So, a few months ago, Chris Roberson created a brief internet storm in the comics community when he blasted his then employer DC Comics for their ethics. And DC promptly terminated his contract. At the time, and to this day, I still have the impression: Chris Who?
Roberson is back in the news now with MonkeyBrain Comics, an offshoot(?) of Roberson’s own MonkeyBrain Books. The details are still sketchy (apparently, there is some kind of press conference scheduled in about twelve days). Hopefully, questions about this new venture will be answered then.
How do I feel about this? Honestly, I’ll reserve judgement on MonkeyBrain itself until after the press conference. But, I am not so sure about the whole thing.
On the one hand, I’m excited about publishers being based out of Austin. It is a wonderfully wacky and weird city that should have an increasing cultural role. I love that city, so I’m thrilled that MonkeyBrain Books is headquartered there.
But, on the other hand, I checked out the website, and MonkeyBrain has not published anything since 2010 (unless their website is out of date). And that was a single anthology. I’m not sure exactly how many people are working for MonkeyBrain, so I don’t know if the company is chained to Roberson’s activities or not.
And this brings me to my fears over MonkeyBrain Comics: Stu Levy. Is MonkeyBrain doomed to a similar fate that Tokyo Pop was? If the company is successful, will it survive a shift in the publisher’s artistic interest?
I am all for independent and creator owned comics. But, there is something about this whole situation that does not sit well with me.
I think it is the suspicion that Roberson engineered his termination at DC to promote (after a few months) MonkeyBrain. All of this talk of “independents” and plays off of Independence Day leaves a bad taste, in my opinion.
As asked elsewhere, if Roberson truly felt so strongly about DC’s ethics, then why work for the company for years? Why continue to accept their money? Why wait till now to publicly complain about it? And why use that controversy (which probably only a small number of comics fans actually care about) to promote your own venture?
Will MonkeyBrain Comics be a success? Time will tell. I don’t think the patriotic marketing campaign will really prove successful. Rather, what will make or break this new company will be the books and series they publish. Will they be good series? Will they grab the shop owner and the comic fan’s attention? Or will they languish on the shelves of the largest comic shops? And will the company (and the creators associated with it) be held hostage to the creative endeavors of Chris Roberson?
We’ll have to wait and see.