Author and comic writer Chris Roberson set off a Twitterstorm last night when he revealed that he was leaving DC after completing his current work at the company. And in a thorough bridge-burning, Roberson disclosed that he was leaving over DC’s treatment of other creators, alluding to Before Watchmen and early creators.
The posts on Roberson’s Twitter account start off with:
“Having an afternoon cocktail to celebrate the end of my time at DC."
“Aside from the Fairest arc I already committed to doing, iZombie will be the last time I'll ever write for DC.”
Then in a series of additional posts, Roberson lays out the reasons. Asked whether DC treated him badly, he says:
“Less in their treatment of me than in their treatment of others and how they conduct their business in general.”
To a fan who says he had hoped Roberson would write Legion of Superheroes, he said:
“Sorry. In a better world, characters like the Legion would be owned by a more ethical company, but sadly not in this one.”
And asked what he means, he says:
“The short version is, I don't agree with the way they treat other creators and their general business practices.”
And later, he says:
“To those wondering why I won't be working for DC again, this post by @hermanos sums it up nicely.”
He linked to a Comics Alliance article titled “The Ethical Rot Behind ‘Before Watchmen’ and ‘The Avengers’ [Opinion]” about DC’s decision to publish additional Watchmen books against Alan Moore’s wishes, and Marvel’s battles against the Jack Kirby heirs as it prepares to open a megabuck movie based on characters he co-created. DC, of course, is engaged in its own high stakes legal battle against the creators of one of its most famous characters (see "Warner Bros. Wins Key Point in Case Against Toberoff").
Although it’s in Twitterspeak, the very public severing of Roberson’s relationship with DC brings to mind Greg Smith, the Goldman Sachs executive director who spectacularly resigned last month and stated his reasons for doing so in a widely read New York Times op ed, charging that Goldman’s environment was “toxic and destructive,” with “morally bankrupt” people. Roberson’s departure has many of the same elements: a departure over the ethics of the company where he worked; a carefully considered decision (Roberson said he’d decided some time ago but had delayed the announcement); and a public statement of his reasons. Whether or not you agree with those reasons, you have to admire Roberson’s willingness to put his beliefs on the line and say why.