Just the other day I was remarking to a colleague that with so many publishing options and platforms available to young cartoonists, the rise of “shady publishers” like Platinum and TokyoPop has stopped and there are very few truly fly-by-night operations out there any more. Sadly, the damage was done, however, and here’s a sad, sad, but cautionary story. Cartoonist Megan Rose Gedris writes that she’s taking her comics off the web because she does not want to support its owner, Platinum Studios anymore. I was Kidnapped by Vampire Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space has been running since 2005, and has 450 pages completed, but as of November 5th, Gedris is taking the whole thing down from the web:
This is by my own choice, a very difficult choice. As you may or may not know, the rights to LPFOS were bought by Platinum Studios in 2006. In the years since I first became involved with them, more and more of their shady practices have been revealed, to the point where I can’t be involved with them in any capacity anymore. I tried to get the rights back through many different avenues, but there is nothing I can do.
Right now, Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space is one of the comics Platinum is most proud of. They can show it off to investors as a success that they created, despite not doing a thing with the property except for one small print run 6 years ago. I have not seen a dime from them since 2007. Once the initial 6 issues they commissioned were over in 07, I was “allowed” to keep working on the series, which I did because I enjoyed the characters, but I received no payment. I received no support in any other capacity. I built the comic up by myself and with some gracious help from Hiveworks. Platinum Studios did nothing but hold it back. I had plans for a 4th and 5th arc of the comic, but ended the series this past January when I realized things with Platinum would never get better and as much as I loved these characters, I was being taken advantage of by continuing the series.
I can’t help but feel so foolish. To have sold the rights in the first place, even if I was just a naive kid. To have let them blow smoke up my ass for years. To have ignored the scandals happening all around them, with so many other creators bringing grievances against them. To have continued the series for so long under such circumstances. To have held out hope I would be different and not get bit by this snake.
Young creators, please know that “getting published” is not the be-all-end-all of doing comics. There are so many people in this industry who will take advantage of your eagerness to be a “real comic artist.” Yes, you DO need a lawyer, I don’t care how must you trust that publisher, how big or small. Every contract, every time. Don’t sell something for what you think is a fair price. Know what the fair price is. Know what your value is. Know what the industry standards are. If you can’t get a good deal, don’t take a bad deal and hope for the best. Don’t take a bad deal and tell yourself it’s better than no deal at all. There are so many other avenues.
Truer words were never spoken:
Don’t take a bad deal and tell yourself it’s better than no deal at all. There are so many other avenues.
I see fewer and fewer young cartoonists in any mood to sign with ANYONE really, and one of the reasons that the comics industry is in better shape than it has been in a while is that the publishers who are getting into it now are doing it for love and idealism, not for making a buck off naive young artists.
Still, this is a painful story to read.
It’s been nearly a year since I checked on on the insane world of Platinum. I wonder what’s been going on?
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.