For Tommy: Ian Edginton and Joe Quesada
By Richard Johnston
air was so thick with optimism you could stand a spoon up
in it and it was contagious.
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
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.
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.
at the back of my mind, a faint alarm bell started ringing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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