Sequential Underground #30 – What Do Creators Deserve?

Sequential Underground

What do comics creators deserve? Shawn and Nick discuss the question, from unknown webcomics creators to the most famous and successful creators in comic books.

Do webcomics creators deserve compensation from their fans? Should it be money, gifts, or just a constant stream of feedback?

Does the Jack Kirby estate deserve compensation from Marvel? Did Siegel and Shuster finally get a fair deal?

What should creators expect from corporate publishers? And what should they expect from creator-owned properties?

6 Responses to “Sequential Underground #30 – What Do Creators Deserve?”

  1. 1 Shane Ronzio

    Writer,Letterer, Colorist, inker—-all vital, Really up to the Creator/ owner of the property to decide what they should get paid.
    About Feedback, it seems like people are so distracted when they log on, the Internet is overwhelming at this point. Feedback has fallen off.
    I was in a place that I was doubting my abilities and potential because I was doing so much work and getting very little acknowledgement for it. Then I started printing the web comics and making exclusive art work for print only and going to conventions. That has been very rewarding for me. Not only is the interaction instant, but, communication comes across on multiple levels. From awe to inspired, to just seeing a kid blown away. Words can not capture that. Also, having fan feedback from after they pick up a book is excellent.
    Drunk Duck…I know a lot of those stats are rigged. Only the Platinum properties are staying as most popular. I still post there because that is where I got everything started with CROSS WORLDS NEXUS.
    Good Show.

  2. 2 Brian John Mitchell

    Your plea for comments seems to have worked.

    I read an interview with Todd McFarlane where he said he intentionally never created a new character for Marvel.

    With someone like Jack Kirby it gets weird because he did all the character design for cartoons in the 1980s (as work for hire) that never got used & those aren’t of value because the company didn’t use them versus Marvel did use the characters he created. Even after he could have been doing creator owned material, he always chose to go with work for hire (unlike someone like Steve Ditko who has a lot of creator owned material, but we just haven’t heard about them because the Marvel/DC machine are not behind them, which raises the idea that maybe the value of a cool character is zero without some juggernaut behind it). Plus the whole thing of if Kirby wasn’t fighting to sue them when he was alive it probably wasn’t his desire to do so. The kids aren’t fighting for all his properties back, just the financially valuable ones which gives me less respect for them than if they were actually trying to do something with all of Kirby’s creative content.

    I know with the Superman creators it’s funny to say “they weren’t fairly compensated” when they were in the end paid roughly 10,000 times what they were legally required to be. & I have less sympathy for them than most comic creators whose names we know because they made not very many comics & the character that is popular has little to do with what they made.

    Bob Kane is funny because supposedly he fairly early on started getting other people to do things for him without telling them. He’d get someone to do the pencils & someone else to do the inks with each thinking Kane did the other part. Pretty ingenious & shady.

    I do think it’s interesting that folks like Kane, Ditko, & Joe Simon clearly had just as bad of contracts as Kirby & yet they aren’t suing anyone.

    I really like Nick’s point on a character like Wolverine who was a toss away Hulk villain before Claremont & should Claremont get money or whoever created him? For that matter what about Frank Miller who made stamps on Batman & Daredevil that have shaped those characters for thirty years? It’s weird because it is such a collaborative artform when you get to those big characters. Or how much should the editor of all the Batman books get? Or should comics be like a normal business where you get paid for the work you do & the company gets paid for knowing someone who wants to pay for the work you are doing? It seems like someone crying poverty when they made over a million dollars is BS, much less their kids claiming it.

    I actually love what Stan Lee is about in the 1960s stories where you have Captain America beating up Rick Jones for dressing up as Bucky.

    I think one of the things creative folks like us trying to make a living off of our work forget is that it’s like running a small business & if you go into your average small business that’s only been open as long as we’ve been working on stuff the owner may well be in the office working 13 hours a day 7 days a week to make a living wage & even when I’m having a good day where I can push myself to get work done I very rarely work 13 hours in a day on my own stuff which is something I totally need to push myself into. It gets weird because of course is Nick’s time (or my time) spent on Facebook/Twitter/etc work or not? When you’re reading a book to research a character idea, is that work? When you’re reading other comics, is that work? It gets nebulous to the point of being able to say, “I’m always working because of the nature of my material, even when I’m making dinner I’m researching whether my characters would want to eat a can of corn or green beans.” I don’t know, it gets nebulous.

    Sorry that this post is as long as the episode.

  3. 3 nick marino

    @Shane: Yeah, I totally agree with you — it all depends on the creator, for better or worse. I think some creators are better than others at giving credit (I worked with one who never credited me for my work and I’ll probably never work with that person again). But what about when the lines blur and a writer says they created it but the artist came up with all of the visual designs? I personally think artists deserve more credit than they get. I think they should be listed first in comic book credits. Also, interesting points about your con experiences. While I haven’t felt quite the same way about cons, I do agree that it’s a great outlet for a different kind of feedback. And thx! I’m glad you enjoyed the show.

  4. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    Shadoweyes webcomics

  5. 4 nick marino

    @Brian: It’s really hard for me to judge Kirby, as well as Siegel and Shuster, in the sense that they came up with things that have incredible creative potential, potential that often they didn’t even realize. Obviously, Kirby realized a lot more of it than S&S did… but, anyway, where I’m going with that is not only did they create things with lots of potential, but they also created under different corporate and social circumstances.

    While none of them were necessarily savvy as independent creators, I don’t think that takes away from the value of their creations. Nor do I think it means they should be compensated any less. Frankly, while I somewhat understand where you’re coming from, I think your overall viewpoint is indicative of why none of those men saw proper compensation in their lifetimes.

    Personally, I think it’s easy to dismiss them as being part of the system or under-productive or not the ones who made the characters famous, but the fact is that they were there at the moment of creation and they planted the seeds that bloomed into the giant plants that we have now, ya know? And I think that even if they failed to protect their rights under the corporate system, they still deserved much more compensation within their lifetimes.

    With that said, I’m not sure how I feel about the Kirby estate/heirs and the current legal decision. On principle, I think it’s the wrong decision. But giving the estate or heirs money doesn’t really solve the problem, which is that Marvel fucked up when Kirby was still alive.

    I can’t speak for Ditko, but Simon and Kane didn’t have as bad contracts as Kirby. They were also good at renegotiating their contracts over the years. I know they’ve each renegotiated at least one major time to increase their compensation and keep their creator credits on Cap and Bats respectively.

    Good points editorial compensation. That’s a real gray area. I mean, some editors did more than any single creator ever did, yet those editors will never even see creative royalties.

  6. 5 James Beihl

    Its incumbent on the Producer to assign a value to the product and if the artist doesn’t agree with the producers assigned value of his or her talents they are within their rights to hold out for a gig that is more in line with their expectations but at the end of the day I would say the onus is on the Producer to assign a value wether that Producer is a one-man army or a corporate publisher. It is also important for the artist to have evaluated how much their skills are worth before going into the market for work so they can weed out jobs that don’t fall in line with their needs/expectations.

  7. 6 nick marino

    @James: I agree that it’s important for an artist to evaluate their skills and place a price on them before they enter the market. But what about artists who’re unclear how much their skills are worth? How do you think those artists should begin that evaluation process?

  8. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    The Illiterate Badger webcomics

  1. 1 The Comics Podcast Network » Sequential Underground #30
  2. 2 Blogging, mini-comics, Terminator, Contact, Death Note | Silber Blog
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