Some readers don’t like his smart-ass attitude, and some creators don’t like… that his paychecks are bigger than theirs. All of which is absolute crap, but that’s another story.
Millar has all my respect for things like the text following. He posted this on his message board, discussing further the topic of Bill Finger’s story.
Decades on, my generation of creators is hyper-aware of what happened to the people who really built the industry. The very small handful of people who built pretty much everything that pays for all those big offices around the world for the major companies. But even then I still see this happening. One reasonably well-known and sleazy company, for example, has a deal where every new creator-owned series is owned entirely by the writer and the artist is work for hire. Thus, if a movie gets made and someone makes one, two or three million dollars from the proceeds, the artist gets nothing but a cut of publishing.
Other thing I’ve seen is new creations unevenly split. In rights terms, 50/50 is the only way to go, but I’ve seen this split on big projects 75/25 and even 90/10 among the writer and artist. This rarely gets reported because artists, even more than writers, tend to be gentle souls, crushed by their next deadline and never quite finding the time or the energy to make a fuss. But I see all sorts of stuff going on now like front-loading money from a movie deal into a writer’s first draft of a screenplay money too. That’s a particularly sneaky one. Say, for example, the rights to a movie is going for a million dollars. That should be half a million each. But some very dodgy deals can be cut where the screenplay is 500K and the rights are 500 between both, the artist just getting half of what he’s due and the screenplay binned immediately and always planned to be binned with the writer recouping 75% of the pot.
What I mean by all this is that people should keep their eyes open. This isn’t an industry where our work is worth pennies anymore. These ideas can be used in endless mediums and are the reason the Big Two have vast Manhattan and Los Angeles offices. At the same time, writers and artists have to be fair with each other. Anything that isn’t 50/50 isn’t such a good deal. I think it’s fair enough for a writer to exclusively take a producer fee in the same way that an artist could take a design fee because, for example, I spend easily 5-10 hours a week on producer calls, watching casting sessions or even disappearing for a week entirely for story meetings or early edit screenings. I still split my producer fees 50/50 with the artists as a personal choice, but don’t judge the others who don’t as it really is a distinct deal from the rights and a different job.
whoooooa. NOT okay.
If my only contribution to a comic book was that I wrote the thing I would be beyond mortified to see something like this.
Artist’s should consider this type of thing when they are thinking about drawing someone else’s story. In today’s comic climate you’re about two years from not even having your name anywhere on the work. Why would any artist want to work with a writer in this kind of environment? What exactly are you gaining? Page rate at best—but considering no one is going to know your name—or care about your work—that’s probably not the best long term strategy, since you’re basically some nameless droog that can easily be interchanged with some other nameless droog for pennies on the dollar.
I like Avatar. But this? This is fucked up.
And don’t tell me some sob story about book design and what sells or doesn’t sell. I’ve seen dynamic comic covers that have not just the writer and artist name’s on it—but also the colorist and letterer.
Pfft. I dunno, this is exactly the kind of thing I worry about whenever one of my artist friends is working with a writer on a book.
Fantastic Four #350 by Walter Simonson & Al Milgrom
Love and Rockets vol. 2 issue 2 back cover by Jaime Hernandez