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?

Via Johanna


  1. Yes, be careful. Even a contract between friends can go bad, if you’re not 100% clear on what is motivating them. I had a finished book get tied up in a contract, and it will probably never see the light of day, because the “publisher” decided they couldn’t sell the book unless I changed the ending. I thought I made a deal for the book as is, but because my contract didn’t specifically state that, I have no way of fighting it, and I could potentially continue to write new endings for the book for the rest of my life, if I want to ever have a chance at seeing it published. Maybe, I could fight it, but I’d have to deal with the arbitration clause first, and I just don’t have the will or energy to use up precious days of my life for one story, when I have so many others to tell. Better to just take the lesson. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll come up with that brilliant ending, but I’m not going to stress myself out over it. I don’t think I’ll ever be signing my rights over to anyone ever again though, unless it’s for a huge check, and I feel alright about being free and clear of the IP, so I don’t have to deal with it after that.

  2. I dunno. I “publish” my mini-comics by myself and give them to family and friends, so I’m definitely a hobbyist, but even in my hobby niche, I see soooo many opportunities if I did want to make money without giving up a thing. We’re definitely living in a wonderful time for anyone who wants to make comics.

  3. Yes, it is indeed a wonderful time, but sad stories like Megan’s are still out there, no just ones in the past but soon more will come to light in the future.

    Comics are at a new high right now, and a high tide lifts every boat — but some of those boats are riding the tide for the wrong reason. So it’s still important (if I can run this analogy into the pier) to get on one of the right boats.

    I wish Megan good luck on her new endeavors. I’ve had my share of learning the ropes and regretting things when I was younger and hungrier, so I sympathize.

  4. Yikes, that is such a horrible warning tale. I love I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space, it even featured in my Masters dissertation.

    People really need to be careful with contracts, and make sure everything is worked out tight.

  5. Yikes! My heart goes out to Megan Rose Gedris. It must be awful to lose your work to a company that is only interested in using it to line their own pockets. As bad as Tokyopop was though, I don’t think they come close to what Platinum Studios is doing.

  6. I just realized my other comment wasn’t very empathetic towards Ms. Gedris. My heart goes out to her because Platinum was owned by people with very few business scruples and I have no doubt she was fooled. My ideas are little things I do for fun, but I would be crushed if I were to find out someone owned them based on some youthful misunderstanding.

  7. It’s funny, when I first started this comic, I tried to keep it from being “my baby,” so I could handle the thought of sharing its production with someone else. I was only a few pages in when I sold it, so I thought I could keep myself from getting too attached. But I wasn’t able to do that. I liked writing and drawing these characters way too much to not love them just as much as my other characters. This really is the worst moment of my artistic career. But the support has been amazing, and seeing my story and cautionary tale spread around by such sites as this is really heartening. <3

  8. Depressingly unsurprised by this. Platinum’s a screwjob factory, basically. LPfOS, Hero by Night… the list of things they’ve used their antiMidas touch on is probably far longer.

  9. Those Platinum contracts were so clearly horrible. It’s not like the contracts to clearly spell out that they would own it and could fire artists off their own works. Everyone who signed those basically signed them going “Well, let’s hope for the best, otherwise I’m fucked.”

    I just don’t understand it.

  10. Rose… It would be a shame if you end up punishing yourself and the fans by just yanking the story offline. I say you just construct a new pay site, collect fees, and even sell comics. If you wanna be bullet proof, do it overseas. These petty contracts are only effective here in the USA. Out there in Asia and the Middle EAst, who is gonna stop you? Nobody.
    Even the servers you will use are different and are beyond shutting down. Unless you’re a hacker with credit information of hapless victims, the local authorities won’t even bat an eyelash. You can publish from any coffee shop in the entire planet. All they have is toilet paper. You have the genuine article and have a right to your own art. This country was founded on broken laws and open rebellion by the few against an empire. Do not let them win. Bring out your best and let it shine. Let people read your stories and enjoy them. Ask them to support your pay site even if it’s just 50 cents per person. That adds up to a lot.

  11. What, really, prevents Ms. Gedris from starting up a webcomic that is nearly identical to her old one? From the I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space site:

    It is a campy satire of a lot of things ranging from golden age comics, bad sci-fi shows, cheesy lesbian romance novels, ancient Greek mythology, musicals, and a bunch of other stuff that I love.

    She can satirize whatever she pleases, as she pleases, whenever she pleases. A change of title shouldn’t be very important.


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