For a long time, there was a Brother Man poster, from the comic of the same name, hanging in my office at Milestone.
That book was, and still is, one of the greatest comics ever done. Not just of greatest “Black” comics, but greatest comics PERIOD, ever done.
Over the last few days I’ve been on a mission. That mission was to stop a point of view from becoming fact. That “point of view” was the accusation that Milestone’s business plan was in fact stolen from the people who created Brother Man.
It wasn’t. Milestone had been published for almost a year before the “theft” was said to have taken place.
Unless Denys Cowan, Dwayne McDuffie, Christopher Priest, Derek Dingle, and I were all Warlocks and Time Travelers, the task of stealing said business plan was impossible.
Perhaps one of the other partners at Milestone (most likely Dwayne — if ANYONE could build a time machine it would have been him) was a time traveler, but I assure you, stealing business plans would be the last thing on my to-do list if I had a time machine.
My objectives for traveling back in time:
1. Buy a shitload of Google stock
2. Buy a shitload of Microsoft stock
3. Buy a shitload of Apple stock.
4. Prevent Ted Cruz’s parents from meeting.
I don’t have a time machine, but what I do have are records of just about every important document I’ve ever sent, received, signed, or just read. Not to mention personal journals that goes back to high school.
When I write about something from my past, it’s not just my memory I’m relying on. If that was the case, the following is a good example of what that would look like:
I met Deny Cowan in the 80’s at either Marvel or DC Comics, or perhaps a brothel. Later we started Milestone, and now we are both have Inkpot awards, or just inkpots.
That’s an exaggeration, but not by much.
A few months ago, I was told my friend Lee died. Later, I found out Lee was still very much alive, but the night I thought he was murdered I was beyond devastated, got drunk, and wrote an article about Lee which was 100% from memory and 100% true.
I wrote about how Lee stopped this guy from stabbing me by taking away his knife and cold cocking him. That did happen, but it wasn’t Lee who took the knife and cold cocked the guy — it was a dear friend named Duane who I haven’t seen or (and this hurts to admit) thought about in decades.
That memory was so strong, it wasn’t until I was looking for something else in a journal that I realized it wasn’t Lee but Duane when rereading the entry. Up until that moment, I could have and would have sworn it was Lee.
I ended up getting stabbed in the leg that night, and surely, if not for Duane I would have been stabbed again. But the truth is the truth, and no matter how bad I want to be able to tell the story of how my oldest friend GOT me stabbed in the first place when next we see each other, I can’t because it didn’t happen.
Milestone comics starter series
Not to worry Lee — I still have the “it’s a thin line between jail and bait” story.
With the vast amount of business paper trail and journals I have, running a date by me is akin to taking a lie detector test with one huge exception: what I have can be used in court. Memory is a funny thing, and so are some “friends.” Many people who I thought were real friends “liked” on Facebook the accusation that Milestone’s business plan was stolen from the people behind Brother Man.
People have been telling me for days that I’m overreacting.
Some said my reaction was parallel to responding to a flea when I’m an elephant. I was asked over and over again, why was I going buck wild over this? Those questions irritated the shit out of me, except the one Jason Scott asked: “What in your mind will it take for this to be squashed and no longer require a response?”
A public apology, which we didn’t get. What we got was an acknowledgement from Brother Man that I had “corrected” him on some things.
If he said Milestone came out in 1995, and I said no it was 1993, THAT’S a correction.
What was said was we stole Brother Man’s business plan. That didn’t or couldn’t have happened. I didn’t “correct” him, I told the truth.
Why was I so angry?
No one gets to call into question my integrity and walk away, like this is in high school.
What EVERYBODY is missing, or just doesn’t seem to care about, is the truth.
Who says what about you matters.
Ted Cruz asking to see Obama’s birth certificate and calling into question Obama’s right to be President is one thing. That f******* idiot is only reaching other f******* idiots.
Now, imagine if you will, Colin Powell or Bill Clinton calling into question Obama’s birth certificate and his right to hold the Presidency.
Now imagine they do it tomorrow.
Now imagine NO response from Obama.
Brother Man is one of the great success stories in Black Comic History, and it deserves to be. That book is simply brilliant, and the respect the creators have in the Black Comic space is damn near biblical.
So when the creators of Brother Man speak to something, people listen and with nary a second thought, believe.
Once the original post went up, the sentence written over and over and OVER in the comments was “Thank you for setting the record straight.”
Why was I so angry?
I’ve had lunch to discuss business with Richard Parsons. I’ve spent an afternoon with Bob Johnson in his suite at The Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Hills, doing the same. Clarence Avant sent me two first class tickets to Los Angeles to meet with me on Ron Sweeney’s advise. Before he died, I met with Don Cornelius and was chosen to write his biography.
Rosamond Bernier called ME her inspiration when talking to kids, and she did that in print.
Jay Bernstein gave me the option on Mike Hammer for a dollar and called me the best dealmaker he ever met.
The Gordon Parks Academy named its auditorium “The Michael Davis Auditorium.” Shit, you think that happened because I drew Shado?
I doubt very seriously if every name I just dropped is familiar to most readers, but being in business with any one of them is an a honor and a privilege.
Reputation is EVERYTHING to people at that level.
This isn’t high school or the hood, where you can talk smack about anyone and then laugh about it later.
I’m in a serious business run by serious people.
Words at this level have very real consequences, and the wrong ones could destroy a life’s work. Even if proven to be untrue, it never goes away. The greatest entertainer in the history of the world will always be a child molester to many people, even when there was LESS than zero proof and only the words of a young boy put up to it by his disgusting mother.
I don’t even have to mention his name — everyone knows who I’m talking about.
That’s what words did to him. And he had the means to fight it. Yet still, there is a shadow over his legacy, and as such the Beatles still have a hold over the greatest thing to happen to popular music because those white boys never got accused of anything as damning as raping a child.
Don’t get me wrong — a bigger Beatles fan than me would be hard to find. But hundreds of years from now, when historians ask the question, “Who was the greatest influence in popular music?” the King of Pop will lose on a technicality, on a lie, spun for no other reason than to make a buck.
If you are to be introduced into the level of power of those to whom I’ve been fortunate to be allowed access, the first thing done regarding you is due-diligence, which may include a serious background check.
Words like thief and liar have real meaning at that level.
Dismiss this as just another Michael Davis self-promoting line of bull**** if you like, and I know some will, but consider this — who do you know that can book 60 hotel rooms two days before Comic Con, in downtown A-list hotels?
Give that a thought for a moment.
It’s not about hotel rooms, or even Comic Con, and if you’re in the entertainment industry and think that’s all it is, then you’re a f******* amateur compared to me. And that’s me being kind when I call you that.
It’s about relationships with people at a level where something like that is possible. If you have to google any of the names on the list above, with the possible exception of Rosamond Bernier, who I admit is a bit off the beaten path of popular culture heavyweights, then you are not ready for the primetime I’m already in. That’s not bravado nor bullshit — that’s the real world of corporate America, the entertainment industry, and the difference between making dinner or making reservations.
If you’ve seen my Facebook rants, you know I alleged what was being said about Milestone were simply lies. I’m not saying that anymore, not because I don’t think it’s true, but because the Brother Man crew deserves at least the benefit of the doubt — although we at Milestone were afforded little, and some of my “friends” offered no support, but “liked” what was being said.
So, the “point of view” expressed by Brother Man was inaccurate, and my thanks to them for acknowledging that.
Unless it’s announced that Static Shock was created by them but lost in a poker game (in which Milestone cheated), I’m done.
It pains me that so many people assume Milestone tried and succeeded in pilfering the hard work of another Black company. It pains me more that a Milestone / Brother Man collaboration will most likely never happen now, and that really blows because, God help me, I love that book.
That said, given the chance to sit down with them, I’m there. Yeah, I can’t believe I said that either. I’m trying really hard not to be the dick I’m capable of being. A dick, by the way, is what I’d be called for taking this to a level that involves the words “cease,” “desist,” or “damages.” This is no idle threat — I don’t make those. I’m also trying hard not to judge too harshly or wrongly (I was wrong…once) the people I consider friends who “liked” the accusation in its original post. For all I know, they were liking the essence of what was said, or…nope. That’s just bull****. I’m trying not to dwell on what reason they liked the post, or why none of them, who liked the post, gave at least a “Hey, can you be mistaken?” in the comments.
So I’ll let that shit go too. Some will still think I’m being a dick, but if I was being a dick, this article would run in my weekly column at Bleeding Cool and my weekly column at ComicMix. Sure, some people are going to forward this when I post it on Facebook, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the golden shower of public scrutiny those sites generate. I may be naive and full of hope, but somehow I feel this will stay mostly between the Black comic book community on Facebook and related sites.
Lastly, I’m heartbroken that there are people that would believe something so horrible about Denys, Priest, Derek, or myself, but I’m going to let that go. We four are a part of Milestone, as our friend & partner Dwayne McDuffie was, and in our hearts always will be.
Who would have believed Dwayne McDuffie would take part in something, even if possible, so atrocious?
After the universal outpouring of well-deserved love and respect from all (but especially the Black Comics community) when he passed from this world, who among you would follow and co-sign, like sheep, accusations that Dwayne was a liar and a thief?
Dwayne, who did whatever he could to uplift the Black Comics community?
No one, not Denys, Derek, Priest, or myself, was more Milestone than Dwayne.
Soiling his work, name, and legacy in a blind frenzy without the slightest consideration that what was being said was untrue is unforgivable, and the very definition of what I think it means to be a nigger.
If you’re not there, you just won’t get it. Don’t start none, and there won’t be none.
Make Mine Milestone.
There you have it guys, both sides of the story, we can now put this story to bed and as Michael Davis put it, look forward to a collaboration of some kind between these two titans in the field of Black Super-heroics.