Robot 6

Quote of the Day | DC creators are financially ‘taken care of’

Graham Nolan, Chuck Dixon, and their creation

[Bane co-creator] Graham [Nolan] and I both signed participation agreements, which are good in perpetuity. So it’s not up to them whether they take care of us. We’re taken care of. We’ve seen money from Bane all along – the Lego games and the little Bane-shaped piece in the Spaghettios. We always get a piece of what Bane makes. We’ll see money from this movie. They have graphs and charts to figure out how much based on how many lines of dialogue he has and how much he’s in the movie and how much impact he has on the story. We were part of it the last time when Bane was in the last [Joel] Schumacher film really briefly. We participated in that.

Chuck Dixon, on the benefits of creating Bane for DC Comics

DC Comics has gotten a lot of justifiable criticism in the area of creators’ rights, but credit where it’s due. That’s from an interview that’s a couple of months old, but it’s worth highlighting again in context of how Marvel’s policies differ. To be clear, no one’s saying exactly what Marvel’s policies are, but The Beat points out an interview with Jim Starlin who’s apparently having some success negotiating with Marvel on the use of Thanos. That he needs to negotiate at all is pretty telling, though, and according to Stan Lee, who doesn’t share in the profits from The Avengers, there’s apparently a lot of room for improvement.

When we talk about creators’ rights, this is a huge part of what we’re talking about. Even if we concede that publishers have a right to full ownership of work-for-hire characters and control over how they’re used, fairly compensating creators from the money made by their creations isn’t something that should have to be argued about. Good on DC for already having that set up; I hope Marvel gets it figured out soon.

(Image via Comic Book Movie)

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21 Comments

The difference is that Dixon and Nolen signed something ages ago. Starlin didn’t. It’s telling, yes. It’s telling that 15 years ago, DC creators had done a better job in negotiating a deal. I’m not entirely sure what else it’s telling of, mind you.

Interesting. I doubt that DC had that same deal in place back in the ’70s when Thanos was created. Because of the efforts of Neal Adams and many others in the ’70s and ’80s DC had a decent deal in place in the ’90s when Bane was created. To try and draw a parallel between the situations seems misleading at best. Creator’s rights had taken many strides between the two eras. They would seem, in my opinion, to be two COMPLETELY different situations. Two different eras, and two different companies. Also, therefore, a completely different headache for Starlin and Marvel.

Also, Starlin is claiming he created Thanos outside of his work-for-hire deal and then used him in his work for Marvel anyway. Dixon and Nolan clearly state that Bane is a direct result of their work for DC. Very much not the same thing.

Yeah, Len Wein has talked about how he’s made more money from the creation of a minor supporting character like Lucius Fox than he has from Wolverine, and how the money he’s gotten from Nolan Batman movies has helped him out through some hard times.

And all this because Paul Levitz basically *forced* him to sign a participation contract way back in 1979… and he didn’t think it was worth it back then because he didn’t think Fox was anything special; just a middle-aged guy in a suit. But Levitz insisted that creators should ensure that they participate in any revenues derived from characters they created for the company, no matter how small.

That was a really cool period at DC.

@SeanS Well we also know Len Wein has said that he gets more for Lucius Fox then Wolverine.

It is not hard to tell that DC was ahead of the curve on creator rights, since they have challenges getting material from the ’80s reprinted. That is obviously a function of participation deals getting ahead of the nascent trade paperback market.

Marvel seems to be the more creator-frindly house now, but that plainly was not the case during the late-70s, 80s and 90s.

Makes me feel bad for others who haven’t been as fortunate.

@Dean

Not exactly. Jim Shooter was the first one to institute royalties – at Marvel. As soon as he did, DC came up with a royalty program of their own.

It’s worth nothing that Claremont was getting so many royalties because of the popularity of X-Men in the 80′s that he bought his mom a jet

But, what Chuck Dixon ignores in the quote above are creators who did not have deals in place, whether it be Kirby, or Frederich with Ghost Rider. So he paints a rose-colored picture – which is actually pretty dishonest

And Marvel STILL won’t flat out say they’ve got the same kind of plan set for all their creators.

We can only hope when they lift characters and ideas the creators will somehow get some form of compensation.

I don’t think anyone thinks Brubaker is going to get a check of any sort considering the Captain America sequel will be heavily based on his work.

@Evan Meadow What does Ghost Rider have to do with DC Comics or Dixon’s work for them? I haven’t gone to read whatever article the quote comes from, but from the excerpt above it seems to me that he is speaking of his particular favorable circumstances, or the status of creator rights at DC… Not claiming that creator rights are or always have been rosy across the board in the comics world in general.

@Matt D: “The difference is that Dixon and Nolen signed something ages ago. Starlin didn’t. It’s telling, yes. It’s telling that 15 years ago, DC creators had done a better job in negotiating a deal. I’m not entirely sure what else it’s telling of, mind you.”

Actually, my understanding is that Levitz made efforts to arrange more equitable deals with creators from farther back, even though he was under no obligation to do so. DC’s not perfect, but it’s generally done a better job of all this than Marvel.

@EwokSlayer: “But, what Chuck Dixon ignores in the quote above are creators who did not have deals in place, whether it be Kirby, or Frederich with Ghost Rider. So he paints a rose-colored picture – which is actually pretty dishonest”

Yeah, it’s so dishonest for him not to mention Marvel’s treatment of creators in the 1960′s and 1970′s as examples of DC’s treatment of creators in the 1990′s.

Other things he is totally dishonest for not mentioning: Dan DeCarlo’s suit against Archie in the 1990′s, the cast of Gilligan’s Island not receiving royalties despite its perpetual reruns, and Michael Jackson buying the Beatles’ catalog out from under them. For shame, Mr. Dixon.

(Correcting my snark: Archie sued DeCarlo, not the other way around.)

That picture is amazing. Graham Nolan created Bane, and if the photo is any indication, he also has the power to destroy him. No wonder Warner keeps the juice flowing his way. I wouldn’t want to fuck with that guy either.

There have been numerous indications over the years that creators at DC get at least some participation in profits of the characters they help create for the company, while there have also been widespread indications that Marvel has no such program in place for their creators. I’ve seen lots of interviews with Marvel creators stating that they see no money from licensing of their characters. But given the frugal practices of the upper management at Marvel, it doesn’t surprise me at all.

Marvel acts like their characters and story came out of the ether. Thank God DC had these participation contracts, and hope they still do that. Who would create anything for Marvel today? No one is asking to wholey own characters they create for Marvel or DC, but a check, a participation, is all you need to get fresh blood flowing in your industry.

It’s a minor fee. You pay these comics guys and get new comics characters. But look where it leads. A drop of water is what you’re paying and suddenly you have an ocean in revenue from a movie, some games, merchandise… Marvel, don’t you want some creators to create a new Avengers franchise for you? Would you rather have nothing that then pay these guys their well-earned pittance?

Participation. That’s all it takes.

I hate to break to you all – again – but Marvel does pay royalties to the creators for characters. Liefeld has spoken quite a bit about how he still gets a piece of Deadpool and Cable money.

The problem, which is the same at DC, is those kind of royalties have only been in place since the mid 80′s – so as someone pointed out, a person like Len Wein who created the Hulk gets nothing

Len Wein created the Hulk?

And really, EwokSlayer… what is your point?

(BTW my second comment in this thread was directed to you, not Evan Meadow–sorry, Evan!)

Gerry Conway has stated he doesn’t see a dime off the Punisher, he makes more money off of Power Girl and Firestorm.

I recall Denny O’Neil being quite impressed with the check he got for Batman Begins. And he seemed to imply that it was a larger check than he expected because it was a bonus from DC for how happy they were as opposed to just a pre-arranged percentage.

@EwokSlayer
Warren Ellis wrote that he won’t see any money from Iron Man 3, which borrows heavily from his Extremis story. This is Marvel in the twenty first century. The suits and investors wouldn’t let it be any other way.
I wonder do these participation deals still exist in DC after Levitz left.

Just to clairfy for this discussion. Marvel does NOT pay out royalites. Royalties are money that is owed on sales (after a certain number) or on the use of a character, etc. Marvel pays what are called “incentives” which is a legal way of saying it is at their discretion and not really owed to a creator. Incentives are one-time and don’t include reuse or foreign sales. Royalties are owed on EVERY sale past the target number, regardless of where it’s sold.

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