Lets talk contracts...
A very important (yet often overlooked, or ignored) part of being a professional artist is addressing contracts. Contracts are rarely discussed within the comics’ community. Often times, new comic book creators do not know the best way to handle contracts. Some are starry-eyed, hungry artists who are eager for a career in comics. Some will rush to sign any contract in hopes of establishing a career in comics. However, we have a long history of creators signing poor contracts. If Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster could be taken advantage of, then so can you and me. Be smart.
My hope here is to better educate creators on what I have learned about contracts, work-made-for-hire, and the comic book industry. The following are my rules in dealing with contracts:
Rule #1: Never sign away anything that you own. That seems pretty simple. Never sign away or share what belongs to you. That includes any trademark or copyright that you have on your intellectual properties.
Rule #2: Make sure you know what you’re about to sign. If not, seek legal guidance or another professional who can help you understand your contract.
Rule #3: Everything is negotiable. Don’t be afraid to ask for something to be added or excluded to a contract. If the other party isn’t willing to negotiate with your needs, then they probably aren’t a good company with whom to do business.
To be continued…
I posted this (and more) on Facebook:
"Don't forget 'Kill Fees' and Progressive amounts that will be paid, for stages of submitted work for hire."
I responded with:
"Excellent. I've only come across kill fee(s) once in comics. The idea is that, in work-for-hire, if an artist does a crummy job, than the artist will be paid 50% of the agreed upon payment. The only time that I had experienced this was at the very beginning of my career as an inker. I was an inker's assistant on a short story for one of 'The Big Two.' This meant that I inked everything in the story, but the main characters. (Mind you, I was very happy with getting the work.) However, when I mailed the artwork back to the inker, he became quite irate. The inker was not happy with my inking. He started complaining about what a terrible inking job I had done. He complained that he had to spend the whole day redoing my inks. He complained that he had a family to feed and a mortgage to pay. The inker gave me a kill fee. He paid me only half of the page rate that was agreed upon. I felt awful. Months later, when the comic book hit the comic book stores, I checked out the book. I noticed that the inker had not changed a single bit of my inking! I was lied to. That made me quite mad."