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 Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...

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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:33 pm

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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:54 pm

Probably that he wants stories he's proud to have been part of to be publicly available again, and is tired of waiting for Moore to do anything with it.  Legally, he doesn't really have any better options.

You can say what you like about Marvel (not you personally, Joe; you're not allowed to say what you like about marvel Razz) but I don't see the benefits of creator ownership when it leads to situations like this.  A "1963" trade paperback, with or without the Annual, would probably sell a lot of copies, because they're fun stories about interesting superheroes.  We live in a world where you could tell people 'this guy's kinda like the Hulk' or 'that guy's kinda like Spider-Man' and they would know what you mean.  All the familiarity of characters who are pretty damned well-known by now (although Nick Fury being a young white chick might raise a few eyebrows), and the fun of continuity, all wrapped up in a six-issue collection. 

But one creator says no, so the whole project is killed.  Creators, stores and readers get no benefit from that.  John Totleben has had eye problems for years, and an artist who can't see is kinda limited.  If not for DC's ownership of John Constantine and endlessly reprinting "Swamp Thing", he'd probably be worse off.  It's not like he's seeing any royalties from Miracleman Book 3, another book which creators, stores and readers alike aren't benefiting from.


Last edited by ChrisW on Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:55 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Alan Moore told me to change some stuff or he wouldn't publish it.)
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PostSubject: Re: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:37 pm

It may or may not be related, but I just noticed Mark Evanier posted on his blog:
"The passing of Kim Thompson has hit the industry pretty hard. I suppose there was someone out there who didn’t like the guy. You can’t be in a position of power, with the ability to say, "No, we won’t publish your book" without somebody not liking you. But if someone felt that way about Kim, I sure never heard it. One of the highest compliments you can pay someone in that position was utterly appliable to Kim. When he said he’d do something, he did it. I wish everyone in publishing was like that. Heck, I wish everyone in the world was like that. I expect there will be a panel at the con to remember Kim and folks will tell stories that underscore that."

To whatever extent Kim was known/liked/respected in comics, those who knew/liked/respected him are probably re-evaluating their lives and accomplishments in light of what he brought to them.  In Bissette's case, regarding "1963", he probably wants his work "out there" and Kim's death led him to the point of 'fuck it, if you want to publish it online, go ahead.'
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:30 pm

I've posted this elsewhere, but in tribute to Bissette, I'll add it here as food for thought:

I didn't much care about the 'misogyny' charges or the 'religious nut' accusations, and I came to the series too late to see the 'when will Cerebus be a barbarian again?' debates. Honestly, the thing which makes me doubt Dave's sanity the most is the extent to which he apparently internalized Kim Thompson's review as a direction for the series. Even Dave has admitted that he created Lord Julius because of Kim's noting his gift for parody - Sophia, Elrod, the Roach - and asking himself how to keep that good press flowing. The introduction of Lord Julius was one of the points where the overall series took shape, and we were still getting 'parodies' at the end, from F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Walter O'Truly, not to mention a pivotal interview with The Reads Journal.

As someone who probably had more arguments with Kim Thompson than Dave ever did, RIP.

It's not so much that I question Dave's sanity, it's that I know what it's like to be "bitten" by the comic book bug. The harder you're bitten, the less competent you are to remotely comprehend what life is like for people who haven't been bitten at all, or tolerate those who weren't bitten as hard as you. Yes, they're your "fellow travelers" but *THEY STILL DON'T UNDERSTAND!!!* Whether it's the ownership of Miracleman, Vinnie Colleta inking Jack Kirby or the Hulk versus Thor, *THEY STILL DON'T UNDERSTAND!!!* This does not help when dealing with people who haven't been bitten in the first place, or people who read comics when they were young and then grew out of it. It doesn't help girls, who have to suffer through your explanations of the X-Women and Elektra, Sandman or Strangers in Paradise - where even flat-chested chicks can be sexy - and pretend they remotely understand your bizarre interest in comic books. I won't say it's evil (how could I?) but the comic book bug is one of the most intrinsically-malicious and destructive forces known to mankind. It's what separates us good, right-thinking people from those who don't know the background of the Kree-Skrull War (coming soon in an "Avengers" movie.) How do they stand being so inferior?  Soon Homo Superior will replace them.


Last edited by ChrisW on Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:35 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : To stop the world from ending. I mean, duhhhhhhhhh.)
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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Sat Jun 22, 2013 12:59 pm

ChrisW wrote:
I don't see the benefits of creator ownership when it leads to situations like this...

This situation is about the perils of a limited partnership, not the perils of creator ownership

There should have been specific language in the partnership agreement, regarding keeping the work in print or not allowing any one partner to veto decisions of the group. Some method to settle disputes.

Of course hindsight is twenty/twenty, but creator ownership v. publisher/corporate ownership, isn't the issue. This was a business venture. One where no one anticipated one of the partners would opt out in the future. But they could have written into a limited partnership agreement, some language that allowed for settling disputes.

It sounds like it was a really crappy contract, the man isn't even sure he has the right to publish his own pencils for his own self-promotional purposes.
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edquinby001

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PostSubject: Re: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Sat Jun 22, 2013 3:29 pm

Steve Bissette's relationship with Alan Moore and specifically what became of it seems to be his motivating factor here. Mr. Bissette could certainly disagree, but whatever happened there at the end of 1963's publication, he's never gotten over it whether pointedly and at length talking about it, or pointedly NOT talking about it, and now he's writing a book about it. In my very few dealings with Steve Bissette, I haven't had any with Alan Moore, I found him to be an incredibly nice person and gracious gentleman. One thing's clear though, and I imagine you've all noted it from his posts at Commie, he is a very circumspect and meticulous person. He can see himself coming, going and somewhere in the middle. Personally, I think the destruction of their publishing venture due specifically to Moore's decision to no longer work with him in any fashion, is something he just couldn't make sense of then and so just can't let it go even now.

But, yeah Joe, having publishing and creator rights spelled out on paper is definitely the way to go. I haven't always done that because I'm usually dealing with friends, but it is always preferable and can save headaches, feelings, time and money!
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PostSubject: Re: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Sat Jun 22, 2013 3:30 pm

If my fuzzy memories can be trusted, there may not have been any written partnership agreement back when 1963 was first created back in 1993.  There was probably an image contract, but maybe not even that, given what we know about the later disputes over Spawn/Gaiman/McFarlane.  In those heady early days of the creators' rights era, all the creators felt they were on the same side, against the big companies, so they were lackadaisical in their relationships with one another.

In fact, Bissette appears to have been one of the few who insisted on honoring all agreements -- written, oral, or handshake -- even to his own detriment.  He notably paid large amounts (for him) to Kevin Eastman (for whom it was the smallest pittance) to settle what Bissette perceived as a debt for helping to set up TABOO.  

Bissette later had contracted with Moore and Eddie Campbell to help publish the FROM HELL SCRIPT BOOKS, as a way to get them some funds to help finish the actual comics.  When those volumes became a sticking point interfering with the ability to sell the rights for the Johnny Depp FROM HELL film, Bissette simply stepped aside and allowed Moore and Campbell to break their contract with him.

Still later, Bissette engaged in lengthy, repeated attempts to negotiate with Moore, usually having to go through Rick Veitch as an intermediary, to work out a mutually agreeable way to reprint 1963, or to complete the legendary 1963 Annual, and then when all those fell through, to draft a contract giving sole ownership of half the characters to Bissette, and half to Moore and Vietch.  In all of those cases, Bissette gave away more rights than he could have asserted if he just went his own way.  In my opinion, he could have reprinted the 1963 issues himself, sent Moore a check for half or one third the profits, and dared the lawyer-averse Moore to stop him.  But it was always more important to Bissette to feel that he was doing the right thing, by the book, not defying the wishes of his long-estranged ex-partner.

Given all that history, I see this latest statement by Bissette as a welcome admission that not everything can always be strictly by the book.  Even now, with that weird trademark/copyright language, he's trying to do the right thing, but at least he's not waiting around for a nod from Alan Moore that will never, ever arrive.
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PostSubject: Re: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Sat Jun 22, 2013 11:46 pm

Quote :
This situation is about the perils of a limited partnership, not the perils of creator ownership

Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary wrote:
Corporate:  a:  formed into an association and endowed by law with the rights and liabilities of an individual.  b:  of or relating to a corporation.

Corporation:  a body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights including the capacity of succession.

If there's more than one person involved - and sometimes even then, for legal reasons - it's a corporation.  Tundra was a corporation even though Kevin Eastman paid for it all and didn't own much of anything.  Dave Sim and Gerhard were a corporation [Aardvark-Vanaheim, to be specific.]  Even if the project has an endpoint [six issues and an annual] it's a corporation if it takes more than one person to produce the work and deal in work-for-hire with printers and distributors and comics shops.  Marriage is a corporation - one man, one woman, kids to be named later - with its own legal status and tax incentives.

Quote :
There should have been specific language in the partnership agreement, regarding keeping the work in print or not allowing any one partner to veto decisions of the group. Some method to settle disputes.

Proper corporate structure would have done exactly this.  Bissette and Veitch would have known in advance that they did not have control over their work if Moore chose to veto ever letting it be published again.  Or if they didn't know in advance, they would have found out when reading the contract and if they've already signed it, sucks to be them.

Quote :
Of course hindsight is twenty/twenty, but creator ownership v. publisher/corporate ownership, isn't the issue. This was a business venture. One where no one anticipated one of the partners would opt out in the future. But they could have written into a limited partnership agreement, some language that allowed for settling disputes.

Corporate ownership is the issue, for the reasons I've explained.  Moore/Bissette/Veitch were the founders and instigators of the '1963' corporation.  It took three of them to do it, with a host of other people [Totleben, Brown, Simpson, etc.]  Once upon a time, Marvel Comics was basically Martin Goodman telling Stan Lee what to do, and Stan found a few guys who could draw and paid a few others to letter, ink, color, etc.  In 1963, There could have been Image-level rhetoric about creator ownership, and Marvel would *STILL* have been about corporate ownership versus creator ownership.  There's no control group, so we'll never know what would have happened if Steve Ditko had the right to reprint *his* Spider-Man stories and create his own Spider-Man stories, while Martin, Stan and John Romita Sr. had the right to do *their* Spider-Man where he can meet the FF and Avengers.

In the real world, business ventures have thought about partners (who vary among their creativity) opting out for a long time.  Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, John, Paul, George and Ringo (and Yoko!).  DW Griffith, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin formed the Image of their time at United Artists, but they didn't even get started before they differed over productivity, expense and the difficulties of being in charge.  There's a reason Disney owns everything their employees do throughout time and space, and it goes back to Walt's working for someone else on "Oswald the Rabbit" as well as the lessons he and his lawyers have learned ever since.  Image founded shortly before the big strike in Baseball - and I noticed at the time that the players could have *technically* formed their own teams and played against each other, and still been popular with the fans.  But the players were tied to their long-running teams, and their successes are just that, X number of hits during a game, Y number of home runs, Z number of stolen bases.  Measurable Achievements which cannot translate into creative fields.

In the comics world, we do our best to ignore reality - with the help of super-powerful people in colorful tights - so everybody goes into things with the best of intentions and six months or a year or five years or twenty years later, things are fucked up beyond repair.  That's how Image founder Todd McFarlane gets to claim Neil Gaiman's characters while simultaneously promising to give guest-creators a share of their creations [check the Spawn letters page during the guest-written issues if you don't believe me.]  That's how McFarlane can claim Miracleman - which we all oppose - and Neil Gaiman can set himself up as the future repository of Miracleman Books 1-4 and any future stories - which we've wanted for twenty years - even though Moore, Leach, Davis and Totleben have more claim to the work than he does.

Quote :
It sounds like it was a really crappy contract, the man isn't even sure he has the right to publish his own pencils for his own self-promotional purposes.

It sounds like it was a really worthless contract, because everybody involved - including Image Central - knew that everyone was on the up-and-up and nothing could never ever go wrong, so there was nothing to refer to when things go wrong.  Laws and contracts aren't there for when things are good.  They're there so you have something to look at when things are bad.  Moore/Veitch/Bissette and early Image were all about 'sticking it to the man', so they left themselves vulnerable in many ways, which they still regret decades later.  It's only a difference of degree from how DC looks back at its previous dealings with Jerry Siegel and Bob Kane.

I loved the Comics Journal's multi-part series on the formation of Image where even the writer has to laugh that McFarlane is (surprisingly) speechless when asked how his own employees are better off working for him than he was when working for Marvel.  You do not think of what could go wrong until you've actually lived it yourself, while corporations and lawyers and nations (where laws are written) actually have an incentive to learn from other peoples' mistakes.


Last edited by ChrisW on Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:17 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : I couldn't help it. Don't judge me.)
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PostSubject: Re: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:42 pm

Joe Lee wrote:
I'm not sure what this means...

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2013/06/20/steve-bissette-working-on-a-book-about-alan-moore-asks-people-to-publish-his-1963-stories-online-for-free/

That's all I can be sure of as well, Joe, that I'm not sure what it means in terms of plans for forthcoming, if any, 1963 material. Just to add another element into the mix, as recent as Feb. 2012, Bissette was actively putting together a new N-Man book. 

  http://srbissette.com/?m=201202&paged=2 

Could releasing his 1963 stories into the internet be Steve's way of  reacquainting the public with the material, chumming the waters so to speak, before publishing some new N-Man material? I hope so. Getting Steve Bissette back into any form of comics publishing on his own terms is a good thing.
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PostSubject: Re: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:30 pm

ChrisW wrote:
If there's more than one person involved - and sometimes even then, for legal reasons - it's a corporation...

Marriage is a corporation - one man, one woman, kids to be named later - with its own legal status and tax incentives...

Proper corporate structure would have done exactly this...

In the comics world, we do our best to ignore reality...


Chris, I'm not sure what you're trying to say, It might be just me but I've read your post a couple of times, and I'm a little confused by your statement as a whole, I'm not against people incorporating, I just don't see why you seem to think this is an example of the failings of Creator Ownership? Can't creators form corporations, or limited partnerships, or any contracted business arrangement and be better custodians than a corporation basing it's decisions with no regard for the original creators, with nothing more than it's own self-interest to guide it....

Let's clarify.

When I use the term "creator owned," I intend that to INCLUDE any type of business or corporation owned by the CREATORS as well. Creators should take the same precautions any freelance business owner does. Make no mistake, a freelance illustrator or writer, is a small business.

My point regarding Bissette, Moore, Veitch et al, was that their issue had nothing to do with their being creator owners. And that if keeping the property in print was a priority, a more thorough limited partnership agreement, might have better spelled out the partner's rights or prevented the current situation. Whether they be a limited partnership, an LLC, a corporation, or any other business, corporate structure, was that they had one of the above structures, they might have had the ability to prevent one partner from having veto power. But businesses vary, they may have still opted for an equal vote for each partner, and they might still have agreed to a system where all decisions needed to be unanimous.

They need not get incorporated, a limited partnership or an LLC may have been adequate, even a simple contract, but any agreement even a corporation, could still have had flaws. Any one of those agreements even the corporate ones, may have still included a system where all decisions needed to be unanimous.Which isn't necessarily a flaw, if this is what they agreed to do. Sure it may be frustrating when one of the partners does something unexpected but again it's not a flaw if this is how they originally agreed to make decisions. Even if it's just a default structure.

Also, as far as I know you can't just call yourself a corporation and corporations you need a lawyer, or at the very least you need to file the right paperwork, given your business and business structure, not all situations are the same and you really are better off getting legal advise.


Last edited by Joe Lee on Mon Jun 24, 2013 10:08 pm; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : I rewrote the opening graph, it sounded hostile to me when I reread it, and that was not my intention)
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PostSubject: Re: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:38 pm

You still haven't defended your earlier statement...

ChrisW wrote:
I don't see the benefits of creator ownership when it leads to situations like this...

How so?

This group of creators, have a collective agreement that allows for one partner to veto a decision. How is this any different than a corporate publisher who owns the property free and clear of the creators, making a decision not to publish a reprint of a property they own?

Yes, it's sad to me that the work will not see print, but how is that a failure of creator ownership specifically?

My point above still stands, if Bissette was blindsided by Moore's ability to veto the publication of a reprint edition, then it's a failure of his not securing a provision in any initial agreement, regarding keeping the property in print.
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PostSubject: Re: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Tue Jun 25, 2013 3:31 am

Quote :
Chris, I'm not sure what you're trying to say, It might be just me but I've read your post a couple of times, and I'm a little confused by your statement as a whole, I'm not against people incorporating, I just don't see why you seem to think this is an example of the failings of Creator Ownership? Can't creators form corporations, or limited partnerships, or any contracted business arrangement and be better custodians than a corporation basing it's decisions with no regard for the original creators, with nothing more than it's own self-interest to guide it....


It’s not clear what you’re not understanding.  A “corporation”, strictly defined, is any entity formed by more than one person with a shared goal, working to achieve that goal.  A football team is a corporation.  A marriage is a corporation.  Jeff and Vijaya Smith, Terry and Robin Moore, Wendy and Richard Pini and Dave and Deni Sim are/were corporations.  Neil Gaiman, Sam Keith and Mike Dringenberg were the corporation who produced “Sandman” #1.  Limited partnerships and suchlike are legal facades to modify the corporation under government laws.  It’s a legal fiction, which rich corporations use as an excuse to hire many well-paid lawyers to sue people.  The corporation itself is still one or more people working together to achieve a particular goal.  Eastman and Laird thought it would be cool if their new characters had an origin story, and made it happen together.

Quote :
When I use the term "creator owned," I intend that to INCLUDE any type of business or corporation owned by the CREATORS as well. Creators should take the same precautions any freelance business owner does. Make no mistake, a freelance illustrator or writer, is a small business.


You should have specified that at the outset.  My perspective is that anybody creating work and then dealing with others under restrictions which don’t include ownership is *not* a corporation.

Quote :
My point regarding Bissette, Moore, Veitch et al, was that their issue had nothing to do with their being creator owners. And that if keeping the property in print was a priority, a more thorough limited partnership agreement, might have better spelled out the partner's rights or prevented the current situation. Whether they be a limited partnership, an LLC, a corporation, or any other business, corporate structure, was that they had one of the above structures, they might have had the ability to prevent one partner from having veto power. But businesses vary, they may have still opted for an equal vote for each partner, and they might still have agreed to a system where all decisions needed to be unanimous.


Businesses do vary, which is a good reason for businesses to learn from other people’s mistakes.  Walt Disney got fucked over by the guy who created Oswald the Rabbit.  But Walt learned, or at least could hire lawyers who learned.  Bill Finger got fucked over by Bob Kane, for much the same reason.

Quote :
They need not get incorporated, a limited partnership or an LLC may have been adequate, even a simple contract, but any agreement even a corporation, could still have had flaws. Any one of those agreements even the corporate ones, may have still included a system where all decisions needed to be unanimous.  Which isn't necessarily a flaw, if this is what they agreed to do. Sure it may be frustrating when one of the partners does something unexpected but again it's not a flaw if this is how they originally agreed to make decisions. Even if it's just a default structure.


It’s a flaw if you spent a long time working on something which someone else can deny you the right to.  Limited partnerships and LLC’s are a legal fake.  It’s a corporation.  Bissette didn’t sign away his rights to “1963” (at least not at the time) but he no longer has the right to reprint his own work, much less any other work from the same endeavor.  Go ahead, claim Bissette's characters have nothing to do with the later issues, I dare you.

Quote :
Also, as far as I know you can't just call yourself a corporation and corporations you need a lawyer, or at the very least you need to file the right paperwork, given your business and business structure, not all situations are the same and you really are better off getting legal advise.


True, and I’m not talking about the law itself.  Working under government restrictions is (almost by definition) different from a group of people getting together to work for a common goal.  Garage bands are the most obvious example, self-publishing teams being (perhaps) the most relevant.  The law treats different people doing different things differently, under different circumstances.  Eastman and Laird couldn’t have created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles separately any more than Siegel and Shuster could have created Superman separately (or Ma and Pa Kent could have.)  The law isn’t there for when things go right, it’s there for when things go wrong.

Quote :
You still haven't defended your earlier statement... “I don't see the benefits of creator ownership when it leads to situations like this...”


What’s to defend?  Someone who spent his time drawing the finished work has no rights to it because the guy who had already started working on “Spawn” and “WildCATS” says no.  If Bissette can’t do what he wants with his work on “1963,” the concept of creator-ownership is a falsehood.  Bissette has as much right to the N-Man, Johnny Beyond, the Hypernaut and the Fury as Moore or Veitch, but Bissette has no right to his own work because of, well, because of Moore saying “no.”

One important thing about power and/or ownership which most complainers miss, it’s not just that the one in charge can tell people to do something, it’s that the one in charge can tell people *NOT* to do something.   “Steve Bissette, you have no right to do new Johnny Beyond stories, because the guy who complains about losing control of ‘Watchmen’ says so, and is supported by the guy who wanted Swamp Thing to meet Jesus Christ.  They’re, like, so into creator-ownership.”

This isn’t a statement against creator ownership.  It’s an explanation for creator-responsibility.  Creators owe it to their creations and (by extension) the audience to see that that fictional characters are well-treated, as their creators wanted it.  If Alan Moore said that there should be a white chick version of Nick Fury and her story should end with the 1963 Annual, well, sucks to be Bissette.

Quote :
Yes, it's sad to me that the work will not see print, but how is that a failure of creator ownership specifically?


Because it’s not corporate employees making the decision, it’s the corporate owners, who also happen to be creators.  Bissette – a creator-owner – can’t do anything with his work unless given absolute approval by someone who has refused to speak to him for the last twenty years.  DC’s rules in 1983 regarding “Swamp Thing” gave him more leeway.  Given the horror stories (nyuck nyuck) Bissette tells about his run on “Swamp Thing,” you’d have to go a ways to beat that.  Bissette may have no control over Hellblazer, but he’s paid for every use of Hellblazer, just because he was the work-for-hire penciller who gave us Hellblazer.  As are Moore and Totleben.  True creator-ownership would be giving all the credit to Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.

Quote :
My point above still stands, if Bissette was blindsided by Moore's ability to veto the publication of a reprint edition, then it's a failure of his not securing a provision in any initial agreement, regarding keeping the property in print.


My point still stands.  Proper respect for a natural corporate structure would have provided guidance, both in forming the corporation and during the times when things went bad.  Image-when-it-was-new isn’t intrinsically different from, say, this website.  Who owns my posts, you or me?  As a participant in this board, which is a corporate project unless you’re doing everything single-handedly.  Who owns your posts and everyone else’s, me or you?  Moore’s control over Bissette’s work is roughly equivalent to you not letting me have my rights to my posts on this board, and reversing the situation means I can stop you from using your rights to your posts (or anyone else’s) on your board.  That isn’t creator-ownership by any definition of the term.  Creator’s owning the corporation does not alleviate the problems of creator-ownership [see also: Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane].
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PostSubject: Re: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:45 am

ChrisW wrote:
A “corporation”, strictly defined, is any entity formed by more than one person with a shared goal, working to achieve that goal.  A football team is a corporation.  A marriage is a corporation...

My perspective is that anybody creating work and then dealing with others under restrictions which don’t include ownership is *not* a corporation...

I’m not talking about the law itself...

I spent a lot of time with my lawyer going over the various legal options for small businesses, including corporations, I'm no expert, but I do know that a corporation is a LEGAL entity. Not an anecdotal one.

Creators, can and should protect themselves with legal agreements, appropriate to the project. Business structures and corporate agreements vary from entity to entity, they may have still opted for an equal vote for each partner, and they might still have agreed to a system where all decisions needed to be unanimous.

Creators that enter into partnerships with other creators are subject to one another. This is not one of the "perils of creator ownership."



ChrisW wrote:
Someone who spent his time drawing the finished work has no rights to it because the guy who had already started working on “Spawn” and “WildCATS” says no.  If Bissette can’t do what he wants with his work on “1963,” the concept of creator-ownership is a falsehood.  Bissette has as much right to the N-Man, Johnny Beyond, the Hypernaut and the Fury as Moore or Veitch, but Bissette has no right to his own work because of, well, because of Moore saying “no.”

No, THEY ALL had the same right of veto. As far as we know, this is the corporate structure these creators agreed to. Even if "agreed to" in this case means the default because they had no actual agreement as Peter suggests. Creators that enter into partnerships with other creators are subject to one another. This is not a "perils of creator ownership." Some might argue it is an example of the success. I'm sure Moore sees this as a success of Creator ownership, because decisions are being made without his  input and often against his wishes, regarding his works at DC and Marvel comics under "Proper corporate structure."

You said this situation could have been fixed, solved avoided if they had a "Proper corporate structure," again business structures and corporate agreements vary from entity to entity, they may have still opted for an equal vote for each partner, and they might still have agreed to a system where all decisions needed to be unanimous, even under a  "Proper corporate structure."



ChrisW wrote:

One important thing about power and/or ownership which most complainers miss, it’s not just that the one in charge can tell people to do something, it’s that the one in charge can tell people *NOT* to do something.   “Steve Bissette, you have no right to do new Johnny Beyond stories, because the guy who complains about losing control of ‘Watchmen’ says so, and is supported by the guy who wanted Swamp Thing to meet Jesus Christ.  They’re, like, so into creator-ownership.”

This isn’t a statement against creator ownership.  It’s an explanation for creator-responsibility.  Creators owe it to their creations and (by extension) the audience to see that that fictional characters are well-treated, as their creators wanted it.

What a condescending thought. You stupid artists and writers can't operate a business as well as the nice men in the suits, do the responsible thing and step away from the lucrative licensable property. Responsible creators know, they don't know, what's best for their creation...

But seriously, DEFINE "better." And explain to me how corporate ownership is inherently leads to better treatment of characters? Even if that group of creators has themselves incorporated?



ChrisW wrote:
Because it’s not corporate employees making the decision, it’s the corporate owners, who also happen to be creators.  Bissette – a creator-owner – can’t do anything with his work unless given absolute approval by someone who has refused to speak to him for the last twenty years.  DC’s rules in 1983 regarding “Swamp Thing” gave him more leeway.  Given the horror stories (nyuck nyuck) Bissette tells about his run on “Swamp Thing,” you’d have to go a ways to beat that.  Bissette may have no control over Hellblazer, but he’s paid for every use of Hellblazer, just because he was the work-for-hire penciller who gave us Hellblazer.  As are Moore and Totleben.  True creator-ownership would be giving all the credit to Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.

Oh no! If not for corporate ownership, we would never have had Moore's SwampThing! Does not prove corporation know what's better for a character than an artist or writer.

You can make one of those to support anything. Oh no! If not for corporate ownership, we would never have had Before Watchmen! The LXG movie, the Gwen Stacy-Norman Osbourne love child run on Spiderman, the Clone Saga, Superman 3 & 4, Batnipples, The Howard The Duck movie. Over in the movie boards there with several people who would argue the latest corporate owned, Superman movie was not the best treatment of that character. 

Just because you can find a favorite run on a corporate owned character doesn't prove corporate ownership is inherently better. All you pointed out was that Bissette has less say on his DC characters, than he does on 1963, where he at least had a vote. The decision may not have gone his way, but he at least had a vote. Creators that enter into partnerships with other creators are subject to one another. This is not a "perils of creator ownership."If they would have agreed to a majority rules situation Moore would be having the thing printed against his will. How is that different than DC comics doing things to Moore's work's there, that he doesn't approve of?

Creator owned, Corporate ownership, sometimes looks pretty similar.

And giving up up all your ownership rights to a corporation, is not in the best interst of the property. It certainly is not better than losing a vote in a creator owned partnership/corporation. If you want a sure fire way to avoid Bissette's circumstance here, there are way better options than to give up all your ownership rights to a corporation.

The most obvious way I've said over and over above. Clearly state in any agreement, any expectations/demands/requirements. Right from the start, and get it in writing. Better a contract spells out everything in advance, rather than getting surprised by a partner's change of heart later. You've said as much above.
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Chris W



Posts : 180
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PostSubject: Re: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:36 am

Quote :
I spent a lot of time with my lawyer going over the various legal options for small businesses, including corporations, I'm no expert, but I do know that a corporation is a LEGAL entity. Not an anecdotal one.

Creators, can and should protect themselves with legal agreements, appropriate to the project. Business structures and corporate agreements vary from entity to entity, they may have still opted for an equal vote for each partner, and they might still have agreed to a system where all decisions needed to be unanimous.

Creators that enter into partnerships with other creators are subject to one another. This is not one of the "perils of creator ownership."

It is if you intend to do the same things as corporations (such as creating comic books you’ll sell for money.) Again, I’m not using “corporation” in its legal definition, I’m using it in its dictionary definition, as one or more people engaged in a common goal for a common purpose. Different corporations can overlap. Chris Claremont and John Byrne were a corporation. Claremont, Byrne and Terry Austin were a corporation. Claremont, Byrne, Austin, Glynis Wein and Tom Orzechowski were a corporation. That creative team plus the editor (Roger Stern, Louise Jones and I’d swear there was someone else) were a corporation. That team plus Jim Shooter was a corporation. That team plus Marvel’s production staff was a corporation. Marvel was obviously a corporation, and frankly, the X-Men themselves were a (fictional) corporation. The New Mutants were a corporation. Xavier’s School was a corporation. We, the audience, believed in them/it, just as we believe in Bill Gates and Microsoft Windows.

Quote :
No, THEY ALL had the same right of veto. As far as we know, this is the corporate structure these creators agreed to.

Because they didn’t have a proper corporate structure. I’m not using that phrase as a legal precedent, but as an example of how to solve problems when they start, or even prevent them from happening. How could Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and Rick Veitch *EVER* wind up on opposite sides? I dunno, but they obviously did, and all in the name of creator ownership and creative freedom, which Image founded itself upon from the start. Laws and contracts aren’t there for when things go right, they’re there for when things go wrong. The “perils of creator ownership” are that everybody will assume that everybody is all on the same sheet of music and creators are just that benevolent. The “perils of corporate ownership” are that everybody’s trying to get his own share, and will sell you out in a heartbeat if it’ll make more money, especially when he’s contributing nothing else to the endeavor. Justin Beiber and his entourage are a “corporation,” and he’s not going to share his royalties with them.

Moore is also preventing another creator from having any ownership or control of his own work. If Moore sees that as a success of creator ownership, Moore is very very wrong. I’m using “proper corporate structure” in the sense of describing corporations’ viewpoints. There’s a reason they demand ownership and control, and it isn’t all bad. How is Moore’s complaint against DC about “Watchmen” intrinsically different from Bissette’s complaint against Moore about “1963”? Promises were made about ownership, freedom, and ripping off another company’s characters, but Moore never held up his end of the deal. Even Martin Goodman could get Lee, Kirby and Ditko’s pages to the newsstand so eager fans could buy them.

Quote :
Even if "agreed to" in this case means the default because they had no actual agreement as Peter suggests. Creators that enter into partnerships with other creators are subject to one another. This is not a "perils of creator ownership." Some might argue it is an example of the success.

It’s only a success in that creators are aware of the overall responsibilities. Kevin Eastman knew what he was selling to Peter Laird when he gave up his share of TMNT, and Laird knew what he was giving up when he sold the Turtles to Nickelodeon. They only reached that knowledge because of the decades they spent creating the Turtles, publishing the Turtles, promoting the Turtles, being sued over the Turtles, dealing with contracts over the Turtles… Corporations learn things over time, and every creator is still (at some point in his/her life) going to be the stupid 18 year-old who will sign their life away because they get the chance to write Mucous Man. John, Paul, Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe were a corporation. The 9/11 hijackers were a corporation. They learned from earlier mistakes and worked together to accomplish a goal, replacing failed or inadequate members when needed.

Quote :
You said this situation could have been fixed, solved avoided if they had a "Proper corporate structure," again business structures and corporate agreements vary from entity to entity, they may have still opted for an equal vote for each partner, and they might still have agreed to a system where all decisions needed to be unanimous, even under a "Proper corporate structure."

They may have indeed. It wouldn’t surprise me. But it would be a stupid idea, considering how the relationship turned out, and it would provide useful information for future attempts. If you and I decide to do a fun rip-off of early Marvel comics together, we have the example of “1963” to show us what happens twenty years later when things go wrong. We also have the example of Marvel Comics itself, showing us what happens twenty years later when things go wrong. I’m not using “proper corporate structure” as a legal term, I’m using it as a way to protect both of us when you start insisting The Mighty Arachnid should marry See-Through Girl, even though they’re totally wrong for each other, duh! In Moore’s and Marvel’s version of creator rights, we’ll only find See-Through Girl being better off with America Man (because he’s so dreamy.) Honest protection of creator rights would let you do your [totally wrong-headed] Arachnid/See-Through Girl marriage, even if I don’t approve.


Quote :
What a condescending thought. You stupid artists and writers can't operate a business as well as the nice men in the suits, do the responsible thing and step away from the lucrative licensable property. Responsible creators know, they don't know, what's best for their creation...

You said it, not me. I think Lee/Ditko were far better at knowing what to do with their creations than Marvel, as were Lee/Kirby, Siegel and Shuster and Moore/Bissette/Totleben. But Marvel, DC and (eventually) Image were better at knowing what decisions needed to be made and how. Can you honestly say Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Superman, Swamp Thing (and, if it was available) 1963 wouldn’t be more successful today without Roy Thomas, John Romita Sr, John Buscema, and Mort Weisinger?

Quote :
But seriously, DEFINE "better." And explain to me how corporate ownership is inherently leads to better treatment of characters? Even if that group of creators has themselves incorporated?

I didn’t say “corporate ownership”, I said “proper corporate structure”. The Beatles didn’t have proper corporate structure, and they even set up a big corporation. When Paul McCartney wanted to leave, after John, George and Ringo had already tried and failed to quit and after Lennon/McCartney had lost ownership of most of their songs, Paul had to sue John, George and Ringo. Proper corporate structure would have allowed him to exit, and John/George/Ringo to release a statement about the break-up, but the remaining Beatles would continue to work together (which they did) and maybe replace Paul with, I dunno, David Gilmour, Scott Weiland, Paul Rodgers or Jason Bonham.

Proper corporate structure would have told Bissette that he was just a piece in Alan Moore’s master plan and should be thankful for his “1963” royalties and the work he got. Proper corporate structure would have given Bissette creator’s rights to tell Moore to fuck off, he’s going to take his “1963” characters and stick them where the god Horus don’t shine. Proper corporate structure would give both Moore and Bissette their individual rights to their own characters, and if they wind up competing, well, let the best man win.

[I like Dave Sim’s idea that Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane should agree to make Miracleman the first big popular domain character. While Neil is finishing his literary story, Todd can do his toy-company based version, and Alex Ross can do his painted version, Garth Ennis can do the most violent, sex-filled Miracleman story imaginable, and let the readers decide which is best, voting with their dollars. I can’t see how “1963” would be worse off for this sort of agreement, but Alan Moore would need to return Steve Bissette’s creative rights to make it possible, which he won’t do.]

Quote :
Oh no! If not for corporate ownership, we would never have had Moore's SwampThing! Does not prove corporation know what's better for a character than an artist or writer.

You can make one of those to support anything. Oh no! If not for corporate ownership, we would never have had Before Watchmen! The LXG movie, the Gwen Stacy-Norman Osbourne love child run on Spiderman, the Clone Saga, Superman 3 & 4, Batnipples, The Howard The Duck movie. Over in the movie boards there with several people who would argue the latest corporate owned, Superman movie was not the best treatment of that character.

You’re projecting again. And you haven’t demonstrated that Superman, Batman, Swamp Thing and Marvel Comics weren’t better because of Mort Weisinger, Bob Kane, Denny O’Neill and Neal Adams, Moore/Bissette/Totleben/Veitch, Roy Thomas and Jim Shooter. What would comic books be like now if we only remembered “The X-Men” as that goofy retread of a kid gang Jack Kirby tried to do in the 1960s?

Quote :
Just because you can find a favorite run on a corporate owned character doesn't prove corporate ownership is inherently better.

Which I never said, but don’t let that stop you. And remember, I’m not using “corporation” as a legal term, only its dictionary definition, of more than one person united to accomplish a common goal. A military unit is a corporation. A football team is a corporation.

Quote :
All you pointed out was that Bissette has less say on his DC characters, than he does on 1963, where he at least had a vote. The decision may not have gone his way, but he at least had a vote.

Hey, great, a vote. Siegel and Shuster had a vote on Superman back when they were making big money from the property. They voted wrong. Are you sure you’re defending creators here?

Quote :
Creators that enter into partnerships with other creators are subject to one another. This is not a "perils of creator ownership."If they would have agreed to a majority rules situation Moore would be having the thing printed against his will. How is that different than DC comics doing things to Moore's work's there, that he doesn't approve of?

Because it would be another creator printing his work because he wants to print it. Dave Gibbons can’t print “Watchmen” without DC’s approval, but DC has decades of experience with how expectations can go bad. Moore and Gibbons didn’t even have that, as seen by the end of their relationship. The “perils of creator ownership” include realizing that things go wrong. Mick and Keef are a corporation. Keith Richards takes heavy drugs, meaning he might die any minute, go utterly insane, or do something which leaves Mick Jagger without a songwriting partner. Mick has the Rolling Stones to think about. They depend on him to sing. They depend on the overall Stones production crew to produce the albums and move their equipment from city to city in time for a concert. He has the fans who want to hear “Satisfaction” and “Jumping Jack Flash” along with the newest hits. Mick’s royalties get invested everywhere, and pay for him to party with the intercontinental elite. Keith’s royalties get injected into his bloodstream. Neither of them can gain an upperhand over the other, except in public perception (Live Aid) or audience enjoyment (neither of them have had any real solo success).

Quote :
Creator owned, Corporate ownership, sometimes looks pretty similar.

And giving up up all your ownership rights to a corporation, is not in the best interst of the property. It certainly is not better than losing a vote in a creator owned partnership/corporation.

Says who? This is contradictory. Siegel and Shuster made more money from Superman than Steve Ditko has made from Spider-Man, even though they all gave birth to billion-dollar franchises. But Ditko actively refuses any compensation for his efforts. Why? I dunno, f*cking artists. You cannot predict these things. Proper corporate structure will give you options when things go bad. It would have helped Siegel and Shuster, it would have helped Ditko, Kirby and Lee, it would have helped Moore and Gibbons. Steve Bissette [quoting from memory] said that Dave Sim and Gerhard would stay together until they died, and it didn’t happen. At least Dave and Ger had a proper corporate structure for breaking up, which only happened because Dave treated Ger as a creator with his own rights.

Artists, as benevolent creative individuals, don’t think about things going bad. They think in terms of “if only I had access to a [lead singer/film crew/comic book artist/recording contract/regular television show/etc.] everything would work out. In comic books, that’s long been known as the quickest way to sign away every right you have. I’m sure Bissette didn’t hesitate to agree with Moore’s idea for a Marvel superhero rip-off, even though Bissette hates superheroes. Twenty years later, it looks like a perfect template for a fictionalized dramatization. At the time, it made perfect sense for everybody involved.

Quote :
If you want a sure fire way to avoid Bissette's circumstance here, there are way better options than to give up all your ownership rights to a corporation.

The most obvious way I've said over and over above. Clearly state in any agreement, any expectations/demands/requirements. Right from the start, and get it in writing. Better a contract spells out everything in advance, rather than getting surprised by a partner's change of heart later. You've said as much above.

Yes, I’ve said as much above. Which is why it bewilders me that you’re going so far to argue against me, when all you need to do is read what I’m saying and not project your own ‘corporate characters are superior to creator ownership’ viewpoint.
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Steve Bissette asks 1963 be posted free...   Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:35 pm

A follow-up on the perils of creator ownership, consider R. Crumb's "Keep On Truckin'" picture.  By United States copyright laws, he created it, so he owns it.  But under those same laws, he has to ruthlessly stomp out anyone else who tries to use it.  He failed to do so - damn hippie - and he (and his publisher) didn't always keep the copyright symbol, so a court ruled that he had failed to protect his property and the work was public domain.  He sued again, and won, and the IRS intervened to demand he pay taxes on all the royalties he was supposed to pay if he had been the owner all along.

Crumb said he was the owner all along, and proved it in court.  So why shouldn't he have to pay taxes?  Taxation is something that creator-owners never consider until it's too late.  Corporations at least hire accountants [job creation] to keep track of these things.  Someone has to.

In Jack Kirby's great fight with Marvel over original art, it was discovered that Marvel never paid New York State sales tax for purchasing the artwork, which state tax law required.  They bought his ideas under work-for-hire, but not the physical property he created day-in and day-out when he sat down at a drawing board.  Once they tallied how many Klassic Kirby Komic pages had been stolen from Marvel's storage unit, it was obvious there was a huge liability on someone's part.  It couldn't be Kirby's, because he had plenty of evidence that Marvel owned everything he created for them, including their own letters insisting that he had sold all rights to his artwork.  Which meant Marvel was responsible for paying sales tax, but comic books is such a fringe medium that no one ever considered state taxation laws.

Because they never legally purchased the artwork, and then let hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of his art go missing, Kirby would have had a very good case to demand a share of Revlon stock and a seat at the Board of Directors, facing Stan Lee and Jim Shooter and telling them how things were going to be, because *their* actions had cost him so much money, or else he'd tell the government that they weren't paying decades worth of taxes.  If they *did* purchase the artwork legally, then surely they could demonstrate in court that they bought it legally and had the receipts to prove it.  Corporations are expected to keep track of these things.

Alan Moore didn't *buy* Steve Bissette's ideas or artwork.  He is also so lax in keeping track of these things that when ownership is asserted (or denied) it's a clusterfuck equivalent to "1963" and the question in a court of law becomes who will pay for it.  The IRS (or British equivalent) has their own interest, so it's definitely worth considering a proper corporate structure.  If nothing else, it avoids "There's one for you, nineteen for me", as George Harrison pointed out, realizing that Lennon/McCartney made more money from his songs than he did.


Last edited by ChrisW on Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:25 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : It was actually "Only A Northern Song" where George made that point, but "Taxman" works so much better.)
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