DCML Digest Issue 4

Don Rosa donrosa at iglou.com
Wed Aug 4 15:25:47 CEST 2004

> From: <mnaiman1 at cox.net>
> Subject: CBL
> In my opinion, Egmont will probably sell very few of the complete
> libraries in the States.

Somebody has gotten sidetracked by wrong assumptions here. Each of Egmont's
CBLs will be done in the language of the Egmont country in which it is
published. Egmont is not preparing a CBL in English or for the USA. Egmont
could not do that even if they wanted to, no more than Gemstone could
publish a Finnish language CBL and sell it in the huge Finland Duck market.
By the way, during my recent Scandinavian tour, one of the activities I took
part in was as "guest speaker" at the press conference at the Egmont HQ in
Oslo on Donald Duck's "birthday" that announced the Egmont CARL BARKS
LIBRARY. (Fortunately they allowed me to speak my piece in English!) I
didn't understand a syllable of the rest of the press conference but from
the looks of the images thrown on the screen and the number of reporters and
all the speeches by editors and historians from the University of Oslo, it
was mighty impressive. But... can you imagine how difficult it is to sit in
front of a room full of reporters with cameras for over an hour listening to
a nonstop flow of "gibberish" coming from people sitting around me and try
to constantly look like I'm understanding and being fascinated by every
word? I just tried to look pleased and interested by calling up memories of
all my favorite Barks stories.

> From: "Olaf Solstrand" <olaf.solstrand at andebyonline.com>
> Being pinned to a young audience can't scare the older audience away.

This is where you are wrong and which is exactly my point. This is America.
I was not referring to the future success of the sales of and individual's
perception of Disney comics in Europe. I have traveled throughout Europe and
one of the things that most amazes and pleases me is how people, kids and
adults, *think for themselves*. It is not uncommon to see an adult reading a
Disney comic on a train, or see a young person reading both SANDMAN and
DONALD DUCK, or listening to both heavy metal and Benny Goodman CDs. That's
NOT how it is with American youth! (Or their parents!) The foremost thing on
the mind of a young American is NOT his personal entertainment pleasure, it
is *peer approval*. The knowledge that something is "aimed at a younger
audience" will absolutely scare away the older audience in America, and I
don't want that to happen to our Disney comics, not when we have such a
shaky grip on keeping them around! We want them to be as successful as
possible here -- we don't want outside forces like prejudiced nomination
committees to limit their appeal.

> Besides, couldn't this award actually make youngsters pick up an
> Uncle Scrooge and get addicted to it like we all were?

As I said, you are completely mistaken here, as regards American kids. This
award, if it were placed on a sign below a comics rack, would cause American
kids to avoid those comics at all costs. But the sad fact is that no kids
are even seeing the American Disney comics being on sale... the Gemstones
are primarily being held under the counter at comic shops for the 2 or 3
die-hard old Disney comics buffs at each shop who ask the store to buy
Gemstones for them. We want these comics to slowly find their way out onto
the comics racks of those stores and onto the shelves of Barnes & Noble and
Borders and so forth. But if they do so with a label of "for younger
readers", in the American market that would be a shroud of doom.

> Disney comics are written on such a level that it's suitable for
> kids. And  it _is_ made for children, isn't it?

I only speak for myself as a writer and/or artist, but I definitely do not
make my comics for kids. I'm happy to know that kids are reading them, but I
do not create my stories with the idea that the reader will be a child. I
create the stories for "someone like me, someone who enjoys what I enjoy".
What the age of that person might be never crosses my mind. But there is no
reason, *especially* in America, to go out of the way to proclaim these
comics "for kids". Let the readership fall where it may without being
labeled in this peer-conscious society. The reason that violent superhero
comics and weird manga are so successful here (at least with the tiny % of
American kids who buy comics) is because these types of comics superficially
*look* like they are "for adults" and often have "for mature reader" labels.
If American comics all had cover labels saying "for younger readers", well,
American comics would surely have become extinct 30 years ago as we were all
expecting them to, before the advent of the "direct sales" market.
One of the awards I've won in the European market hangs on the wall here...
dated 1997, I've forgotten exactly what it says... this one came not from a
comics group but from something like the Swedish Literary Society or
National Library Society or sumpin'... and it was for producing "the best
stories for children"... and when I accepted it, maybe at the Gothenburg
Book Fair or wherever I was, I started the acceptance speech by saying that
I did not know I was producing comics for children, but if children are
reading them too, that was really great to know.

> From: "Lars Olav Karlsen" <donald at lokarlsen.com>
> Subject: RE: Royalties
> The Walt Disney Company owns all the characters and they rent out the
> rights to Gemstone and other publishers around the world. Here in
> Scandinavia it is Egmont that publishes it.
> The different publisher then hires story writers and artists to do the
> work and they pay them for that work.
> Let's take Don Rosa as an example since we all know him. He works for
> Egmont in Scandinavia and get paid from them. His boss is Byron Ericson
> and he is editor in Denmark (if I am not mistaking). If Don Rosa want a
> raise then he speaks with Byron Ericson at Egmont.
> So the artists are not working for Disney at all, they are working for
> the publishers like Egmont and Gemstone.
> But the payment that the artists receive is not a part of the royalties
> to Disney. Disney is getting royalties for the right to use the
> characters and names, and the artists are getting paid for the work.

That is all completely correct, and the only completely correct comments
thus far on the topic.
One other element...  Disney does not forbid the payment of royalties to the
creators of the stories as long as Disney naturally gets the partial royalty
they fully deserve for owning the original characters involved in the
stories. How could they forbid a relationship or consideration between an
independent publisher and freelance creators? And why would they want to?
Even if they could do so, forbidding royalties or special considerations
would harm the ability of the publisher to get the best work available, sell
more comics, and increase the profit for everyone involved, *including* the
% of the profits that Disney is paid.

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