A couple of weeks ago, I posted some thoughts by Chuck Austen about moving on from a project that didn't go well — in this case, his graphic novel trilogy Boys of Summer, which was to be published by Tokyopop but was only given a limited release in the United States. (Chuck talked to me in detail about the experience in a 2011 interview at CBR.)
Shortly after the post ran, Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy asked me if he could post a response. It seemed to be the fair thing to do, so here is what he has to say (and as with Chuck's, I'll add that what follows is his words, not mine):
In response to Chuck Austen’s March 18, 2013 article on CBR
I respect the right of free speech and firmly believe that people should be able to express their opinions online, in a public forum. While I don’t enjoy negativity directed at me, it’s an inevitable part of working in the media industry. In fact, I learn a lot from the constructive criticism that I read online.
However, I do not believe it’s appropriate or permissible for someone to outrageously distort the truth. Unfortunately, that’s what Chuck Austen has done.
Granted, Mr. Austen couched his criticism of my endeavors, and even of me personally, by using such perceptive and insightful terms as “stupid,” “jerk” and “crapped on it.” But, while I don’t recommend he audition for any debate team, my issue is not with his juvenile epithets.
It’s the falsehoods he promulgated with which I take issue.
Mr. Austen claims that I “wouldn’t give (the rights) up for any amount of money.” Simply not true. When he approached me, back in 2011, my response was that “we can work out a deal that would be equitable.” Almost two years later, it is beyond me how Mr. Austen translated “we can work out a deal” into “wouldn’t give up for any amount of money.”
Further, according to Mr. Austen, I “wanted an exorbitant fee.” Neither of us ever brought up monetary conditions – and I would be happy (even now) to consider any offer Mr. Austen proposes, exorbitant or otherwise.
Finally, he claims I wanted “consideration as director of the project." In actuality, I only direct projects I’m passionate about, and I have never brought up Mr. Austen’s work as a project I’d be interested in directing, let along requiring my attachment.
In summary, I have no problem with Mr. Austen, or anyone else, calling me names. I may be sensitive but I’m tough. However, I don’t appreciate being lied about.
The Internet facilitates many of our freedoms and rights, but it should not be a platform to defame others.
Levy also provided a chain of e-mails between himself, Chuck and Tokyopop Senior Vice President Mike Kiley in which they discussed questions of rights for Boys of Summer. I'm posting an excerpt from Stu's most recent e-mail below. You can see the full chain at his Tumblr.
On 7/18/11 1:52 PM, "Stu Levy" [e-mail redacted] wrote:
Re: "Boys of Summer", it comes down to what in particularly you have in mind. I don't have the ability to fund or publish more volumes, so if there is another publisher – or you on your own – interested in picking up the publication, we can work out a deal that would be equitable. Regarding ancillary rights, it's part of the TOKYOPOP Media library. Currently, I'm not actively producing or prepping Boys of Summer in the film/TV or gaming space (can only do so many projects at once), so if there is another producer or studio who is interested in that opportunity, we can discuss.
Just LMK what you have in mind.
Hope all is going well with you!