Robot 6

Comics A.M. | A call for Disney to remember its roots

Oswald the Rabbit, by Walt Disney

Creators’ rights | Gerry Giovinco points out that the mega-studio that is Walt Disney got its start because Walt signed a bad contract and lost the rights to his creation Oswald the Rabbit. Giovinco calls on Disney, as the parent company of Marvel, to acknowledge and perhaps actually compensate the creators of the products it is marketing: “I can’t believe that a company as wealthy Disney cannot find a way to see the value of the good will that would be generated by establishing some sort of compensation or, at the very least, acknowledgement to the efforts put forth by these creators.” [CO2 Comics Blog]

Digital comics | John Rogers discusses working with Mark Waid on his Thrillbent digital comics initiative. “There are people who are selling enough books to make a living on Amazon, whom you’ve never heard of. Because Amazon made digital delivery cheap and easy. That is what you must do with comics. It’s not hard. The music business already solved this problem. Amazon already solved this problem. It’s not like we’re trying to build a rocketship to the moon out of cardboard boxes. Webcomics guys — and this is kind of the great heresy — solved this problem like ten years ago, using digital distribution then doing print collections and also doing advertising and stuff.” []

From Earth 2 #1

Creators | James Robinson discusses his work on DC Comics’ Earth 2. [USA Today]

Creators | Tom Batiuk talks about the newest story arc in Funky Winkerbean, which features a same-sex couple going to the prom, and about the various controversial topics he has delved into over the years: “Comics alone aren’t going to change things — they can frame the question. But if they can get someone thinking, that’s a good thing.” [USA Today]

Creators | Charles Webb talks to Cursed Pirate Girl creator Jeremy Bastian, who was thinking about Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz when he created his title character: “The difference with CPG is she starts off in the ‘normal world’ where she doesn’t belong and goes to the magical waters of the Omerta Seas to find her rightful place. So yes she’s trying to get ‘home’ but her home is the wonderland. She was raised in a world that she didn’t belong in therefore when she does reach the Omertas she’s still an outsider who’s trying to find a place in ‘her’ world.” [MTV Geek]

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Book One

Creators | Simon Bisley discusses his newest project, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse graphic novels, which tie in to the game and the movie of the same name: “In many cases Michael [Mendheim] was very specific as to what he was looking for — as it had to fit a pretty massive concept that they had already developed and were making into a game and a film, but yet it was still a work in progress — so the work we were doing on the comic needed to match what they had done so far — a lot of which was in my style — but I could still flex quite a bit, especially with the big set pieces/backgrounds. It was a controlled give and take in the end I guess — many parts of the world had been built with me in mind, and I still got to twist a few things to make it more mine — good fun all the way around.” [MTV Geek]

Creators | Between Gears creator Natalie Nourigat talks about her upcoming projects in a video shot at Stumptown. [Stumptown Trade Review]

Darth Vader and Son

Creators | Jeffrey Brown talks about the genesis of Darth Vader and Son, which explores what life would have been like if Darth Vader had actually raised Luke Skywalker. [io9]

Creators | Jeet Heer assembles a roundtable of comics experts to discuss the legacy of Jack Kirby in the context of Charles Hatfield’s new book Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby. This is the first of three parts. [The Comics Journal]

Conventions | ComicsAlliance has a photo roundup of creators at the Stumptown Comics Fest. [Comics Alliance]

Commentary | David Brothers takes a look at James Stokoe’s solution to the problem of depicting Godzilla’s roar. [4thletter!]

Digital comics | Tom Spurgeon has a thoughtful post on what he does and doesn’t want from digital comics — and how his tastes have changed over the years — and he asks the readers for their input, which he will post next week. [The Comics Reporter]

Digital comics | ComiXology has highlighted all the artists it carries who were at the MoCCA Festival this past weekend. [comiXology Blog]

Retailing | The Northern Illinois University paper profiles the two comics shops in DeKalb, Illinois. [Northern Star]




May 1, 2012 at 8:38 am

WOOT-WOOT… Graham Cracker comics @ NIU? I spent soooo much money there…

“I can’t believe that a company as wealthy Disney cannot find a way to see the value of the good will that would be generated by establishing some sort of compensation or, at the very least, acknowledgement to the efforts put forth by these creators.”

That’s arguably the tragedy, not only in the creators’ rights argument but in a loose sense of many of the world’s current problems: the resources to make things better exist. In much of the world, there is no real shortage of food, real estate, furniture, TVs, whatever. There is not even a shortage of money (which is of course not a fixed resource in any important sense, anyway).

And yet this cultural mindset of holding on to as much as possible as tightly as possible, of taking full advantage of every tax loophole while squeezing productivity out of workers for the lowest rates available and ideally going “offshore” to get even lower rates, means that people and organizations with the ability to help adamantly refuse to do so. Even if it would be inconsequentially costly to them, even if it would in fact BENEFIT them as well as others, to do so. They won’t do it.

Apple makes profit margins wider than the state of Nebraska, and could still be very profitable if it weren’t as grasping as Ebenezer Scrooge because it makes wonderful products which people are eager to buy, and yet it still relies on sweatshop labor and tax evasion to avoid giving up one cent which it doesn’t have to. People love Disney and Disney stuff more than their own mother in some cases, and yet Disney fights tooth and nail to keep even its dustiest works, paid off in full ages ago, out of the public domain. And they, including their subsidiary Marvel, will fight tooth and nail rather than giving up a single cent to people who made them rich but committed the terrible sin of signing a work-for-hire contract. Even if the cost of that tooth-and-nail fight will far exceed what anyone would consider a more than generous settlement.

This isn’t even greed so much as the obsessiveness of a compulsive miser. But that’s what’s at work here and what will continue until our culture decides that it’s stupid to behave this way.

That and Disney built an empire on public-domain properties and then turned around and effectively destroyed the public domain.

Funny how this subject comes up on May Day, an appropriate occassion to mull over the pros and cons of our economic system, deliniated in such an appropriate manner by the comics/entertainment industry. As a member of the original gang of four that poked the first thumb into the eye of the majors (I mean the largest independents of the day, Eclipse, Pacific, Comico, and First; not just me, Gerry, Phil and Bill, the creators of Comico) the whole situation echos, of course, the never ending Kirby dilema…I am quoting my views that saw print in the Comics Journal and elsewhere… read it and meet me at the bottom….

“The Kirby situation leaves much to be desired, both on a professional/ legal level, and on a moral level. The fact of the matter is, after you analyze the details, is that Kirby did a lot of the heavy lifting in the early days of the Marvel Universe warehouse/construction site, and Lee supervised from the office.

Lee had the rough “blueprints”, (usually a one or two page synopsis, or phone calls) but Kirby had to put the pieces together into a cohesive product, since, because of deadlines, the “blueprints” were nebulous, open to interpretation and in need of improvement in foundation and detail development.

Hardly a day goes by when you don’t see an undiscovered page from Kirby on the internet, there are reams of them. Each one, even the simplest ones, a well structured feat of creative engineering. It must have ate Kirby up over the years, to see such profits and success, some which should have gone to him and his family, lost to the corporate coffers.

That being said, (and I’m not saying this to kiss up, I’ve done a nice bit of work for DC and other publishers over the years, but Marvel gives me next to nothing) the entity that is Marvel did push and invest in the characters, expand them with other professional creative input, and contribute to the massive commercial goodwill that the properties evolved into. So in that respect we have to acknowledge the other side of the coin. In addition, Lee is no slouch, since Kirby’s genius was so intense it could border on the manic; Lee served the useful purpose of restraining this powerful quality, and channeled it well, something even Kirby himself would have difficulty in, in his later, more eclectic work.

But I guess it just boils down to this. Marvel has it’s position. The Kirbys have theirs. Both sides, and their supporters, have their ax to grind, and to a certain extent, both are right. Intellectual property is a royal (some might say “royalty”) pain.

To insure the parties reach an equillibrium, perhaps both sides can yield…a little?”

Thanks for staying with this long winded point, but what I’m getting at, is isn’t it more complicated than just acknowledging who did what? Similarly, do we dare to say that the corporate input is less than the creative input? Without the backing and structure of financial interests, how do these properties expand in a creative oasis, but a structural vacuum? It’s unfortunate, but money won’t go to where there isn’t a payoff.
It’s like the chicken or the egg…What is more important, the idea or the vehicle?

Hmmm.Maybe both…

I think a lot of fans don’t understand the legal concept of precedent. Let’s say Marvel gives Kirby’s heirs a generous payout, arbitrating a deal and closing the case. Now Roy Thomas (as an example) comes in and says “Oh hey, I should be compensated/given a created by credit for the Vision”, and then Todd McFarlane comes demanding money for Venom and all of the issues he did, and so on and so on.

I am by no means a lawyer, and I will concede that greed pays a part, but it isn’t ever just a “few hundred thousand dollars” or even “a few million”. It could potentially be millions and millions of dollars.

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