A Podcast with Ross and Nick #130 – Maximum Pulp

A Podcast with Ross and Nick

FIRST: Ross talks about his signing at Heroes Your Mom Threw Out.

NEXT: Nick shares his new feelings about the obsolescence of comic book and webcomics numbering as he discusses changes he plans to make to Super Haters.

THEN: Ross agrees to read Iron Man #281-316 if Nick will read all of Sleepwalker. DONE DEAL!!! Expect an SleepIronWalkerManCast in the future.

PLUS: Irrational-yet-rational Batman complaints, Mr. Plinkett’s Star Wars reviews, and a scathing Titanic review.

AND: Ross and Nick chime in on creator’s rights and corporate compensation for the comic book creators who invented the stuff that ends up in the movies. Also, they discuss this passionately unbalanced Wall Street Journal article about superhero comics. And Wet Moon 6 is in Previews!!!

Photo by Raymond L.

FINALLY: After the end theme — fruit.

17 Responses to “A Podcast with Ross and Nick #130 – Maximum Pulp”

  1. 1 zach

    this was a good one. even though i don’t know if i qualify as a creator in the sense you guys are talking about, some of the stuff i work on still has intellectual property associated with it.

    the whole avengers thing is interesting to me because like nick says, to my mind the ethical questions are not entirely cut-and-dried. i don’t know if either of you read pvp (scott kurtz’s webcomic) but he had a much derided news post about the avengers (http://pvponline.com/news/where-credit-is-due). his main point seems to be “it’s 2012 and nobody has to worry about bad contracts anymore because we can all self-publish and make tons of money because i did it and therefore _____________.” other people have taken the piece apart better, but i think it relates to some of what you guys were saying. like sometimes you just have to take a bad deal, or maybe even take a deal that you need without knowing that it’s a bad deal. lots of internet stars have these rose-colored glasses because “they got theirs” and don’t understand what role mass distributors play in giving someone name recognition. like “kate beaton doesn’t need dc, why do you?” and not seeing the inherent ridiculousness of that comparison. which leaves aside the other issue which is that internet audiences, or at least audiences of successful internet ventures, are really different, in general, from audiences of traditional print-only things.

    anyway i agree with nick that the solution has to be people speaking out or demanding that comics companies treat their creators properly. which i guess leads me to disagree with ross saying that readers aren’t really part of the conversation. not disagreeing that they can’t understand what it would be like to have a creation taken from you, but at the same time, it’s the readers whose minds need to be convinced. like you can’t change anything when dc or marvel can do whatever they want and people are just like: “okay, just let me read the comics” etc. they have to be in the conversation somewhere for that perspective to change.

  2. 2 Brian John Mitchell

    Your numbering thing is interesting. I haven’t figured out how I feel about it. I like the idea that the high number indicates you can deliver content on a regular basis, but I do understand it being intimidating to a new reader. I think going with both makes the best sense.

    On all this creative rights things… one of the issues I have with all the Kirby stuff is people want to give Kirby all this money & no one wants to touch on the inker or colorists or letterer. Intellectual property ownership forever beyond a lifetime is weird too (you following the mess with John Carter?). I don’t know, my dad’s a partial patent holder for some stuff for IBM & he doesn’t get residuals & the only time he gets paid is when they need him as a court witness when suing someone, but they did pay him his weekly salary that allowed him to feed the family & I’m not sure that it’s any more or less fair than what’s happening with comics, it’s how business works with major corporations. I think though that the lack of new characters has to do with the way they treat IPs. I know MacFarlane says he never created a new character at Spider-Man for that reason. Which goes back to your thing about why is Batman always rehashing the same stories….

  3. 3 ross

    @zach: i saw the Scott Kurtz write-up, it was pretty dumb. i read a couple good takedowns of it, too. and good point on readers needing to be a part of the conversation so that they can be convinced and speak up, i stand corrected!! good call. it seems stupid of me to have overlooked that when it’s pretty obvious, but i guess i’d become worn down and made bitter by all the “who cares, i just want to read comics!” comment threads/conversations. i got to a bitter point of “you have no stake in this, why am i talking to you?” i’m sorry!

  4. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    Dinogeddon webcomics

  5. 4 zach


    I don’t think it’s really equivalent to talk about corporate appropriation of intellectual property in the tech sector in the same sense as IP in comics. The two have totally different models, and if IBM behaved like Marvel or DC it would be national news.

    If you work for a company, you typically sign away all rights to anything you think up during the time you work for that company, whether it relates to their business or not. But in exchange you get a nice salary, benefits, sometimes stock options (i.e. stake in the company your IP is helping to build), and usually if you are a successful inventor within the company they will pay you bonuses, give you raises, and do what it takes to keep you producing for them and not their competitors. For example, since I briefly worked for IBM I know they have (or used to have) inventor tiers, where depending on how many patents you generate for them, you get a certain salary bonus each year, or accelerate to a certain pay grade.

    In comics, however, there are NO benefits and no steady employment. EVERYTHING pretty much is work for hire. Even contracted employees in the DC or Marvel stable are really just playing the same role as a subcontractor in the tech sector. They get no stake in the company they help build, and because Marvel and DC face essentially no competition, there is no incentive to keep even big names like Alan Moore happy. There is no danger that a clever but disgruntled employee could jump ship and give critical market advantage to a competing firm.

    A tech-sector-like IP agreement with a salaried creative employee might work if it was an industry standard, but I can’t imagine it making business sense. Like would Ross really want to agree to work on what Oni asked for and give up all creative rights in exchange for a steady salary? Thus, I think the creator-owned model (or possibly something like a joint-owned/creator-controlled model) is the only thing that makes both business and ethical sense.

    I agree with you about ridiculous copyright lengths though, and our society’s essential abandonment of the idea of public domain. In a just world, Kirby would have been adequately compensated for the institutions he helped to construct, and now 40+ years onward X-men would be public domain and anyone could do whatever they wanted with the property royalty-free.

  6. 5 nick marino

    @Zach: Great points!!! Obviously I agree with your view on it. But you also bring up a lot of good stuff regarding vocal people who’ve had non-traditional success. To play devil’s advocate to you and Ross… for someone like Kurtz, he just did what he wanted to do and people liked it and he leveraged it to the max and it worked to his benefit. I don’t know that would work for everyone, but maybe he knows something we don’t and fucking around with the previous direct market system and complaining about it is the entire problem and that’s why old bad contracts are irrelevant in his eyes.

    But then that’s where stuff like nostalgia and fan ambition kicks in — there’s always going to be someone out there that wants to write Spider-Man, and as long as it sells a little, it’ll keep getting published in a similar manner to what we have now. Even when everything is digital and the specialty stores have faded in 20 years, the system probably won’t be that different from what we have now. Hell, comiXology is practically a monopoly when it comes to new digital comics content. Anyway, I’m not saying I agree with everything I just laid out there… I was just playing a bit of devil’s advocate for debate’s sake.

    @Brian: I couldn’t agree more about inkers and colorists and letterers. The whole thing is nuts when you think about it, how those individuals making Avengers in 1963 never imagined that their comics would be a billion dollar movie. I think $100,000 alone would have made them crap themselves. And people like inkers and colorists are a huge part of the success of those books. And letterers added the flavor and design elements that have become pop culture chic. But then I guess it’s always like that, right? Whatever someone regards as disposable or “low” entertainment always seems to have success eventually, often in unexpected ways. Maybe podcasts will be some sort of highly-regarded art medium in 50 years…

  7. 6 Smars

    best line:

    “this was a horrible human tragedy that’s been turned into an exploitation love story…”

    “well it is james cameron”

    the way that conversation played out it was so pure and honest. it just all happened with no thought, just heart. haha.

    creator rights is such a touchy/tricky subject.
    i haven’t had to deal with the topic beyond a few online comics collectives wanting me to join them and me having a long talk wih them about the topic.

    mangoes. :C
    i’m now allergic to mangoes.
    i didn’t know it was possible at the time, to create an allergy by consuming too much of something. i spent an entire summer eating nothing but mangoes one year.
    seriously. all summer. all meals. i’m a vegan :/
    a couple off different types too.
    these ones from mexico.
    but by the end of the summer i couldn’t eat a mango with out going into an all over body itching fit.
    it sucks because i really liked mangoes.
    if i had known better, i wouldn’t have gone blissfully crazy that summer.

    … yeah.

  8. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    The Illiterate Badger webcomics

  9. 7 zach


    I agree with you that “direct distribution” or whatever you want to call it, reaching your audience directly through the internet, through kickstarter, etc., is great and it’s awesome that it’s another tool in the arsenal for creators. What gets me upset is when people think “this is how everyone should do it!” because they themselves were successful. It’s just confirmation bias.

    It reminds me of the “1000 true fans” hypothesis. Which is the idea that if you have 1000 true fans willing to buy anything you produce, and give you $100 of income each year, you’re making a pretty decent salary. I don’t see it much anymore, but it had a moment in the sun on the internet a few years ago. Anyway, I remember reading an eloquent refutation of this idea by Robert Rich (old-school ambient artist) who now can parlay his success as a bay area artist and exposure on hearts of space back in the 80s into a steady career, but required that mainstream exposure and distribution to set that into motion for him.

    Although, on the other hand, maybe it’s no different than internet celebrity. Like in each case you need to “hit it big” in some sense. I guess having the resources of a publishing firm behind you to lead a marketing push on your behalf, schedule interviews and other events, etc., does help speed up the process.

    I guess to kind of circle back the thing that rankled me isn’t that new modes of getting your work out into the world aren’t needed/helpful/exciting or anything, but that new avenues of success don’t automatically preclude the validity of old models, or that those old models don’t still have problems that are worth addressing.

  10. 8 nick marino

    @Smars: i’ve been allergic to a lot of things in my time… but i had no idea that constant exposure could lead to allergies!!! if so, i’m due for a crippling orange allergy any
    day now… well, that and a lesbian pornography allergy.


    honestly, a bestiality porn allergy is more likely…

    @Zach: good points all around! i can’t disagree with any of that. and i’ve heard the 1000 fans theory a lot in the past couple of years. i have no idea how much water that theory holds but i’d love to find out!

  11. 9 Brandon!

    Hey guys thanks for the shout out, it took me forever to finally get the time to listen to this one but it was worth it. I would like to chim in on all the creator treatment stuff but really I agree with Ross so much that I don’t think I’d be contributing to much.

    I’m actually on my way back to the hospital for my girlfriend Angela , hopefully it’s not an extended stay. Anyways this was a great list and a tad depressing for an aspiring comic creator but at the same time I don’t much care about for for the big two soooo I’m not discouraged or anything.

    I loved the fruit conversation btw. xD

  12. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    VACANT webcomics

  13. 10 nick marino

    @Brandon: GLAD YOU LIKED IT!!!!!!!!!!! I hope Angela is feeling better soon :D

  14. 11 Brandon!

    Oh I forgot to say that I think Nick is really on to something with the naming verses numbering of Super Haters, I’ll prolly adopt a similar philosophy with all of my future comic projects and even Dedford Tales. Okay I think that’s it.

  15. 12 nick marino

    THX!!! I mean, it’s not like I came up with the idea or anything… it was just that I suddenly saw things from a new reader’s perspective and I realized that all this ongoing sequential numbering is a total hindrance. I guess that’s why the Big Two are constantly looking for reasons to release new #1s.

  16. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    Dinogeddon webcomics

  17. 13 ross

    @Brandon: i’m a little late here but i hope everything is okay with Angela! hope she’s feeling better by now.

  18. 14 Brandon!

    @Ross thanks, shes actually just been officially admitted into the hospital instead of just being “over night”. Shes not bleeding this time which is… better.

  19. 15 Brandon!

    @Ross sorry that reply was a bit cold, havent been sleepibg much… I really appreciate the concern! XD

  20. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    VACANT webcomics

  21. 16 ross

    @Brandon: shit!! that’s not good at all! i hope everything works out okay, that doesn’t sound good… hang in there, Angela!!!

  22. 17 nick marino

    @Brandon: HANG IN THERE!!! I know what it’s like — we don’t talk about this much on the podcasts, but Justique had many extended stays in the hospital back in 2009-2010 and I lived there with her. In fact, some of the early episodes of A Podcast with Ross and Nick were recorded in her hospital room!

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