This afternoon Warren Ellis announced on his Bad Signal mailing list that the exclusivity deal he signed with DC Comics two years ago has ended and the writer has opted not to renew after DC had offered an extension. Ellis explained that his decision should not be taken as a slight to DC, rather he feels it's time to stretch his wings a bit and work with other publishers for a while. Ellis went on to explain that he would be open to discussing DC exclusivity again in six months.
The full text of Ellis' e-mail is found below. To subscribe to his list, click the link above.
I just handed over another forty-four pages of one of my new projects to DC. That, by everyone's calculation, takes me over the 1100-page volume of my exclusivity at DC.
Therefore, as of now, I'm no longer exclusive to DC Comics.
(Dan Didio thinks I hit the limit earlier in the week, but I wanted to be certain.)
Dan, whom I like immensely, has offered me an extension on my exclusive period. And I've turned him down. Or, more correctly, have deferred the conversation for six months.
This is no slight on DC. This isn't the usual mainstream comics thing of Fuck these guys, I'm going across the street to work with the other guys, until I get bored with them and go back to DC again. This has been the standard dance in commercial comics for thirty years, people shuttling between DC and Marvel like they're the only two games in the world. DC is the only New York publisher I'm interested in working with, because they're the only ones supporting original creator-owned work. And Iwill continue to work with them until they're sick of me.
So why even leave an exclusive berth at DC? Well, I can't deny a certain bloody-mindedness. Two years ago, I was the first writer focussed solely on creator-owned and original work to sign an exclusive with DC, and among the first writers to go with them in this current cycle of obtaining exclusive services at DC. Now, of course, it seems that everyone in commercial comics aside from the core Marvel writers like Millar and Bendis have gone with DC. I skimmed the news services last night before sleep, and I guess another two or three people have gone to DC since I last checked. And my career-destroying instinct has always been to go in the other direction from the general flow. If I go with DC again, I'm just Writer Number Twenty-Six in the stable. If I feel like being my own devil's advocate, anyway.
So there's that. But, mostly, it's a need to stretch my legs a bit. There are a whole bunch of things I want to try that I can't do at DC. I'd like to try an online comics serial. I'd like to work in Europe, and create books specifically for the bookstore market. There's anthology work I've been offered that I've been unable to do over the last two years. I want to get the novel done, and think about another one, which means I want less comics work, or at least less deadline-intensive work. I'm not fleeing DC for another gig. I just want the space to consider new things.
I don't have any projects to go to. The point of being exclusive is that you're exclusive, you don't deal outside that. So it's only this week that I've been opening up conversations, and only today do I start placing phone calls and the like. Right now, I have no idea what will happen. There have been approaches from Europe over the last year -- I had to pass up the chance to work with Tardi this past summer, which was torture. Recently, there was the possibility of working with Suehiro Maruo, and obviously I had to turn that down too. I may just piss off to Europe and stay there, I don't know. I like Paris.
I have a lot of work coming out from DC over the nexttwelve months in any case. I've written the first eight issues of a new book for DC's main line. The first two scripts for DESOLATION JONES are in. I wrapped the script for PLANETARY #21 (The Nineties Drugs And Science Issue) over the weekend.
But, yes, I'm freelance now. Again. DC have very kindly kept my page rate the same, which they were certainly under no obligation to do.
In the last week, I've started thinking about new books again. There's a pile of notes on this handheld that constitute two new graphic novels with the working titles of SUPERNAUT and STRANGE ATTRACTOR. The latter is a very very working title that I expect to survive about ten minutes into the pitch-writing process. I'm eleven thousand words into a new novel idea, and I've got a framework for the spoken-word CD, part reading and part ramble, which I believe we start recording at the end of the month while completely pissed in a warehouse in Bethnal Green after the CorpGoth event at Electrowerkz. Oh, and I'm writing an episode of a cartoon, while quietly consulting on the script development of GLOBAL FREQUENCY (that sound you can hear is screenwriter John Rogers literally beating his brains out over the pilot script).
So that's all the news, I think. Not much of a headline,I'm sure, but there it is.
New column up at http://www.artbomb.net/brainpowered.jsp,by the way.