The contracts for DC’s much talked about new webcomics initiative have been posted a few weeks before the site’s October debut. Go read and digest.

Yay! A new controversy!


  1. Hmmmm. No comments yet. I suppose it could take some time to digest these three contracts.

    Here is one observation based on an initial reading (caveat: I’m not a lawyer, although I’ve had some years’ experience negotiating agreements in various creative fields): It would appear that under the Rights Agreement, Zuda can retain all rights, including re-licensing and other ancillary rights, in perpetuity (I chuckled at that “throughout the universe” clause), so long as it either keeps the work in print, or pays the creator $2,000 once every four years.

    This would appear to be similar to the agreement Alan Moore had with DC/Vertigo wrt [i]V for Vendetta[/i] which caused so much gnashing of teeth when the movie was produced. Even though Moore retains copyright, he has effectively lost control of the work, so long as DC keeps it in print.

    OTOH, the compensation offered in exchange for the rights assignment (not transfer) is not too bad, from the standpoint of a new creator just starting to “go pro.” There is payment both at front end and back end, and apparently the front end is not an advance on royalties but a fee for services, with royalties paid on top of that. The royalty rates are a bit low, compared to other creator-owned contracts I’ve seen, but fairly standard in the prose book-publishing industry (in effect, 8 percent of retail when you combine the contracts).

    My overall first impression is, not great, but not horrible either, unless you’re the sort who can’t bear to see your creation taken out of your control and transformed into something different. At least you’ll still make money from it as long as either Zuda (or whoever it may sell the contract to) does.

    I could be mis-reading this, of course, and any creator interested in doing business under these contracts should have their attorney look at them.

  2. I think that if a person truly has Faith in their work, they can do better, going at it alone. However, it you’re the kind of person who has an idea a week, and doesn’t mind giving them up for money, it does seem like a good way to start, as long as you’ve got a layer to help you understand what you’re getting into, like Scott said.

  3. Laughable. This flies in the face of the progress that’s been made in creator rights and ignores the ace in the hole that most creators have nowadays: readily attainable space online and access to huge networks of potential fans via any number of social sites.
    Why are they even doing this if they are going to do it wrong? No one knows what Zuda is, nor is there an association of Zuda with the DC brand. It’s an even playing field when it comes to Zuda vs any new creator with time, talent, and internet savvy.
    This raises the same question as comicssherpa: why bother? Why saddle your work with a corporate overseer that claims to be able to generate interest in your work? Make your own name for yourself, generate your own buzz, beat the bushes yourself. It’s not hard to do.
    There’s no reason a creator interested in working on their own properties shouldn’t strike out on their own and create something unencumbered by a corporate machine.

  4. Adam, if it is as easy as you say then why isn’t every creator out there hawking their own goods? Why does it take most webcomics years to get a strong enough following to franchise.

    Also what is it with people having so many issues with “control?” While you are negotiating your video game, movie and TV show deals, going over all the details of every contract you sign and finding business partners, when will you have time to make a webcomic?

    I know that I am giving you a lot of crap, but seriously, going it alone is tough and if you are a creator with only one idea in your head that you do not want to part with then you have larger problems that Zuda/DC “stealing” your ingenious creation.

    Despite having started their own webcomics both PVP and Penny Arcade “partner” with people in order to spread their brands’ reach.

  5. “Despite having started their own webcomics both PVP and Penny Arcade “partner” with people in order to spread their brands’ reach.”

    But Gabe, Tycho, and Scott still wholly own their creations.

  6. I don’t speak for every creator, Clark, though that is an excellent question. And it’s not so much a matter of control as it is of rights. For instance, how will “Zuda” handle reposting of comics on other sites? If they are like most corporate entities, this is sure to be frowned on. On the other hand, online comics creators can use creative commons licenses to allow the internet to do it’s thing, without giving up their rights or ownership.
    Also, what Lea said.
    Finally, most creators have more than one idea in their head.

  7. no real shock here. it’s definitely a wfh scenario. but it’s not bad. the subsidiary rights percentages were a little more generous than i’d expected. and the terms of reversion made decent sense. to me, anyway.

    its going to be interesting to see what kind of properties they wind up choosing to develop.

  8. In this case I think Paul Levitz has been playing it straight. This is a deal that will appeal to some creators and will not appeal to others. Zuda is to be commended for its transparency at this point.

    In my own case, I think I’ll pass on this, but who knows — I may get some idea of a nature that I don’t care how it’s fucked with, so long as I can get some casheesh for it. Not likely, but it could happen.

  9. Deal? This isn’t a deal, it’s a rape. Artists have stronger ownership rights today than they ever did, DON’T sign it away folks. Usually there should be a little negotiation…some give and take…this is all take. I would not do it.

  10. I just posted a link to this on my own blog post about Zuda.

    My own two cents is that Zuda defeats the very purpose and nature of what web comics are. Sure they’re a flood of them out there, but they’re all free and they are their own bosses. They are creator owned comics. It’s like all the indie and underground comics of the past, but with instant worldwide distribution.

    Why would anyone want to sign up with AOL Time Warner first before trying out the waters? Web comics are a new frontier and DC is scared and clueless about it (kinda like manga and CMX). We’re starting to see web comic artists getting known and getting publishing deals. Why would someone sign up with this huge company from the get go instead of getting known and then shopping around?

    Anyway, you can hear more of my two cents on my newest blog.

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