You know, I talk a lot of smack about a lot of people. So when someone does something classy, I have to mention it and salute them. I've already extended some sympathy points to Rob Liefeld. Can't stand the guy or his artwork, but when Yellow Hat Guy tried to humiliate him, he reacted with a lot of restraint and humor. It would make me a terrible person if I didn't acknowledge something like that.
And today, I must salute another person I really don't think much of: John Byrne.
I'm not going to rehash my complaints about Byrne, because it is very easy for me to fall into trash talk about the guy. He has fantastic talent, but his personality is very toxic and self-righteous. Which makes this story even more surprising to me, and why I have to tip my hat to this act of genuine class.
First, the background: in 2006, a Doctor Strange fan named Gerry Turnbull decided to commission a sketch. It was from Michael Golden, who has done lots of classic work, including Rom The Space Knight, Micronauts, and Doctor Strange. Turnbull went through Golden's agent and paid $500 cash up front for a Doctor Strange commission. He was told it would take six weeks.
Took lots longer than that.
Turnbull sent e-mails and called, asking about the status of his commission. Meanwhile, Golden was still hitting conventions and doing other commissions.
Finally, after ten months, the $500 commission from Golden arrived. And it looked like this:
If you click to enlarge, you'll see it says "Patience is a virtue virue". Talk about an insult. Golden has gone on message boards defending his actions. "Mr. Turnbull's account of events regarding the art he received is, in-and-of-itself, reasonably accurate, as far as I'm aware. He does take some liberties with a few specifics, however. He requested an inked SKETCH of Dr. Strange on 11X17 art board, period. Finished, cover-quality commissions started, at the time, at 2K. The price agreed to was based on my then-current pencil sketch rate multiplied by his request to have it inked and tweaked a bit more than the usual fare I was obliged to generate at conventions. He (and several of his associates) then proceeded to publicly trash, insult, make slanderous insinuations, and even threaten legal action against me (via LEI) if I didn't basically drop what I was doing and deliver the work he (they) demanded," and "What Mr. Turnbull received is an inked sketch, just shy of a finished drawing. It is clearly and unquestionably the character, Dr. Strange. It is Mr. Turnbull's right to be dissatisfied with the work, but to base that dissatisfaction on the fact that I drew the character enveloped in his cape speaks to his agenda, not mine. Perhaps Mr. Turnbull should request characters that don't wear capes. That Mr. Turnbull takes exception to a portion of the character being in heavy, dramatic shadow may suggest that he is unaware that such rendering is intrinsic and maybe even necessary to depicting this particular character in the context of mood and impact." Thanks for being upfront about what he was going to get. It's truly worth $500 for that when, because of the vagueness of the commission request, you could have just done a stick figure with some Doctor Strange embelishments.
Well, word got around (I heard the story last year and my jaw dropped). But I didn't hear the part about Byrne's involvement.
Byrne heard the story and saw the finished artwork.
He got Turnbull's address.
He created a Doctor Strange piece (full figure, background, inked), worth far more than $500 and sent it to Turnbull.
Not a dime. Nyet. Nien. Nothing.
Gets better. I haven't tracked down the name yet, but supposedly another pro convinced Turnbull to give him the sketch. The pro then colored the piece professionally and sent it back without charging a dime, not for shipping, not for time, nothing.
All as a gesture of friendship and an apology on behalf of professionalism.
So, much as I might not like to do it, I have give mad props to John Byrne and the colorist for doing right when they had no reason to be involved. It's nice to see humanity still exists somewhere in the world, and in places you don't expect.