Writer Gerry Conway, who created several characters during his time at both Marvel and DC (including Firestorm, Killer Croc, Vixen and The Punisher) took to his blog recently to discuss and throw a spotlight on the way DC pay credit to their creative talent for the characters they created while working for the company.
By introducing what they call ‘creator equity participation’, DC was one of the first publishers to offer royalty payments to creators for when characters were used outside of the comics medium --- such as in television, cinema, toys, or video games. Chuck Dixon, for example, is paid whenever Bane appears in a film or video game, as he is cited as the character’s co-creator.
Those of you who take a moment to read the credits pages of your weekly Marvel Comics may have noticed that there's been a small change that started in this week's batch: Jack Kirby is receiving a creator credit for characters and teams that he co-created.
The new credit comes only a few weeks after Marvel and the Kirby family reached an agreement that settled a lawsuit that lasted five years, just before the Supreme Court was set to announce whether it would hear the case. While the details of the settlement haven't been released, giving Kirby a creator credit in the comics certainly seems to fit the joint statement released by both parties in September, which mentioned "advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history."
This week, Marvel Comics announced that it's planning to publish a new printing of the Howard the Duck Omnibus in October, collecting the character's first appearance, all 33 issues of the original Howard the Duck series, and several other appearances in Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Treasury Edition, and Man-Thing.
It's the first time the omnibus has seen print since 2008, and it's a great resource for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with Howard -- a great, satirical character often held in low regard because of the 1986 movie. It's also an opportunity to get to know the work of Steve Gerber, the writer who co-created the character with artist Val Mayerik. Gerber died in February 2008, six months before the original release of the omnibus, and did not hold very positive feelings towards Marvel for decades after his Howard the Duck comics were first published.
The United States Supreme Court wrapped up its 2014 term Monday, deciding cases involving health care, unions, and other pressing issues. If two comic creators' families get their way, the court's next term could involve the fate of some of the most popular comics characters ever created.
First, the family of Jack Kirby filed paperwork to ask the Supreme Court to consider whether they have any rights to the characters Kirby co-created at Marvel Comics in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Now, the family of Joe Shuster, who co-created Superman with writer Jerry Siegel at DC, has essentially done the same.
A letter from DC Comics Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee to the company's freelancers has outlined a new payment policy that offers royalties to the creators of digital-first comics and colorists (previously, payments just a flat rate), and changes the structure of how all creators are paid. The new plan, which will supplant a policy that has been in place for more than 30 years, goes into effect July 1 and is a direct response to a recent survey DC took of its talent pool.
Specifically, payments (DC doesn't use the term "royalties" because that implies ownership) will soon be based on net revenue -- how much money a book makes after costs -- rather than on the cover price. That gives DC "more flexibility to sell our material in new distribution channels that have different pricing models," according to the letter obtained by ComicsAlliance. That seems to point to digital comics and possible experimentation with pricing there.
So is this a positive or a negative for creators? That's a little harder to suss out.
Three of Hollywood's biggest industry guilds have submitted an amicus brief in support of the Kirby estate in the case of Lisa Kirby V. Marvel Characters. The brief urges the Supreme Court to hear the case, as the guilds believe the outcome will have major implications for the film industry.
The legendary and outspoken writer behind Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, and many more of the most memorable comic book stories of the last 30+ years, Alan Moore's feelings on creators' rights are well documented. He's continued to discuss his views at length in Occupy Comics, Black Mask Studios' Kickstarter-funded anthology inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, opining mainly on the comics industry's complex historical relationship with counterculture and corporations. Titled "Buster Brown At The Barricades," much of the latest chapter focuses specifically on Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and their lifelong struggle for credit and control of the Man of Steel they created and sold for just $130 in the 1930s.
The latest ruling in the legal struggle between Marvel and Ghost Rider creator Gary Friedrich took an even uglier turn this week, with Marvel stipulating that they will only drop their countersuit again Friedrich if he pays $17,000 for selling Ghost Rider merchandise at conventions...
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