“A Long Story Not Short” – Michael Davis, From The Edge

Untitled-1Michael Davis is the co-founder of Milestone Comics and a current graphic novelist. He runs The Black Panel at San Diego Comic Con. And he now writes a weekly column for Bleeding Cool.

I was going to write ‘The Top Ten Black Superheroes Created By Black People” as a bookend to my article “The Top Ten Black Superheroes Created By White Guys and Louise Simonson.”

“Oh no!” said the millions of readers of Bleeding Cool and the 5 fans of mine. “Oh no! Did I miss a Michael Davis opus? I must have, for try as I might, I can’t seem to find that article on Bleeding Cool! Did Rich receive hate mail and then take it down, for fear that Tyrone Cash fans would attempt to clone a real-life Tyrone Cash who would plan a drive-by (because that’s how a Black scientist, who gains the power of the Hulk, yet retains his intellect only to become a drug dealer, would try and kill the founder and head writer of Bleeding Cool – not with his Hulk-like strength, or by building a death ray or some other evil Lex Luthor, Doctor Doom, or Mad Thinker style way of trying to kill someone with his vastly superior intellect!)

“NO! Tyrone Cash will be in an Escalade with spinning rims, driven by one of his boys, and spray Rich with Geoff Darrow-like bullets from a Geoff Darrow-UZI. That must be the reason ‘The Top Ten Black Superheroes Created By White Guys and Louise Simonson’ can’t be found on Bleeding Cool! Oh, I do so hope that Rich escapes the evil drive-by plot by one of the stupidest, stereotypical Black characters ever created!” said some of the millions of Bleeding Cool fans.

Well, “The Top Ten Black Superheroes Created By White People and Louise Simonson” is a companion article to this one, and you didn’t miss it, IF you read my weekly column at Comicmix every Tuesday (unless I miss a deadline because I’m Black, and sometimes I like to sleep in, but only on days ending with “Y” do I slumber lazily).

Yes, I’ve broken the unwritten rule of mentioning a competing site on its competitor’s site. It’s a stupid rule, unwritten or not, for a few reasons.

Comicmix & Bleeding Cool are two separate animals. Coke and Pepsi are both colas, and kind of taste the same, so when you order a Coke at a restaurant, 99 times out of 100 you say “yes” if your server asks if Pepsi is okay. That’s because they’re both good-tasting colas. Anyone who says “Pepsi? God, no! It’s much too sweet!” is an idiot. The truth is whatever comes out of that tap will not taste exactly like Coke or Pepsi in a can, so who give a shit. Unlike Coke and Pepsi, Bleeding Cool & Comicmix are both pop culture websites, but if you go to Bleeding Cool and your server says “Is Comicmix OK?” the answer is “fuck no.” The same is true the other way around – if you’re looking for Comicmix and your server asks “Is Bleeding Cool okay?” the answer again is “fuck no.” Why?

Because the sites are as different as Playboy & Hustler. Both magazines feature butt-naked women, but it’s the way they feature them that clearly defines them. You don’t have to see the name of the magazine to know what photo belongs where.

Men read Playboy, but they look at Hustler. Being interviewed by Playboy is something you include in your bio or resume – it carries a bit of prestige. If Hustler interviews you, then you do so under an alias, unless you like the idea of your words of wisdom being accompanied by the distinct sound of sticky paper being pried or ripped apart.

No, neither Comicmix or Bleeding Cool are being compared to Playboy or Hustler, it’s just an example of same media and same subjects on dissimilar sites with distinctive points of views.

Got it? Cool (bleeding cool), let’s move on.

I’m asked the following question all the time when I lecture: what’s the difference between a bio and a resume? The answer is one’s a short biography of your career, and the other’s a description of your work history. On the surface they seem very similar, but they are worlds apart.

In a nutshell, people who are reading your resume, YOU called.

People who are reading your bio CALLED you.

Don’t try sending your bio to EA Games right after your college graduation. I don’t care if you’ve had a job since the paper route when you were 12. That is NOT biographical material because that’s nowhere near a distinguished career. In fact, that’s not even a career — that’s your employment history. So unless at 12 you founded and are editor-in-chief of that paper you’re delivering, it has a circulation of thousands, and you were on Oprah’s “Genius-Ass Kids Who Will Most Likely Blow Their Brains Out At 25” show, then you are writing a resume, buddy.

Like I said at the top of this article, I was going to write that companion piece about Black superheroes created by Black creators. Actually, it’s written for the most part, but it’s really long, so I was debating whether or not I should make it a two-part series or simply remove all the Tyrone Cash references, thus editing the 20-page piece down to 3, but THEN DC announced they were moving to LA, and I decided to write about that!

That’s big news, and as a responsible journalist — don’t laugh, I actually belong to NABJ (that’s the National Organization of Black Journalists), or at least I did. I’d better check my status. It’s been a while since I’ve been an attendee at any events and annual conferences…or paid dues.

Ahem, anyway, like any responsible journalist, I thought it was my duty to give my insight regarding what is huge industry news. That, and I like saying “I told you so” loudly and often. When Disney bought Marvel, I predicted in an article that Paul Levitz would no longer be DC’s publisher, the DC New York office would close, and publishing would move to Los Angeles by 2016. Man, I had a ball writing that, and it’s always good to say “Me, right – you, stupid,” to the people who dared to doubt my Nostradamus-like powers.

By the way, Comic Con is never, ever leaving San Diego.

But I’m not posting that article either.

Because what I’m going to write about is more important (at least to me) than my Black List or DC’s move (that I predicted!), and I think if you grant me a few more moments of your time, I think you may also see that it’s important.

Here’s the deal — love me or hate me, you cannot deny my accomplishments in the entertainment industry, particularly what I’ve done in comics.

You smell that? That’s me. I’m THE SHIT.

That line will not make any sense to you if you are:

  1. Not Black
  2. Not hip
  3. Not cool
  4. The creator of Tyrone Cash

It’s inner city slang for “I’m all that and bag of chips.” THAT’S old-school inner city slang for “I’m REALLY good at what I do.”

How good?

Michael Ovitz (Google him, but long story short: he is one of the two greatest agents ever) told me if I took 5% of every artist, writer, photographer, designer, etc. I ever mentored, from deals I’ve set up for them, phone calls and introductions I’ve made, or relationships for which I was completely or somewhat responsible, I’d be a millionaire ten times over. He then asked me why I don’t manage and represent people as a business, and not as a favor.

“I can’t stand the sight of blood.”

“I don’t follow. What does blood have to do with management?”

“I’m just thinking of all the people I’d have to stab in the back.”

This conversation was taking place at Ovitz’s completely glass-enclosed conference room at his management company. There were 6 people besides Ovitz and I at that meeting. Not one person laughed until Ovitz did.

I mentioned Michael Ovitz was one of the two greatest agents ever. The other was Jay Bernstein. Google him too, but long story short: the term “starmaker” originated with Jay Bernstein, and that is not an exaggeration. How big was Jay Bernstein? He’s the only person to have two — count them — two “True Hollywood Stories” done on him.

Think about that for a second. His career in Hollywood was so huge that they needed 2 episodes to tell it. Everyone else got one. EVERYONE.

Steven Spielberg, one, Marilyn Monroe, one, Howard Hughes, one — get the picture? Jay told me I was one of best deal makers he’d ever seen, and he meant it. How I knew he meant it was one of his clients was Mickey Spillane, creator of Mike Hammer. I mentioned to Jay how much I loved Mike Hammer.

“It’s yours. I’m giving you a year’s option for…a dollar.”

I thought he was drunk, lying, or high, or I was drunk, dreaming, or high. That very afternoon he sent the paperwork to my office. I sold it as an animated series, and later also sold a show called Starmaker (think American Idol but with actors), for which Jay was executive producer and host. Both shows were hot at Showtime and Cartoon Network respectively, then they weren’t.

And THAT, boys and girls, is everything you need to know about the television business.

Some of the biggest names in comics have come out of my studio — trust me. I’d name them, but why waste another “look how great I am” article? And before I get those “wow, this guy is sure full of himself,” comments, consider this: I’ve never taken a dime from anyone whose career I’ve had a hand in shaping.

I’m about the talent, I’m about granting access, and I’m about making sure young, and at times not-so-young, gifted people get a shot.

Above all, I’m about business. The Comicmix and Bleeding Cool comparisons, the bio and resume contrast, and the Jay Bernstein and Michael Ovitz anecdotes were all about business and how it’s done, or rather how I do it.

Here’s a tip: my first rule of business is:

HAVE.

A.

GOAL.

My goal in this long-ass (to some, I’m sure, is nothing but a self-serving) rant?

Allison.

Allison is the incredibly talented young woman I met at an art store yesterday. This girl is one of the most talented young artists I have ever seen, and I’ve seen thousands upon thousands of artists. She’s also funny, smart, and a bit of a pill.

The industry needs talent like hers, and I wrote all of this to underscore that point to her.

So yes, Allison, I was serious about your work. I expect great things from you, whether or not I have anything to do with your career path.

By the way, you really need to change a certain something on your Facebook page if you’re going to play with the big boys. I think it’s funny, but I also laugh at old people when they fall, that’s just me.

About Rich Johnston

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

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