Getting Screwed, by Mike Gold

Mike Gold

ComicMix's award-winning and spectacularly shy editor-in-chief Mike Gold also performs the weekly two-hour Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind ass-kicking rock, blues and blather radio show on The Point, and on iNetRadio, (search: Hit Oldies) every Sunday at 7:00 PM Eastern, rebroadcast three times during the week – check above for times and on-demand streaming information.

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21 Responses

  1. Elayne Riggs says:

    Hear hear. The most basic obligation for any company that contracts with freelancers is to pay them what they're owed.Instead, not only do some of these publishers not pay, but they turn nasty when someone blows the whistle.

    • Alan Coil says:

      Some may read the blog about CrossGen and say, "That is old news.", but it is pertinent today. The same things continue to happen with other publishers, and their responses always seem to be the same. They apologize for the inconvenience, make promises they know they will not be able to keep, then when called on that, get defensive–then abusive–and threaten lawsuits, etc., etc., etc.I guess human nature, at least in the comic book industry, is all too predictable.

  2. Tony Isabella says:

    How dare you, Mike? Everyone knows that the comics publishers are the only ones who care about the characters as much as the fans do. It's the greedy freelancers who expect the publishers to honor their agreements and to pay them and unrealistic, unprofessional shit like that. Freelancers should be happy for the opportunity to get published. DC is mother, DC is father. I think I'll have some more of that fruit drink, Rev. Jim.

  3. John Ostrander says:

    It's all just "product" and the creators are all just "widgets". In any business deal, who is more important — the one with the ideas or the one with the money? According to the guys with the money, it's them. So far as they're concerned, ideas are a dime a dozen; it's the one who puts together the financing that is the real genius. They risk capital, thus they are deserving of the biggest payback. I don't think there's any value differentiating between good ideas and bad; it's still just product. NEW is bad because if it really is innovative, it's more risky. Doing the same stuff again and again or doing something LIKE you've been doing has a proven history and is thus less risky as an investment. At the very least, the one who approves the project can cover their ass by showing that there is a track record for it — even if it doesn't work THIS time. It really comes down to marketing; they believe more in marketing than they do in product, I think. Of course, marketing believes in selling something that is already likely to sell anyway. That's how they cover THEIR ass."Ethics"? Can they sell that? Can they SPELL that? Oh well. I'll stop now and go write MY column.

    • Martha Thomases says:

      Not to be contrarian (I do write fiction myself), but there are some publishers/producers who are creative – Selznick and Cerf, for example. In an ideal world, the money people find creative talent, who produce work that the marketing people then introduce to the audience.And then, of course, there's the world we live in …

      • Mike Gold says:

        Yep. I love that part about "marketing." Although I hear more complaints from writers about the art directors… and I've got one of those, myself.

        • Martha Thomases says:

          And, similarly, I'm amused when people say that the way to market comics is to publish good books. That's not a marketing function, it's an editing function. When the book is completed to the satisfaction of the publisher, then it's marketing's job to find the audience that is most likely to enjoy the book.Every comic is someone's favorite.

    • mike weber says:

      Willie Nelson said it: "..and if you think that's easy, Mr Music Executive, why don't you write your own songs?"

      • Mike Gold says:

        Do they all deserve money from a song that they've never heardThey don't know the tune and they don't know the wordsBut they don't give a damn– Ray Davis, "The Money-Go-Round"

        • mike weber says:

          That was the lyric that came to mind when i read the article about Fox trying to torpedo "Watchmen".

  4. Howard Johnson says:

    To me, nothing underscores all of this more than sitting through The Dark Knight and seeing the credit reading "Batman created by Bob Kane." Where is Bill Finger? Where is a credit for Jerry Robinson for co-creating the Joker? Most comic fans know the Kane credit for the very sad joke that it is, but one has to feel for Finger's family (not to mention Jerry, who, fortunately, is still here to appreciate it)… Aaargh! My blood is boiling!

    • Delmo Walters Jr. says:

      Are there any surviving members of Finger's family? I know he had a son, David, who has passed away.

      • Mike Gold says:

        That's true. To DC's credit, every time we reprinted a Batman story with an unidentified writer (I handled the original Greatest Batman and Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told volumes, so I was around that block several times) that had been published while Bill was around, his son would get the reprint check, as if Bill had written the story. A nice gesture to a man who got stiffed, badly, by a previous ownership.

    • Vinnie Bartilucci says:

      "Where is a credit for Jerry Robinson for co-creating the Joker?"Two things – IIRC, the Kane estate has been adamant about not allowing other creators' names to appear on batman creations, tho DC has tried to get them added. Also, Jerry Robinson now has an editor emeritus position at DC and (I believed) received a sizable honorarium before Dark Knight Came out, just as Neal Adams and (I believe) our own Denny O did just before Ras Ahl Ghul got used in Batman Begins. They're doing what they can with who they can. Whether or not they're doing enough is open to debate. (I can hear Tony Isabella's teeth grinding from here…) The whole Siegel/Superboy mishegas has got them re-thinking their decades old policies.I've said it many times; there's a marked difference between what's Right and what's Required. As obvious as some actions are to people watching from the sidelines, there will ever be a battery of white-lipped attorneys commenting that any payments made or credits given to a writer or artist could be used as leverage later for a full lawsuit to gain control of their creations, so it's legally more prudent to deny any credit.There's guys out there who know damn well what they signed, and are at peace with it. The story goes that Steve Ditko has refused any payments by Sam Raimi as a thank for the co-creation of Spider-Man. He knows it was work for hire, and makes no attempt to get what others would say he's owed. Jim Shooter told an interesting story at Baltimore last year. Many years after writing Legion, when he was at marvel, he saw someone who used to work in DC's legal department. "I used to work with your father" she said, referring to the writer of Legion. He explained that was indeed he, and she told him something interesting. He was a minor when he wrote the Legion stories; he could, if he so chose, claim that any contracts and transfer of ownerships he signed were voic, and he could OWN the characters he created for Legion. But he knew full well what he was signing when he did, he saw no need to take advantage of a loophole, and never made sich claims. Of course, as soon as Bob Wayne heard this story, he calmly asked if Jim would meet him in his office on Monday to sign a few papers backing that up…

      • Mike Gold says:

        "the Kane estate has been adamant about not allowing other creators' names to appear on batman creations, tho DC has tried to get them added." I think that's a myth. I've seen the contracts signed by Kane while he was alive. Fact is, there ARE signed agreements with Bob Kane that allow DC to full use of the character. If the company were to acknowledge that Finger was co-creator, the whole deal could unravel as there is no signed agreement with Finger or his estate. Why should they take such an enormous risk?"Jim Shooter … was a minor when he wrote the Legion stories; he could, if he so chose, claim that any contracts and transfer of ownerships he signed were voic, and he could OWN the characters he created for Legion."Another cute story, but technically, Jim could own them anyway. There were no contracts, just an agreement on the back of the check. By endorsing the check, you were, in theory, signing that agreement. However, the Supreme Court subsequently ruled such agreements to be illegal.I wonder if Jim reads ComicMix?

  5. Russ Rogers says:

    Speaking of uncredited and under-compensated creators, is Michael Davis getting paid anything in the new deal with Milestone and DC?

    • Mike Gold says:

      We'd have to ask Mr. Davis.Personally, I haven't seen him lighting cigars with $50.00 bills lately…

      • Michael Davis says:

        OH HELL NO,you have not seen me lighting cigars with $50.00 bills lately. I light Euro's baby.

    • Michael Davis says:

      Russ,I never talk money specifics of any deal in public. To me that's bad form. I will say this about creators, have a lawyer.

      • Russ Rogers says:

        If only Lennon and McCartney had that advice before signing away the publishing to all their Beatles songs!

  6. James Hudnall says:

    As someone who has both been a creator and a publisher, I've seen all sides of the business. It's very hard for small companies to make it in this business. Creators rightfully expect to get paid for their work, but when there's no money, the publisher is the one holding the bag. They can lose thousands, upon thousands of dollars (hundreds of thousands, even) when they go under. And the freelancers will go around the business cursing their names as crooks and so on, when really, they're just businessmen who had a failed venture and ended up in serious debt. I'm glad I was never in the kind of mess some of the 80s publishers I knew got in, but I've lost money in publishing. It's hard being on the other side of the desk. I haev a lot more empathy for publishers than I did when I was just a freelancer looking to get paid. But, as for the way people were treated back in the day, there are a lot of really disgraceful stories. Epic. And there's no excuses for some of what went on.