J.Michael Straczynski Vs Steve Wacker: The Spider-Sales War of Words

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Posted on: December 11th, 2011
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Recently J. Michael Straczynski, former Amazing Spider-Man and Thor writer, who left the Spider title due to Marvel’s ‘Brand New Day‘ Plans (and later Thor due to their plans for Siege) recently took a swipe at the current sales on the book with this below sales chart, posted on his FaceBook Page.

The chart shows the decline in readership since the writer left the book, and was accompanied with this caption:

Sales on The Amazing Spider-Man since my departure. Just sayin

The following furious response from current ASM Editor Steve Wacker sparked an on-line slanging match that would bring in Current ASM Writer Dan Slott and Marvel/DC Writer Mark Waid. Here’s the whole rage filled back and forth courtesy of BleedingCool

Steve Wacker, current editor of the Spider-Man comics replies:

An excellent post, JMS. Out of context, out of date and full of out-of-the-blue mean.

Everyone on ASM currently respects your years on the book (and as editor I’ve said so many times in interviews and in the letter column), but seriously this is about as creepy and low of a move as a former writer can pull on another group of creators (many of whom didn’t have the luxury you had of ducking out of controversy).

Due to the team’s hard work, ASM is still one of the best-selling, best performing comics around. And thanks to them, 130+ (on-time!) issues of ASM have come out since you left — which certainly helps mitigate the softening of the ENTIRE comics market that you’re apparently willing to ignore.

Yes, you are one of the bigger names in the comics industry. Congratulations. You’ve earned the title.

It’s a shame though that the title doesn’t come with more class…just sayin’…

JMS then responds:

Nowhere in my post did I say word one about the current creative team. Nowhere in the post was there the sort of personal attack you engage in here. Nowhere do I characterize anyone or impugn their motives or integrity. I was simply passing along raw numbers, which you do not actually refute, you simply yell at me for posting them and call names and engage in other essentially churlish behavior. In regards to ducking out of controversy, I would like to know what that refers to as I have never stepped away from either controversy or sharing my opinion.

I have always made it very clear that when I came aboard ASM I brought Peter and MJ back together because I liked writing them as a married couple. I made equally clear that the decision to unmarry them and, in the same brushstroke, eliminate virtually every story I’d written during those eight years was an editorial mandate, not my choice. I would’ve been happy to continue writing them married until the sun went out. Marvel wanted to unmarry them. That’s your choice, and your right. At no point did I duck out of anything. If you think I did, back it up: what are you referring to?

I posted numbers. Nothing more or less. If those numbers are correct, and again you do nothing to say otherwise…then your reaction is simply mean-spirited diversion. If those numbers are not correct, provide what you consider to be accurate ones. I am more than happy to have them posted here.

In the course of this, I received a friendly, measured note from Dan Slott, who is a terrific writer, who asked if I had any problems with the current creative team. I’ll tell you what I told him: I have no problem with them/him whatsoever. Dan is a terrific writer and is doing great work. I happened to come across this chart, and passed it along. Beginning, middle and end of story.

At NO point did I engage in the kind of attacking, spiteful, mean-spirited characterization you did above. It’s unfortunate that one of Marvel’s editors comports himself in this fashion, but it happens.

If you choose to continue the conversation, please try to do so in a grown-up fashion, as did Dan Slott. You might find it a refreshing change.

More from Steve Wacker:

Starting my weekend off right!

My mistake…Apparently when you wrote “Just saying’…’” you meant “Just sayin’…the books in good shape and I wish the team well.”

JMS, I don’t know you beyond a couple of brusque ‘hello’s, so I don’t have a lot of heat wrapped up in this “fight” as you seem to imagine. Certainly no one’s “yelling” or “calling you names” as you suggest. You posted something passive aggressive at best and it deserves a response. (I agree that I’m bad at passive aggressive, so that’s on me. Clarity is my curse.)

One thing we agree on here is that Dan Slott is a good guy who wants to do well. It was nice he reached out to a guy trying to make the argument the book was tanking. I don’t know that I would have reached out to you privately since A) I hardly know you and B) you posted this publicly.

At the bottom of it all, though, you’ve posted an absolutely incorrect chart that isn’t based on real numbers and leaves out many individual issues to make its “point”. The sales chart you posted is the fictional fantasy fantasy of a blogger who has a massive, medically enhanced hate for the comic and the people at Marvel. In the past has cracked about wanting to “punch Dan Slott in the face” among many other vile– and sometimes violent– remarks about everyone on the comic.

(He VIOLENTLY hates you too, for what it’s worth. And you’ve now fanned his flame something fierce.)

However, in the end, that’s just deranged—though impotent– fan cranking and moaning. More over the top than most, but we’re all used to that and deal with it regularly.

What’s more important is that, as I clearly said in the last post, his numbers are absolutely wrong, out of date and out of context.

You seem to somehow read that as me not refuting the numbers. Let me say it plainly then…I refute the numbers. I even REFUDIATE them. I even REFUDIUDIUDIUDIPUDIATE them. (You are better with words than me, so if there’s something stronger, please use it in the previous sentence.) Hope that clears it up.

Yes, individual sales are on average lower than when you wrote the book. That’s true. You are without a doubt one of the top writers in comics. Once again, I concede that point… so congrats on that. I’ve long said so in the comic and in interviews that we all knew sales were going to go down once a top writer in comics left (especially after such a controversial story like OMD).

So to come in to show off how sales have gone down after you left seems to be needlessly spiking the football after the other team has set up for the next kickoff. You already won the point.

(I will happily write JMS IS ONE OF THE TOP WRITERS IN COMICS on a fan at the next convention if you want. It is just that true!)

BUT…and it’s a big but… we’ve also published over 4 times as many issues of ASM as we would have otherwise in a market that has weakened considerably since you were writing Civil War tie-ins. Amazing Spider-Man is still consistently and safely among the industry’s top sellers.

Since you’ve left, my writers and artists have managed to create the highest selling single issue in 15 years (which was purposefully left off the chart you’re brandishing) and add over 40 collections to the Spider-Man backlist.

That’s important information. And it puts those fake sales numbers you’re crowing about in context.

When the former heavyweight champion writer of a book shows up chiding my book’s sales with a ridiculously unfactual, cartoonish chart it sends a message to everyone that the book is somehow doing worse than when you were on it. You can see some of the responses here for just how well that worked out for you. If you say, you didn’t mean it that way, that’s great.

However, if trying to show up the current people on the book WASN’T your intention, I can’t imagine what it was. Just sayin’…

You are correct that I do take it personally when other creators knock the work my team does on any of my books (except Daredevil…swing away there. Those guys are jerks.). I stand by the notion that posting a comic’s sales after you’ve left is a creepy thing to do.

Just as a mental test, try imagining if I did the obvious thing here and posted…say…current Superman and Wonder Woman sales now that you left the book.

That would be buttheaded of me. And I try not to be buttheaded.

I did love your ASM run, though (except the Gwen thing…ewww). Especially loved Doom at the airport and the way you wrote Pete and MJ as a couple. (I also thought it was cool that we used you in Thor. They didn’t use Slott in the Spidey musical…which I believe was a huge mistake!)

Scarlet Spider #1 on sale January 4!

Dan Slott plays peace maker:

Hugs for everyone. *hugs*

Mark Waid is less forgiving:

Dick move, Joe. Flat out, a dick move, and you know it. Either your point was to show people how awesome you were, or to show people how things have deteriorated since your absence. There’s no other way to interpret your post. None. Are you really that hard up for approbation and fan love that you can’t rise above that sort of shit? I understand Wacker’s frustration. Maybe he overreacted a bit, in the way good friends DO react when they perceive their friends and employees being attacked by a bitter man with a bottomless ego, but you made the first move, and it was a dick move. And if anyone doubted you were doing it for anything other than informational purposes, adding “Just sayin’” was the snarktacular icing on the cake. No one says “Just sayin’” unless they’re doing exactly the opposite of “Just sayin’
Half an hour later, still fuming at JMS’s shitty passive-aggressiveness. I should probably go walk it off. Maybe with a long walk. A long, dull, pointless, boring walk. Across America.
That I won’t finish.
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