2014; dir. David Michôd
Born Yesterday (1950)
GPOY with blonde.
DARK HORSE PUSHES 12 CREATOR-OWNED SERIES FOR SDCC, INCLUDING ‘FIGHT CLUB 2′, ‘LADY KILLER’, AND ‘HELLBOY AND THE B.P.R.D.’
Over the last twelve days, Dark Horse has thrown a spotlight on twelve new creator-owned titles that they plan to promote at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. The series include the Fight Club sequel from Chuck Palahniuk and Cameron Stewart
How much of the Fight Club sequel is Cameron Stewart going to own?
How many of the creative personnel on a comic have to own a piece for it to be considered creator-owned?
Coming soon to a comics discussion near you: “Semi-creator-owned.”
Weirdly enough, I was thinking of this yesterday in terms of Image. For all intents and purposes, is Supreme: Blue Rose considered a creator-owned comic or a work-for-hire gig? Rob Liefeld owns Supreme, sure, but for Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay, what’s the difference between working on that book versus working on something for Marvel and DC? Is Prophet creator-owned or work-for-hire, in that Brandon Graham and his artists own none of it, but the guy who created the original character owns the whole thing?
Which “creators” are we talking about when it comes to defining “creator-owned,” is what I’m asking, I guess?
I think it’s a mix of both. Prophet is a work-for-hire project on a creator-owned book. The original creator owns the property, but hires people to work on it. Both are true, but not mutually exclusive. It’s more of a line with several points (full creator-owned and fully work-for-hire for a corporation are on opposite ends, I think, “creator participation” toward the corp side, wfh on c-o toward the full c-o side) than two opposites. I’ve been thinking about this a lot but haven’t quite managed to figure out how I feel yet.
My feelings about this widely vary and can be muddled, too, but I’m going to vomit out some thoughts here.
It Girl and the Atomics was essentially work-for-hire for the team creating it, as the characters were owned by Mike Allred and yet, as a creative experience, it was no different than the rest of the comics I create and own myself (with collaborators). We had free rein to do as we pleased, with Mike as the most hands-off of editors. We were paid and given an appropriate portion of the back-end. I don’t think anyone on that book would feel we were lacking in “ownership” in any way. As with most art and business, it’s all how you’re treated. I’ve seen legit creator-owned teams who treat each other like crap or where one guy dominates over another and are as bad as any of the dumb stories you hear about bad faith breakdowns coming out of the Big Two.
As an editor, I’ve serviced all manner of combinations where a sole creator owned the book and had folks on board as collaborators to help them, and I’m sure also encountered a few where the original creator was just overseer. Hellboy is a franchise that no one would argue isn’t completely creator-driven and, at the end of the day, creator-owned. There can be a point where a creation becomes bigger than the one guy who is behind it or have a life beyond that initial spark, or with something like Fight Club, jump from medium to medium, and still have that first guy in charge. There’s an element of it that strikes me as similar to those guys who bang-on about pure comics being one cartoonist alone in a room doing it all his or herself. Is it how it’s done or what comes out of it?
Actually, the whole “what is creator owned?” thing makes me think of all the hairs that get split over the term “indie,” and the ways that indie eventually got manipulated and turned into a description rather than just an existence. It’s what happens when terms such as these are transformed into marketing slugs, alas. It wasn’t that long ago when we could have shouted up from down in the trenches that something was creator-owned and no one gave a good goddamn what that meant, and no more than ten years ago there were often big-name creators claiming publicly, “I can’t do that because I can’t work for free.” Because ownership wasn’t perceived as immediate value. Not to mention the ongoing impression in certain segments of fandom that to go from your own stuff to working on Corporate-Trademark Man is somehow “making it.”
So you can see what I meant when I said my own thinking gets muddled. There’s part of me that is sitting in the back of the room with his arms folded, grumbling, “Where y’all been?”
But at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to who delivers the goods and who isn’t a jackass about it and to what books the reader actually ends up liking. And maybe those will be books where some of us are jackasses, because it’s not like good rock-and-roll never came out of a couple of funny-looking weirdoes barely on speaking terms banging out an album.
Just promise me you’ll all still be here when the anti-copyright mob comes to pry my Circle-Cs out of my cold dead hands, okay? ;)
Comics’ Raggedy Ass Grampa
P.S. I reserve the right to regret this post immediately after hitting send.