Robot 6

The legendary Don Rosa explains why he quit comics

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)

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Comments

9 Comments

Wow, that was an interesting read. I had suspected that Rosa was not involved in, nor had received any royalties for, reprints of his various Duck comics after the latest collections released by KaBOOM! included very little real credit for him, as well as both volumes ending with the same very generic information. That’s a real shame, as I had never had any interest in Scrooge McDuck until I read Rosa’s stories. Rosa is a wonderful storyteller, and his highly-detailed art (and complex backgrounds) brings to mind classic MAD Magazine.

I already knew the basics of why he quit, but this was still a really interesting (and to me, quite moving) read. Rosa’s work means a lot to me, and he’s a fantastic human being.

Don Rosa, one of my favorite artists. It’s great that he still lives.

Yet He “forgot ” to mention all the comic cover themed posters featuring Donold and the gang he sells at cons so I consider him asking for only half the rate the least he could do..

I know Don says he copyrighted his name, but conventional law does not allow the copyrighting of names. You can however trademark a name. There is a lot of confusion between copyright and trademark. Perhaps he meant he trademarked it. Even the name Disney or McDonald’s isn’t copyrighted they are trademarks.

Geez, no wonder Disney bought Marvel. They both share so much of the same corporate “culture” that they’re obviously made for each other. Anyway, I hope Don knows that comics fans the world over appreciate both him and his work.

I think it’s sad that Don Rosa has retired but at least he is still alive. I really enjoyed some of his comic book stories back when he was still a Disney Comics Artist. I enjoyed The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck series and the sequels to Carl Barks stories that he did in the past.

It’s like Bill Gates says on the Simpsons – they (Disney) ‘didn’t get rich by signing a lot of cheques.’ I remember another guy I knew who worked for Disney animation – got paid peanuts. I sure miss being ignorant to Marvel Comics’ corporate evil, now I can’t buy them anymore, and I miss them. But I’m not blowing my cash on their souless disposable consumer product anymore. Not since Disney got involved.

This is a huge problem, and I think it destroyed a lot of hope for Don Rosa as well. I remember when we met him during the filming of “Life and Times of Don Rosa” in 2009, this was one of his biggest issues in life!
Unbelievable that Disney didn’t see the potential in giving him the respect he deserved.

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