Scott Young Writes About The Days Of DC Compgate

Wow. This is a blast from a past. “Compgate”, the supposed scandal at DC Comics that saw the accepted practice of staff selling or trading their comp copies of comics to comic stores or on eBay to supplement their oft-meagre incomes, become a hot political topic within Warner Brothers, with tax liabilities, firings and a change in policy all round… remember that? Scott Young does. And he’s telling everyone. And using Kickstarter to do so. He writes for Bleeding Cool;

I’ve loved comic books since the first day I saw one at age 10. My childhood dream was to work in comics. I studied art in High School and attended Pratt Institute for a year. Family tragedies sidetracked me from pursuing a career in art. I spent almost 6 years trying to drink away some bad memories, particularly an ex-girlfriend’s murder. I blamed myself for her death. To straighten my ass out, I enlisted in the United States Army shortly before my 26th birthday. I spent a little over three years in service (mostly in Germany) before an injury forced me out on a medical discharge. I then attended The Joe Kubert School from Sept 96- May 98. Eventually I landed a job at DC Comics as a production artist. I started work there in January, 2000. I was fired on Sept 29, 2003 but not for selling my comps or running an eBay business.

I did sell things on Ebay to supplement my income and finance my trips to Comic Con and other events throughout the year but no one at DC ever knew about it. I was very discreet and never told anyone except my closest friend. I started by using my store credit at Hanley’s Universe to buy mini busts and statues and then selling them online. Eventually I only turned in my regular issues for store credit and sold the hardcovers and tpbs directly on Ebay, but only when I needed extra money.

By 2003, I was dating/engaged to My then-girlfriend, an associate editor, and I needed A LOT more money so I started selling every week. To maintain a steady supply I went around the company and offered to clean out peoples cubicles or buy their comics from them, always telling them I planned to use them when I went freelance at the end of the year.

I gave my notice to DC in June of 2003. They knew I was leaving at the end of the year. When they started reorganizing and digitizing the production dept, they changed my job from doing corrections to scanning in the artwork. I hated doing that and told them so. Alison Gill and I butted heads over it and I felt she was singling me out for my objections. DC and Alison started coming down on me for “too many absences.” I had planned a vacation in late September. The week before the trip, DC rescinded the permission for my trip. They said I only had 4 vacation days left and if I didn’t come back on the 5th day, I’d be terminated. I didn’t come in and they fired me for that reason. It had nothing to do with comps.

Only problem was my cubicle was overflowing with boxes and boxes of comics that I’d gathered/bought from other people. To piss me off, they conducted an “internal investigation,” holding the comics hostage but eventually allowed me to get my property. However before they relented, my fiancé sent an email to Paul Levitz asking him for help and telling him about how I sold stuff on Ebay to help pay our bills. That was the first they ever knew about it and Levitz ran with it.

After that DC went on a witch hunt and had the IT dept monitor everyone’s computer usage and personal emails. Levitz issued an informal decree that people were no longer allowed to turn in their comps or sell them. People were supposed to keep them, donate them or throw them out…nothing else. When my wedding rolled around, it was well known that attendance by any DC employees would not be viewed favorably so none of the 34 people invited showed up. Eventually, DC used the information gathered by the two IT techs (both of which sold comics on Ebay) to fire a bunch of other people.

As far as why I’ve written this memoir, I have a great number of stories that I’ve wanted to write but every time I started, my mind would come back to this book. I thought the concept of relating comic stories and characters was a unique and compelling idea and I realized that I needed to write about everything that happened in my life before I could move on to other projects. During the course of writing this book, I was injured at work and suffered nerve damage in my arm. Writing seems the best career path and with all due humility, I’m good at it.

I’ve started the kickstarter project after being told by a few literary agents that first time authors need to write manuscripts of 100,000 words or less. My book is twice that and then some. So this seemed the next logical step. Once the book is out there I’m sure it will be well received by anyone NOT named Levitz, Didio or Carlin.

About Rich Johnston

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

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