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JFS
11-23-2009, 09:55 PM
Hi all,

long time lurker, first time poster. Figured this is the best place to ask.

A year ago I did a comic book for a small press publisher. They printed the book, I was paid and I thought that was it. However, I've been informed that the book was submitted to a US publisher and might be reprinted as a mini series or a graphic novel.

Much of the art work in my country is done illegally. Needless to say, the amount I got was small and nobody thought of whipping up a contract at the time. There was no discussion between the publisher and me whether it was work for hire or not. The writer and the previous artist created most of the characters, but some were created by me when I came on board. Question #1: Do I own any rights on those? Question #2: Am I entitled to any royalties from the US publisher?

I understand it is hypocritical to think of royalties if I agreed to work illegally. I probably cannot enforce whatever the law says anyway. Still, I would like to know what should be done. (I already know what should have been done, thanks. :P) I thought I had moved on (studying in the US now), but it seems I would still like to know what the answers are.

Scribbly
11-23-2009, 10:26 PM
Who did inform you that the book was submitted to an US publisher?
How do you do artwork illegally? What makes your work illegal?
In what country are you living?
If you don't have a contract you don't have rights and
you are entitled to nothing. Nada.
You already know that.
You got paid.
What else do you want?
What should be done?
Use that work as reference for your portfolio.
And do your next work legally.

JFS
11-23-2009, 11:28 PM
Hi, Scribbly. Thanks for the reply, it was pretty much what I expected. I guess I just need... a closure.Who did inform you that the book was submitted to an US publisher?A friend who still works for the publisher.
How do you do artwork illegally? What makes your work illegal?I signed no contract, nobody paid any taxes... We're talking tens of US dollars here, not thousands.In what country are you living?Albania, moved to the US six months ago.If you don't have a contract you don't have rights and
you are entitled to nothing. Nada.Got it. Does the publisher? It's not a company - more like small press, no papers, nothing.

Comics were frowned upon until recently there... It's more like a hobby than an industry like in the US.

L Jamal
11-23-2009, 11:58 PM
What did you believe that were you were being paid for?

JFS
11-24-2009, 12:20 AM
What did you believe that were you were being paid for?That's a good question.

I guess work for hire. Heh.

I think I'm just upset the publisher might end up making a lot of money and they invested so little, while I'd get nothing. Oh well.

Scribbly
11-24-2009, 11:27 AM
That's a good question.

I guess work for hire. Heh.

I think I'm just upset the publisher might end up making a lot of money and they invested so little, while I'd get nothing. Oh well.
Sorry, but what's your name? Jack Kirby?

JFS
11-24-2009, 02:56 PM
Haha, I guess I had it coming. When I said "a lot of money", I was thinking a thousand or two - a lot where I come from.

By the way, I wonder what they said to Kirby: "Sorry, but what's your name? Hal Foster?"

Just kidding. Point taken.

L Jamal
11-24-2009, 03:34 PM
That's a good question.

I guess work for hire. Heh.

I think I'm just upset the publisher might end up making a lot of money and they invested so little, while I'd get nothing. Oh well.

Then it's a lesson learned.
As a publisher as well a work for hire guy, I've been on both sides.
Never work without a contract unless you are happy with what you are getting now and/or can afford to sue later.

WCG Comics
11-24-2009, 03:41 PM
I don't see the "crime" or what was illegal.... Are you not allowed to draw comics in your home country? Or is the fact that you were paid for a job but did not claim it for tax purposes in your home country a problem?

I don't know the law well enough to know whether you are required to pay U.S. taxes on payment you received from an American source. But if it's as little as you say ("tens of U.S. dollars not thousands"), because of the small amount, I doubt you would not owed any tax anyway.

So unless you feel it will somehow threaten your residency status here in the U.S. (I'm assuming you are here legally), frankly I don't think it hurts to at least ask the people who paid you whether you will be given any money or royalty if the work is reprinted. (There's a good chance they're not getting any money either, so it might be moot anyway.)

But if this is a property they want to continue--and on which they may wish you to work again--it might be in their interest to do good by you. However, if they simply tell you "you were already paid for your work and that's all we are obligated to do," you can decide then if you want to push harder or simply walk away with a good lesson learned. But, again, I don't think it hurts to just ask--remember, they were paying you under the table as well.

maverick
11-24-2009, 03:44 PM
That's a good question.

I guess work for hire. Heh.

I think I'm just upset the publisher might end up making a lot of money and they invested so little, while I'd get nothing. Oh well.

In the world of indie comics, few people/publishers "end up making a lot of money." Not saying it's not possible in this case, as I have no idea what the book or who the publisher is, but very few are getting rich.

Why not send them a note? At the very least I'd say they owe you some free copies one it does get reprinted.

dmoser
11-24-2009, 06:20 PM
I agree with what Maverick said in regards to sending them an email or something. Worst case scenario they say no and you're in the same spot you are right now.