Gerry Conway Starts Blog Aimed At Fair Compensation For DC Character Creators
Felicity Smoak is an important character on The CW network’s Arrow. Next season, Smoak, played by actress Emily Bett Rickards, will be a series regular. A few months ago, the fact that Smoak was even appearing on the show came as news to Gerry Conway, the writer who co-created the character with artist Rafael Kayanan in a 1984 issue of Firestorm. He didn’t find out via a royalty check, either. He found out from fans. Now, he’s started a blog aimed at getting himself and his fellow creators some compensation when DC Comics characters they create appear in non-comics media.
In his introductory post, Conway describes how DC Comics actually changed the way it compensated comics creators in the mid 1970s — when previous contracts offered no opportunities for comics creators to reap any TV or movie benefits:
Starting in the mid-70s DC offered creators an opportunity for what they called “equity participation.” With the appropriate paperwork submitted and signed, DC creators would receive a share of the profits generated by their creations. Like I said, you may think this is only fair, but in the ’70s it hit the business like a revelation. And for more than thirty years it’s given quite a few creators an extra bit of income — in some cases, for some older creators, the only real income they receive from comics.
Conway says it likely wasn’t malice on DC’s part for failing to give him and Kayanan monetary credit for Smoak’s appearances in Arrow. It’s more like the publisher simply didn’t go to the trouble to make a point of it. Trouble is, creators don’t get paid retroactively for equity participation. They have to file paperwork, and only get paid after that paperwork gets filed.
So Conway is offering a DC character equity request form for fans to download and send to the creators of DC characters who appear on TV or in movies so they get paid. The writer even set up a special email address for people to report uses of his own characters.
Of course, the policy only applies to characters created after 1975, so if Crazy Quilt shows up in an episode of Beware the Batman, don’t bother trying to contact Jack Kirby’s family.