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What's In Your Copyright?

Newsarama interviewed some of the creators, including Park and Barbara Lien-Cooper, who entered Tokyopop's comics contest.  Heidi MacDonald comments on the ongoing Platinum and Tokyopop stories and  Lea Hernandez weighs in again on the Tokyopop contracts.

While I'll admit I do get annoyed at the more judgmental commentators on these stories, I do think that work-for-hire contracts giving the publisher the copyright to original material is horribly horribly wrong for comics.  It's great for companies interested in amassing IP for sales to Hollywood.  But that IP-centric model -- especially when such companies don't really get around to publishing comics -- somedays it seems a lot like the company that buys up a lot of patents without any intent to actually manufacture anything.

 

Re: What's In Your Copyright?

I think, that it is shady to cap one's cut. Recently I have been hearing a lot of bad things about TP.

Re: What's In Your Copyright?

I was offered a deal for Panda Girls from Tokyopop around the time when the were starting their OEM movement. The offer was 20k to do 120 page manga volume. I would get a small percentage off book sales - but what was most disturbing was what they termed "the cap".

They really pushed hard that they were entering into the anime film/tv producing arena, and with these OEMs they were looking for source material to adapt. But then they would come back with the contract, and any money the film/tv production earned (or any earnings from other medium - as the contract stipulated), would have a financial "cap". Meaning, I might get a total payout of X, even if the film made XXX,XXX,XXX.

The thing is, I kinda understand TP's position. Not to say I agree - but this deal works for many other people out there(and obviously it's VERY attractive for TP). There are many people who would be happy with this sort of agreement. Who? My guess would be people who are desperate to see anything of their made - or people who believe that the first deal is a stepping-stone, so that the second deal will be more in their favor.

I wonder tho, what kind of talent TP is attracting... Or what kind of "professional". It seems to me there's a certain level of professional that wouldn't take this deal, and one that would. And among the ones that would, what quality of product is TP able to produce?

I believe in my Intellectual Property, so I really couldn't see a fit with TP's offer...

Re: What's In Your Copyright?

CyberLord's picture

I think this is similar to traditional book deals, only not so onerous.  Book publishers pay very little for new untested authors.  Steven King had bad deals until he became popular enough to turn the tables.

With luck, comics creators can take a cue from the Image guys.  Start off small, and then grab the cash if they become popular.  There is an article in this months "Complex" (June/July 2008) that talks about some independant comics creators who got seven figure deals from Hollywood to adapt their comics.  Bottom line, I suppose, is be true to your heart when you create, and always watch the $$MONEY$$.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

Re: What's In Your Copyright?

El Santo's picture

The Image guys, though, had the benefit of being superstars within the Marvel system by working on the franchise titles (the X-books and Spider-Man), and thus had less risk of going independent.  If some of the less well known artists had jumped ship (including, at the time, Mark Bagley), I think chances are high that they would have landed flat on their backs and deep in debt.  It's even harder for these potential TokyoPop because 1) they're operating in a genre that doesn't look favorably upon those not in Japan, and 2) no one knows who they are.

I'm not saying that there's no money to be made by going independent.  I'm just saying the Image creators would be a poor example to follow.

Re: What's In Your Copyright?

CyberLord's picture

I agree that the Image guys would be poor examples to try to follow for several reasons.  As you stated they were already popular from their Marvel experience, and they had profit sharing money to finance Image.  What I was trying to point out is that they were not always famous.  It took hard work ( I imagine - I was not there ) to build their skills to the point where they could get the jobs and then they had to continue the work to succeed.  Jim Lee was not always Jim Lee.  Steven King was not always Steven King!

I think this is what I was trying to communicate.  Ground level is the starting point for everyone.  Through hard work, luck, and some other factors ( it's not WHAT you know, it's WHO you know ) creators build up their audience to the point where they can stop accepting whatever the publishers dole out and start taking what should have been theirs from the beginning.
 

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord