Posted In: News
Following up on yesterday’s post, and the conversation begun on the comments thread between Bob Heer and I –
I originally posted the following as a comment, then thought, “wait a minute, this is worth posting generally.” Here goes:
Attentive fans catching such damaging errors shows how little proofing attention is paid to these collections. You’d think some paid DC/Vertigo employee would at least be compensated for the time to compare the original comics printings of each issue to the final page proofs for these books.
I was (pleasantly) surprised when visiting Neil Gaiman’s home last November that they were sending page proofs of The Absolute Sandman to Neil — to proof color, too, if I recall correctly. Nothing like that has ever, ever been asked of any of us connected to Swamp Thing. This shows where we sit in the DC/Vertigo universe pretty clearly — I’m just glad the generation after us (Neil, Grant, etc.) are afforded more caring and better treatment.
FYI, I have the original art for that very page here.
All of John Costanza’s lettering was done ON THE BOARD, the placement of all text being part of what I did with my pencils every single issue.
Lost lettering would be due to a stat trimmed incorrectly in this case, I would guess; the final line of Alan’s script is placed in the extreme upper left hand corner of this page, and should be retained in all stats/film DC/Vertigo has, but for some reason is gone.
I never could grasp why “Just say Uncle” was lost from the climactic spread of “Love and Death” (SOTST #29), as that, too, is right on the board (I have that original art, too).
All of Costanza’s lettering is on the original boards — no pasteups, ever, on our run.
Though John and I retain cordial relations with Karen Berger and other editors at DC/Vertigo, DC/Vertigo has never, ever involved John or I in the production process of these collections.
To date, the only publishers to ask for any involvement from either of us are overseas: I wrote a couple of intros for the Titan b&w collections back in the ’90s, and was asked to contribute ‘extra’ art (pencils; I kept photocopies of everything) by one of the editors of the recent French reprint volumes, but they used almost none of it.
Hence, you might understand why John and I just sort of ignore all this.
We’re not asked anything; we’re not invited to participate; we see errors every collection after they’ve been printed; c’est la vie. We care, but there’s no way to involve ourselves. We get a box of comps, and the checks arrive months later (we do earn royalties on these books). We’re not even asked to do covers.
When the first collection was being pulled together in the late 1980s (for 1987 publication), we were invited to the DC and Warner Books offices. It was immediately obvious (a) the two editorial offices weren’t working together, and were in fact competing openly (John’s painted covers were different on the DC and Warner editions of the first collection); (b) our input wasn’t welcome, and (c) it was all about promoting Alan Moore. We just happened to be the artists.
Sorry to say, (b) and (c) remain the facts in the matter, and we long ago found our peace with this, even though it’s our work (including uncredited plotting of stories) being reprinted.
We also, at the time of that first collection, asked about and offered to draw (1) new pages to make up for ad pages, so the narratives would flow properly in book format, and (2) character model sheets of Swamp Thing, Abby, Arcane, Woodrue, etc. for future DC use.
Both were refused, and actually ridiculed (“you guys are just fishing for another page payment”) — but not by Karen Berger, I’ll add. Still, the end result was we did neither, and the results have been plain to see.
Above, right: The DC Comics 1987 trade paperback collection cover; Left, the Warner Books 1987 trade paperback collection cover. The DC cover was shot from a painting John Totleben created for auction to benefit the American Cancer Society for Mid-Ohio Con, circa 1985-86; the Warner Books cover used the collaborative cover (design and pencils by Bissette, final painting by Totleben) John and I created for Saga of the Swamp Thing #34 — note the original cover painting is still missing and is still stolen property. Warner Books edition cover scan from www.mycomicshop.com; DC cover scanned from an ebay auction.
The only subsequent Swamp Thing artist to ask me how John and I drew Swamp Thing was Michael Zulli. Michael’s a good friend, and he and I got together and I walked him through the peculiar anatomy of our favorite mossman.
To my knowledge, no subsequent ST artist has asked John. I know for a fact no other has asked me, ever.
At one point in the late 1990s, when DC/Vertigo was reprinting the series in the black-and-white comics format, we were asked to loan DC/Vertigo art for covers. We refused, given the theft of cover art in the 1980s (including our own SOTST #34 cover, which is still MIA), and instead had the covers photographed to provide the needed transparencies. There was the usual fendango over payment for the transparencies being shot, and of course it was all needed immediately if not yesterday.
That’s the only time, to my knowledge, we’ve been asked for ANYTHING.
Though John and I sold much of our art over the decades, I’ve held on to many of my favorite key pages. I held on to photocopies (full size and reductions) of all my pencils, all John’s inks, and the complete Alan Moore scripts.
There’s an abundance of material that will eventually be retained by the Bissette Special Collection at HUIE Library at Henderson State University, and to the Center for Cartoon Studies, and I will be preparing paperwork to ensure that, like all researchers, scholars, professionals and fans, DC/Vertigo has access to but no claim to that material.
DC/Vertigo’s track record of ignoring/refusing access speaks volumes, and has established the unfortunate nature of this relationship.
I wish it were otherwise, folks.
Still, I do encourage Myrant readers to pick up the hardcover collection of our Swamp Thing work.
Despite the unfortunate text omission gaffs, it is the best collection available in the US, and the color repro of Tatjana Wood’s exquisite colors offer the best reproduction since the original comicbooks were printed. Tatjana’s colors have been ill-served for two full decades, and that alone makes this hardcover collection my personal favorite of all the collected editions to date.
And John, Rick Veitch, Alan Moore and I do earn royalties on every copy sold. This does support our ability to continue working on our respective projects and feed our families.
And a little shameless hucksterism:
So, there it is.
No sour grapes, just stating the facts.
Make of it what you will.