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Waiting For Tommy: Ian Edginton and Joe Quesada
By Richard Johnston

The air was so thick with optimism you could stand a spoon up in it and it was contagious.

The writers and admin offices lined the walls encircling a bullpen-type maze of cubicles where the artists worked. Everything was personalised with books, artwork, toys, etc. It resembled an animation studio more than anything else. Everyone's work was pinned up on the walls of the cubicles so you could see how each book was progressing. It didn't strike me at the time but this also functioned a kind of insidious form of peer pressure.

It also soon became apparent that being on salary had its downsides too. While I was there, one particular artist was pleased as punch that he'd gotten way ahead with his work only to be given someone else's to finish, suddenly finding himself racing to catch up with a deadline that wasn't his and all for the same salary.

I saw Mark a few times. He was bull-ish but friendly, talking up the company and how glad they were to have me. I mainly dealt with CrossGen's Vice President -- and Mark's cousin -- Gina Villa. A sweet woman who dressed like and actually had spent most of her career as - a girls PE teacher. What she was doing as the VP of a publishing company was beyond me. I soon realised I wasn't the only one who thought this. Most of the creative staff, simply nodded, indulged her instructions and then went right back to doing their jobs in their own, better ways.

 

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Somewhere at the back of my mind, a faint alarm bell started ringing.

I met up with Bill Rosemann, Tony Bedard and Chuck Dixon who, it must be said is a God amongst men, especially when we found that we had a shared interest in Anthony Mann westerns. Ron was being promoted upwards and so I was going to inherit both Sojourn and Scion titles from him with the promise of writing several other titles of my own devising a year or so down the line. The problem was, Ron didn't know he was going to loose Scion until I got there and Mark told him, which made me feel a tad awkward to say the least.

I spent a lot of out of office time with Mike and Ron, and despite a few hiccoughs, their overall impression was that working for CrossGen was a sweet deal. Regular hours, regular salary, an amazing working and living environment. There was no doubt it was an opportunity to be seized. There were some logistical problems however. Gina wanted me to relocate within the following few weeks, which was out of the question. I had a house to sell. Jane (my partner) and her daughter had to come over and look at houses and schools, etc.

We finally resolved that I would work freelance from home in the UK. The three of us would then go back to the USA later in the year scouting for houses, making appointments to visit schools and looking to move over there at the start of 2003, giving us the chance to spend Christmas and New Year with our families and say our goodbyes. In the meantime, I'd be working with CrossGen admin' people sorting out all the paperwork for obtaining work visas and so on.

It all seemed to run fine at first but as the year progressed, the cheques were taking longer and longer to arrive. Ron would chase them for me but it gradually became apparent all was not well. When the time came for the three of us to make our scouting trip we decided not to go until I'd been paid the cheques that were outstanding. It wasn't a huge amount by that point but I thought that if they can pay for our airfare, they can pay me the money they owe me first.

The cheques did arrive but Jane and I were unnerved by the whole deal. We decided to wait and see what happened next before making any major decisions about moving. In the meantime, I'd started to look around for other work. Thinking I was going to be writing a minimum of two books for CrossGen, I'd significantly scaled back sending out pitches and proposals. I had to start the whole process up again from scratch and it was an uphill climb. Let me tell you.

RICHARD: You continued to work at CrossGen after many reports of creators being unpaid. What stories were you hearing, and did you feel morally justified to continue working even though you were being paid (some of it) when that meant others would not be paid?
IAN: I was very, very uncomfortable with the fact I was being paid while others weren't, especially after I heard the about the trauma Luke Ross went through, but for several reasons, I was obliged to hang on until I was almost up to date with what I was owed before quitting.

Towards the end of last year, CrossGen owed me around $11,000. I'd cast about for other work but there wasn't much forthcoming. In an interesting and ironic aside, two proposals I'd submitted to a major publisher later appeared as new series, but not written by me. Coincidentally, I knew one of the new books authors who told me he'd been approached by one of the then powers-that-be, with a 'beat-sheet' of ideas for the new title, most of which were culled from my proposal. It's a funny old world, eh!

The real life-saver was 2000AD, they bought four series and a several short stories from me which helped keep my head above water but only just.

I defaulted on several mortgage payments and had to explain why to the bank. They were understanding but made it clear that if the situation persisted they'd take my house. With a tax bill also looming, I had to borrow money from Jane and my family.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 Continued Here...

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