One of the recent outcomes of the Chuck Wendig firing (See The Politics of Making Comics) has been a call for unionization among freelance comic creators. The theory is that the collective power of a union could protect individual creators with collective bargaining, litigation, or even a strike under certain circumstances.
But the concept of a comics creators union isn't a simple thing to create in reality. Rich Johnson of Bleeding Cool addressed the issue last week (See Why Are There No Comic Book Unions). He pointed out legal hurdles including the Taft Hartly Act, economic trends in comics and the historical problems luminaries like Neal Adams and Frank Miller had trying to set up unions in the past.
One obstacle not addressed in the article is the role geography and technology play in the making of modern comics. Unions traditionally focus on centralized workers in a factory, town, or region. But comics are created by remote groups and uploaded to cloud. If a union were created and decided to strike, what would stop publishers from going to India, Asia, or South Africa for creative scabs? And the competition for comic book work has always been fierce. Union members who walk away from their assignments might be replaced within a week...or even a day.
All this is not to say that unionization among comic creators is impossible or is ultimately bad for the industry. But until the obstacles are overcome, freelance creators need to negotiate the best contracts they can and be flexible enough to withstand the rapid changes inherent to the industry.
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