With the Birds of Prey movie months away from release, it has placed a spotlight on the comic and its genesis. The characters — Barbara Gordon, Black Canary, and later Huntress — weren’t new but a creator, sometimes a team, gets credit for the book.
A quick Google search comes up with comic writer Chuck Dixon as the main, if not sole, creator of Birds of Prey. However, if you dig deeper and look at that original Birds of Prey comic book, you will discover that the associate editor on the book Jordan Gorfinkel conceived of the team dynamic and pitched it to Chuck Dixon to write.
Dixon clarified this and other matters on his YouTube channel. He talked about the history between himself and Gorfinkel at DC Comics and how Birds of Prey came about.
Birds of Prey Comic
Initially, Gorfinkel was the one who pitched it, said Dixon:
“The Birds of Prey comic was the brainchild of Jordan B. Gorfinkel who was an editor at DC who I worked with frequently…He came up with the idea that Black Canary and Oracle would make a great team and should have their own book.”
It was an idea Gorfinkel couldn’t let go of. He approached Dixon “over and over again for almost a year to help him develop” it. Dixon was skeptical and didn’t see there being any interest after Oracle and Black Canary’s respective books were canceled.
That wouldn’t stop Gorfinkel, or “Gorf,” though:
“Gorf wasn’t taking no for an answer. He wasn’t even taking maybe for an answer. He wasn’t even taking ‘I’ll talk to you about this later’ for an answer. He just kept after me and eventually I relented [laughs].”
He may not have gotten it at first but when DC was sold Dixon came around “within six or eight pages of the first script I got it,” he said, “I saw what he saw.”
“I saw the chemistry between Black Canary and Oracle. Black Canary, a leap-before-you-look kind of reckless, a little bit broken, lives in contrast with Barbara Gordon, Oracle, former Bat-Girl, was anything but a leap-before-you-look type. She needed all the intel…before she did anything… She was a chess player and…Black Canary was a Twister player.
What also made the book was Black Canary didn’t know who she was working for until about three years in. Dixon loved that part and so did readers:
“That gimmick paid off in spades. The comic readers love that… We went from the initial one shot to another one shot to a miniseries to another one shot, and finally to a monthly. The monthly ran for 10 years or more possibly.”
His initial run on Birds of Prey lasted from January 1999 to April 2009. Dixon calls that remarkable for a book about “two female badasses fighting crime.” Successful “female-centric books” were rare at the time.
Birds of Prey in Movies
Dixon then brings his video to the Birds of Prey movie and his primary purpose for the above vlog. He believes Warner Bros. will make millions and he hears he will receive credit for creating the book:
“I’ve been informed by reliable sources I will be named in the end credits…probably after the cat wranglers and the guy who did Marvel movies’ eye make-up, but I’ll be listed.”
Due to DC’s arbitrary rules and politics, Dixon expects Gorfinkel won’t be listed. Said Dixon, who calls Gorfinkel “the true creator”:
“Why is he missing? Because DC Comics has these weird rules about things and they’re rules that they made up. They’re not rules that if you break them the FBI is gonna bust the door down. Nobody cares about these rules but them. And one of the rules is, if you’re on staff, which Gorf was — he was an editor — and you create something, you don’t get acknowledged. You don’t get credit, you don’t get cash, you get nothing.”
Dixon says Gorfinkel won’t be acknowledged despite thinking up Birds of Prey, pitching it, and bringing it up in editorial meetings constantly before getting the go-ahead. And he won’t receive any residuals from the film’s box office. Neither will Dixon as he points out:
“He created it, I developed it. We’re not gonna see a dime out of it…because we didn’t create the characters in the book, we only created the group they belong to, DC sees this as merely, you know, musical chairs. We just sort of rearranged things they already had in place.”
Everything essentially belongs to them and that has been a problem for Dixon and other creators for years, and Dixon has been sounding the alarm:
“They do not acknowledge that we are owed anything, either credit or any kind of a remuneration and that’s wrong and that’s part of what I am ringing a warning bell about…multinational entertainment conglomerates not acknowledging the work…comic book freelancers put into this.”
He goes on to say companies make “tens of billions” at the box office and Wal-mart and Target through the tie-in products — “tchotchkes and beach towels and whatever the hell they put these characters on,” says Dixon.
He concluded, saying his main concern was recognition for Gorfinkel:
“This is only gonna get worse but…I just want my buddy Gorf to get the credit that is due to him…he is…because I’m talking to you folks. You’re nerds, you’re geeks just like and you’re gonna remember this story… You’re gonna remember that Jordan B. Gorfinkel created Birds of Prey because I’m telling you. I was there.”
Birds of Prey is out Feb. 7, 2020. Chuck Dixon is not calling for a boycott of the movie.