After my long post yesterday, there were a few loose ends and misstatements and yet more viewpoints that deserved some linkage.
First off, several readers—including Ed Brubaker—objected to my characterizing him and Mark Millar as doujinshi when they have been creating their own stories for a long time. Very true. Brubaker was actually an autobio indie cartoonist, published by Fantagraphics, before he hit the mainstream big time. Millar, of course, created his own stories in the UK before starting the “Big Beat” period of his career and then going creator-owned again with the sundry incarnations of the Millarverse. Given the strength of the works they’ve created on their own, it is no coincidence that two of the events they helmed, The Death of Cap and Civil War, are among the best regarding of the whole crisis/event era of comics.
What I was clumsily trying to get at is that owning your own stuff is increasingly important, and Marvel’s well-meaning Icon brand doesn’t hold the allure it once did. Image Comics is the most popular girl at the cotillion, and this weekend’s Image Expo is going to be some fancy cotillion.
§ Laura Hudson had her own take on the Sean Murphy incident. To be clear, I’m not sure that Sean Murphy DOES have the right to publish a sketchbook of licensed Marvel characters. In fact, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t.
However, there are several legal precedents that no one has really applied properly to all of this. The case of Andy Warhol and his Campbell Soup can prints has been suggested to me, but it seems none of those cases were decided in court, and there’s no precedent either way, and transformative vs derivative is very much open to interpretation. While we wait a detailed legal reading, I would say just to remember that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is the safest route for now.
§ A fellow in the comments had a rather intriguing notion for letting individual creators license their own Marvel projects via a Kickstarter like program. Most cynical comics observers expect that Marvel and DC will someday license out their comics production to some extent—Marvel is already licensing out some artbooks to IDW, so I’d say…anything is possible going forward.
ALSO, as far as the Kickstarter and webcomics alliance goes you need to bookmark Gary Tyrrell’s Fleen blog where he covers this beat with insight and humor. Two recent posts, Scarcity And Ubiquity and Too Many Things To Discuss look at the whole Kickstarter economics. From the former:
Takeaway — it’s not just the dollar value (and not undervaluing your work), it’s also making the audience think the equivalent of This is a limited-edition, con-exclusive variant which they fear they’ll have to buy on eBay after at tremendously jacked-up prices. Watch Rosenberg’s campaign closely; I suspect that ratio is going to edge back up with just a little careful expectation-prodding.
§ And FINALLY, to end this on an upbeat note, here are the ComicsPRO speeches from Eric Stephenson and Mike Richardson. Not everyone running the comics biz is stupid…in fact, very few of them are, and some are even on the right track.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.