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Never sign a Work For Hire contract with Platinum Studios!

Stay away from Platinum Studios and any Work for Hire contracts if you feel attached to your creations. I feel as though I signed my soul over in a deal with the devil.
My name is Mike Strang and I wrote a comic book for them a horror spoof entitled WEIRD ADVENTURES IN UNEMPLOYMENT...
I signed a work for hire contract being naïve and took the little money they gave me up front to write four issues because I was happy to achieve my dream that I was going to be published into a real comic book I can put in my long box next to my beloved Batman collection. That and I would get royalties on the back end when it hit the shelves. To do so I signed the rights to my character Wrigley Barnes trusting them because of the editor in chief there at the time was Lee Nordling, a stand up guy
I worked well and got through what was asked ahead of schedule. After artists mysteriously came and went on the project it was over two years before the thing was actually getting drawn and had a projected solicitation. The first issue was nearly complete and then Lee left the company and the project was shelved.
I heard later after many months from an insider that under new management they were kicking me off my comic and going in another direction and that I was being replaced by another writer. I thought that was shady not telling me anything when I regularly emailed about updating me on news about the project and replacing me on MY CREATION.
After a few strongly worded emails they told me that they’d at least release my version of the first issue, the only one that was already drawn on Drunkduck, something I have little interest in, no offense to other web comics, my dream had a long box in it. I’ll also see no money on it. No loss for them, and it was the VERY LEAST they could do for me.
When I wasn’t getting updates on even that, I contacted the artist in fears of more monkey business and they told me I was fired for insubordination. Funny, I thought I already was canned, but Dan Forcey VP of Development used that as an excuse to finally separate me from my creation along with saying I was responsible for rewrites that I was never made aware were requested or even given an opportunity to correct.
I signed my characters over to them trusting the line they were selling about respecting creators. Scott Rosenberg himself the Chairman of Platinum Studios helped build Image Comics which is based on creator rights. HE responded to one of those strongly worded emails and told me that they would only replace me if I could sleep on it. But apparently either he was lying or Dan Forcey doesn’t care because I said I couldn‘t sleep on that because artistically how could I be satisfied with a creator credit on someone else’s work but plans are still going forward without me.
If they didn’t like my scripts fine, I can deal with it. Dump it, I won‘t do anything with them anyway. I’d even give them back the $1000 you paid me for the rights and writing the scripts. Don’t take the property I created and put my heart into and tell me I’ll no longer be needed on it‘s future plans. I don’t get the satisfaction of my own comic and the money I’d get would divide my small share into an even smaller nothing.
Call it “business, not personal” as Dan Forcey told me. I call it morally wrong and STEALING. Any man on the street outside of the industry would too.
When your business is based on using other people’s dreams for your own financial gain, you may not realize it but that is personal. I was perfect prey, inexperienced and naïve who didn‘t understand the full ramifications of what he actually signed.
Out of the millions of properties out there hopefully nothing may ever come of Weird Adventures in Unemployment. In theory Platinum Studios could make zillions off it though and I get peanuts for it, all because I wanted a comic of my own published.
The lead character was based on me and even looked like me so I LITERALLY signed my soul away! I’m totally beating myself up over this and give up on comics as just another victim of the dark side of the entertainment industry.
My dream is dead.

Wait a minute-- I think I'm

Coffman's picture

Wait a minute-- I think I'm just going to call
bullshit on this now. As early as this past January on your myspace blog you
wrote this about Platinum:
 
"Luckily I am a soon to be published comic book
writer with my sci-fi/horror comedy (and shameless plug for) Weird Adventures in
Unemployment coming in summer 07' nationwide from the good people at Platinum
Studios. "'

 
Suddenly the "good people" at Platinum have become
your mortal enemies. Gotcha. Wow, that was a fast change of mind. I can
understand being disappointed that your work wasn't going to see print, but from
your own words it sounded like Scott and Dan wanted to work with you but you
weren't willing to make changes, or it was your way or the highway. Business
doesn't work like that, especially when you sold them the project. I'm guessing
your'e not the easiest person to work with. Just a hunch.

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

You are so lame!

And fat too.

When I was working with Andrew Foley it was supposed to come out this summer. It was in the hands of a man I trusted.

Weird Adventures In Unemployment got killed in December. Seven months ago!

Also I haven't update that Myspace in forever. When was the last time I updated my concert blog too. The last show on there was Guns N Roses back in November.

You are soo desperate to discredit me your going after old blogs on my Myspace. Your getting sleazy. Now I had to put my myspace on personal settings. So Platinum doesn't infiltrate my personal space like you just did. I kept it to the forum here.

Next thing you know you'll post my birthday on Friday.

You are sooo desperate to kiss their ass and be their lapdog it's disgusting.

By the way, Hi Dan, Hi Scott. I know your reading because everytime I post the read meter goes up 15 people. Their hanging on my words.

Sending your henchmen after me to my personal domain when you couldn't have a fair debate in public is low when I stood up like a man on my own.

Now you really pissed me off!

Hey chump, grow a pair and

Coffman's picture

Hey chump, grow a pair and email me privately if you want to continue talking with me further.

Or, keep posting here and making yourself look like a buffoon. Notice how there's only me and one other guy posting in here?? Nobody else could really give a shit. Don't be so full of yourself.

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

We're at over 550 views and counting!

That's the largest amount on this entire site. I don't know if people ARE caring but they're reading. I also I think my pair is obviously pretty large by posting in the first place.

Your losing your cool and falling apart with each and every reply though.

I don't wish to talk to you any further so I'm not emailing you. Your a kiss ass automaton. I can only imaging that email. "Mike Strang you suck! Your a stupid poopy head, I love the smell of Scott Rosenberg's farts. You wish you knew how good they were. He's the greatest."

But I will respond if you continue here.

You want to take this out of the public because you look foolish.

: )

No, I'm afraid you're the

Coffman's picture

No, I'm afraid you're the one who looks foolish,
but i digress. It's probably your constant page refreshes that are upping the
page views. Only one other person has commented besides X, and they agree with
me. If anyone at Platinum would be saying anything to me right now, they'd
probably be telling me to not even bother responding to you because it's a
complete waste of time. But alas, you amuse me.
 
People can judge who to listen to, someone like me
who's spent years making money from comics without Platinum, and who's also
helped several other creators along the way--  or some guy who got bent out
of shape and is now name calling on an obscure blog section of a webcomics news
site. My first reply to you was supposed to be encouraging because you were
saying you're dream was dead, and I honestly hate hearing that from anyone who
thinks they're a writer or creator. Boo friggin hoo.
 
If Platinum fired me tomorrow I wouldn't complain
and call them names, I'd go back to drawing comics about Llamas setting people
on fire, and making a couple grand a month on my own and that would be fine.
Seriously. (but if anyone is reading, please don't fire me, because I'm totally
awesome!)
 
Your random drama actually entertains me because
the more you talk, the more entertaining it is watching you self destruct in
public like this. Usually I would be on the self destructing side, so it's kinda
fascinating watching it happen to someone else for a
change.

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

I've bent you out of shape.

You hunted down my myspace, shilled like a zealot, responded over a dozen times like a lunatic to everyone of my jests, and I spanked you with every response while watching ESPN. Who's self destructing?

You come off as a nut without his meds. And I bet you did the refresh thing too.

But whatever. Say what you want for the rest of the night. It's past midnight and I'm going to bed now.

Your a champ!

Whoa! I hunted you down by

Coffman's picture

Whoa! I hunted you down by googling your project name because I was curious to see what it was about. That was way too hard! Way to close down your myspace so people can't see what a hypocrite you are though. Be sure to delete all the positive things you said about Platinum in the past before opening it back up to the public. Kudos!

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

Well There You Go

Sean C's picture

Seriously, Mike, DJ knows about self-publishing; he put out collections of his Yirmumah comics and they sold well enough. I'm sure he'd offer his advice on this if you ask.

It might not hurt to look to other avenues, too. You could always try to find an artist who's got some publishing know-how on Digital Webbing. There are other publishers out there, but it always is best to try to get info about them before signing the paperwork. There's plenty of folks ready to help you out, especially in the webcomics world. Our unofficial logo might be a snake eating another snake while being eaten by the other snake, but there's plenty of good people with sage advice. All you gotta do is ask.

Don't hesitate to procrastinate.

Don't hesitate to procrastinate. My brand new comic: http://cain.bombsheltercomics.com

The link you posted doesn't work.

I'd like to check out your stuff but that link doesn't work.

Just trying to warn people...

My tale is a cautionary tale and I admit to a bad mistake. I'm just trying to keep the word out there though to save anyone else. Read the fine print. They'll screw you whenever they can.

Well you got your cautionary

Coffman's picture

Well you got your cautionary tale out. I think people can judge for themselves what was up in your specific case.

Seriously though, it sucks to hear that you're "one and out" as far as comic writing goes. Why not just keep creating online and then print your own comics through Comixpress or Ka-Blam.com, you might not have known they existed, but anyone can afford to use them.

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

Thanks for the info

I'm taking a class on web design and started my own website pretty soon though. I'm controlling my own ship from now on.

Dude, I seriously don't want

Coffman's picture

Dude, I seriously don't want to fight with you on this-- it does sound from you like they tried to keep you in the loop or tried to talk with you but you went off on them.

Do you seriously think your own actions or words or whatever you might have said or done made them think they couldn't work with you anymore? I'm just wondering. I just know in that business sometimes things have to be worked around. Case in point, I have a good friend who's a known screenwriter in Hollywood, and he gets hired to come on and do rewrites for other scripts, and he's had his own scripts re-written I think to fit what the studios want or whatever. I remember him telling me that one project he sold years back was being reworked to fit a new audience, wherein he sold it as a live action type setup, but they rewrote it to be CGI animated, etc. If he would have gotten all bent out of shape when the bosses made executive decisions, he would be out of work.

Don't take this the wrong way, but you seem pretty damn abrasive even in your comments here.

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

My actions and the loop.

My actions only became abrasive when I would contact Platinum and get ignored, email after email, voice mail after voice mail. Dan Forcey, Jim Mclaughlin, or Adam Rosenblum would only give in and write me back when it was too obvious they were blowing me off. And even then I still got the runaround.

This went on for months on end and then to find you were being dumped all along. That would tick off anybody. Even Mother Teresa would go nuclear.

That's not professional. I'll admit what I'm doing now isn't either but this wouldn't have happened if they didn't hurt me on a personal level. Doing good business should take into account the consideration of the people you work with or work for you.

I won't say everyone was bad. Andrew Foley who worked briefly as editor on Weird Adventures In Unemployment however was very friendly. Always had answers for every question. Of course they removed him from MY project too.

In my personal experience Platinum in whole was not friendly to me.

I'm left feeling used up and taken. Thank god for the internet, so I can voice my frustrations.

Kicked to the curb I have nothing to lose now so my fangs have finally came out. I've been told way over due too. You can only swallow so much.

There have been times people

Coffman's picture

There have been times people haven't answered my e-mails but they ended up being overseas doing business. Do you realize they're managing like TONS or properties?

It must be a tough thing to tell a creator that their work isn't up to par or it's changing because they need it to change, then have the creator get bent out of shape. I don't envy their positions at all, but just me knowing Scott and Dan at least, they sure seem to bend over backward to make things right for creators, not just me, but I've heard from other creators about them as well. Sorry to hear your project didn't work out for you, but dude, seriously, you probably just burnt a giant bridge to the ground.

Imagine this... what if they sell some big tv show or movie now and your name isnt attached? You could have probably used any kind of name involvement if a project actually got made in the future, and leveraged it for better or more work in the industries. But now if someone does a background search on your name, they'll find this outburst from you and just probably not want to do business with you at all. Be careful with that stuff, it can really come back to bite you, believe me, I've been there and done that.

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

Oh come on!

I thought you were trying to talk to me seriously. Your shilling again. Is Forcey feeding you these posts himself?

They all connected to their computers at all times. They're probably reading this right now.

To get back to your point, I'll let the first email slip but not getting back to 6 of them in one week everytime is no excuse. That's ignoring me. And I've also heard the same from other creators.

Also I don't feel bad for them one bit in their position. Nobody should. If you have to make an uncomfortable call with all the money their making, they can do it. Jerking someone around, which is obvious in this case, causes even harder feelings.

I don't care about burning bridges either. I won't work for anybody else again. I write my own destiny from now on.

I really don't want a TV show or Movie. It'll remind me of this fiasco forever and probably suck too.

Also if my name isn't attached to Weird Adventures In Unemployment or anything that remotely resembles it in any shape or form, I easily have a lawsuit. Lawyers would line up for that.

Honestly your totally doing them a disservice replying to me everytime because I get to highlight their faults with every resonse to you. This is embarrassing.

Nobody is feeding me crap

Coffman's picture

Nobody is feeding me crap dude. I just get the
feeling you're being less than honest about stuff from your side. I know this
because I know Dan and Scott, and I don't know you but from what you've replied
here. I highly doubt they've found this post with how busy they are in their
work man. If they didn't have

time to get back to you then, why would the bother
now that you were fired?

 

What's embarrassing is how you called em "good
people" earlier THIS year, and now you're yammering on like a buffoon. Nuff
said.

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

Um, well, I'm with DJ on

Greg Carter's picture

Um, well, I'm with DJ on this and I don't really know anything about Platinum Studios. It's easy to see you're hurt and angry and lashing out though.

Even a tiny bit of research into the comics business would have shown you the folly of selling your baby and going work-for-hire on it. There was a huge warning cry when a lot of the current English language creators signed up with Tokyopop. Because they signed their rights away just to get published. And there have been warnings posted to help people realize the rights situation in the big comic challenge.

Greg Carter Abandon UpDown Studio

Greg Carter - Abandon: First Vampire - Online Graphic Novel

Troll?

What's with the insults. I didn't call you fat?

I made the decision before I started to blog I was done with comics. So I don't care who won't work with me now. It's irrelevant.

I didn't shit on webcomics either. I just said they're not my thing. My goal was to have a comic in print to put in my long box next to Batman.

Now your just blindly swinging at me and losing your cool.

And for your information I approached Dan with my initial concerns very politley and he wouldn't answer a single email until I got heated. And when he did he was full of misinformation and giving me the runaround.

Puh-lease

Puh-lease. Your offense is staged.

Your in their pocket so of course you'll say they're great guys. They don't have time to respond because they have you shilling for them all over the internet every time a negative comment pops up.

Knowing that the project "stalled under that person's leadership" makes me believe they put you up to your shilling. Look back, I never wrote that in my blog.

Maybe they sent you to combat my comments, maybe not? Shame on me I guess for picking on poor little Hollywood. They gotta eat too. It only took them three years to pay me that lousy grand in full. Now I can go buy that yacht I always wanted.

You're paranoid to boot.

Coffman's picture

I'm editing my other thoughts because they're my personal opinion-- and my personal opinion on you by your irrational responses have changed and I can see there's really no point in trying to encourage or talk sense to you. You want to talk to me, you can do so through my e-mail.

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

Wow you really knew how to work in a plug!

I must be really hitting a nerve. Nice way to work in plugging your book, the comic book challenge 2, and all those wonderful prize packages off my little rant.

You didn't coming off sounding like a plant at all.

Anybody else reading, check out Coffman's comic Hero By Night.

There I just gave you a plug too.

"It's a crying shame to have you scaring other creators away from having actual careers with their talents because ONE small thing didn't work out for you."

My tale should scare creators.

"That's business" you say?

Business is ugly.

Now you sound like a jealous

Coffman's picture

Now you sound like a jealous and paranoid troll. What publishing company would actually WANT to work with "Mike Strang" now after seeing your nutty response here? Jesus man.

Ofcourse you hit a nerve with me, it's not hard to do, ask anyone who knows me. I should have ignored posting anything here, but like I said, I work with them a lot and they're all good people and have treated me, AND OTHERS right. Dan seems to bend over backward to make things right for creators but it sounded like you wanted things your way or the highway by how you're putting this now.

How could you sign a work for hire contract, get paid, then make demands on them? Your ultimate goal was to see your book as a comic book, you even sort of shat on "webcomics" on a webcomics news site. You're just awesometastic, man.

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

Your dream is dead only

Coffman's picture

Your dream is dead only because you say it is. I've never heard of "Mike Strang" before this post. So do something about that!

That something is NOT going around badmouthing people you signed contracts and did business with and technically they did nothing wrong with something they now own.

Go draw or write something else. If one idea being canned is killing your dream to draw or write comics, this is NOT the business for you. And for the love of god, don't burn bridges! Take it from me!!! It's not smart.

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

swimming with sharks

Signing a contract the size of war and peace worded in legaleese is a bit hard to navigate through for a first timer with no experience in the biz.

Not being able to afford a lawyer on my retail salary to read it for me I believed in the best intentions. Nobody told me there would ever be a Weird Adventures In Unemployment without me and that I could ever be replaced. I have no defense there, I was a rube for the taking.

They also did nothing wrong other than blow me off and plot behind my back every time I asked for an update on the project. Finding out third hand I was canned and months later at that, leads to a little bitterness.

Also when the head of the company gives you his word that the future of the project is your call and the VP tells you that you must have misunderstood even though it was crystal clear might stir up some negativity. Someone was lying to me.

And I don't want to create nothing else. This was my baby. It'd crush me to see it anybody else's hands.

Yeah, I think I had enough of this business.

Well I take offense to you

Coffman's picture

Well I take offense to you calling them sharks. They're doing a lot for independent creators right now, sorry you won't be one of them.

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

Work For Hire Means It's Not Your Baby - It Was Never Your Baby

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

[quote=strangq]And I don't want to create nothing else. This was my baby. It'd crush me to see it anybody else's hands.[/quote]

IMO if it's an intensely personal project you shouldn't do it work-for-hire where you give up the (c). BY DEFINITION work-for-hire means legally it's not even your idea - you're basically an employee for the person you signed the contract with.

 

____

Xaviar Xerexes

On second thought, let's not go to Comixpedia. It is a silly place.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Now I know.

Now I know.

Work For Hire?

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Mike

Obviously you feel you had a bad experience with a work-for-hire contract and without knowing more of the story it's hard to take more than that away from your post. I think a large percentage of readers here (my own subjective guess) are very pro-creators' rights and don't think much of the work-for-hire model that is so dominant in the marvel/dc world.

But it sounds like you knew you were signing a work-for-hire contract when you got into this. Did you not understand the contract you were signing when you started? Or did you feel like you heard things verbally that conflicted with the written terms of the contract? B/c one thing everyone should jam in their skulls when doing business is read the contract and make decisions based only on what's written down - especially when the contract is with a corporation (not that corporations are necessarily more evil then people but by definition people at a corp. can change over time so you have no way of knowing who'll be there as time goes on).

I do think, however, that knowing what you're getting into - there's nothing necessarily wrong with taking a $1000 bucks for an idea and some scripts. Just know going in that's what it is and there may be nothing more to it. When you sell your (c) to someone else it simply isn't yours anymore.

____

Xaviar Xerexes

On second thought, let's not go to Comixpedia. It is a silly place.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.