EDITORIAL SIMULATION Move 6

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!

Welcome to Move 6 of our Editorial Simulation game! We’ll dive into things in a second, but I wanted to address one question from the comments first. bserum asked for a clarification of the rules, as it seemed to him that some of the players were creating results on their own for creators and situations that wouldn’t be under their control. To clarify, as bserum mentions in his question, this Simulation is being run along the lines of a table-top RPG (except, of course, there is no table.) As such, I am performing the role of Gamemaster, and so in that role whatever I say goes. But I feel as though any player can try anything they can think of to get a good resolution; creativity is welcome. But just because I might allow something to pass one time doesn’t mean it’ll always be okay to push the envelope in that same manner. GMs tend to be mercurial. But the goal here, really, is to have fun and provide some engaging entertainment to people largely trapped indoors. So that’s how it’s going to go.

Let’s see how our would-be Editors made out this week:

MARVEL OFFICES

KYLE’S OFFICE

You take all of the actions that you outline in your answer to the situation regarding the unfortunate racist content in WOLVERINE, and that quiets matters to some extent. But there is still a group of hard-line fans who are unsatisfied with the response, who are putting forth claims that Marvel is racist and supports and protects racists. How much of this is motivated by a genuine belief in what is being said, and how much of it is promulgated by audience members who might want to see a different approach taken on WOLVERINE is impossible to ascertain for certain. What is certain is that somebody out there has set up a write-in campaign about it, and your e-mailbox is being flooded with communications demanding that your racist creative team be removed from the title and exiled from Marvel, and that a public apology must be issued. Many of these e-mails are clearly form-letter style, and you get the sense that a lot of them are from people who aren’t even comic book readers, who know Marvel mainly from the television and films, but who are strong proponents of the underlying issue–and whom somebody has aimed in your direction in an attempt to gain some traction for what they want. The Director of Communications lets you know that other folks have been receiving these e-mails as well, including the EIC, the Publisher, and various higher-ups at Disney. But he’s trying to provide some context for everybody about what happened, how it happened, and what steps have been taken to resolve the matter.

Ram V is a bit shaken by all of this–he’s getting bombarded with similar e-mails, tweets and posts all across his social media outlets. It’s definitely putting a damper on his enthusiasm for the character and the series. Dan Mora is taking his share of bashing for it as well, but most people who are shouting seem to lay the blame more directly at Ram’s feet, possibly because he engaged with them when the question was first raised. In any event, it’s a dark cloud to be working under.

The promotional playlist for X-FACTOR comes out, curated by Leah and Luciano.

The VP of Sales is happy to hear that you’ve got an X-Event in the planning,and he encourages you to get it mounted before the last moves of the Simulation, when it will be able to count towards this period’s fiscal budget. He wants to hedge against WORLD WAR KREE a little bit.

The Talent Management team tells you that they’ll try to get back to you with a list of potential artists to anchor your proposed crossover bookends. They will want to know if you intend to use the same artist on both books, or go for separate artists on each. The downside of having the same artist is that the production schedule gets more difficult for the artist at that point (they will have more pages to produce in the same amount of lead time) but the upside is that consistency of talent makes for a more cohesive story and package, and conveys a sense of creative ownership to the audience. For the rest of this turn, though, you don’t receive any suggested names from Talent Management.

SAL’S OFFICE

Kyle’s office has confirmed that you can use the Beast in IRON MAN, provided that you don’t kill him or do anything untoward with him.

Dylan Burnett is working on issue #3 of IRON MAN, but he tells you that he’s got a surgical procedure scheduled for a few weeks from now. If all goes well, he should be back up and running again in about two weeks’ time–but this means at the very least, you’re going to be losing two weeks on the IRON MAN schedule. The VP of Ops suggests to you that you bring in an additional artist to help carry the load because Dylan isn’t going to need the extra stress in his life while he’s dealing with whatever medical problem he’s addressing.

Bleeding Cool is continuing to post gossip about the fact that Donny Cates is going to be going to Image. They’re hinting that he’s got as many as three creator-owned books set up there already, though they’re sparse with the details. Other creators that you speak with concerning CAPTAIN AMERICA and WORLD WAR KREE ask you about Donny’s situation in passing as well. Donny still shows no signs of any of this in his dealings with you.

The EIC is a little bit concerned about handing CAPTAIN AMERICA over to Sanford to write as well as to draw should things come to that, simply because of Sanford’s limited experience writing stuff, particularly for Marvel. CAPTAIN AMERICA is a key title for the company, and so he’d be worried about putting it into the hands of a novice. He tells you that this isn’t something that needs to be resolved right now, since it’s all just speculative at this point. But he wanted you to know what he was thinking.

On THOR, the VP of Sales wants to know when you’re getting to the birth of the Thor baby, so that they can promote it in a big way and maybe help to spike sales. He’s pretty overt in saying that he wants to let Retailers and Readers know what’s coming here ahead of time so that they order and pre-order accordingly.

Despite your phone call with her, Kelly Sue is still proceeding slowly on scripts, and as a result, the book is beginning to verge on the point where an issue might miss shipping; typically a virtual impossibility on a title that Mark Bagley is drawing. The VP of Ops tells you that you need to find some way to fix this, that Marvel can’t afford to lose the revenue from an issue of THOR in a given month. Sometime when we’re up on sales, we can make an allowance for a title. But given that we’re still short of our sales goals for the year, that rhythm simply isn’t there.

Mark Bagley was willing in spirit, but in practice he’s not a writer, and he’s having a difficult time putting together a script for the Free Comic Book Day release that both you and he can be happy with. Additionally, because of this eating up his brain cells and his time, he’s also slowing down production on his THOR pages, which is making that situation worse. You only got the most recent issue to press in time by splitting up the inking and even the coloring among more than one creator.

At the same time, the VP of Sales would really like to nail down the second story in the FCBD book, which as he’s said in the past, he thinks should be a WORLD WAR KREE lead-in. As we now have a release date for WWK, this story is under the gun production-wise, since teh FCBD offerings need to go to Diamond much earlier than regular comic book issues do.

Everybody thinks that having Gerry Conway work on an IRON FIST project that could spin out of WORLD WAR KREE is a solid idea.

KURT’S OFFICE

For your promotional image for MILES MORALES, a number of people are going to need to be brought on board before you commission it and have it sent out to the world. This begins with getting the EIC’s buy-in on your story and on this specific image, since it’s on the inflammatory side. And indeed, as this gets discussed, a lot of the conversation revolves around questions such as: by having Spider-Man with a BLM sign and in opposition to a police office, father or no, does the image make too much of a one-sided political statement? Marvel needs to remain fair and balanced in what it puts out there–we want to do stories about the world we live in, but we need to do stories that are for all readers. Different people in different areas have an assortment of opinions in just where the line should be drawn; in particular, the question is raised: if we were to do the reverse of this image, where it was Spider-Man in a police uniform yelling at a BLM protester, would we feel comfortable with that? If not, then we’re probably over the line in the other direction. In the end, you’ll get to do the image and the tagline, but the BLM sign is going to need to be removed from the concept–at that point, everybody feels like its within bounds for what Marvel is comfortable with putting out there.

Peter and Mark both seem ready to do WORLD WAR KREE tie-in stories. The trick, though, is going to be navigating the coordination, since Spider-Man is going to be in both of them at the same time, to say nothing of probably being featured in the main WORLD WAR KREE book as well. So everything is going to have to dovetail together properly. To complicate matters, Peter’s concept for his tie-in story involves Captain America, who has his own series which will also be tying in.

By pulling in multiple inkers on the latest issue by Sara, you were able to squeak it out the door at the last possible moment. But the VP of Ops tells you that it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to do that again, and that you’re going to need to split the book or the arc up in some manner to get it all completed on time.

You can let people know about your TALES FROM THE SPIDER-VERSE series, and some will no doubt come out of the woodwork when you do so (typically, anybody who might be looking to pick up work at that point.) But in order to make this a series you can launch, you’re going to need to commission at least an opening arc and have enough of a story hook for it to get it off the ground. And hurry, because the VP of Sales has already scheduled it so that he can book the revenue against Move 7!

MARVEL OFFICES GENERAL

The EIC lets everybody know that WORLD WAR KREE will be starting in Move 7. Tie-in titles at this point look to be CAPTAIN AMERICA, IRON MAN, possibly THOR, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN. The X-Titles won’t be participating, but they are baking on an X-centric storyline for sometime after that. The hope as well is to launch IRON FIST WAR JOURNAL with Gerry Conway out of the Event.

The VP of Ops reminds everybody that, especially now when we’re increasing our title count, we need to be careful about spending within our budgetary limits. We’ve got a finite amount of operating capital to use for the year, so we need to make certain that we’re hiring creators on each title that the sales can support.

The EIC reiterates the need to nail down the second story in the Free Comic Book Day release. We’ve got the THOR story that Mark Bagley is attempting to write and draw, and we’d like to have a second story that was a proper WORLD WAR KREE lead-in. But time is tight, and if we can’t do that, we need to land on something else so that we don’t miss that promotional window. If we have to run some reprinted content to fill the issue, that will be a waste of a resource, says he.

DAVE’S DC OFFICE:

Another beautiful day in Gotham City.

Bringing Ray-Anthony in on SUPERMAN to help out allows you to keep issues shipping on time, even when Brian Stelfreeze goes off the rails on his deliveries.

Grant and Sara continue to be hard at work on ACTION COMICS. The same is true of Felicia and John on LEGION. Felicia does let you know that she’s waiting to hear back about a screenwriting gig, but that she’s hoping to be able to stay ahead enough on the series so that it won’t become a problem.

Gail Simone is happy to work on GANGBUSTER, but Greg Capullo simply isn’t interested in the assignment. He’s got no emotional touch-point with the character and too many other potential offers on hand to commit to something he doesn’t truly want to do. So you’ll still need to get an artist in place here.

The Executive Editor comes to you and tells you that starting as soon as possible, James Tynion is going to be your new SUPERMAN writer. Seems that the Publisher spoke to Tynion during a contract negotiation and offered him the series as part of his wheeling and dealing. So now it’s going to fall to you to let your creative team know about the change–and it’s part of the responsibility to do so in such a way that they walk away not being upset or angry at DC or any of its people. Also, the Executive Editor tells you that the Publisher wants to put Tynion together with a more mainstream artist–or what he considers a more mainstream artist, at any rate. So you’re going to need to let Brian Stelfreeze and Ray-Anthony Height know about this as well as Priest.

The Executive Editor reminds the editorial staff that DC’s close of fiscal period takes place at the end of Move 7, so all books must get out on time, and an upswing in sales would be beneficial. We need to meet our goals for the year, and time is slipping away.

Your Move.

Tom B

15 thoughts on “EDITORIAL SIMULATION Move 6

    1. I’d keep him on. Let the other writer to to make room for Tynion. Or either start a thirds Supertitle, or have Priest do a back up feature in one of the series.

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      1. Sorry. I 4got the Action comics writer was Grant Morrisson. Never mind. So a third super title. Or give priest a miniseries with Superman, centered on what Priest wants to explore with Superman.

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  1. Gangbuster. Could be a homerun. Ditch that clumsy helmet and the briefs over his pants. His head needs to be covered. (Nightwing is a skull fracture waiting to happen.) A “Batman cowl” without the pointy ears. Maybe a single horizontal lens to cover both eyes for a slightly different look from Batman or Daredevil.

    The redesigned suit should be functional. Protective but not cumbersome. Make the nunchuks connect into a short staff.

    Jaimie Reyes wrote Blue Beetle. He’s Latino, wich could help with the uthenticity of the character. And there are several amazing Latino artists who may love drawing maybe the only Latino superhero comic by one of the Big 2 in the US market.

    My first choice is Rafa Sandoval. Great figure anatomy. Dynamic, fluid, kinetic. Perfect for an athletic, agile, street level hand to hand fighter.

    I think Jose Delbo, Gangbuster, was a teacher & a boxer. He can still be a teacher. But make him an MMA instructor, too. So if he gets a facial bruise, it won’t raise suspicion. If not a teacher, then a parole officer. Opens up story ideas. Keeps him connected to gangs. Helps steer reformed convicts.

    There needs to be more black, brown, & Asian heroes in their own books. This is a great opportunity.

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    1. I know, right? This feels varsity-level. Not only is Priest is a veteran editor and writer of high renown, but replacing a person of color who had been promised a high-profile book for the publisher to go back on their commitment and replace him with another white guy (talented though he is) — in 2020 no less! Yikes!

      The optics are brutal and seem like a PR disaster-in-the making for DC and is going to make Tynion look like the bad guy — when he didn’t do anything wrong. I hope Oskutis pushes back and/or tries to find some alternate solutions before simply shrugging and following orders (says bserum, the anonymous Internet commenter with no professional experience or skin in the game).

      Good luck David! I’m pulling for you!

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      1. Thanks! I definitely did not see that coming, so hope I picked the best solution (I ran down about four other ideas in my head numerous times, but I guess we play the cards and see how it goes)!

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  2. Regarding the Superman title, I wonder if some title + renumbering sleight-of-hand could be a solution.

    For instance, keeping Priest on and continuing the numbering with a title change (eg. Superman: Man of Steel, Superman: Man of Tomorrow, Superman: Unchained) except maybe one that more closely reflects the themes that Priest is pursuing?

    Is there budget to do that? Or, is finding the budget preferable to the PR clusterfuck that would arise from kicking Priest off a title so soon after launching it?

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      1. There’s definitely prestige associated with the main title — but secondary titles CAN overshadow the main title when the quality is there. For instance, Morrison’s New X-Men outshined Uncanny X-Men. I’d also argue that back when Priest /Owsley was editing Spider-Man, Peter David’s Peter Parker was outshining what was happening in Amazing.

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  3. Still looking at the fallout from the supposedly racist imagery in Wolverine, I decide we’ve made our statement/apology and to not take any further public action at this time. I will work with the Director of Communications and speak with anyone in the company who is concerned. I will say the feedback we are getting does not seem genuine, and the truest measure of the impact will be sales, which we should see an update on shortly.

    I reach out to Ram V and Dan Mora, understanding how the harassment is making them uncomfortable. I offer, if they would like, that they can take a break and I will contract another writer and artist for our 2 X-event tie-in issues. This may allow the attention on them to die down and for them to recuperate their mental health, work on other projects, etc., and then hopefully come back reinvigorated after the event. This is entirely their choice, though, and I will support them if they just want to keep going instead. The internet’s attention span is short after all, and most of the trolls will move on to something else given enough time, as long as there are no more incidents.

    In regards to our X-event, I get back to the Talent Management team to let them know I’m looking for 2 artists for the Alpha and Omega issues, but in order to maintain consistency and cohesiveness, they will both contribute pages to each issue, and should have somewhat similar styles, which can all be pulled together by an effective color artist. Schedule-wise, this can prevent us from needing one artist to fit two oversized issues into their schedule, and we can work with the artists to allocate pages and deadlines based on their availabilities. (i.e. if one artist can’t start as early, they could take on more pages in the Omega issue while the other tackles more in the Alpha)

    Presumably my conference call with the creators in the last move worked out the plot details of the Event and how it would connect between our series. For the sake of the simulation, let’s say the event is called “Age of Evolution” and escalates Al Ewing’s High Evolutionary story by taking the various X-teams and characters to an alternate reality where the High Evolutionary has achieved his goals, resolving in such a way as to allow Al and the other teams to keep moving with their longer term plans when everyone comes back to the main reality.

    I ask Al to plot and break down the Alpha and Omega issues at 30 pages each, with 15 pages for his main plot, which will continue in his X-Men book and which he will also script, and 5 pages for each of our 3 tie-ins – Wolverine, X-Force, and X-Factor – which the writers of those respective series will script. Given Al’s experience working in collaborative issues and series like Avengers: No Surrender and Marvel Comics 1000/1001, I’m confident in his abilities to do this.

    Beyond that, I stay in touch with all of my creators, make sure they are hitting their deadlines and that everything is going to press on time, and that the writers are okay to take on the extra pages between the Alpha and Omega issues (Ram V’s pages dependent on his answer to taking a break or not). I congratulate Leah and Luciano on the playlist release and thank them for participating in that promotional push, and just generally thank everyone for their hard work.

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  4. *Not part of the word count, but this was really hard to keep around 500! Egads!!*

    After calling some other editors around, I’d ask if anyone knows what the EIC’s favorite lunch is. Then, I would go to the EIC with hat (and lunch) in hand to fight for the Superman Team. I would make the argument that replacing them now, in light of what is happening at Marvel with their Wolverine team and the racism accusations they’re facing, we run the risk of sparking a PR nightmare that would most definitely impact sales negatively and could damage the DC brand’s image severely. The internet is forever, and we want to avoid the “Remember that time Marvel was racist…oh yeah and DC, too?” on the web and in reader’s minds. Since the Superman and Action titles have been climbing, it could be disastrous so close to the end of the quarter. My solution would be to allow the Superman Team to finish the quarter, and then launch a brand new Superman title: Val Zod (featuring Superman) and allow Priest’s team to finish their story. If we cannot launch a new title, at least allow him to finish his story in a mini-series, then move him to a new title if he’s still willing (perhaps Legion, should Felicia leave). Also, when the TPB is collected, a complete Christopher Priest run using both titles together, we’d have new sales on the same story. I feel cutting him off will set a very poor, sour taste to the DC relationship and we should avoid that. This is a moment for DC to shine, and while it’s a heavy workload, I’d offer to continue running as editor for the new title/series as well, at least to get it started.

    For Tynion’s artist, I’m not sure who the EIC may have in mind, so Ed McGuinness or Ivan Reis would be my first recommendations (I prefer Ivan Reis, personally, but not sure if that name is mainstream enough for the EIC, if not, Ed’s my choice).

    I’d thank the Action team for their tremendous work and having climbed up the sales chart, getting closer to that elusive number one spot! Grant and Sana are a great storytelling team!

    I’d also thank Felicia for the head’s up regarding her script offers. As long as she can continue to turn in her work with us, I am all for it, and wish her the best of luck! (I never believed you can’t have your cake and eat it, too…it’s why people get cake!). I just ask that she keep me posted so that if the workload becomes too much we can work together to keep her happy and the title running on time.

    For Gangbuster and Gail’s team, I’d like to offer the artist work to Afua Richardson. I’d also let her know that while in Gangbuster gear, the artwork needs to be a little darker, more Batman-esque, while her usual style is perfect for Jose Delgado and family out of crime-fighting gear (and is the reason I’d choose her, the family is the driving force of Gangbuster’s story).

    Enjoy the lunch and I hope it’s better than Ralph Macchio’s poached eggs, ha ha!

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  5. Week 6!

    IRON MAN
    Jason Aaron is excited to be able to use Beast in addition to Captain Marvel and is ready to keep moving!
    I’m going to reach out to the talent team with the news of Dylan Burnett and let them know we will need to bring in an additional artist to help carry the load. I also assure them I would not go out on my own and look for an artist like I did last time.

    CAPTAIN AMERICA
    Oh, Bleeding Cool… I understand the EIC’s point of view on Sanford. Donny is still providing his work in on time as is Sanford so I don’t see signs that Bleeding Cool is correct.

    I reached out to the EIC to see they’re cool with a list of potential ideas for writers should Donny leave. That list is Jason Latour, Chris Sebe, and Matt Fraction. Just wondering what the EIC’s thoughts are.

    THOR
    The birth of the Thor baby is set for the 9th move in the game. I don’t want it to clash with WWK. We want to have WWK hti the world, which clearly affects Thor Odinson and Jane Foster but let’s nail them with a double whammy in the next issue. Kelly Sue is quickening up as we have instituted a daily text message check-in which was her idea where she just info dumps her thoughts and progress. Doing this has worked out well for her productivity. She is starting to get the work to Mark Bagley more regularly now which is putting their dynamic on track

    WORLD WAR KREE
    Ryan Ottley sent me an amazing two-page spread and I really loved it but the problem was, Donny Cates wrote for that spread to actually be three panels. Ottley was so inspired by it that he took it upon himself to write the spread… Which means Donny’s script may have to be re-written if we go with the spread… (drops my head low) I schedule a call with Donny and Ryan to talk about the spread and see if we can work it in. Luckily that is in the opening of 3rd issue of WWK so we have time to think about it. 1st issue ready for printing.

    IRON FIST WAR JOURNAL
    I sent Gerry Conway and email introducing myself and let him know we have an idea for him, that being Iron Fist War Journal. I sent a very loose pitch document with reasons why it works and how Iron Fists evolves a bit BUT I refrain from story-telling. I simply gave him the seed of the idea. I’m waiting to hear back from him.

    FCBD
    Bagley wrote a solid first draft of the script and is starting thumbnails. Although, now he’s saying he’s not sure how much time he will have now that Kelly Sue caught up. I assured him he can do it and that’s where we left off.

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  6. Regarding Miles Morales: I fight for the inclusion of a protest sign, even if its not specific to BLM, or even entirely blank. The whole impetus of the story (as noted in Move 1) is that fight between father and son on opposite sides of the protest line. We can let the viewer of this promo image fill in the sign in their mind, but its important that we let potential readers know the real stakes of the story.

    Regarding WWK tie-ins: I haven’t heard back from Sal regarding Peter’s tale (see my Move 5), so the assumption is he’s fine with it until I hear otherwise. As for timing, these tie-in stories don’t have to take up massive arcs, and can be smaller one to two issue affairs, so we should be able to make it so Amazing and Spectacular’s issues are timed to different issues of the main story, so as not to contradict each other. Since it seems we’re not having any sort of summit for this big story, I reach out to Donny Cates to get an idea of where Spidey (and Cap for Peter’s story) will be in each issue of the main WWK mini-series, and get that info to Mark and Peter so they can do everything reasonably possible to fit their stories in.

    I ask Mark for one more single issue story, this time one that can be put out in the middle of this current arc, that follows one of Peter’s supporting cast members to show how what’s currently going on is affecting them. I pull in any artist available (possible gets include ChrisCross, Jamal Igle, Clay Mann, and Stephanie Hans) to get this issue out and give Sara a little more breathing space. Mark has been a trooper through this, and any sort of bonus or perk that is in my power will be provided as my way of saying “Thank you” for his hard work and willingness to roll with the punches.

    I start out Tales from the Spider-Verse with a Spider-Punk story. He’s hugely popular as a superhero on his world, but recently, his music has been lacking. Hobart is scared he’s losing his “punk edge” and goes on walkabout to find it, letting us see more of this Earth, fighting various villains along the way. He’s ostensibly American, but with his punk aesthetic, and having been played with a Cockney accent in his cartoon appearance, I go to some British writers to find one interested. In order: Peter Milligan, Dan McDaid, Paul Cornell, and Paul Jenkins. Dan would also be great as the artist, even if he doesn’t end up as the writer. Other artists I call upon if Dan isn’t available are: Darick Robertson, Becky Cloonan, Chynna Clugston Flores, and any of the artists noted in the paragraph above who aren’t already working on the breather issue of ASM.

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