- Posted by Johanna on January 26, 2010 at 11:14 am
- Category: Comic News
While considering the active discussion in my post yesterday on Bluewater’s unique financial strategy of considering artist payment an optional expense, to be paid only after they’ve made profit, I found some other interesting links.
It seems that this issue has been bubbling for over a year; in December 2008, Davis posted much of the same justification on a message board, including these excerpts:
The backend deals are not the best deals in the world….but I make sure everyone that signs them knows the risks of them. I make the people ask many questions before I send the contract (and they are binding). Not all the books will make money on the single issues.
… Also know that items posted in message boards are slanderous and can be seen as libel.
It’s always reassuring when a struggling small comic publisher starts legally threatening those who are speaking out against his business methods. Shades of Avatar! Seriously, is “they should know as much about the business as I do” really something to depend on? If that’s the case, why do they need you? Just to pick the next celebrity to cash in on?
Note that promising artists payment on the eventual trade paperback collection only works if you decide to publish such a collection. Here’s a sample contract one artist shared, complete with his story of later contradictions. But wait, it gets more interesting. Last year, a former letterer says that they were lying about their costs and cooking the books:
For the first two books, things went ok. However, on the next four, I had to send invoices up to six times with constant reminders in order to get paid. … After having waited about 6 months to get paid, I walked and stopped doing any work for them. They did eventually pay up, but it took a lot of effort to get them to do so.
During the above situation, someone who’d worked on one of the books that I worked on contacted me to see if I’d been paid. He’d taken a back-end deal and was told that the book hadn’t made any money. … Then he sent me a spreadsheet of expenses and income that he’d been sent from Bluewater and asked me to look over to see if it made sense. I was shocked to find that the cost of lettering was listed at TWICE what I was paid.
Maybe there’s a logical explanation as to why the lettering cost was listed at twice what I was paid, but I can’t think of what it would be. What it looks like, to me, is number fudging.
As for the positive reactions … it’s odd to me that almost everyone I know who reads superhero comics dreams of writing or drawing them one day, but so few of them sympathize with the actual creators. Instead, I’m hearing “well, the publisher takes the risk, so he should make money first” or “it’s ok that I’m working for free because this will bring me closer to that magic day where I’ll be *discovered*”. You are not Lana Turner sitting in a 50s drugstore. If you want to create comics, you should value your work to the extent of either deserving money (or other compensation you find valuable) in return for it or keeping ownership of it. Go read Simon Jones and Tom Spurgeon, who both have more good thoughts on this subject.