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Joe Quesada Fires Back About Marvel’s Digital Royalties

After DC Comics announced its new digital distribution program last week with specific emphasis on its plan to offer creators digital royalties equivalent to print, there were some rather sharp responses on Twitter from Marvel editors like C.B. Cebulski and Tom Brevoort, taking issue with the idea that DC had beaten Marvel to punch on compensating creators for digital distribution.

Given their very pointed comments and insistence that Marvel already had digital royalties in the bag, it seemed like only a matter of time before Marvel offered a more substantive response, and now they have. Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada has stepped up to the plate in his Cup O’ Joe Q&A with Kiel Phegley, where he spoke about how long their digital royalty program has been in the works, whom it applies to, why they didn’t announce it earlier, and when the first checks will go out — with a few digs at DC for good measure.

Check out the highlights after the jump.How long they’ve been planning a digital royalty program:

“Going pretty far back, in discussions about electronically/digitally distributed comics, our publisher Dan Buckley stated at several convention panels and in interviews that we would be paying incentives for creators of these books. We just didn’t put out a press release about it, and I guess some folks just didn’t catch it when he said these things. But there you go, welcome to the world of the Internet.”


When they will be paying their first digital royalties:

“Like all incentive programs, whether paper or electronic, sales are tabulated, math is done and then, eventually, checks go out. If you want specifics, okay I’ll give you one: our first incentive checks for e-comics will be going out sometime right after San Diego Comic-Con. Announcing this, now maybe DC can put out a press release saying that they’re going to pay their incentives the week before San Diego. Cool, if they do that, then they’ll manage to be the first at something in the digital arena.”

Why they didn’t announce their program to the public earlier:

“We just didn’t think it was an issue. When we made our announcements that we would have electronic comics on the iPad, iPhone and PSP, that, to me, was the only real announcement that was important for the public to know. Internally what creators make, whether it be their page rate or incentives, wasn’t really an announcement for the general public. The only time I guess an announcement like that would be important to make publicly would have to be if you’re trying to win some sort of public relations war, which I kind of get in some ways… Next time we announce a new publishing initiative, I’ll see if our marketing team can make it a point to announce that we will be paying creators page rates, incentives and every other little thing we do behind-the-scenes.

The differences between the Marvel and DC digital royalty plans:

“I’m not privy to DC’s entire incentive plan as I’m sure they’re not privy to the entirety of ours. But at the end of the day I’m sure we are better in some areas than they are and they are better than we are in some others. However, I think when you add it all together and you push and pull the numbers, it all breaks down to be about the same. It’s just coming from different pools. However, the big difference is the Marvel books on average and across the board sell more than DC books and that affects incentives in a very, very big way and it’s obvious that Marvel’s iPad announcement really helped cement us as the industry leader.”

Whether non-exclusive creators will be eligible:

Incentives will be paid on the sale of e-comics regardless of whether a creator is exclusive or not.”

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