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maverick
02-11-2016, 02:44 PM
I realize every agreement is probably a little different, but I am unclear if it is industry standard or not, in cases of writer/artist creator owned property, for the artist's original page rate to be treated as a sort of advance on profits/royalties.

For simple example's sake, Writer hires Artist to illustrate a book and pays him $5,000. Book gets picked up/published by Image. They agree to split the profits 50/50, but the artist would not receive any money from sales of the book until he has "earned back" the $5,000 originally paid to him as a page rate.

Stewart Vernon
02-11-2016, 06:27 PM
This sounds familiar to me... and it seems fair as well, assuming it is all discussed up front and agreed to. Having a written/signed contract would help enforce this.

If the book doesn't sell, the artist still gets his page rate up front already, whereas the writer in this scenario isn't making anything (in your hypothetical)... so I don't see where the complaint would be as long as the accounting is correct to keep track of when the profits exceed that original artist's advance.

ferah11
02-13-2016, 08:21 AM
Yeah, even tho is just a theoretical situation he even joined just to reply lol.

Bishop
02-13-2016, 04:07 PM
It all depends on what is in the contract. If you believe the page rate is an 'advance' and you should get a percentage of backend, make sure that is explicitly stated in the contract.

scrappy
02-13-2016, 09:06 PM
Any arrangement can be made as long as its agreed to be all parties. But personally, I find this situation heavily favorable for the artist. He can have all of the reward with none of the risk. The point of taking an upfront page rate is because its a work for hire situation. You get your money for working on someone else's project. Why should someone pay you for working on something you own? If you're giving someone an advance then you are no longer equal partners IMO.

Jason Powell
02-15-2016, 04:11 PM
Any arrangement can be made as long as its agreed to be all parties. But personally, I find this situation heavily favorable for the artist. He can have all of the reward with none of the risk. The point of taking an upfront page rate is because its a work for hire situation. You get your money for working on someone else's project. Why should someone pay you for working on something you own? If you're giving someone an advance then you are no longer equal partners IMO.

However, you have to spell every detail out in the contract or you are open to possible claims. For instance the artist may only agree to print media and not digital media. Also, unless the contract states different, the artist retains rights to his art and may only agree to printing once and not a 2nd print or an OGN, ect... Just because you pay a page rate doesn't not mean you automatically own the art as well. So treed carefully here my friends.

-Jason

Stewart Vernon
02-15-2016, 10:21 PM
Yeah, there's a difference between "is this a possible thing" and "is this an enforceable thing"...

It's a fair thing for an artist to agree to, since it pretty much takes up-front risk off the table for the artist... but both sides have to be clear and spell it out in a contract or it can come back to bite someone later.

I just originally answered the "is this a thing" part of the question.

scrappy
02-16-2016, 08:57 PM
Also, unless the contract states different, the artist retains rights to his art and may only agree to printing once and not a 2nd print or an OGN, ect... Just because you pay a page rate doesn't not mean you automatically own the art as well.

I would think the opposite is true. The artist would have to explicitly state in the contract that he only agrees to one printing. If not...then the writer indefinitely owns the art on the pages. After all, that's what you're paying for, is it not?

jimmybott
02-17-2016, 08:53 AM
I've been offered and worked under a number of contracts and I've never seen anything like the suggested arrangement in the first post for the comic industry. Though advances on royalties are common in the book publishing market.

Typically working in comics there are 2 types of contract

1) Work for hire. The artist is paid a page rate for their work but they do not own any of the rights. If movie/TV/game rights, etc are sold the artist usually would not receive anything for this (some contracts will offer a small token percentage but it's not typical). No financial risk to artist if the title bombs or loses money.

2) Creator owned contract. No upfront payment. There is no relationship between a page rate and working creator owned. Once publishing fees, printing, distribution and any other costs are covered the creative team split the profits as per their agreed percentages. Financial risk on books success is split.

There is no reason you could not form a hybrid of this where for a smaller page rate the artists accepts a percentage of ownership. This would be smaller than the writers/client say a 75/25 or 80/20 split for example. Anything can be written in a contract as long as both sides are willing to sign up to it.

I don't agree with Jason's comment about the 1 printing only, it would need to be a clause in the contract and as the contract is generally written by the person doing the hiring, this clause is not in their favour so I can't see it ever being added. Typically under work for hire the ownership of the image becomes the property of the client and they can print it as many times, in as many media or languages as they see fit (anything from lunchboxes, t-shirts, graphic novels to advertising toothpaste if they want). In essence by paying a page rate they are buying the copyright to the image. What the artist is usually allowed to keep is the original hard copy of the image to sell if they wish. Though I have seen some contracts where the original also becomes the property of the client. Also keep in mind if you're a penciller working with a traditional inker, then whether working for hire or creator owned there will usually be an agreement between the 2 of you on the split of the originals. So you both end up owning some of the original artwork.

Most work for hire contracts also state that any characters or inventions created in those pages become the property of the client. This is how you can hire an artist to just do character design and development. You pay them a page rate and you still completely own your creation and the images they've drawn. It is also why when movies based on comics come out then you often see the headlines of comic creators who have been (or feel) cheated start popping up. A few good examples of these are the law cases Marv Wolfman vs Marvel comics over Blade and Gary Friedman vs Marvel comics over Ghost Rider.
http://www.toptenz.net/10-times-comic-book-creators-screwed.php
Other good examples are the double ended lightsaber wielded by Darth Maul in 'The Phantom Menace' and the curved handled lightsaber wielded by Count Dooku in 'Attack of the Clones' were both originally drawn by Christian Gossett while working on 'Tales of the Jedi' for Dark Horse Comics.
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Wookieepedia:Interview/Christian_Gossett

The above is only from my experience over the past 12 years. Others may have their own experiences they can share.

Jason Powell
02-17-2016, 03:10 PM
I've been offered and worked under a number of contracts and I've never seen anything like the suggested arrangement in the first post for the comic industry. Though advances on royalties are common in the book publishing market.

Typically working in comics there are 2 types of contract

1) Work for hire. The artist is paid a page rate for their work but they do not own any of the rights. If movie/TV/game rights, etc are sold the artist usually would not receive anything for this (some contracts will offer a small token percentage but it's not typical). No financial risk to artist if the title bombs or loses money.

2) Creator owned contract. No upfront payment. There is no relationship between a page rate and working creator owned. Once publishing fees, printing, distribution and any other costs are covered the creative team split the profits as per their agreed percentages. Financial risk on books success is split.

There is no reason you could not form a hybrid of this where for a smaller page rate the artists accepts a percentage of ownership. This would be smaller than the writers/client say a 75/25 or 80/20 split for example. Anything can be written in a contract as long as both sides are willing to sign up to it.

I don't agree with Jason's comment about the 1 printing only, it would need to be a clause in the contract and as the contract is generally written by the person doing the hiring, this clause is not in their favour so I can't see it ever being added. Typically under work for hire the ownership of the image becomes the property of the client and they can print it as many times, in as many media or languages as they see fit (anything from lunchboxes, t-shirts, graphic novels to advertising toothpaste if they want). In essence by paying a page rate they are buying the copyright to the image. What the artist is usually allowed to keep is the original hard copy of the image to sell if they wish. Though I have seen some contracts where the original also becomes the property of the client. Also keep in mind if you're a penciller working with a traditional inker, then whether working for hire or creator owned there will usually be an agreement between the 2 of you on the split of the originals. So you both end up owning some of the original artwork.

Most work for hire contracts also state that any characters or inventions created in those pages become the property of the client. This is how you can hire an artist to just do character design and development. You pay them a page rate and you still completely own your creation and the images they've drawn. It is also why when movies based on comics come out then you often see the headlines of comic creators who have been (or feel) cheated start popping up. A few good examples of these are the law cases Marv Wolfman vs Marvel comics over Blade and Gary Friedman vs Marvel comics over Ghost Rider.
http://www.toptenz.net/10-times-comic-book-creators-screwed.php
Other good examples are the double ended lightsaber wielded by Darth Maul in 'The Phantom Menace' and the curved handled lightsaber wielded by Count Dooku in 'Attack of the Clones' were both originally drawn by Christian Gossett while working on 'Tales of the Jedi' for Dark Horse Comics.
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Wookieepedia:Interview/Christian_Gossett

The above is only from my experience over the past 12 years. Others may have their own experiences they can share.

Note, I am not lawyer but a contract is intended to protect both parties from claims. Not saying the artist would win, per say, but if the details are not explicate then a claim can be made if you do not cover yourself, and then, if a settlement is not made, then it is up to the interpretation of the Judge based on the law governing the contract, which may or may not be in your favor. This also can cost you time and money which you probably do not have. Believe me, I have had this experience and it was not any fun. You will note when a lawyer draws out a contract he lays out ever detail he can to protect their employer should a claim arise, so the best advice is to hire a lawyer but that is not always possible (I understand) so protect yourself by detailing your agreements as much as possible so a claim is less likely to happen in the first place. Also, before signing a contract you need to make sure you understand what you are signing. Contracts can trick you with word play you do not understand like the difference in a % of the profits vs. a % of the growth.

-Jason

maverick
02-17-2016, 04:25 PM
Is the comic book industry really this wacky? Neither one of those contracts makes any sense from a practical standpoint.

For example's sake, let's say I have a great idea for a graphic novel so I write a script and pay a page rate to a talented artist total $10,000 to illustrate the entire thing (work for hire). The artist does not know me from Adam, and mostly only cares about paying next month's rent. The GN is completed, I pitch it to Image, they hate it. I can't find anyone else to publish it so I try to self publish but it totally tanks. Sucks to be me. Artist is doing fine because he still got paid.

Same scenario as above, only Image loves the book, publish it, it gets great reviews and makes a ton of money (more than the artist's original page rate), gets optioned for a movie, total success story. The artist has still been paid, but only about half as much as he would have if it were a writer/artist royalty split deal.

Creator owned contract -- does this really happen with "normal" comic creators? Seems like the only way an artist would agree to this is if you are a "known" writer in the comic industry and Image has already accepted your pitch. No sane professional artist is going to work on the "hope" that the book will somehow get published. That's just nuts.

Like, does Chip Zdarsky agree to illustrate Sex Criminals at no cost because the writer is a big shot and he knows the book will sell? Or does Matt Fraction pay him a page rate? Or does Image float him an advance on his royalties?


I've been offered and worked under a number of contracts and I've never seen anything like the suggested arrangement in the first post for the comic industry. Though advances on royalties are common in the book publishing market.

Typically working in comics there are 2 types of contract

1) Work for hire. The artist is paid a page rate for their work but they do not own any of the rights. If movie/TV/game rights, etc are sold the artist usually would not receive anything for this (some contracts will offer a small token percentage but it's not typical). No financial risk to artist if the title bombs or loses money.

2) Creator owned contract. No upfront payment. There is no relationship between a page rate and working creator owned. Once publishing fees, printing, distribution and any other costs are covered the creative team split the profits as per their agreed percentages. Financial risk on books success is split.

There is no reason you could not form a hybrid of this where for a smaller page rate the artists accepts a percentage of ownership. This would be smaller than the writers/client say a 75/25 or 80/20 split for example. Anything can be written in a contract as long as both sides are willing to sign up to it.

I don't agree with Jason's comment about the 1 printing only, it would need to be a clause in the contract and as the contract is generally written by the person doing the hiring, this clause is not in their favour so I can't see it ever being added. Typically under work for hire the ownership of the image becomes the property of the client and they can print it as many times, in as many media or languages as they see fit (anything from lunchboxes, t-shirts, graphic novels to advertising toothpaste if they want). In essence by paying a page rate they are buying the copyright to the image. What the artist is usually allowed to keep is the original hard copy of the image to sell if they wish. Though I have seen some contracts where the original also becomes the property of the client. Also keep in mind if you're a penciller working with a traditional inker, then whether working for hire or creator owned there will usually be an agreement between the 2 of you on the split of the originals. So you both end up owning some of the original artwork.

Most work for hire contracts also state that any characters or inventions created in those pages become the property of the client. This is how you can hire an artist to just do character design and development. You pay them a page rate and you still completely own your creation and the images they've drawn. It is also why when movies based on comics come out then you often see the headlines of comic creators who have been (or feel) cheated start popping up. A few good examples of these are the law cases Marv Wolfman vs Marvel comics over Blade and Gary Friedman vs Marvel comics over Ghost Rider.
http://www.toptenz.net/10-times-comic-book-creators-screwed.php
Other good examples are the double ended lightsaber wielded by Darth Maul in 'The Phantom Menace' and the curved handled lightsaber wielded by Count Dooku in 'Attack of the Clones' were both originally drawn by Christian Gossett while working on 'Tales of the Jedi' for Dark Horse Comics.
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Wookieepedia:Interview/Christian_Gossett

The above is only from my experience over the past 12 years. Others may have their own experiences they can share.

Steven Forbes
02-17-2016, 05:19 PM
I don't believe I have to say this. Still. In 2016...

Image doesn't pay a page rate. They won't pay an advance to a team against jack. Image is creator-owned publishing.

Every contract is different, but there is no reward without some risk. It all depends on each individual creator and the amount of risk they're willing to accept.

My question is simple: why is it that people who know better suddenly develop amnesia when it comes to their own projects? (It's not just in comics, either.)

I'll shut up now and go back to quietly shaking my head in the corner.

jimmybott
02-17-2016, 06:03 PM
Maverick,

You're basically arguing that you don't agree with the capitalist system.

Work for hire is like anyone out there working for an hourly rate or monthly salary. You're paid your weekly or monthly wage to do your job while the directors and shareholders make the big bucks if things go well and they run the risk of things going badly (unless it goes REALLY badly and you get a pay cut or redundancy).

A creator owned contract is like you and a partner going in to business together and you share in the risks or rewards of how that business does.

Image's publishing contract is that you pay them a flat fee for publishing your book. They organise the printing and distribution. After distribution and printing the first thing they deduct is their fee. Whatever is left then get's given to the creative team to divide up as per their own internal arrangements. Image comics does not deal with talent related issues.

The other thing to remember is that historically speaking the majority of creator owned comics at image, dark horse, etc have lost money. Some creators have come out about this publically others will tell you in personal discussions. I know of some long running image/dark horse books that the creators have told me lost money or broke even. If you've paid $10,000 for the art up front then statistically speaking odds are stacked against you earning that money back. You may have a big hit but the odds don't look good. Image has seen a bit of an uptrend recently but there are a couple of links below to articles that are worth reading if you want an insiders perspective.

http://www.jimzub.com/the-reality-of-mainstream-creator-owned-comics/

There is a good description here of an ideal sort of life cycle for an artist where you publish a creator owned book that makes little to no money, but you catch the attention of marvel or DC, work there for a while and build your profile, you then go back to working for image but now sell a higher volume and you can make a living while still owning your creations.

http://sktchd.com/longform/creator-owned-longform/

Also Brandon Monteclare of Rocket Girl posted this on comicsbeat.com

"First of all, I believe one should only pay if you feel you’re getting good entertainment value. If it’s worth $3 to read (and hopefully re-read or pass along to another comics fan), then the creators have earned your support and everyone wins. Regarding single issue sales: they are incredibly important to a lot of Image creators. On Rocket Girl, it’s by far the biggest chunk (of course, we don’t have a tpb yet). And every reader counts. A few thousand copies can make or break a series. If Rocket Girl dips into the 8000s, we’ll start thinking about when to wrap it up. If it stays above 12,000 we can do it forever. At 12,000 copies I can make as much writing Rocket Girl as Hulk; Amy Reeder can make as much penciling/inking/coloring as she would on Batwoman. 8000 vs 12,000 is a significant difference in percentage, but it’s not a huge amount of readers. A lot of Image creators are in the same boat, albeit their individual line might be a bit higher or lower. Certainly collected editions and digital and ancillary media/merchandise contribute as well. But a lot of making creator-owned work is down to financing: and single issues have the biggest impact on cash flow–and the only impact on cash flow for almost a full year when you take into account early production to ‘get ahead’ as well as solicitation. Also: your comment forgets artists, who are forgotten way to much nowadays. A writer can maybe juggle 4 simultaneous projects, but an artist can do just one book at a time. It is much harder for an artist to make the plunge into creator-owned–so consider that when choosing what to support."

Rob Norton
02-17-2016, 06:05 PM
I don't believe I have to say this. Still. In 2016...

Image doesn't pay a page rate. They won't pay an advance to a team against jack. Image is creator-owned publishing.

Every contract is different, but there is no reward without some risk. It all depends on each individual creator and the amount of risk they're willing to accept.

My question is simple: why is it that people who know better suddenly develop amnesia when it comes to their own projects? (It's not just in comics, either.)

I'll shut up now and go back to quietly shaking my head in the corner.

i...dont think anyone specifically suggested that. i may have missed it. i just dont think that was the point of the original question. that being if an artist was laready paid once, does he get paid again if the book gets picked up and makes a significant profit on that SAME issue.

jimmybott
02-17-2016, 06:13 PM
Rob,

Steven was referring to this part of the posts.



Like, does Chip Zdarsky agree to illustrate Sex Criminals at no cost because the writer is a big shot and he knows the book will sell? Or does Matt Fraction pay him a page rate? Or does Image float him an advance on his royalties?


Maverick,

No sane professional artist is going to work on the "hope" that the book will somehow get published. That's just nuts.

This is the reality of working creator owned. Also, even though most submission guidelines state 3-5 pages for a pitch. If you've got 1-2 finished issues your chances of getting a publishing contract are much higher than just submitting a short pitch.

Stewart Vernon
02-17-2016, 07:02 PM
The original question, I took to be about was it a fair offer to consider a page rate to be an advance against future royalty/profit split on a co-creator project. Answering that, and that alone, it seems fair to me and I've heard of it being done before.

BUT... as this discussion has meandered, and multiple people have pointed out... The contract is the contract is the contract.

Work for hire isn't work for hire unless you have a contract! When you take a regular job at Marvel or the local gas station, you sign contracts and terms and conditions that typically spell out things like "you do stuff on company time and that result is company-owned and we pay you an hourly wage or a page rate" or whatever... Those standard terms (and more) are part of the "work for hire" contract.

IF you hire someone yourself as an independent creator, you'd have to have them (and you) both sign a work-for-hire contract that stipulates all the stuff like who owns what, royalty split (or lack thereof), ownership of original art, if future reprints are permitted, etc. etc.

IF you do the work without a contract, then both sides are subject to whatever way the wind blows in court if it comes to that.

You are the writer, you create "Bob's Knobs" and pay the artist without a contract. You say you'll pay him $100 per page, and you do... he completes all the art and you pay him all the money. You both think you're done... UNTIL, that comic sells out and you go to a second printing... then a third... then you get a TV series option... and you get a phone call from the artist asking for his cut of the TV contract.

He'll argue his art is what sold the book... you'll argue it was all your idea and you paid for his art... but if you don't have a contract that stipulates this, you've left it up to the court to decide IF your comic would have been as successful without the artist's contributions.

Meanwhile... flip the script... the comic tanks. You end up going in the hole because of pre-paying the artist and buying thousands of unsold copies of the comic. You decide you want to mitigate your losses and you phone the artist and tell him that you think the book didn't sell because of his crappy art and you want him to give you a refund of some or all that you paid him.

He'll argue that should have come up before you paid him in full for the art, and that you bought it you own it... and again, we're back to whichever way the wind blows in court IF they will side with the artist OR maybe this time they'll decide he phoned it in and could have done a better job.

This is why contracts matter... and it's only a sliver of the vast possibilities for conflict on a project that involves multiple people.

Steven Forbes
02-17-2016, 07:02 PM
Yup.

Thanks, Jimmy.

Steven Forbes
02-17-2016, 07:17 PM
The original question, I took to be about was it a fair offer to consider a page rate to be an advance against future royalty/profit split on a co-creator project. Answering that, and that alone, it seems fair to me and I've heard of it being done before.

BUT... as this discussion has meandered, and multiple people have pointed out... The contract is the contract is the contract.

Work for hire isn't work for hire unless you have a contract! When you take a regular job at Marvel or the local gas station, you sign contracts and terms and conditions that typically spell out things like "you do stuff on company time and that result is company-owned and we pay you an hourly wage or a page rate" or whatever... Those standard terms (and more) are part of the "work for hire" contract.

IF you hire someone yourself as an independent creator, you'd have to have them (and you) both sign a work-for-hire contract that stipulates all the stuff like who owns what, royalty split (or lack thereof), ownership of original art, if future reprints are permitted, etc. etc.

IF you do the work without a contract, then both sides are subject to whatever way the wind blows in court if it comes to that.

You are the writer, you create "Bob's Knobs" and pay the artist without a contract. You say you'll pay him $100 per page, and you do... he completes all the art and you pay him all the money. You both think you're done... UNTIL, that comic sells out and you go to a second printing... then a third... then you get a TV series option... and you get a phone call from the artist asking for his cut of the TV contract.

He'll argue his art is what sold the book... you'll argue it was all your idea and you paid for his art... but if you don't have a contract that stipulates this, you've left it up to the court to decide IF your comic would have been as successful without the artist's contributions.

Meanwhile... flip the script... the comic tanks. You end up going in the hole because of pre-paying the artist and buying thousands of unsold copies of the comic. You decide you want to mitigate your losses and you phone the artist and tell him that you think the book didn't sell because of his crappy art and you want him to give you a refund of some or all that you paid him.

He'll argue that should have come up before you paid him in full for the art, and that you bought it you own it... and again, we're back to whichever way the wind blows in court IF they will side with the artist OR maybe this time they'll decide he phoned it in and could have done a better job.

This is why contracts matter... and it's only a sliver of the vast possibilities for conflict on a project that involves multiple people.

All very true.

Personally, I hate contracts. I use them only when necessary, and then hash things out later. I'm not greedy, and I understand the collaborative nature of this beast called comics.

Most comics aren't going to see a dime. No, let me rephrase. The overwhelming bulk of comics created aren't going to see a dime. The art team may/will be paid, the printer will be paid, and that's where it stops, especially if you're self-publishing. Breaking even is extremely hard to do, and that's only done on a per-issue basis once ALL the money has been recouped: art (the entire team), printing, and distribution. Did you pay for any advertising? That has to be accounted for, too. Everything that goes into that one issue has to be accounted for before you can begin to see a profit.

And it's difficult. Extremely.

This is why I rarely use contracts.

Also, like I said, I'm not greedy. If a project of mine were to be picked up for tv or film, I have no real problem in sharing. I can't draw, I can't ink, I can't color. I'm not overwhelmingly good at lettering. I don't mind paying for things I can't do. The overwhelming bulk of the time, a contract is useless because the project doesn't go anywhere.

This is only my opinion. It isn't anywhere near close to the opinions of others, which are also valid.

I am now officially bored with this subject.

MBirkhofer
02-17-2016, 07:43 PM
Contracts can be renegotiated, in extreme situations as well.

scrappy
02-17-2016, 08:49 PM
The original question, I took to be about was it a fair offer to consider a page rate to be an advance against future royalty/profit split on a co-creator project. Answering that, and that alone, it seems fair to me and I've heard of it being done before.

BUT... as this discussion has meandered, and multiple people have pointed out... The contract is the contract is the contract.

Work for hire isn't work for hire unless you have a contract! When you take a regular job at Marvel or the local gas station, you sign contracts and terms and conditions that typically spell out things like "you do stuff on company time and that result is company-owned and we pay you an hourly wage or a page rate" or whatever... Those standard terms (and more) are part of the "work for hire" contract.

IF you hire someone yourself as an independent creator, you'd have to have them (and you) both sign a work-for-hire contract that stipulates all the stuff like who owns what, royalty split (or lack thereof), ownership of original art, if future reprints are permitted, etc. etc.

IF you do the work without a contract, then both sides are subject to whatever way the wind blows in court if it comes to that.

You are the writer, you create "Bob's Knobs" and pay the artist without a contract. You say you'll pay him $100 per page, and you do... he completes all the art and you pay him all the money. You both think you're done... UNTIL, that comic sells out and you go to a second printing... then a third... then you get a TV series option... and you get a phone call from the artist asking for his cut of the TV contract.

He'll argue his art is what sold the book... you'll argue it was all your idea and you paid for his art... but if you don't have a contract that stipulates this, you've left it up to the court to decide IF your comic would have been as successful without the artist's contributions.

Meanwhile... flip the script... the comic tanks. You end up going in the hole because of pre-paying the artist and buying thousands of unsold copies of the comic. You decide you want to mitigate your losses and you phone the artist and tell him that you think the book didn't sell because of his crappy art and you want him to give you a refund of some or all that you paid him.

He'll argue that should have come up before you paid him in full for the art, and that you bought it you own it... and again, we're back to whichever way the wind blows in court IF they will side with the artist OR maybe this time they'll decide he phoned it in and could have done a better job.

This is why contracts matter... and it's only a sliver of the vast possibilities for conflict on a project that involves multiple people.

I believe technically you're correct.

That said, anyone can sue over anything in America. And the winner is not necessarily who is right but who has the better lawyer. Contracts become void in court cases all the time. On the flipside, verbal agreements or assumed relationships are just as binding. If you hire an artist on a work for hire basis without a contract, it's assumed that you own what you hired them to work on. They can sue you complaining otherwise, but it's a very uphill battle. Likewise, most artists that take upfront payment in the first place aren't the type to risk paying legal fees on a case they might lose.

SamRoads
02-17-2016, 09:17 PM
Always use a contract, especially if you're friends and don't expect the thing to succeed. With a contract, you understand what your agreement is. Without it, you only think you do.

And more tears are shed over 'But I thought' than over 'This contract writing is unpleasant'.

I co-own five small businesses, plus created a couple of financed indie comics. I know exactly what I'm talking about! :D

If you don't like legalese (and who does) just write a contract in simple plain English. This kind of thing is still legally binding and covers 95% of all the situations that a fancy shmancy contract does.

But if you think there could be money in a thing, a.) get a contract and b.) consider hiring a lawyer for a short session of advice.

Steven Forbes
02-17-2016, 09:27 PM
Always use a contract, especially if you're friends and don't expect the thing to succeed. With a contract, you understand what your agreement is. Without it, you only think you do.

And more tears are shed over 'But I thought' than over 'This contract writing is unpleasant'.

I co-own five small businesses, plus created a couple of financed indie comics. I know exactly what I'm talking about! :D

If you don't like legalese (and who does) just write a contract in simple plain English. This kind of thing is still legally binding and covers 95% of all the situations that a fancy shmancy contract does.

But if you think there could be money in a thing, a.) get a contract and b.) consider hiring a lawyer for a short session of advice.

What he said.

(And I'm still bored with this conversation. It's almost as repetitive as the writer/artist importance conversation, and just as tiresome.)

Stewart Vernon
02-18-2016, 01:19 AM
Contracts, as noted, don't have to be overly verbose and complicated either. You can hash things out verbally, jot down the gist of that on a piece of paper and both sign it and that will cover most things.

Also true, though, that anyone can sue anyone else for almost anything and if their lawyer is better than your lawyer, you might lose even if technically you were more correct.

But it's still better to have something than nothing. I have done work without a contract before (not in comics, but in technical illustration and technical writing and even once in computer programming). I took the risks, and could have been burned, but fortunately I wasn't. I still might work without a contract on things, but it's a judgment call that I make in the moment and IF I do, then I do so realizing that I might very well hate myself for it later if something goes awry.

maverick
02-18-2016, 01:20 PM
So for those of you who are artists, and do aspire to putting out books...

Would you consider working with someone like me, a relative unknown, under the agreement outlined in my first post?

Or, alternatively, what would be your ideal agreement in such a situation?

Or would you rather just work with Matt Fraction because yo know the project would be a sure thing?

Rob Norton
02-18-2016, 04:08 PM
So for those of you who are artists, and do aspire to putting out books...

Would you consider working with someone like me, a relative unknown, under the agreement outlined in my first post?

Or, alternatively, what would be your ideal agreement in such a situation?

Or would you rather just work with Matt Fraction because yo know the project would be a sure thing?

this question doesnt make any sense... like.. if i had an option of YOU or Matt Fraction.. well its obvious who im gonna pick. so the question leaves zero room for you to succeed here.

but since the chance of working with Fraction is like.... non existent... i WOULD maybe choose to work with you if i felt like you had a really good idea with a solid chance of finding an audience and some success. yeah..in that case..id work with you.

Stewart Vernon
02-18-2016, 04:24 PM
Yeah, that's a loaded question. If you're working with a "sure thing" or just somebody well-known that you like, you might take less favorable terms just to be part of the project even.

maverick
02-18-2016, 06:15 PM
If you're working with a "sure thing" or just somebody well-known that you like, you might take less favorable terms just to be part of the project even.

Do artists actually do that though? Because it seems like I hear a lot of noise year in and year out about how underpaid comic artists are. Most artists I hear from are not afraid to let the world know of thier distaste of beck-end deals (especially on this forum).

How did Joshua Williamson even find someone like Andrei Bressan, let alone convince him to draw Birthright for him?

I would really love to be a fly on the wall during some of these conversations.

Jason Powell
02-18-2016, 06:30 PM
Okay, I did it for years. I have 3 published series (FUZZY BUNNIES FROM HELL!, YIN YANG, and FANTASTIX) and several shorts, and everyone worked on a backend deal. So yes, it is possible.

It's tough finding people sometimes because you have to really sale the project to them. And it is not just, I have this awesome idea. Everyone has an awesome idea. Tell me how you are going to produce it. How you are going to sale it. What market research have you done to make me believe this has a chance of being a success. It is like asking for a loan cause that is basically what they are doing, loaning you their talents. The more facts and data you give the more chance you have.

Cause if you do not care enough to do the work now then why should anyone expect you to do the work later?

ponyrl
02-19-2016, 01:16 AM
The OP has the idea of a musician's contract with a record company.

A front you X, your record makes Y, you only get paid off touring because the bulk of sales goes towards the paying back advance given.

Stewart Vernon
02-19-2016, 04:51 AM
Do artists actually do that though? Because it seems like I hear a lot of noise year in and year out about how underpaid comic artists are. Most artists I hear from are not afraid to let the world know of thier distaste of beck-end deals (especially on this forum).

Sometimes people get lucky... sometimes people know each other or have friends in common... sometimes one party is just a really good salesman.

I wouldn't expect to walk up to a hot/known creator and pitch an idea and have him (or her) jump to take a deal I offered... but who knows, IF I had a solid idea and could demonstrate to them I had a vision AND determination to carry it through AND if I catch them in a lull in their schedule AND on a good day... who knows!

You're also talking hypotheticals here in this thread. IF you're willing to give an artist his normal asking page rate up front, he'd probably agree to back-end royalties/ownership that the page-rate was an "advance" for IF he was interested in the work, because you'd be paying him what he wanted anyway. IF he really liked your idea and could tell you were firmly behind it and had a shot at making it, he might even cut some slack on his page-rate for more on the back-end.

It's all random hypothetical until you and the guy (or gal) are in the room discussing an actual idea and ready to initiate a contract discussion. Lots of deals are possible IF you are in the right place at the right time with the right idea.

jimmybott
02-23-2016, 04:06 PM
Do artists actually do that though? Because it seems like I hear a lot of noise year in and year out about how underpaid comic artists are. Most artists I hear from are not afraid to let the world know of thier distaste of beck-end deals (especially on this forum).

How did Joshua Williamson even find someone like Andrei Bressan, let alone convince him to draw Birthright for him?

I would really love to be a fly on the wall during some of these conversations.

Maverick,

My example might be a very rare one, but I was pitched a book by a writer (that I knew as a comic journalist and she wrote a web comic I enjoyed). I agreed to a profit sharing deal and co-ownership and then once we started looking for a colourist and letterer I then offered to pay for the production on the book. This was before we'd even pitched it to anyone and we hadn't got a publishing contract yet.

So it all really just depends. Life can be unpredictable :)

Hanzou
02-24-2016, 10:41 AM
So for those of you who are artists, and do aspire to putting out books...

Would you consider working with someone like me, a relative unknown, under the agreement outlined in my first post?

Or, alternatively, what would be your ideal agreement in such a situation?

Or would you rather just work with Matt Fraction because yo know the project would be a sure thing?

Honestly that would completely depend on my personal goals, and my personal relationship with you.

If I've known you for a long time, and want to get something off the ground with you, I may bypass Fraction and work with you. If I'm hard up on cash and need 5k to pay some bills, again I may choose you over Fraction.

If I'm trying to raise my profile in the mainstream market and try to land that cushy Marvel/DC gig then yeah, I'll choose Fraction over you.

I'm currently doing a work-for-hire with a small start up comic publisher.