Bill of Rights for Comics Creators
fumetti at alpcom.it
Fri Oct 20 13:04:49 CET 1995
Hi friends! The following message is for all the comics creators on this forum.
Please note that we don't want to start this debate *here*. If you want to
talk about it, please send you messages to: fumetti at alpcom.it
A Bill of Rights for Comics Creators
by Scott McCloud
Suggested Final Draft with Annotations by the Author.
For the survival and health of comics, we recognize that no single system of
commerce and no single type of agreement between creator and publisher can
or should be instituted. However, the rights and dignity of creators
everywhere are equally vital. Our rights, as we perceive them to be and
intend to preserve them are:
Bill of Rights followed by Annotations
1. The right to full ownership of what we fully create.
This means copyright and trademark. The term "fully create" is open to
debate. Siegel and Schuster fully created Superman in my view, reagardless
of how much editorial input they may have received. It was theri idea. Had
they retained ownership of Superman from the start and later hired others to
create stories for the character, such as DC Comics has, those other would
be entitled to many rights, but ownership of Jerry and Joe's characters
would not be one of them.
2. The right to full control over the creative execution of that which we
Without this right, the first one is meaningless. What difference would my
full ownership of Zot! make if I could be forced, at a publisher's whim, to
change my characters' appearance, bring villains back from dead, to write
long crossover scenes or even just to change a little piece of dialogue on
page five, panel three, and in doung so undermine a message I may have been
working to get across for over a hundred pages! No change is so important
that it can't be discussed, but the final say over what goes into Zot! is
still in the hands of its creator and owner. Companies that take on
creator-owned properties do so at a certain risk, but when a creator trades
in his or her control over their creation for a twelve-issue contract and
some money in the bank, they do more than just risk that their message will
be distorted in the long run. They virtually guarantee it.
3. The right of approval over the reproduction and format of our cretive
This is my suggested wording change. I prefer "approval over" to "full
control" in this instance because it's possible for both publisher and
creator to agree on such basic matters as size, shape, printing process and
pagination before the project is even begun. Unlike disputes over writing
and art, these are matters that can be handled at the contract stage. If,
while work is alredy proceeding, a creator or publisher wants to make change
in format, then agreement by both sides would be necessary. In the original
draft of the Bill, a thirteenth right governing advisory labels was added.
I've omitted it here, as I think this heading covers it well enough.
4. The right of approval over the methods by which our creative property is
Again, a matter for the contract stage as I see it. This was also changed
from "full control" and reworded slightly to avoid giving the impression
that we all thought we had the right to walk into our local distributor's
warehouse and start telling people how to pack boxes. This, and all the
twelve rights, refer primarily to the creator/publisher relationship.
5. The right to free movement of ourselves and our creative property to and
No, this doesn't mean we have the right to breck contracts and walk whenever
we feel like it. (At least that's not my interpretation.) This simply means
that, just as comic book writers and artists have traditionally competed for
assignments from comic companies, the reverse should also be true. Creators
wishing to produce work for more than one company at a time must be free
from coercion of any kind.
6. The right to emply legal counsel in any and all business transactions.
I don't think this one needs any explanation.
7. The right to offer a proposal to mroe than one publisher at a time.
What's good for the goose is good for the gander. This operates on the same
principle as Number 5. I would add that such "multiple submissions" should
be clearly labeled as such.
8. The right to prompt payment of a fair and equitable share of profits
derived from all our creative work.
I think this is pretty self-evident.
9. The right to full and accurate accounting of any and all income and
disbursments relative to our work.
These two articles apply to all comic writers and artists, not just
creator-owners (also true of Numbers 5, 6 and 10). They arern't particularly
controversial, but they are being violated - constantly.
10. The right to prompt and complete return of our artwork in its original
Nowadays, this idea seems fairly tame, yet once this was the most radical,
inflammatory thing an artist could possibly suggest to a publisher. It will
be interesting to see how many of these other rights are taken for granted
two or three decades from now, as this one has come to be.
11. The right to full control over the licensing of our creative property.
Again, this one follows naturally from the first right. Ownership would be
meaningless without this kind of control.
12. The right to promote and the right of aproval over any and all promotion
of ourselves and our creative property.
The Italian cartoonists society Anonima Fumetti would like all the collegues
to think about this Bill of Rights suggested by Scott McCloud and welcomes
all contributions to the debate. You can send your contribution to our
e-mail address: fumetti at alpcom.it and we'll send them to Scott McCloud and
talk about all this in our WEB pages: http://www.alpcom.it/fumetti/
Gianfranco Goria, cartoonist and comics divulger: goria at inrete.alpcom.it
president of Anonima Fumetti - Italian cartoonists society: fumetti at alpcom.it
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