In spite of the newfound popular acceptance, the masses still fail to see comics as a superior storytelling method, with both an artistic and popular appeal that elevates it above all other narrative art.Read More
Filtering by Tag: creator driven comics
Publishing your own comics, like any type of independent creative endeavor, can be an exciting journey of achievement. It can also be a descent into poor health, isolation, and financial stress. Creators who can balance the love for their book with their long term well being have a better chance of enjoying the experience.
Jessica Bruder wrote a thoughtful piece in Inc. Magazine called "The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship." While publishing an independent comic isn't the same as launching a Fortune 500 company, there are simple lessons in this post creators can learn like:
Make time for friends and family
Ask for help if depression or hopelessness sets in
Take care of your body (sleep, exercise, etc.)
Don't bankrupt yourself to make your book
Don't define yourself only by your book
Publishing independent comics can feel like being a superhero with a secret identity. Both your passion project and your alter ego need to be protected. Neglecting either one can create an imbalance that destroys both.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT firstname.lastname@example.org FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.
Why are the sales of Marvel Comics declining?
Is it because of crossover fatigue?
Is it because there are too many titles coming out every month?
Is it the price tag?
Is it because talent is migrating to more creator driven deals?
Or is it because there are too many women and minority characters with their own books?
There might be several different reasons Marvel is struggling right now, but from the outside looking in, diversity is probably the least of their worries. But even if comic book readers didn’t want their icons replaced, the company could have become more inclusive without being heavy handed.
As a comic book reader, a lawyer who specializes in the comic book industry, and a member of a minority group, I see the current push for more inclusive characters as a good idea poorly executed. Instead of focusing on unused characters they already had, Marvel tried to capitalize on the transmedia success of established characters by giving them a diversity makeover.
Instead of building up Valkyrie or Sif, they made Thor a woman.
Captain America becomes a black instead of just focusing more attention on Falcon or giving Black Panther more time to shine.
Iron Man becomes a black woman instead of pushing War Machine.
Hulk becomes Asian instead of just giving more time to characters like Sunfire or Silver Samurai.
The female version of Wolverine replaces the original instead of just building up someone like Lady Deathstrike.
Instead of using Dust or another Muslim character, Ms. Marvel is co-opted.
Spider-Gwen, Gwen Pool both come off as derivative of established characters when stronger characters like White Tiger and Domino could have been given a chance to shine.
I’m sure you get the point by now.
The corporate page of Marvel states that the company has over 8,000 characters. A lot of them are women and minorities, so why not use them? There’s nothing wrong with trying to expand your market by bringing in new readers who want to see themselves reflected in their mythology. The demographics of the market are changing, the characters can change to reflect the world we live in. But diversity, like anything else, can be done wrong. Trying to ride the coattails of your established properties instead of building a fan base for new characters is an exercise in self sabotage. There might be a lot of factors impacting Marvel’s sales, but building an audience for any character takes time, whether you are an independent or one of the biggest publishers in the world. Short cuts and quick fixes may not be the answer, no matter how big you are.
What do you think?
PLEASE NOTE: NEITHER THIS BLOG NOR FOUR CAREERS IN COMICS ARE A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE A LICENSING OR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ISSUE, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT email@example.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.
A few weeks ago, I introduced a new book I'm working on called Your Career in Comics (YCC) that will attempt to take a comprehensive look at the business and legal aspects of being in the comics industry. (See Your Career in Comics: An Introduction). So far, I’ve introduced the Creator Owned (See The Creator Owned Path), Work for Hire (See The Work for Hire Path) and Creator Driven aspects of the industry (See The Creator Driven Path). This week I'd like to look at the fourth and final role in modern comics: The Transmedia Producer
Description: A transmedia artist owns a property and licenses a portions of that property across various media for production, marketing and sales to the public. A comic or graphic novel is a story. The story contain characters and ideas. Your stories can find a home in many different media, depending on its structure. Your ideas can escape the confines of the story and migrate to merchandise or other promotional material.
Benefits: The two main benefits of being a transmedia artist are revenue and mainstream distribution. In many ways, the transmedia creator is seen as the greatest commercial success of a comic artist. A commercially successful comic might generate tens of thousands of dollars. A successful comics based movie might generate tens of millions of dollars. The merchandise program associated with a television, cable or film also has the potential to generate millions. Opportunities for interactive and new media spinoffs are increasing. Competition with other forms of entertainment has reduced the number of people reading comics, but the popularity of comics characters has never been higher. The transmedia creator takes advantage of this shift by moving his work to where it will be enjoyed by the most people.
Challenges: The two main challenges of being an independent are loss of creative control and lack of knowledge. Transmedia deals can be seen as similar to Creator Driven deals based on the what each side brings to the table. You have the intellectual property, your potential partners have the production and distribution systems to make the most of it. But there are major differences in both the nature of the industries you might be entering and the scale of the enterprise. Making a movie is exponentially more expensive than making a comic and requires dozens more people in every aspect of the project. The same goes for any large scale merchandise or media endeavor. As the cost and complexity of transmedia endeavors increase, the less the comics creator usually understands about what’s going on. Many comics creators don’t know everything that goes into making a single episode of TV or what it takes to ship thousands of toys from China. When the increased scope combines with that natural lack of knowledge it often leads to a loss of creative and financial control.
Legal Considerations: Transmedia deals cannot move forward unless everyone who owns a legal stake in the property has agreed to let the project move forward. Dozens of comics are trapped in development hell for years because of disputes and lawsuits over the ownership of a particular character. If your goal is transmedia, then you have to maintain a meticulous chain of title (documents showing who owns what aspect of the character) from day one. A small sample of the required documents include:
Work for Hire Agreements for everyone who worked on the development of the property who isn’t part of the deal
Collaboration Agreements for every creator who worked on the development of the property who is a part of the deal.
Copyright and Trademark registrations for all major elements of the work
License Agreements for each type of deal you are entering into
Insurance Agreements to protect against potential issues (including IP infringement, defamation, etc.)
Participation Agreements with any third party who might have an interest in the property
Corporate documents for your business entity
Tax documents for your business entity
The amount and cost of covering your bases from a legal standpoint are highest in the transmedia aspect of comics, but the potential rewards and losses are far higher than any legal costs you might pay upfront to avoid lawsuits in the future.
I hope you have enjoyed this introduction into the different comic industry roles. While this doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the complex business of comics, I hope it forms a basis for you to think about where you are and where you’d like to go as a professional.
In the coming weeks and months, I plan to use my blog to update everyone on the progress of my book. I’m going to share the interviews, research and development of the manuscript so you can learn as I learn. If you’d like to follow along, please sign up for the Professional Comic Creator Newsletter.
Until next time, keep making comics and have fun.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE A LICENSING OR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ISSUE, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT firstname.lastname@example.org FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.