UPDATE: AS per the comments, Platinum has now added credits for the strip. Kudos to them for doing the right thing right away.
Platinum VP Dan Forcey had this to say in Roman’s LJ comments:
Dave, it’s Dan Forcey here, VP of Content Development from Platinum. I wanted to write you a personal apology here about your credits being omitted on Drunk Duck. It was entirely a mistake on our part and not an intentional omission in any way, shape or form. There was a custom homepage, just like we’ve done with some of our other titles (like the one here: http://www.drunkduck.com/Blood_Nation/index.php) that we had made for this and it somehow got deleted along the way. You can also check it out on our own comics site (http://www.platinumstudioscomics.com/index.php?template=comics&option=com_content&task=view&id=39&Itemid=46) and you’ll see that are proud to have your name associated with this property and proud of the property itself. We actually have a lot of plans for Alien Circus and I apologize, again, for not being in better contact with you about this. This is a mistake on our part that I wholeheartedly apologize for any disrespect that you felt from it. I completely see why you would feel that way and I feel terrible because of it.
Where does Platinum get its “library” that it keeps talking about? Apparently from a lot of material that they bought back in the day which is now being run uncredited as webcomics.
On his LJ Dave Roman writes of one such projects, My big graphic novel that no one knows about.:
So a while back I wrote a 3-part graphic novel series called “Alien Circus” for Platinum Studios that was beautifully illustrated by Luke Weber. It was a big space aventure series that mixed Hamlet with Marsupilami and was a lot of fun to work on. I ended up developing a whole universe complete with tons of creatures, planets, history and plots for potential spinoffs.
At some point Platinum decided to change the name to The Adventures of Tymm and register a domain name for it. But as far as I know they have no plans to actually release it in print.
Boo, indeed. In this day and age, this kind of thing makes us feel a little sick, especially when you look at all the samples in the link: this book has an immediately accessible Euro-influenced look, and Luke Weber should get credit for his work. But as Roman reveals later on, ALIEN CIRCUS was work for hire.
I knew going in I wouldn’t really have any control. I just hoped (and still do) that it would be published in some way shape or form. Even if it’s just on the internet. But I feel like if the graphic novel for kids market continues to expand SOMEONE should consider putting it out in print! I just don’t think it’s a priority for Platinum compared to their more high profile stuff. Maybe I’ll become famous in the next year and they’ll realize what a goldmine they are sitting on ;)
Let’s put it this way: signing away original material as work-for-hire is right up there with sharing needles with AIDS patients, eating blowfish liver, and not wearing a seat belt in a vehicle driven by a New Jersey state trooper our own personal DO NOT DO list.
And yet people STILL do it. Why? We asked Roman, who is no stranger to creator owned projects like AGNES QUILL and QUICKEN FORBIDDEN, and he explained:
Well since I was already familiar with WFH contracts from working at Nickelodeon Magazine I knew what I was getting into. I was still pretty young when I started the project, so I was just happy to get paid to write stuff in comics. I don’t really regret it, especially considering how many people do comics for no money at all. And honestly Lee Nordling was always good to me and really supportive of the project. I really only became frustrated by Platinum after I saw what a great job the artist did. It scares me to think how much other material they are sitting on.
Here we should remind people that Nordling developed material at Platinum over a seven year period. In other words, when Roman came up with ALIEN CIRCUS, webcomics were in their infancy. Nowadays, creators don’t seem to have the same urgency to be “happy to get paid to write stuff in comics” since they can reach as large an audience as the print world via the web, even if there is no pay involved.
Any way, we cry shenanigans on Platinum. A quick look at a few comics on Drunk Duck showed none of them had any credits. Since they own the material lock stock and barrel, running it uncredited just seems positively medieval in this day and age.