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Don Rosa, who drew Disney’s Scrooge McDuck and Donald Duck comics for many years has written a lengthy and fascinating piece on why he gave up creating comics.
Rosa, who started working on the series in early middle age, gave up making comics entirely in 2012 for a variety of reasons, including vision problems caused by a detached retina, depression, and frustration that the studio pays no royalties on his comics — a situation that he says is unique to the comics, as other Disney creators do get royalties. (One possible reason for this is that the Disney comics are produced by freelancers working for third-party companies, not for Disney itself.) That became particularly galling once Rosa was well enough known that the collections featured his name in the title — but he still didn’t see a dime. His response was a clever one: He copyrighted his name so publishers would have to ask his permission to use it to promote the books.
Rosa also explains why he didn’t make the switch to creator-owned comics:
Fans who did know what an unfair system we Disney comics people work in have often said to me “you’ve made a name for yourself now! Why not stop this thankless work and produce comics of some character that you create yourself?” And publishers have often told me they would publish anything I decided to create for them. But my reply has always been “Any character I might create next week… I would not have grown up with that character. I wouldn’t care about him. My thrill is in creating stories about characters I’ve loved all my life.” I’m a fan.
Although his essay is agonizing reading at times, Rosa is clearly comfortable with his decision; he is happily married, has all the money he needs, and relishes retired life. So in a way, the story has a happy ending.
Of course, there’s the matter of Disney behaving, well, like Scrooge McDuck. It’s worth noting that Rosa originally wanted this piece to run as the epilogue to Egmont’s collected edition of his work, but the Disney folks put the kibosh on that. So he published it on the web instead.
If there is something in my text that someone doesn’t wish to be known to the public, it seems to me that inclusion in an expensive book set that has only a few thousand buyers in several different countries would be a rather harmless revelation. But now that text will be on the INTERNET.
Well played, Disney. Well played.
(via Chris Mautner)