Why Did DC Drop Milestone Forever’s Captions?

Posted by March 5, 2010 Comment

Last month, Bleeding Cool pointed out that a number of caption boxes containing quotes had been dropped off Milestone Forever #1, and printed the replacement captions that Dwayne McDuffie posted on his site.

At the time I presumed it was a production error. It seems not.

DC editorial have removed a number of quotes from the second final issue out this week. And Dwayne McDuffie has told us the reasons he was given.

Once again citing “fair use,” DC Comics has chosen to remove several key quotations from MILESTONE FOREVER, and once again I was given no time to rewrite the offending sections. Following are the quotes that should have been in the issue, including the final quotation, summing up the whole project.

From the end of the last HARDWARE story, “Escape:

“Sometimes I suspect that we build our traps ourselves, then we back into them, pretending amazement the while.”

—Neil Gaiman

And from the final panel of the book, the Dharma story “Metafictions”:

“Never think you’ve seen the last of anything.”

—Eudora Welty

Finally, the postscript to the whole project, pointed at me, rather than Dharma:

“And although I knew no one man could do much about it, I felt responsible. All our work had been very little, no great change had been made. And it was all my fault. I’d been so fascinated by the motion, that I’d forgotten to measure what it was bringing forth. I’d been asleep, dreaming.”

—Ralph Ellison

The fair use argument does strike me as odd. I have no doubt that DC have received legal advice regarding this, but the timeliness is very questionable, if indeed Dwayne was given no notice to provide amendments, considering the exact same thing happened to the previous issue.

But, bizarrely, one of the quotes removed is from Sandman, a comic that DC published and own.

Which is a hell of a smoking gun –  one that suggests rather than concened with the legality of reproducing quotes, it’s a smokescreen for content issues regarding Milestone Forever.

What content issues? Well, David Brothers looks at the opening quote from Milestone’s Hardware #1 in 1993 in which the central character is deprived of the revenue made from his own creations for a manufacturer. And notes that it describes how Dwayne McDuffie and Denys Cowan felt leaving Marvel Comics to start their own company Milestone.

My bird made a common error. He mistook being out of his cage… for being free.

The parakeet died a long time ago, without ever enjoying the freedom of the yard. The boy grew into a man, who spent many years bumping his head against a similar barrier: a ceiling of glass, unseen and incomprehensible to him.

The lesson is clear: escape is impossible until one perceives all of the barriers.

The same story is retold in Milestone Forever #2 with the added proviso

Unlike the bird, the man was capable of self-delusion. He believed, once aware of the glass, he could break through it. Many years later, he’s learned the truth: this glass is still too thick.

In context, a clear reference to Dwayne’s continued issues with DC Comics. The Gaiman quote could be seen as another illustration of that, while Ellison’s is one that Dwayne aims at his own inability to change the system from within.

The irony that it would be that final quote which was removed by DC should not be lost on anyone.

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About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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(Last Updated March 5, 2010 2:59 pm )

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