lose sight of that.
The Head of Sales tells everybody that you could definitely use an Event storyline of some kind at some point within this planning cycle of 10 moves, as a big story that gets fans excited gets people coming into stores, where they are more likely to buy all of the different books that are being put out. He’s happy to hear that Sal is already thinking about WORLD WAR KREE, but isn’t yet ready to put all the eggs into that one basket just yet. Early days.
DAVE’S DC OFFICE
Across the country, the following is taking place.
Christopher Priest has been waiting his whole life for somebody to ask him to write SUPERMAN, so he’s on board for the assignment. There’s some concern over Ray-Anthony Height, though–much like with your AMAZING SPIDER-MAN counterpart, there’s some concern that you need a bigger gun to anchor the main book in the SUPERMAN line. On top of which, it’s pointed out to you that Ray-Anthony hasn’t done a regular run on pretty much anything in mainstream comics. This is a big spot for somebody to be getting their first real swing. By that same token, the folks in the office also like the optics of having a creative team of color working on SUPERMAN, so nobody is outright telling you that you can’t do this yet.
Gail Simone, on the other hand, feels as though she’s already done ACTION COMICS, and chooses to pass. She tells you that your concept for the book does sound interesting, though she does feel that maybe you need a bit more action in a book titled ACTION COMICS. Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, likewise, regrets to tell you that he is retired, and while he still likes to draw stories occasionally, he doesn’t miss the deadline grind of his younger days. So you’re going to need to look elsewhere here.
Felicia Henderson is intrigued by your pitch for her to write LEGION. She’s got a lot going on right now, but there’s something about the opportunity that speaks to her–especially when you mention Alex Ross’s name. Which is unfortunate, as Alex tells you straight up that there’s no way that he can do a regular monthly title–not only is that a huge amount of work, but even if you were just talking about him penciling and inking it, he would still make more money more easily doing covers and other painted work. He does say that he’s got a love for the Legion, and that he might be open to doing covers if you can meet his rate–and depending on what the Legionnaires actually look like. Alex doesn’t have a lot of connection to the more modern redesigns, and doesn’t especially want to spend a lot of his time painting them–he wants something that speaks to the essence of the characters that he connects with.
DC OFFICES GENERAL
The DC Executive Editor reminds you that your fiscal cycle is on a different timeframe than Marvel’s, and your fiscal quarter is therefore going to fall on Move 7. So that’s your line in the sand. He reiterates the group’s sales and publishing goals.
ERIK’S IMAGE OFFICE:
And elsewhere, this is playing out.
JMS is intrigued with your offer, and the fact that you’re willing to function as a bank for the production on this series is a positive on his end. The one thing that needs to be worked out here, though, is matters of ownership. Joe is coming with an already-developed science fiction concept, and while he doesn’t have visuals created yet for anything, the ideas and descriptions of those elements already exist in what he’s written up. Consequently, he needs paperwork in order to understand and to clearly lay out to any artist or artists coming on board just what the division of rights on their work is. Is he the sole owner and everybody else is doing Work-For-Hire that Image is underwriting? Does everybody who is involved with drawing the series get a piece of the ownership (and thereby diminish JMS’s ownership proportionately? ) How does this all work in practical terms? Joe’s not looking to cut anybody out of what they should rightly get, but he’s been in positions in the past where the rights situations have grown murky and properties have consequently ended up in limbo as a result. From that experience, he also knows that it’s probably better for him to be creating this project with a single artistic partner rather than the multiple artists you’re suggesting. And even if that means is takes more time to get done, or that there need to be gaps of longer lengths between issues, isn’t that what the creator-owned Image model is all about? JMS likes the work of Alan Davis, but you’re going to want to react to all of this before you make a reach-out and an offer to Alan, so that you understand what it is that you’re offering.
The idea of launching a flight of books by Black creators seems timely and important, and so people in general are on board with the endeavor. However, there is going to be a cap on your financial resources here. You’ve got a war chest, but it’s going to be seriously impacted by having to underwrite the costs for the JMS SF project. So you can go out and try to recruit talent for this initiative as need be, and in certain cases you may be able to underwrite their efforts with some upfront money. But while you’re financing the JMS series, you’re not going to be able to finance this as well.
For the sake of convenience, we will call these titles POST APOCALYPSE, CRIME NOIR and IMAGE VISIONS.
You reach out to the Image founders about doing covers for the initiative, and they’re all amenable to one degree or another. Todd tells you that he’s not going to pencil anything but he could probably find the time to ink a piece, particularly if it’s a piece by a creator of color, since that’s the whole point of the endeavor and while he sees the sales benefit to being there, he’s also aware that it may be seen as undercutting the identity of the project. Erik and Marc are less concerned about this and tell you to let them know when you need pieces from them and they’ll try to comply.
Priest is interested in this initiative when you contact him, but he’s also very conflicted. He was just offered SUPERMAN over at DC, their flagship character. It’s the sort of chance he’s been waiting for his entire life, and while he wants to support the community, he also needs to be true to himself–and frankly, he feels like maybe a Black writer working on the Man of Steel may have more impact, for all that it won’t directly be providing opportunities to new talent. So he doesn’t say no, but you get the sense of which way the wind is blowing here. Afua Richardson, on the other hand, is on board to help, though she’s got a bunch of other irons in the fire as well. And she wants to understand the remuneration process a bit better: what is she doing and how is she being compensated for it? And from where?
Ta-Nehisi and Brian Stelfreeze are going to want to understand the payment and rights situation as well, so I’m going to let you think on that and respond before you reach out to them.
Robert Kirkman understands what you’re saying in terms of keeping his hand in and producing the occasional WALKING DEAD project. He doesn’t know that he can commit to any particular schedule right this moment, as he’s dealing with all of the other aspects of his world and he’ll also need to see when Charlie Adlard might be available to work on something. But he’s open to jumping in at some point if he has an idea and/or there’s a pressing need.
IMAGE OFFICES GENERAL
There really isn’t a general Image office in the manner of the other companies, but we’ll use this as a catch-all to cover any other areas where something might bubble up that you might need to deal with or be aware of.
At the moment, however, there is nothing of note to report apart from the above.
At the end of the next move, we will post updated sales figures, rankings and market share for industry. This will be the pattern the Simulation will follow: new standings and sales figures ever two moves. So you’ll get five updates in total before the Simulation wraps up, unless circumstances cause me to extend it for another two weeks or longer.