Just under two years removed from her critically-acclaimed Mockingbird run, Chelsea Cain received word earlier this week that her second title for the House of Ideas — a mini-series featuring The Vision and his daughter Viv — had been abruptly canceled.
Suffice to say, the writer was shocked at the move. Although announced just a few months ago at this summer's San Diego Comic-Con, Cain's The Vision was something that's been in the works for years.
“I was offered the gig in July of 2016,” Cain told Entertainment Weekly. “At that point, Mockingbird had been (stealth) canceled after issue #3, but I had been asked not to make that public until the eighth issue had been published. They were allowing us to finish out the arc. Tom King’s marvelous run on Vision was still coming out, but he had left Marvel and signed an exclusive with DC, so Marvel obviously knew it was wrapping up."
"I was asked to tell a Vision story that focused on Vision and his teenage daughter, Viv, who, at the time, had just been introduced into the Marvel Universe. I pitched the idea of my husband co-writing it with me. Marc is a writer, and we once co-wrote an illustrated book called Does This Cape Make Me Look Fat? Pop Psychology for Superheroes. Also, we have a teenage daughter. So Marc brings a unique authority to the subject matter.”
By the time her run on Mockingbird had ended, Cain and her co-writing husband Marc Mohan had been been pretty far into the mini-series. In fact, they had already submitted the script for the first issue a year ago.
"By the time Mockingbird ended publicly and Twitter exploded, Marc and I were already working on The Vision. We spent months outlining and negotiating contracts and researching," revealed Cain. "We submitted an outline for the whole first arc. By September of 2017 — one year ago — we submitted the script for #1. By December we had an artist attached, the amazing Aud Koch, and editorial feedback, and we were off to the races."
"We’ve been working solidly for the last six months. The first three issues are inked. The first issue is colored. They all have amazing cover art. The series was announced in July. And officially solicited about a month ago. They put it in Previews. They advertised it. Why go through all of that, just to pull the plug?”
Cain and Mohan have a 13-year-old daughter, a fact they said they had been drawing on heavily for the mini-series.
The Mockingbird alum continued by expressed her thoughts on the peculiar working relationships in the comics industry. Instead of being actual employees of a comics publisher, most creators by-and-large are simply freelancers with very limited power when it comes to the properties they help develop.
After the cancellation of The Vision was made public, Cain took to Twitter to say "I want you to know that I am being truthful and transparent because most comic book freelancers can't be. I am loud, for all of them."
She explained those sentiments with EW.
“The comic book industry is made up of freelancers. I think a lot of readers don’t understand the extent of that reality,” Cain expanded. “Certainly any comic book by Marvel or DC, those are the work of freelancers: Colorists, inkers, pencilers, letterers, cover artists, and writers. The editors work for the company. The freelancers don’t. Maybe some of them have exclusive contracts, which means that they get a little bit more money per page, and absolutely no benefits or protections, plus they don’t get to work for anyone else — but basically, every comic you pick up has been made by someone without health insurance. But these freelancers are still expected to behave like employees. They are told what to say and when to say it… I’ve said it before, but this whole industry is a class-action lawsuit waiting to happen. It’s astonishing.”
Because of this relationship, Cain — for the lack of a better phrase — was essentially on her own when the anti-Mockingbird harassment campaign targeted her on Twitter.
"Marvel put me through a lot with Mockingbird. I faced that with zero institutional protections,' Cain revealed. "All along, I tried to be a part of positive change from the inside — silent change, because I literally was told I couldn’t breathe a word of the project. ‘Hold tight,’ they kept saying. ‘Hold tight. It breaks my heart. Because I think it sends a terrible message. And I love this brand. And I love these guys. And I love comics.”