Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Time For A Stiff Drink- The Boys Cancelled.. Now.

The Boys #7
Originally uploaded by Heidi Meeley.
Well Crap. I just got home from working out to find out over at Newsarama that The Boys has been cancelled as of last month's issue, number six.


Published under the Wildstorm banner at DC, The Boys has been plagued by controversy right from the start. From orgies to a certain gerbil fetish, the book is obviously not for the faint of heart. It is an adult-themed book to be sure, one that has been labeled as such.

It figures. I love this book. I am already pumped for next week's #7 and to find out it has been cancelled before I will see anymore issues sucks. No bones about it. Along with 100 Bullets, Fables, and Manhunter, this has been one of my favorite books from day one.

Double Damn.

The official article at Newsarama reads as follows:

"Newsarama has learned that Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s Wildstorm series, The Boys has been cancelled by DC, effective with issue #6 of the series, which is currently on shelves. Issues #7-#10, as well as the trade collection – all of which have been solicited – will not ship.

DC declined to comment on the series or even confirm that the series has indeed, been canceled.

The series sales appear to have been healthy enough, with issue #6 seeing an estimated 27,000 copies shipping to stores in December, placing it at #81 on Diamond’s Top 300 list. For that month, only two other Wildstorm titles sold more copies, Gen13 and Midnighter. August’s issue #1 saw an estimated 31,000 copies sold.

The series was announced with much hoopla at last spring’s WizardWorld LA, and was heralded by Ennis here on Newsarama as the book that would “out-Preacher Preacher.” The phrase was later picked up and used on promotional posters for the series from DC, who saw it as part of the Wildstorm revitalization.

Robertson had perhaps the most succinct description of the series, saying: “The Boys are a team of five super-powered operatives who work for a secret department within the U.S. government. It's their job to monitor and investigate superhero behavior, they gather intelligence- i.e. dirt- on them, and occasionally to use it against them. Just as the C.I.A. has had a use for the Mafia, Sadaam Hussein, and Columbia's FARC terrorists (to name a few), so they also need superheroes. Sometimes they need them on a leash. Sometimes they have to put them down. The Boys are the people who do the job.”

When the series launched, readers found that little of what Ennis and Robertson was saying was hyperbole. The series was violent, rude, crude, and…essentially, what you’d expect if you put Ennis and Robertson together in a room with superheroes.

The series was clearly in crescendo mode in regards to content, and this was clearly seen in issue #6 when, after a super-powered individual was accidentally killed by Hughie, a hamster crawled out of…his backside.

While DC has published graphic violence, sexual situations, and individuals who prefer the ruder and cruder side of life (much of it with Ennis’ name attached) in the past, it has also, on a handful of occasions, pulled material from a comic it felt crossed the line. Again, DC declined to comment on the reasons behind the series cancellation. If the series was cancelled because the publisher felt it was too over the top, The Boys would be in rare company, joining Marvel/Epic’s Void Indigo by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik, which only saw one issue published before it was ended, due to content issues.

On a purely speculative note, The Boys is a creator-owned property, jointly owned by Ennis and Robertson. After his series, Fallen Angel was cancelled by DC, co-creator of the property Peter David was able to regain the property and move it to IDW, where it has been published since.

When contacted by Newsarama about the situation with the series, Robertson replied:

"The Boys has been canceled effectively with issue #6.

"It became obvious that DC was not the right home for The Boys. DC is being good about reverting our rights so we can find a new publisher and we're in the process of doing that now. I'm continuing to work exclusively for DC in the meantime. I want to thank Scott Dunbier and Ben Abernathy at Wildstorm for all their hard work."

Evidently this is censorship at it's finest, folks. I can only hope that the book does indeed find another home so I can continue to follow the adventures of Hughie and his group. Instead of giving up hope, I am crossing my fingers on the mighty return of The Boys.


John Holland said...

That sucks!

The Boys was one of my favorite comics. It was hilarous! It was great! I loved it.

I hope they find a home for it. This was my favorite Ennis since Preacher.

Elayne said...

That word you use - I do not think it means what you think it means.

Cancellation is not censorship. DC is not a government entity. It can make whatever editorial decisions it wants to, and it's STILL not censorship. The more that word is misused, the less power it has to describe actual government interference with freedom of speech and of the press.

I took one look at this book and knew I had no use for it; my tolerance for graphic violence is pretty low. My only surprise is that, if DC was that uncomfortable with it, why greenlight it for Wildstorm (rather than for Vertigo) in the first place? Did it get more graphic as it went along?

Carl said...

Welp, I guess it was a good thing I didn't get into the book then. After all the things that have happened in the various books that Ennis has written, especially the Avatar books, it's hard to imagine a reason DC would cancel this book. It was wildly popular at our shop and everyone was talking about how much they liked it. And I documented why I didn't pick it up (I read an advance copy in the preview books), that I was tired of Ennis's disdain and continued attack on superheroes in his books; it was one note again and again I was just sick to death of seeing.
Well, while I am sorry to see any book go for a reason that doesn't shake out as logical or balanced, I am glad I hadn't invested time in it...

James Meeley said...

Cancellation is not censorship.

No, it isn't, Elayne. But canning a book, which you know would be rather graphic in nature and content (I mean, it's not like DC doesn't know the kind of stuff Ennis writes), which had nothing to do with poor sales (in fact, the books sales seemed to be fine, from what I saw concerning the numbers), I think it is safe to call that censorship.

Like you, I'd question why DC decided to publish this under Wildstorm and not Vertigo, if they even planned to publish it at all. Garth Ennis is a great writer, but sutble and inoffgesnive he isn't and DC should already know this. That's what takes it out of the realm of mere cancellation and puts it more towards censorship.

Granted, DC has the right to publish (or not) whatever material they want. But the way they've gone about it here is not going to win them any praise with the majority of comic readers and creators.

Regardless of that, I think Heidi used the word censorship fairly properly here. If this was Firestorm she was talking about, I'd agree with you, since it has/had failing sales. The Boys didn't though, from what I saw. And that makes all the difference here.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Elayne. While it may be disappointing that The Boys was canceled, it certainly doesn't cross the threshold of censorship.

If the US government had forbidden DC Comics from publishing it, that would clearly be censorship.

DC was doing at a corporate level what people do every day: making lawful decisions in their best interest.

Anonymous said...

As for whether or not The Boys was "making money" for DC, perhaps it wasn't making a large enough margin once they paid the creators their piece of the book's profits (since the book is creator-owned).

A whole host of reasons go into both the green-lighting and cancelation of comic book series...beyond simply the raw numbers of copies sold. It's obviously one of the most important factors, but when you get into creator-owned situations and publishing a book with "radioactive" subject matter, other factors come into play that we may not be aware of.

James Meeley said...

That's a fair point, Mark. Still, while this might fall more under the line of "self-censorship", rather than an unilateral imposed censorship, it's censorship nonetheless.

Granted, DC has the right to censor the material they publish, since it is their money and name which is allowing the work to see the light of day. If they don't feel comfortable producing soemthing, they are within their rights to not do so.

Still, as Elayne and i both note, the question of why DC published this, both in an imprint not really designed for it (Wildstorm vs. Vertigo) and knowing the type of content Garth Ennis is known for making (this is the same company who produced his Preacher, Demon and Hitman works, all of which were filled with offensive images and content), it begs the question of why they bothered with it in the first place.

I'm sure DC isn't out to squash creator rights or anything, but to green-light something and them pull the plug like they have here, is still censorship of a kind. Self-censorship is still censorship. Just a much more tolerable and understandable one.

Your miles may vary....

Heidi Meeley said...

John, I feel kind of bad for reccomending the book now. Yikes! It just gets going and all of a sudden it is done.

Maybe it will find a home somewhere else soon. I am hoping so.

Heidi Meeley said...

Elayne, I hadn't honestly considered that I was using the word incorrectly, so I appreciate the correction. I guess "Editorial decision" or "creative direction" may have been better.

At any rate, it bothers me immensely that DC put the book out to start with if there were concerns. Garth Ennis isn't known for soft peddling the goods, that is for sure. Preacher and Dicks were both right on the edge. In my mind this would have been a much better title under the Vertigo banner. It makes me wonder if Ennis and Robertson decided to agree to disagree and chose to use their creative freedom of choice and publish else where?

To answer your question about the book getting more graphic- it most definitely did. From extreme violence to tense sexual situations, the book was pedal-to-the-medal extreme. It was definitely an adult book.

Thank you for pointing this out. I am going to read my dictionary tonight and make sure I am on-point next time.

Heidi Meeley said...

Carl, you must have had a sixth sense about the book! If it comes out in a trade later, you might check it out and see what you think. You will have to let me know.

Heidi Meeley said...

Mark, I have to bow to "editorial decision" on this one and agree to disagree with DC on it. Why this wasn't originally a Vertigo book is beyond me. The cancellation wasn't a sales issue, so it had to be a mutual decision of sorts.

Darick Robertson is scheduled to be at the Emerald City Comicon at the end of March, so I hope to ask him about it then. Maybe it will be a moot point, but I would like to hear more from the creative entities involved.

Thank you for clarification!

Carl said...

The weird thing now, is I want to read what was published. I guess it's like someone suddenly says, oh, that's been banned or it sold out, no more, too bad for you. And it's funny, I got "Chronicles of Wormwood" the day after I heard 'The Boys' bought it and read it like 3 times. It's funny also, I am wondering who DC was frightened of offending, the conservative folks or the gay community since I can't imagine the latter feeling warm and fuzzy about the "gerbil" incident, no pun intended. I can probably pick up the rest but a tpb featuring the 'unpublished' like Heidi would probably be the route I would go...

Heidi Meeley said...

Carl, I love it! Maybe that is what DC was going for. Let's cancel it and make everyone who didn't pick it up the first time really fascinated. Heh.

I am really hoping for a trade paperback or a new home for the book. This was good stuff, honest!

Chris Arndt said...

It's not censorship.

Censorship would be cancelling the title without reverting the rights back to the owners.

Censorship, regardless of government or corporate involvement, involves the prevention of publication and distribution of the production in question. For instance, if Sci-Fi Channel stops purchasing episodes of a program, effectively cancelling it, the creators and owners of the program legally have the option of attempting to find someone else to air the program.

Ennis and company have this sort of right.

If in my example the Sci-Fi Channel took measures to prevent the show from being aired on another network, maintaining exclusive rights to air new episodes of the program without actually purchasing new episodes, that could be called censorship.

DC Comics has not prevented Ennis from releasing a comic book under any terms.

Assuming that DC Comics cancelled the comic book because of the content, one would wisely assume that the book was cancelled because DC Comics did not wish for Ennis to continue his comic book under their terms, more importantly they didn't want "The Boys" connected to DC Comics or one of the imprints, which also still have DC Comics connotations.

Strangely this time my opinions are the same as Mrs. Riggs.

It's not censorship; it's disassociation.

Assuming Mr. Ennis is still interested there will be "The Boys" in the future. DC Comics does not want to publish the title. There are no rights which DC Comics is trampling on.