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 Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team

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Lawson



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PostSubject: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:24 pm

Indie comix cartoonist Frank Santoro recently posted this online:


Before Watchmen blacklist

Here’s a handy list of all the comics makers who participated in Before Watchmen. I refuse to buy or read anything by these folks: Neal Adams, Rafael Albuquerque, Michael Allred, Brian Azzarello, Lee Bermejo, Jordi Bernet, Tim Bradstreet, Massimo Carnevale, Cliff Chiang, Michael Cho, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, David Finch, Gary Frank, Richard Friend, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Michael Golden, John Higgins, Adam Hughes, Phil Jimenez, Jock, J.G. Jones, Dave Johnson, Michael Kaluta, Chip Kidd, Andy Kubert, Joe Kubert, Jae Lee, Jim Lee, John Paul Leon, Joshua Middleton, Phil Noto, Kevin Nowlan, Olly Moss, Joe Prado, Paul Pope, Ivan Reis, Eduardo Risso, P. Craig Russell, Steve Rude, Chris Samnee, Bill Sienkiewicz, Ryan Sook, Brian Stelfreeze, Jim Steranko, J. Michael Straczynski, Jill Thompson, Bruce Timm, Ethan Van Sciver, Len Wein



Santoro's blacklist got noticed this week because he is an Eisner Award judge. Some BEFORE WATCHMEN contributors named above felt they were noticeably missing from the list of Eisner nominations handed down.

Now, I also didn't agree with DC Comics publishing BEFORE WATCHMEN over the vehement objections of Alan Moore (and given the lukewarm acquiescence, at best, of Dave Gibbons). It said nothing good about DC that the best it could offer in 2012 was a sequel to a 1987 comic book, and a sequel that the original creators didn't even want to be involved in.

And I'm disappointed in the writers and artists who crossed Alan Moore's picket line, as it were. I wish they had shown more solidarity.

That said, I'm instinctively uncomfortable with blacklists. I didn't like BEFORE WATCHMEN, so I didn't buy BEFORE WATCHMEN. Shall I never buy anything else connected with Darwyn Cooke and all the rest? That seems like an overreaction.

Also, Santoro lists all the hired help he's boycotting, but what about DC itself? DC got its start by screwing over the creators of Superman, and it's been screwing over creators ever since. Has Santoro just now noticed this and gotten pissed about it? Is he buying anything published by DC or produced on DC characters by Time Warner? Will he be going to the Superman movie?

It's hard to be pure. In this picture, Santoro is wearing an X-Men T-shirt. How much money did Marvel Comics get from that? Is he OK with how Marvel treated Jack Kirby? Marv Wolfman? Steve Gerber? Gary Friedrich?
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Alex Ness

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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 18, 2013 3:23 pm

I don't think boycotting the creatives works. I've been boycotting Howard Chaykin for being a prick for 30 years and he still has work.
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edquinby001

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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:02 pm

In fact, it may have had the opposite effect solidifying his position and making him even more reactionary resulting in his current status of Grand Wizard Prick!
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Alex Ness

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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:07 pm

Exactly.
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Lawson



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:49 pm

Alex Ness wrote:
I've been boycotting Howard Chaykin for being a prick for 30 years and he still has work.

What prick stuff did Chaykin do?

I dunno anything about him other than he created AMERICAN FLAGG and he drew an R-rated BLACKHAWK comic.
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Alex Ness

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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:07 pm

Personally a prick, brusk to fans, not nice at all.
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Lawson



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:21 pm

Ah, that's a shame.

By and large, I've enjoyed the comics pros I've met or interviewed over the years. I've never encountered Howard Chaykin.
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Alex Ness

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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:26 pm

I will say, many creative people are pricks. I have no issue with that. I just don't have to buy his work. I still think he is capable of doing good work.
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Peter Urkowitz

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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:20 pm

All good points regarding the downsides of this blacklist, and blacklists and boycotts in general.

I did buy a fair number of the Before Watchmen comics, basically the ones with art by artists that I liked. Storywise, none of them were great, a few had some interesting fanfic ideas that can be discounted as non-canonical, and a few were just ludicrously terrible. But none of them have any chance of effecting my enjoyment of the original graphic novel.

I totally understand and support Alan Moore's wish to own his own work, free of DC's interference and control. But given the regrettable reality of the situation, I don't think that Before Watchmen harmed Moore any worse than he has already been harmed. Basically it's fanfic, and I don't believe that any author has any moral right to forbid fans from exercising their own creativity on derivative works (I realize that their legal rights may differ from my opinion). It's only the fact that this is coming out under DC's vast marketing empire that makes it objectionable. So the creative work of the writers and artists is not a reason to boycott them, in my mind.
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:13 am

A blacklist is a horrible idea to begin with. In the case of "Before Watchmen", it's going to require far too much time and energy to actively avoid creators who *dared* to have their own views which disagree with you. SGT Rock, X-Men, Green Lantern/Green Arrow [to pick a few easy names] must all suffer because you will avoid good stories you want to read, just because they contradict "Watchmen"? And you refuse to acknowledge anybody who might have the slightest difference of opinion? F*cking Rorschach acknowledged a wider difference of opinion than that. When did "Watchmen" become the overriding lord and master of comic books? Because I'm pretty sure Alan Moore wasn't in favor of *that*.

Frankly, I'd lay odds that Alan Moore would oppose people boycotting Neal Adams or Joe Kubert comics just because those artists had something to do with "Before Watchmen." That sort of boycott requires an ideological purity that Stalinist Russia would be hard-pressed to match. ["Trotsky inked a Before Watchmen cover!!! Burn him!!!"] Might as well attack John Romita Sr. for daring to follow Steve Ditko on Spider-Man.

Comic book characters are the quintessential definition of "intellectual property." Moore sold his property. Like it or not, he actually signed the contracts and his sock puppet is more than capable of reversing all the bad magic [like the Eye of Agamotto.] Does Moore agree with any of this boycott nonsense?
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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:45 am

Lawson wrote:
...Santoro lists all the hired help he's boycotting, but what about DC itself? DC got its start by screwing over the creators of Superman, and it's been screwing over creators ever since. Has Santoro just now noticed this and gotten pissed about it? Is he buying anything published by DC or produced on DC characters by Time Warner? Will he be going to the Superman movie?

It's hard to be pure. In this picture, Santoro is wearing an X-Men T-shirt. How much money did Marvel Comics get from that? Is he OK with how Marvel treated Jack Kirby? Marv Wolfman? Steve Gerber? Gary Friedrich?
But Lawson, he's wearing the shirt "ironically," so it's ok.

But I think you hit it exactly right, and it's how I keep coming back to it.

Either you boycott ALL Marvel and DC products or you write substantial checks to the various creators/or their estates, or you don't pick and choose one or two people to hold up as sacred. Put your money where your mouth is or it's selective persecution. Golden Age, Silver Age, and any other screwed creators deserve just as much respect as Alan Moore does.

After all the shit DC has done, and Marvel too, and THIS is the one thing we are supposed to blacklist people for?
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Lawson



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:31 am

Joe Lee wrote:
Either you boycott ALL Marvel and DC products or you write substantial checks to the various creators/or their estates, or you don't pick and choose one or two people to hold up as sacred. Put your money where your mouth is or it's selective persecution.

Agreed.

And I've met a couple of moral purists over the years -- guys who literally did not buy anything published by Marvel or DC or spend money on related products (movies, toys, clothes) once they were old enough to learn about those publishers' sleazy behavior. The only comics they bought were from small indie publishers or self-published mini-comics or 'zines. Plus, they said, their spending did more good as seed money for struggling artists than as another nickel in the bank for an international entertainment conglomerate.

Though I don't have it in myself to be that pure, I do admire such a stand.

But that's the exception, not the rule. Most of us, despite our moral qualms, buy some products from the Big Two.
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:08 pm

If you like somebody's work or are interested in somebody's work, you aren't obligated to boycott everybody else who has a say in that work. Supporting Joe Simon's creative rights doesn't mean you have to turn your nose up at everything Captain America is ever used for the rest of your life. Supporting Jack Kirby's creative rights doesn't mean you have to turn your nose up at everything Captain America is ever used for, and fuck Joe Simon. Supporting Stan Lee's creative rights doesn't mean you have to look down upon anything Captain America ever does, and fuck Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

At some point you have to be capable of parsing your beliefs to accomodate reality. Joe Simon, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee all contributed to the character, and all of them gave up their rights in legally-definable ways. Supporting their rights doesn't prevent one from enjoying Steve Englehart's run, Roger Stern and John Byrne's run, Mark Grunwald's run, or anyone else. By that logic, everybody who made "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" (the tv show, not the movie which starred Kristy Swanson when she was at her hottest) popular deserve credit for giving Joss Whedon the credibilty to make "The Avengers" which (in my opinion) did more to turn Captain America into an awesome superhero that I totally love than anything since the cover of "Captain America #1" by Simon and Kirby. Editors and sound effects and lighting and key grips, all of them helped build up the guy who made Cap into the hero he is today. As did the innumerable writers and artists who kept the comic book alive, both at Marvel and earlier at Timely after Simon/Kirby left.

As far as boycotts, I don't admire such a stand. I think 'what effort you have to exert, just to maintain your individual concept of moral purity.' Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross did a damned fine version of Captain America, and he barely appeared in a half-dozen panels. At some point, your point is less about moral indignation of how the original creators are treated, and more about posing yourself as *so immensely concerned* at a random injustice. The boycott is simply proof of the lead boycotter's power and influence.

And guess what, whatever "Watchmen" was, it isn't Captain America. I read the series when it was new, I read the trade paperback countless times afterwards, and I bought the "Absolute" version on amazon at some point. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons don't have a say in what I think of "Watchmen." They made it possible, but that doesn't mean they command my complete loyalty no if's and's or but's. I would more easily boycott someone who insists that I can have no interest in their work except under the specific limits they set forth, than someone who doesn't like what's become of his complex intricately-assembled, multifaceted work. The ending of "A Day in the Life" ends with an E-chord, traditionally used in music to represent Heaven. Can I go with that, or do I have to wonder if the Beatles just came up with an ending that would sound *cool*? Should the fact that the Beatles don't *own* "A Day in the Life" make a difference? How do you enforce that?

At least you have the right to boycott. But it's not intrinsically different from boycotting girls because they're stupid and make fun of you.


Last edited by ChrisW on Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:33 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : The assistant editor demanded it, and who am I to complain?)
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:17 pm

Put it a different way. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster unquestionably lost control of the character they brought to life. But can anyone really say that if they had maintained control, Superman would be the icon he is today? It was DC that led to the Fleischer cartoons, the serials, the 50s tv show, the Christopher Reeve revival, "Lois and Clark", "Smallville", etc. Bob Kane wouldn't have even brought in Batman if he hadn't been told specifically how to compete with Siegel and Shuster. S&S didn't make that happen. DC made it happen, with a multitude of editors and producers and bureaucrats.

It doesn't take away from the unjust treatment of our finest creators to enjoy later works based on their efforts. It does require an exceptional sensibilty to notice the difference, but most people aren't exceptional. That's kinda implicit. Christopher Reeve could never have captured a generation's imagination as the One True Superman if Siegel and Shuster hadn't lost control of their work. Letting individuals and companies make their own decision moves us forward. Anything that would prevent S&S, or Moore and Gibbons, from doing the same, halts forward progress, which hurts the medium, the art, and the business, not to mention the audience.
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Lawson



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:01 am

ChrisW wrote:
Put it a different way. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster unquestionably lost control of the character they brought to life. But can anyone really say that if they had maintained control, Superman would be the icon he is today?

It's not so much the corporate ownership -- Siegel and Shuster wanted to sell Superman -- it's the ungenerous terms under which they were kicked to the curb afterward. I would prefer to see creators enjoy a greater share of the profits if their creation rakes in the kind of money that Superman does. I'm not saying 50 percent of everything forever, but something more than $130, a page-rate for a couple of years, and then "Get out." (Siegel, at least, was brought back to write some Superman comics later, though Mort Weisinger apparently lorded it over him that he was a hired hack).

The idea that Superman could make millions of dollars, and then billions of dollars, while Siegel and Shuster financially struggled -- it may be perfectly legal, but it just sits wrong in my throat.
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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:33 pm

Lawson wrote:
The idea that Superman could make millions of dollars, and then billions of dollars, while Siegel and Shuster financially struggled -- it may be perfectly legal, but it just sits wrong in my throat.
Nor does it fit well with most people's concept of Truth, Justice and the American way. Ironically.
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Wed Apr 24, 2013 8:29 pm

They got more than a page rate. They had a ten-year contract and made a very good living, considering their age, skill levels, and the Great Depression. In their first lawsuit, they even kept the rights to Superboy, then turned around and sold him for a price that barely paid the lawyer bills.

Comic books characters are practically the definition of intellectual property, the thing which separates a pair of pajamas from a pair of Superman pajamas; which makes DC sue Fawcett over Captain Marvel. The people running DC back then were barely removed from gangsters and pornographers, so even if they'd understood the concept of intellectual property (which they didn't) it's unlikely they would have put Siegel and Shuster's interests above their own.

[Note, by not understanding 'intellectual property', I'm not saying they didn't get the concept of ownership. They had to, in order to make movies, toys, incorporate the 'faster than a speeding bullet' catchphrase from the Fleischer cartoons. They understood ownership, just as Will Eisner understood it, and Bob Kane knew it well enough to negotiate a better deal. Personally, I don't think the concept of 'intellectual property' was really introduced to the public until 1993, with (a) the formation of Image and (b) David Letterman moving to CBS, with the jokes on the first episode about NBC reclaiming said property, changing Paul Schaffer and the "World's Most Dangerous Band" to the "CBS Orchestra", renaming the Top 10 List, etc.]

As rotten a deal as Siegel and Shuster got - and we all agree that they got a rotten deal - they made a lot of their own problems and - just as importantly - it's real easy to say how things should have gone differently 75 years ago ["Why didn't they stand up to Hitler at Munich?"] There really isn't any way to put ourselves back in that timeframe, from when our grandparents were young and internet speeds were really slow, and think we have any superior insight. No, we just know how things worked out long after the fact.

What if you (not you, Lawson, personally, but "you" generally) could go back in time and speak to Siegel and Shuster right before they sent in the submission to DC? What could you have to say to them that they could even remotely comprehend? You couldn't say anything about Superman, because they only know him as a handful of newspaper strips and a concept they've been toying with since high school. They wouldn't understand anything about copyrights or trademarks, and even if they did, getting paid and proving they aren't wasting time on those silly cartoons would probably be more important to them. At the time, the initial paycheck (and lucrative contract which followed) would have seemed to them quite generous.
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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:31 am

ChrisW wrote:
As rotten a deal as Siegel and Shuster got - and we all agree that they got a rotten deal - they made a lot of their own problems and - just as importantly - it's real easy to say how things should have gone differently 75 years ago.

Agreed on all counts.

Nobody knew how big a deal Superman would turn out to be. Siegel and Shuster weren't as shrewd as Bob Kane, who sold Batman to the same publisher through a contract that guaranteed him a number of rights that proved to be lucrative. Certainly, given their youth and the misery of the Great Depression, Siegel and Shuster were happy during those early years to be getting a decent income.

I'm not really faulting anyone in 1938.

But by the 1970s, when Time Warner finally was shamed into paying Siegel and Shuster a modest pension and insurance, things had gotten morally appalling. By that point, Superman had made the company a fortune, and the two guys who created him were living in poverty. It should not have gotten so bad or dragged on for so long.
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Terry M (Ditko Fan)

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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:32 pm

Lawson wrote:
Nobody knew how big a deal Superman would turn out to be. Siegel and Shuster weren't as shrewd as Bob Kane...
Sad that buying Manhattan for $24 worth of beads, would be the legal precedent here.

But seriously, as the monetary landscapes changed significantly and so quickly, these creators deserved to revisit their original deals. Derivative characters, merchandising, appearances in other media all deserved to be revisited, but from everything I have read, whenever a creator tried to revisit there respective "deals" as the monetary landscapes changed, these men were bullied and intimidated by their respective corporations. Some fired and even "blackballed" (hey look at that I've almost got us back on topic). Shocked

What if these publishers had negotiated a reasonable but conservative creator buy-out or royalty agreement, at each of these new media expansions, instead of the bully tactics?


Last edited by Terry (Ditko Fan) on Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:42 pm

I saved a bunch of this stuff from the last few discussions. Steve Bissette touched on the new media issue, back during the Gary Friedrich debates. He sites an example of how other creatives, outside the comics industry have been more successful in these kinds of cases...
Quote :
2.2.) There is a famous case about singer Peggy Lee who won her suit against Disney for their reuse of her songs in LADY & THE TRAMP on video, because that medium didn't exist when she signed her original agreement with the Mouse, and contracts at that time didn't specify the now standard "and other media to be invented in the future". The Court chose to interpret that lack of specificity in favor of Peggy Lee. When Marvel sold the rights to GR to the studio which produced it, they likely sold the video, DVD and game rights. These media did not exist when Friedrich signed his back of the check contract which did not list any and all future media. Therefore, based on the Peggy Lee case, the Court could have found that Marvel didn't own those rights, and therefore couldn't resell them, or, as in the Peggy Lee case, simply that they owe the plaintiff some kind of percentage, that's all.

So it remains my contention that Marvel owes "something" to Friedrich (and Ploog as well) based not on the publishing, but purely on the disposition of the multimedia rights to GR. That the Judge decided otherwise is a tough break for creators, and unjust.
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:32 pm

Just had a long post disappear into vapor because I dared to "preview" it and saw something to edit. I hate technology.
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Peter Urkowitz

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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:37 pm

Argh, I feel your pain, Chris! Yeah, any web posting over a paragraph or so should probably be composed offline and pasted, rather than trusting to web browser clients.
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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:39 pm

Terry (Ditko Fan) wrote:
Lawson wrote:
Nobody knew how big a deal Superman would turn out to be. Siegel and Shuster weren't as shrewd as Bob Kane...
Sad that buying Manhattan for $24 worth of beads, would be the legal precedent here.

What's that you say? Moore and Gibbons only got paid for Doctor Manhattan in wampum? They really DID get screwed! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:58 am

Peter Urkowitz wrote:
Argh, I feel your pain, Chris! Yeah, any web posting over a paragraph or so should probably be composed offline and pasted, rather than trusting to web browser clients.

Alternatively, you can copy what you've written every paragraph or two. That way if you lose it, it's still on your 'clipboard' and you can paste it back without losing much, if anything.
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Blacklisting the BEFORE WATCHMEN team   Fri Apr 26, 2013 1:41 am

I usually do, it's just I'm *new* enough on this website that I didn't think to save what I'd written. I mean, what could go wrong?

*short version* What If Jack Kirby Got The Modern Contracts Marvel and DC offer beginners? If Simon and Kirby had gotten the royalties they were promised from Captain America, is there any reason to think they'd have left for DC to create Manhunter, the Guardian, Sandman, Boy Commandos? Or if they did create them, would Kirby have been happy with what he'd got, and never gone on to create the Challengers of the Unknown, Fin Fang Foom and the Fantastic Four?

The FF alone would, under modern contracts, have given Kirby enough money that he wouldn't neccesarily have wanted to create Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, the X-Men. So then what would have become of the New Gods, Kamandi, Etrigan and Captain Victory (who showed us all what it's like for a creator to take control of his work)? If the modern comic book contract had existed way back when, things would look very differently. Kirby was only intending to plot and lay out the Fourth World, and DC forced him to write and draw the thing himself.

My original post made the point that I don't blame the companies for the rates they give beginners. If Superman had bombed, DC would have lost that $130 which might have been better applied to a printing bill, an editor who gets books done on time and looking good, or another freelancer with a cool comic strip to sell. The company is the one risking everything on beginners, I see no reason to blame them for the terms most beginners get, and usually fail under. What's wrong with comics is that, for so long, nobody has been allowed to renegotiate their entry-level contracts. In every other medium, when you have a hit, or a series of successful properties, you get to go back and redo the original agreements.

My original post wasn't a hit, so I'm not going to redo it, but it looks like Neil Gaiman [with "Sandman" #0] is the only one who actually has that chance. Dick Giordano [with the Charlton characters] Neal Adams [with his DC output] Grant Morrison [who is paid to look through the library and write up his neat ideas for every character] Joe Kubert [with Sgt. Rock] and Frank Miller [who was promised no one could write Elektra except him] are almost the only exceptions to comics creators being stuck with their original deal, unless they make editorial/staff level. Steve Gerber and Marv Wolfman were editors at Marvel. Does that make them more or less culpable in the work-for-hire standards than Gary Frederich and Jim Starlin for Howard the Duck/Blade/Ghost Rider/Thanos?

The point about Peggy Lee is a good one. I don't know when comics companies moved to the 'all rights throughout time and space' mode that Disney uses - although the 1978 copyright revision would be my guess - but it's at least an option, that the creators didn't actually sell their rights to mediums that didn't exist. I don't think it'll fly, but it's an option.

My original post was much better, and hit more cool comic book details. I hate technology.
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