Friday, June 20, 2008

A Moment of Calm

There is something downright nasty about seeing so many people so fixated on one man losing his job. The comics industry is a strange place, a place where generations of fan entitlement have inculcated a feeling of intimate ownership over what are, ultimately, esoteric business matters. Ever since Stan Lee invited the fans into the chummy clubhouse atmosphere of their (largely fictionalized) Bullpen, comics fans have considered the innermost workings of their favorite companies to be as much their business as baseball fans do for real-life Bullpens.

Although this mindset is absolutely inexplicable to some, life-long comics fans can't really imagine a world without the conflict between Marvel and DC - the dichotomy and competitiveness is, ultimately, far more important to the hobby (for better or, mostly, worse) than any minor quibble about the relative strengths of Superman and the Hulk, and just as vital a catalyst for fan imaginations. But we're not 12 years old anymore, and it's not 1968. Unless you're a shareholder or corporate officer, a coworker or freelancer or retailer, you don't have any stake in whether Dan Didio gets fired. You may be the biggest Nightwing fan in the world, or whatever, but there's the fake world of comics and the real world of the company, and in the real world people losing jobs, careers being curtailed and (the inevitable) layoffs that follow any creative shake-up really aren't funny, and they aren't any of our business. Rooting for one side against the other is really in poor taste when you consider that people who lose jobs in comics often lose their jobs for good. It's easy to get blackballed or simply left behind when there are only a handful of companies in the world that could appreciate an experienced comics industry resume. If you sell comics for a living, or work in comics, well, you are entitled to have an opinion, since the upper management at DC comics directly impacts your bottom line, whether or not you can put food on the table or keep your business profitable. But if you're biggest stake in this controversy is the fact that Countdown sucked, well, why not spend some time getting equally upset about Robert Mugabe? He's someone who legitimately deserves to lose his job - and I feel entirely justified in saying that, because he's killed and tortured thousands of people and driven an entire country to collapse. Have Dan Didio's bad decisions killed anyone? No? Perhaps some perspective is in order.

Do you think Dan Didio deserves to lose his job? Well, there's a big chasm between journalistic or editorial discretion and fanman entitlement. Just remember, any shakeup in a company like DC always brings a fair share of collateral damage - corporate America is a ruthless place. Whether or not Didio or anyone else loses their job, is forced out, or resigns, any chaos is likely to take its toll on people who have no direct stake either way. If you're a corporate officer or upper management at DC, these are heavy decisions to weigh. But if you're not, if you're just another comics fan or uninterested spectator, well, just give a thought to those people whose careers might be harmed by the real-world consequences of these words and pictures on paper, before you get so enthusiastic about something so very unfortunate.

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