- Posted by Johanna on May 13, 2006 at 6:46 pm
- Category: Comic News
What company representative Chuck Satterlee calls “setting the record straight”, I call “spinning faster than a centrifuge”.
That article on Markosia is fascinating, revealing that the company hired as Editor-in-Chief a guy who’d just closed his own publisher, reportedly leaving some creators unpaid. (Wouldn’t that raise questions as to why and whether he knows how to run a comic business? Then again, some people do work better for others than for themselves.) Markosia picked up his titles, from APC Comics, and then a bunch of books from Speakeasy, which, fair or not, gave them the perception of a lifeboat for a sinking ship, a second (or lower) choice for many of their titles.
Then it turns out that they were spending money they didn’t have — “a European investment group” quit making promised payments, which led Chuck to say:
“We had made agreements for creators to come to Markosia and we had made some generous arrangements for pay, all because we were flush with cash and had a good financial future — or so we thought.”
The company found a new investor. They persist in calling him a “silent partner”, which demonstrates that they don’t know what that means, since the first thing that happened after was demands to renegotiate contracts. A silent partner puts up money without having any say; this guy, in contrast, seems to have most of the power now.
“[The silent partner] has taken a long, hard look at the books and has decided that, while creators are currently given a page rate in advance of publication, we can no longer offer that and the contracts that are current will have to be re-negotiated,” said Satterlee. “This applies to creator owned books and not to licensed properties. The new deal will give the creator options. Regardless of the option, there is still a mandatory ancillary rights deal in place.”
That’s not a renegotiation — that’s a good reason for creators to leave. Saying “we can’t keep paying you what we promised” is NOT a healthy sign. In some circles, it would even be called “welshing”. Once a publisher is willing to break its contracts, for whatever good and necessary reason, it becomes much easier for them to do it again in future, and next time, the reason may not be so understandable or necessary.
As Steven Grant has been asking so frequently these days, if the publisher isn’t putting up any money up front and isn’t doing anything that the creator can’t do themselves, why bother working with them? At that link, Grant goes into much more detail about the risks of outside investors and, picking up on that bit about “ancillary rights”, how foolhardy hoping for movie money is.
… it’s time for a general strike against comics companies that demand all media rights to properties without paying any money for them … If they don’t want to put up money for the work, media rights shouldn’t even be part of the discussion. … If a company insists on media rights without guaranteeing some sort of pay for either the publishable work or the rights, it translates into two things.
1) They don’t have faith in their ability to make money from publishing comics. And there’s no reason talent should put faith in them either.
2) They’re pinning their hopes on selling movie options and getting films or TV shows made, which means they don’t realize just how deflated Hollywood option money is these days, and they don’t grasp what a crapshoot Hollywood really is, on so many levels.
Satterlee responds to Grant’s piece in, of all places, a Newsarama comment thread following a Markosia press release (link no longer available). It’s very very wordy but boils down to “I’m going to keep ignoring details other point out and redefining things to suit myself and loudly saying things are fine.” He’s very ungracious about being corrected, even when he admits his mistakes; he’s eager to insult those who disagree with him; he copies other people’s articles without their permission; and he apparently believes that simply repeating himself will change people’s minds about the company he works for. But this is the killer quote:
We do have very little faith in a comic book producing a good amount of profit from the comic book direct market. This is true. And quite frankly, any small press looking to make a killing in single issues and trades in solely the direct comic book market is kidding themselves.
Maybe they should trying making a small amount instead of trying to “make a killing”? Or maybe they should just get out of a business they have no faith in?
(The rest of the first page of that thread is a bunch of Markosia creators being negative about people who are negative about their books. If we shouldn’t form any opinion about any comic before seeing it, why do they need any PR at all?)