COMICS: Greg Rucka Reveals His Shocking Treatment At The Hands Of Marvel And DC

Disappointed about Greg Rucka's run on The Punisher coming to an end? Well, this might just explain why! The critically acclaimed writer talks in detail about the "grotesque Hollywoodisation of the two main companies" and why he feels that he's reached the end of his tether with them.

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By Josh Wilding - 9/20/2012
It's no wonder that a lot of fans have responded with "Who?!" to most of the recent Marvel NOW! creative team announcements. The publisher (and DC to a lesser extent) have seemingly alienated a lot of A-List talent over the past few years as some of their best known writers and artists have left to focus on creator owned work. Well, you can add another casualty to the list as Greg Rucka has revealed in an interview with Mark Millar’s CLiNT (helpfully transcribed by Bleeding Cool) why he no longer has any interest in lending his writing talents to Marvel OR DC. You can read more by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.


I’ve reached the end of my Work For Hire rope. I’m enjoying The Punisher, but that’s not mine, it’s Marvel’s, and l knew that going in. I have spent a lot of my comics career in service of other masters, – and I’ve had enough of that for now. I’m sick to death of the way the Big Two treat people.

I gave seven very good years to DC and they took gross advantage of me. That’s partially my fault, but not entirely. At this point, I see no reason why I should have to put up with that, I can sink or swim on my own.

You are seeing a grotesque Hollywoodisation of the two main companies. There was at least a period where I felt that the way they wanted to make money was by telling the best story they could; now the quality of the work matters less than that the book comes out. There is far less a desire to see good work be done.

Dan DiDio has gone on record, and this is the same man that said Gotham Central would never be cancelled as long as he was there, telling people what a great book Gotham Central was, but it never made any money.

Well, take a look at your trade sales! That book has made nothing but money as a trade. What I’m now being told is, ”lt was never worth anything to us anyway.”So, you know what? They can stop selling the Batwoman: Elegy trade and stop selling the Wonder Woman trades and everything else I’ve done, because clearly I’ve not done anything of service and those guys aren’t making any money off me.

Right now, where the market is, I have no patience for it.

My run on Punisher ends on #16, and we are then doing a five-issue mini called War Zone and then I’m done. That’s it! The Powers-That-Be at Marvel, without talking to me, decreed that he’s going to join a team on another book.

That’s their choice, they own him, but I don’t have to be happy about it. I am glad I had the opportunity to work on the character and I’m proud of the work I’ve done.

Despite what the publishers say, their interest in the talent is minimal now, the interest is only in promoting the financial worth of their properties. That was not the case as of two or three years ago, when there was an ‘Exclusives war’, but that’s all gone by the wayside now. Ultimately, they are saying, “We don’t need you,’ because they can get a million more just like you.

For every person who passes on the opportunity to write Spider-Man or Superman, I guarantee there are 5000 hungry writers who would give their eye-teeth to do it. But just because they want to do it, it doesn’t mean they are capable of doing it. It comes down entirely to Warner Bros. realising what they owned but had not exploited. At the end of the Harry Potter franchise, they went “Oh, crap, we need something else fast’, looked over at Marvel’s very very successful film program.

DC are playing catch up with Marvel, because of things like The Avengers breaking six hundred million domestic. That’s a lot of money, I don’t begrudge Warner Bros wanting to make bank it would be like blaming a shark for eating, but l do think that the pursuit of that financial windfall bears a detrimental effect on the creative and artistic side.


For those of you have been reading Rucka's incredible run on The Punisher, it definitely seems out of character for Frank Castle to join a team such as the Thunderbolts. Of course, a flashy book like that will more than likely sell a little better; what a sad state of affairs! Regardless, this says a lot about how money has become the main priority over quality storytelling. Avengers Vs. X-Men is, in my opinion, the perfect example of that as are the ridiculous number of Avengers-themed comics on sale this Fall as a part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch. What do you guys think about Rucka's comments? Sound off with your thoughts in the usual place.

Source: Bleeding Cool
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TYLERWINN - 9/20/2012, 7:54 AM
What a bi-tch
chujong - 9/20/2012, 7:59 AM
Since butter313 has DC covered, I'll say it for Marvel...

[frick] marvel

Just kidding, I like both. I have nothing against either company. :)
sameoldthing - 9/20/2012, 8:02 AM
Rucka is a quality writer & capable of handling any Marvel or DC book & delivering solid storytelling.

It's a bad sign when a writer of his caliber loses his faith in the companies that own most of the best fictional characters that exist.

Guess this makes an even better case for creator owned properties.
I hope people will support comic creators who make their own projects & put all their heart & talent into it,I know I will.
ATrueHero1987 - 9/20/2012, 8:11 AM
Yea, that is out of charchter for The Punisher. He's a loner.
Chewtoy - 9/20/2012, 8:12 AM
Marvel has been stunt driven since Quesada was installed, it's only now that it has become all-encompassing to the point where even the super-star writers are feeling the pinch.

Oddly, one would think that the vast amount of money the movie side is making would be freeing for the comics side, and that profit would take a backseat to content development. Chasing the film side only makes a snake eating it's own tail... There's no future in that.
PsyGuy - 9/20/2012, 8:13 AM
No offense, but his situation doesn't seem that bad...
calm down a little!
BruceLeroy - 9/20/2012, 8:14 AM
Rucka basically exposed how movie driven both Marvel and DC are.
JordanKing - 9/20/2012, 8:14 AM
Marvel and DC are acting so mainstream with their properties.. who knew.
RorMachine - 9/20/2012, 8:15 AM
rogmel - 9/20/2012, 8:20 AM
They are both companies that answer to shareholders to make as much money as possible.

Sorry, Greg, but you've just come off as a whiny bitch. No doubt you have talent, but so do hundreds, if not thousands, of other writers who'd give their left nut for a chance to work for these "movie-driven" companies.

Between this guy and Alan Moore, I'm inclined to believe that writers are nothing but a bunch of entitled cry-babies.
n1ghtw1ng2832 - 9/20/2012, 8:27 AM
Hes still one of the best writers I have ever read. Best of luck to Greg Rucka and all his future endeavors.
sameoldthing - 9/20/2012, 8:28 AM
@rogmel
Writers & artists working for those companies have an insiders view that you or I do not.
It's not a case of being a whiny bitch,it's a case of Rucka feeling wronged by these companies & sharing that with us.

I for one like it when the creators speak out about what they experience,it can benefit future writers & artists.
(unless it's Rob Liefeld...he can keep his pie-hole shut that miserable douche-bag. )
TimelessUnknown - 9/20/2012, 8:30 AM
It would seem like common sense for Marvel or DC to do what they want with the characters, they own them. If each writer got to do whatever they wanted to do, the comic stories would be all over the place, so there needs to be SOME kind of glue that holds everything together. And why is it that some writers and artists complain about being treated badly while others love working there? I think it all comes down to what kind of person you are and if you can handle orders or not. These "rants" that we've been seeing lately certainly haven't turned me away from wanting to eventually working for either of them, or just to be in the business at all. Personally, I see it as a dream to do some artwork for the big companies, and if the big names keep leaving, well, that just leaves room for new talent :)
rogmel - 9/20/2012, 8:31 AM
You wrote above: "For those of you have been reading Rucka's incredible run on The Punisher..." If it's incredible, then I'd say him and Marvel are doing something right together.

Greg then states: "The Powers-That-Be at Marvel, without talking to me, decreed that he’s going to join a team on another book." Um, yeah, they OWN Punisher...they don't HAVE to talk to you about it. Just because you currently write it doesn't make it yours or your opinion more important than those of the people signing your paycheck.
DCjohnny - 9/20/2012, 8:36 AM
what a prick...
comicstocode - 9/20/2012, 8:38 AM
all filler no killer.
Darksilvercat - 9/20/2012, 8:39 AM
I'm sure Marvel and DC make questionable decisions at times, but guess what folks, when you step into someone else's creative sandbox you're agreeing to play by their rules. I don't doubt that it's frustrating at times, and personally I think every good comic professional should go independent sooner or later if they want to tell their own stories, but like it or not, people like Rucka built their reputation through these companies. Where would they be if Marvel and DC hadn't chosen to give them the opportunities they've had?

More importantly, how much of an elitist, arrogant asshat must you be to begrudge anyone else getting that same chance? I've got news for Rucka: he may be talented, but so are thousands of other writers and artists looking to break into comics. Comics be getting more Hollywood, but that's no excuse to start acting like an egotistical diva. I can guarantee that there are writers and artists out there, with much more talent than people like Rucka and Liefeld, who won't act like spoiled brats when they don't get their way.
rogmel - 9/20/2012, 8:41 AM
@sameoldthing

Very true, they know a helluva lot more about the business than I ever will. I'm just a casual reader.

But the fact remains is he got paid probably a very good chunk of change writing for a company that he's pissed off at because they didn't ask HIM what should happen to a character THEY own the rights to. If you don't like the direction of the character or the company, just quit. Do you really need to write an 11 paragraph bitch-fest about how slighted you feel?

Count your blessing that you have talent and options and go write the next great comic instead of crying to a large group of people who would absolutely love the chance to do what you can do.

And I concur, Liefeld sucks.
beane2099 - 9/20/2012, 8:42 AM
This has been apparent for a while now. Books from the big 2 are more hype than substance these days. Giant ads disguised as 16-part crossovers, Pre-announced deaths (Human Torch, Prof X) and character changes (Alan Scott), constant number changing. Unfortunately, the one thing we've wanted most as comic fans (great comic book movies) is slowly killing the medium we love. Everything has to be marketable and reach as wide an audience as possible to bring all those movie goers into the comic reading fold. Great business model; but it stifles creativity.

On the flip side, is the idea of Rulk, Deadpool, Punisher, Elektra, and Venom on the same team cool? Yes. But these days it's all about great ideas. Once six issues have sold and people realize something sucks, well they already got your $23.94 (plus tax!). Everything is a business, i don't argue with that. But the days are definitely gone where "make money was by telling the best story they could." All that said, there are good stories still being told out there in comics and a few of them still come from the big 2.

OdinsBeard - 9/20/2012, 8:46 AM
Joe Q > Alonzo
Grimfoe - 9/20/2012, 8:48 AM
@rogmel: You and I may not know much about the business, but those inside sometimes fail to realize it IS a business. You're only worth as much as what you can produce and what you can produce is only worth what others are paying for it. Don't fall in love with your own creativity and overestimate your own worth. There are plenty of other writers out there and they are just as good as long as people still buy the comic.

Understanding business is a matter of understanding other peoples' motives. DC and Marvel are in it to make money, not just comics that this crybaby approves of.
OdinsBeard - 9/20/2012, 8:51 AM
rogmel@ "Between this guy and Alan Moore, I'm inclined to believe that writers are nothing but a bunch of entitled cry-babies."

no doubt dude. when i was at comic con and got to causally meet and talk with a few creators 80% of them were middle aged, snarky, socially weird assholes. it was like i'd love to do what you do but man you and i have nothing in common. i hate "artists." they're not team players and have no gratitude. well 80% of them anyway.
orpheus - 9/20/2012, 9:06 AM
You commenters are the whiney out of touch ones. Good writers are why you love and respect certain characters and stories. They are why you give a crap in the first place. When great writers and stories are treated like crap in favor of low quality money making, it hurts the characters and the medium, and then you complain about shitty writers! It shouldn't be 'be greatful you have a job!' it should be 'support creativity and passion!'.
KrazyForKomix - 9/20/2012, 9:07 AM
AS JUST ONE EXAMPLE OF MANY . . .
You either, as a fan, like the Punisher joining a super-team to go on missions with objectives controlled by other morally ambiguous characters . . .
OR
You think that the Punisher is a character that, for all the original motivations cultivated over time, is a tortured guy who has no time for the goals of others.

You can't just say, "Oh, what a whiney bitch," and then complain AT ALL about the multi-crossover-super-team madness that is taking place right now.

I get the feeling that those who criticize Rucka, do so because the alternative is to realize they might have to stand up for something or someone that have the end result of them not purchasing their favorite character.
KrazyForKomix - 9/20/2012, 9:09 AM
@orpheus

BRILLIANTLY said!
massilimino - 9/20/2012, 9:10 AM
I work in publishing and sympathize with Mr Rucka's plight. I've seen great talent laid off, moved to an area where they're not suited and watched more than half of our workforce get canned in one day.
Our award-winning product is less than half of what it used to be just five years ago, and worse, what it's still capable of, because we got bought out by a publicly-traded entity. Now experienced people in publishing are just numbers - a herd to be culled so the share holders get a larger cut of a product they continue to poison.
This is true throughout the publishing industry. Most of us are just happy to still be drawing a paycheck, even when the thing we worked so hard to build and/or maintain is being gutted right in front of us.
Mr. Rucka just can't stand watching his work get dictated by clueless, greedy hacks.
If Marvel and DC don't stand up to their parent companies, which no one ever does, there will be a lot more Mr. Ruckas.
Nemeres - 9/20/2012, 9:21 AM
He's stating his opinion in a personal interview, and about something of which he has exclusive knowledge. Is it being a diva if, when you're asked something, you answer with the truth? His perspective comes from the employee/talent side of things, and that's what he'll offer. If he feels screwed over, well, he probably was. Don't read his interviews if you don't care about what he has to say.
jimoakley666 - 9/20/2012, 9:25 AM
Not surprised by this. Unless you've worked with editors on a day to day basis you cannot know how truly [frick]ing mind-bendingly irritating they can be at times. Ha ha.
comicstocode - 9/20/2012, 9:28 AM
I'm just glad this is finally being said. Once these companies are done pimping their properties out, it'll be nothing except keychains and other landfill. The art, and medium will be forever ruined. Alonso and Quesada anyway, at Marvel, have driven their personal agenda bus for way too long.
luckylu - 9/20/2012, 9:33 AM
i think some of you are missing the entire point of his "rant". he is mostly complaining that marvel and dc used to use incredible, in-depth stories for their characters to sell and make profit. now everything is a cash grab. theoretically he is saying they could add mickey mouse or the animaniacs to the avengers or jl soley because it will sell. not because the story or characters call for it. to some it up- the companies have lost their passion. its all about the $$ now.

at least thats what i got from it.

AnditsOn1 - 9/20/2012, 9:43 AM
So this guy is actually bashing the shit out of DC but not so much of marvel and you know there is something going on here...Hey, the guy still works in Marvel,right?
HeadPool420 - 9/20/2012, 9:46 AM
I didn't know eyes had teeth!
rogmel - 9/20/2012, 9:52 AM
@luckylu

His rant is about publishers making decisions about their titles without first conferring with the writer. He expressed this with his comments about Gotham Central (which was canceled due to low sales), and Frank Castle joining Thunderbolts (which is part of the the Marvel re-tool).

As much as a writer may not like a decision a publisher/editor makes, they DO have final say over what the writer puts down on paper. Just as my boss has final say over whether or not I purchase a new server to make the office run faster, Rucka has to take direction from his superiors (yes, he has them, just needs to recognize them) and complete his assignment.

After he's done he should say thanks for the opportunity and the great pay, but I'm moving on to a project where I have more creative control and probably less pay.



rogmel - 9/20/2012, 9:54 AM
You know, all this posting made me realize I forgot to get this week's comic pull. Heading to the store!

FlixMentallo21 - 9/20/2012, 9:54 AM
If I had taken over either company, Rucka wouldn't be saying all of that--because he'd be co-owner of every character or new story element he introduced to the world of Punisher, or Wonder Woman, etc. I personally believe that the Big Two should be less Hollywood and more Saturday Night Live, in that it gives people the opportunity to hone their craft and build an audience, and when the time comes, they can leave DC/Marvel and still co-own whatever they brought to the ongoing narratives of whatever character they worked on. I believe in MAKING business more ethical than they aren't, and I believe it's the responsibility of us, the fans, to make it so--to hell with the shareholders!

Want to see more of my argument? Look at my "Sorry State of the Superhero Comic Book Today" editorial.

I met Rucka at Emerald City Comic-Con 2011, and he was a nice guy. Never expected anything like this to come out of him.
AraxisHT - 9/20/2012, 9:55 AM
Sounds like he's just whiny.
KrazyForKomix - 9/20/2012, 9:57 AM
@Netman0007
It's also about risk management and looking down the P&L road. If the companies continue down this path, pissing off the fans (those with the sizable disposable bank accounts used for buying multiple titles, AND don't get the influx of attention-disorder-video-game-playing youngsters that they think they will . . . what happen to the industry?
niknik - 9/20/2012, 9:58 AM
He's just saying what most of us long time readers already know:

A) They are more concerned about bottom line profits so they use sales gimmicks like relaunches, death issues, and renumbering of titles for #1 issue sales, along with big mega event crossovers all the while stripping away the budget to hire the talented creators and artists to make a quality book............and they raise the price to 4 or 5 bucks a book while doing so. In other words we are paying a lot more for a lower quality product all in the name of higher profit margins. The stories are paper thin, artwork is now on average the lousiest ever published and mega events are strung together with spit and bailing wire with no real substance or attention to character's established elements.

B) As I have said a number of times now: The tail is wagging the dog. At least at Marvel it is. Since the success of Avengers they have reconstructed the entire 616 to be a reflection of Marvel's cinematic universe, from characters uniforms right down to plot lines.

New 52 was my jumping off point for DC and Marvel Now will be my jumping off point for Marvel. Guess I will have another 20 to 40 bucks per week in my pocket. Yay.

Whovian - 9/20/2012, 10:05 AM
I hate to break it to Marvel, DC or any comicbook publisher, but If the art and story aren't any good I won't buy it. I have no problem waiting six weeks for my favorite titles if I know the quality is solid. A consistant two or four week turn around is useless to you if no one will buy it. Its time to stop thinking of the money you make buy high quantity and consider the loss of revenue due to poor quality!
Foolkiller - 9/20/2012, 10:12 AM
I am old enough to remember when Mark Millar, Grant Morrison and Garth Ennis were writing for indies and 2000AD. Because they were good enough the big two were more than happy to get material from them. Hopefully these and others working for creator owned companies will show the big two what they are missing when they give writers more of a free rein.
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