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McDaniel Responds on Static Shock

Posting on his website, Scott McDaniel has responded to the comments made by John Rozum regarding the behind the scenes happenings of Static Shock and the reasons for that title's failure. Rozum's comments painted the picture that he had been marginalized as the series writer and much of the blame for Static Shock's shortcoming fell on McDaniel and editor Harvey Richards. McDaniel has a different perspective on the matter and shares it in a lengthy post on his site.

"We found ourselves embroiled in petty arguments concerning dialogue. I thought his dialogue was overly wordy, passive and weak. He thought my dialogue was obtuse and clunky. Ahh, Crom, those were some days!

I am ashamed to admit to being provoked by the situation. I crafted most of the key characters, story points and conflicts, and he scribbles a few lines of dialogue. And along the way, he reminds me that he was the writer of the critically-acclaimed XOMBI series, as if I had forgotten his numerous previous reminders. It was maddening, for me and for him. I think at some point Harvey added a flak jacket to his expense report."

McDaniel's full post is well worth the read if you are at all interested in what happened with Static Shock or the behind the scenes operations of DC when it came to the New 52 relaunches.

In summary, McDaniel describes a scenario in which a creative team almost immediately could not get on the same page. He defends his role in the writing process by explaining he was invited into it by the editor Harvey Richards due to Rozum not satisfying many of Richards' concerns. Pressure was on after the weak performance of Static Shock's first issue, and Richards did not view Rozum as being responsive enough to the changes he believed were needed to keep the book alive. McDaniel, however, was more in line with Richards' beliefs. This created a dynamic where it seemed the creators were pitted against each other, and the point at which it seems the working relationship between McDaniel and Rozum completely deteriorated was when Rozum allegedly ridiculed McDaniel's idea that Static attend a S.T.A.R. Labs charter school rather than be a S.T.A.R. Labs intern.

"I suggested to John and Harvey that we make the "Dwayne G. McDuffie Center for Science and Mathematics" a charter school, entirely funded and staffed by S.T.A.R. Labs employees, as a way to give back to the community, bringing excellence in math and science to the urban inner city community of Harlem. It was great - we could bring the S.T.A.R. Labs to Virgil, and keep Virgil surrounded by a fun, youthful supporting cast.

This is important, and it rings like a bell in my memory: John literally laughed out loud at this idea, and muttered something like "that's ridiculous" as he laughed."

McDaniel also disputes the notion that Rozum was blameless. He claims Rozum was stubborn in the face of Static Shock's poor sales outlook and didn't cooperate with attempts to make the book more interesting and exciting. He calls out Rozum's script drafts for issue four as being a major problem.

"SOMETHING must be wrong. This surely isn't the masterful, compelling, tightly woven story I was expecting. It was a bit ragged, kind of slow, and kind of confusing. And he had two months to get this together."

As I said, it's a lengthy post. But it is definitely an interesting one.

Personally, I am inclined to belief both parties. I think both McDaniel and Rozum are genuinely relating to us their perspectives on what happened behind the scenes of Static Shock. There are no sides to take here. It is easy to understand how Rozum could feel his role as writer was intruded upon, but it is also easy to understand why and how McDaniel got more involved on the writing side of the equation. DC just put together a creative team that could not function as a team. That's not a judgment on any of the individual creators involved.

But that's also not to say none deserve any blame for the failure of Static Shock. The truth is that they all share it. Despite having different ideas of what Static Shock should be, none of them had the right idea. McDaniel, Rozum and Richards all contributed to Static Shock #1 reading like issue #61 of a convoluted series that no longer knew what to do with its main character. They were united in their decision that preserving all the minutia of Static's continuity was a better way to honor Dwayne McDuffie than successfully introducing Static as a DC character. They decided what DC needed was another action-packed, high science black hero to go along with Mr. Terrific, Cyborg, Steel and Firestorm. Rozum had it right. Static Shock was not really a good book.

I do really like that charter school idea, though. Shame about that. I guess I'll read Ultimate Spider-Man.


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