LET’S TALK ABOUT CHECKS!
MAKING COMICS PANEL AT SPECIAL EDITION NYC 2015

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AMBER LOVE 15-JUNE-2015 This panel was one of several that specifically addressed behind-the-scenes industry stuff about making comics. At this panel, they openly discussed how they got their first paying gigs and what the 2015 page rates should be for mainstream (corporate) and independent comics. Reminder: you can sponsor this website and podcast by going to Patreon.com/AmberUnmasked and pledging as little as $1/week!

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As far as the recording quality, it’s not hard to hear until the Q&A portion. The Pier 94 “rooms” were not rooms. They were separated by curtains and the second space’s audio was always louder than the first room even when I sat in the front row.

PANELISTS

The panelists were: Alex DeCampi (moderator), Chris Sotomayor, Vera Greentea, Ulises Farinas, Joseph P. Illidge, and Fernando Ruiz.

The panelists came from a wide variety of backgrounds in comics. The experiences ranged from interning at Milestone to attending the Kubert School to making indie comics and funding them with Kickstarter.

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NETWORKING & PUBLIC IMAGE

Some of the important reminders that these professionals want up and coming creators to know are how vital it is make connections with people inside the industry and how you are only as good as your most recent work.

“People [who] open doors for you, but it’s up to you to walk through that door.” ~ Alex DeCampi

DeCampi also made a strong point of how to criticize work that’s being made. She suggested sticking with private messaging and conversations because you are allowed to express yourself, but there’s the possibility that you could offend future prospective employers.

MONEY! RIGHTS, AGENTS, ROYALTIES!

“People who don’t want you to talk about money are the people that have a lot of money.” ~ Alex DeCampi

The classist system of creating art for art’s sake and not for income is outdated from a 200 years ago.

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The panelists freely discussed some bad contracts and mistakes they made throughout their careers. They covered the Three R’s: Rights, Royalties, and Reversions. If you’re unsure about what secondary rights or foreign rights are, listen to this episode. DeCampi explains that when $25,000 sounds like a lot of money to turn your property into a movie, you’re being ripped off and initial option deals are only $5,000.

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Reversions can be called the Alan Moore clause because of his deal with WATCHMEN and its rights at DC Comics. The rights only revert back to Moore if DC stops publishing WATCHMEN. Since it’s a best selling graphic novel every month, this isn’t going to happen; he’s never going to own this property again. The same is said for properties like Wonder Woman et al. – it’s why titles can wallow with low sales and disappointed fans because DC simply has to produce something whether it’s terrible or high quality, because if they stop, the creators’ estate can get the rights back. There is a way to make sure the low sales clause favors creators – add a clause “if sales drop below X amount, after one year rights revert back to the creator.”

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Sotomayor discussed a strange situation where he didn’t promote work because a contract’s NDA (non-disclosure agreement) was intertwined with other language he didn’t want to sign.

CREATOR-OWNED & THE BACK END DEALS

Illidge says “back end” deals to be paid only work if there is profit and a lot of comics don’t make profits. Greentea said that when you stand behind your creator-owned work, there will be companies that come along and try to bargain with you in bad deals where they end up with the ownership. Artists should be considered co-creators, but you can have a contract that stipulates how their ownership becomes vested based on pages turned in and upon completion.

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  • Other considerations include negotiating a rate for revisions in scripts and art as the project moves through editorial processes.
  • Don’t complain to the project’s editor about your crappy contract.
  • You have to also be able to function socially with other people. It’s not only about making good art.
  • Ask to be paid. (Most anthologies don’t pay but some do.)
  • Say “no” when you want to.
  • Get good lawyers and accountants.

References:

Colleen Doran’s blogs and tweets

Harlan Ellison interviews “I don’t take a piss without getting paid.”

CAlawyersforthearts.org

NY volunteer lawyers for the arts

MORE SENYC COVERAGE

Writing & Pitching Comics Panel (coming June 22, 2015)

Amber’s Recap

The Geeky Redhead’s Recap with Cosplay Gallery