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Please stop e-mailing me about DJ Coffman and “Heroes by Night”

Based, presumably, on the fact I referred to DJ Coffman in this post about why self-publishing isn’t a panacea, and the still wildly popular trio of posts about the TokyoPop pilot (the inciting incident, ensuing brough-ha, and third thing where Zuda gets dragged into the morass) people are seeming to take DJ’s post from yesterday that all is not well in his ongoing efforts to regain his “Hero by Night” rights as some kind of absolute sign from the heavens that I must renounce everything I wrote therein.

So here’s why I’m not going to do that.
For starters, in anything I wrote above I only ever mentioned Plantinum’s comic book challenge in an unfavourable light compared to the object of discussion (the TokyoPop Manga Pilot program). In fact the twice I referred to them at all was once as a “contest farm”, and once referring to them as “the old switcharoo”… neither are likely to show up as pull quotes for their 2009 circular.

Despite how some have read my earlier posts, I’m not a corporate apologist, I do not necessarily always take a contrarian viewpoint, and I have personally long held the Platinum contract up as the high-water mark for “contracts I would not be comfortable signing (or having others sign)”.

I also feel really bad for DJ. As mentioned previously – he taught me how to play the ukulele… and I owe him for that, big time. I hope it works out for him, but I also know he’s a creative enough mofo that if he has to cut his losses and move on he’s going to come out alright in the end (or at least in the interim I might get a couple new instalments of Yirmumah! or Uke Club.

If anything watching this story develop and seeing the various reactions to it just strengthens what I feel about my previous writing – especially some of the areas where I felt the TP deal was a preferential choice to creators (like the automatic reversion of the rights to the creators under certain situations).

The only thing that has ever got my back up in this broader debate is framing this issue (as Kris and Scott) often do) as the poster-child, de-facto, proof that self-publishing is the sole recourse for creators who aren’t idiots ™. I don’t disagree that it’s a tremendously appealing option, with maximum protection for rights for many creators – but that doesn’t mean it’s a miracle cure-all. There is never a miracle cure.

There is no “one-size-fits-all model”. There are good deals for individual creators and bad deals for individuals creators. And often these deals and approaches are as varied as the creators themselves. The Platinum Comic Book Challenge – I’ve always felt was a “bad deal”, however – I suspect that if we sat down and talked about it, DJ would still disagree with me on that. It clearly gave him something he found appealing at a certain point in his career – and even though the resolution may be unfortunate, I don’t for a second think he wasn’t sharp enough to know the risks and the rewards going in to the deal two years ago.