Jim Starlin on Avengers Film Compensation (Or Lack Thereof)

By Todd Allen

230px Jim Starlin 2006 200x255 Jim Starlin on Avengers Film Compensation (Or Lack Thereof) If you’ve seen the Avengers, you understand what the headline is about.  If not… turn back for a spoiler will follow.

Spoiler

OK.  That’s enough space.  If you’re reading The Beat, you probably already know that the teaser at the end of the Avengers film revealed Thanos, death’s gentleman caller and the probable villain for Avengers 2.  And you probably also know that Thanos was introduced in the 1970s by Jim Starlin coming to prominence as the big baddie for his classic runs on Captain Marvel and Warlock, long before the 90s revival with Infinity Gauntlet.

The Hero Complex, the comics blog at the LA Times, caught up with Jim Starlin and asked him about his experiences watching the Avengers movie.  Come to find out, he wasn’t officially notified Thanos was in the film — he was clued in by friends who’d read some rumors on the Internet.

Here’s the tale of his compensation:

It’s nice to see my work recognized as being worth something beyond the printed page, and it was very cool seeing Thanos up on the big screen. Joss Whedon and his crew did an excellent job on “The Avengers” movie and I look forward to the sequel, for obvious reasons. But this is the second film that had something I created for Marvel in it — the Infinity Gauntlet in “Thor” being the other – and both films I had to pay for my own ticket to see them. Financial compensation to the creators of these characters doesn’t appear to be part of the equation. Hopefully Thanos’ walk-on in “The Avengers” will give a boost to a number of my own properties that are in various stages of development for film: “Dreadstar,” “Breed” and the novel “Thinning the Predators.”

Popping over to Amazon, it looks like some of Starlin’s Thanos-related material is in print (whichwas not a given).  Infinity Gauntlet is in print at at #387 in sales as I’m looking at it, so at least he’s getting some action there.  Infinity War is in print.  The Death of Captain Marvel is in print, but not the bulk of that run.  Warlock is also out of print, though an Essential volume is due out in August.  So it looks like Starlin will likely get some reprint money spilling out from the film.

As of right now, it doesn’t appear Starlin’s making a big deal out of it, but Kirby isn’t the only elephant in the room.

Incidentally, if you’ve never tracked down Starlin’s Dreadstar (mentioned in his quote), it’s worth your time to find.

Comments

  1. Dreadstar is epic.

    No pun intended.

  2. Am on a limited budget so I had to choose between Avengers and Cabin in The Woods. Saw Cabin. Great film. Find myself feeling ‘meh’ about Avengers. The fact that no creator, except Stan, even got a mention grates on me. I realize it’s my loss, in any case.

    I would see a dreadstar movie, hands down over any other super-hero movie. Hey, it’s Starlin. ’nuff said. :D

  3. Caged Wisdom says:

    @ Michael – I can’t recall which creators get mentioned in the end credits but they do give thanks to several of them in there.

    I’m not saying that’s enough or that these people are all getting compensation, but “no creator except Stan got a mention” isn’t accurate. They definitely thank Kirby, and I remember Ralph Macchio’s name in there too.

  4. Big Daddy Cool says:

    Are you kidding me? Marvel owns the character. End of story.

  5. INFINTY GAUNTLET is not currently in print (it slipped out sometime last week), nor is WAR.

    Both chapters of INFINITY CRUSADE are, however.

    -B

  6. Thomas Wayne says:

    I’m on par with Big Daddy here. Marvel (Disney) owns these characters. It’s that simple. I realize creators get crapped on all the time, especially some of the guys who created some truly bad ass awesome characters – but Starlin has no legs to stand on when it comes to Thanos in this movie or any other.

    The African American Nick Fury was created by Hitch and Bendis, should they get a bonus and names in the credits? Rico and Heck helped co create Black Widow in 1964. Heck also co created Hawkeye.

    Maybe its me but a lot of these creators seem to think they are entitled simply because they created.

    Let’s clear the air on this – you were hired to do a job, part of that job was to create new characters. You were paid for that job. Unless partial ownership was part of the contract you are out of luck. You don’t own the character – the company does.

    Show me where it says Starlin deserves special treatment or ownership on whatever level in his contract with Marvel from the 1970’s when Thanos was created and I will shout to the rafters for his rights – but if those terms weren’t in the contract you need to get in line and pay for your tickets like the rest of us.

    And don’t get me started on the Siegel family- those bastard grandkids deserve the rights to Superman about as much as you or I do.

  7. Thomas Wayne says:

    Steve Gerber passed away 3 or 4 years ago – wonder if he would want compensation and his names in the credits of Howard the Duck?

  8. “Greedy heirs” gets you a suspension here, Thomas Wayne.

    Can someone who has a bootleg of the Avengers make a screen cap of the credits? Basing legit protests on falsehoods is not productive.

  9. Johnny Memeonic says:

    What’s Jim Starlin talking about? Hasn’t he been talking to the fanatics on every comic site lately? Doesn’t he know that everything he made was actually created by Jack Kirby and no other creator deserves credit or money for anything?

  10. >> Steve Gerber passed away 3 or 4 years ago – wonder if he would want compensation and his names in the credits of Howard the Duck? >>

    Yes.

    And how mouth-foamy do you have to be to kick up this kind of fuss is reaction to Starlin saying, “Financial compensation to the creators of these characters doesn’t appear to be part of the equation. Hopefully Thanos’ walk-on in ‘The Avengers’ will give a boost to a number of my own properties.”

    That’s not even anything you seem to disagree with — I guess it was him thinking Marvel might have been nice enough to invite him to a screening that was the unpardonable offense, I guess.

    Should Hitch and Bendis get their names in the credits? Sure, and they did. So did Starlin and Heck, for that matter.

    Should they get bonuses? Sure, why not? If they did, maybe they’d want to create more cool stuff for Marvel, or other people would, knowing that if it turned into a goldmine, they’d get a little gold, instead of “My, what an uppity creator, wanting a ticket to the movie. To hell with you, sir!”

  11. So Disney and Marvel are bastards, this is news? Why then do people keep going to work for them and getting screwed? Then another generation, who knows the history, goes to work for them and the whole process starts again.

    When are creators going to learn to not go to work for these fuckers? Haven’t we learned from the old guys who wound up with nothing, not even a thank you?

    Why give them your best ideas and the best years of your life? Because you love the characters? I’m sorry but ol’ Cap and Iron Man ain’t lovin’ you back.

    And if you do go to work for Disney / Marvel knowing all of this now, then don’t bitch 10 years from now that you got screwed.

    For the record, I didn’t go to see Avengers. People go on about artists rights and then support the same system that took advantage of those artists. Pretty sad.

  12. Okay, I was incorrect on the crediting of the creators in the Avengers. It’s interesting, as in the comic news&views blogsphere, it seems that no creators got any credit or acknowledgment in the credits — and it was that impression that misled me.

    @CitizenCliff — I agree with what you said. I would just add, what’s the harm in acknowledging the people who created the characters/concepts/storylines up front? Just because something may be legal to do so (or in this case Not to do so) doesn’t make it right.

  13. I’ve started to pretend all these awful comments (you know: the REALLY, REALLY AWFUL ones) are really by Scott Kurtz in a wig.

  14. Hikaru says:

    The fact that Marvel can’t even give the man complimentary tickets is a microcosm of the company’s relationship with the people that that gave the ideas for these movies.

    Thank you for your contributions good sir, that will be $10.50.

  15. Len Teans says:

    I’m assuming this is a question more of etiquette or decency than formal legal rights, which makes some of the comments above–however correct they might be on their own terms–somewhat beside the point. That said… Really? We’re talking about a mid-credit stinger glimpse of the character that literally lasts all of two seconds, and an equally brief background shot of the gauntlet planted mostly as an Easter egg. If they don’t credit, notify, or otherwise throw a little love toward the original creator when his brainchildren are at the center of Avengers 2, we can all howl at Marvel’s crassness then, even if they’re within their legal rights. Until then, meh.

  16. While he may not see much in the way of compensation from Marvel, like him, I think it will definitely help his own film projects. I think ultimately that’s all old school creators can really hope to gain from their past creations with Marvel. It’s a bit like playing on song for the Ed Sullivan show. Ed owns the clip of you playing, but you get a platform for exposure that you can use to accelerate your career so you can eventually work solely on creator owned projects.

    What really puzzles me is why some creators play that out in reverse. They start as a beloved Indy creator, start working on a Marvel or DC title, and then their Indy work dries up?

  17. Mikael says:

    Len Wein gets more movie money for his creation of Lucius Fox than he does for Wolverine’s movie appearances. Even Christopher Priest gets movie money for his contributions to the Batman mythos that shows up in Batman Begins. DC does it. So should Marvel.

  18. When they learn to just give a “Bonus” this will stop.

  19. Anyone remember The Beat’s most recent Annual Year-End Survey from this past January, when Starlin answered this question?:

    “What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? : Seeing Thanos show up at the end of the Avengers movie.”

    http://www.comicsbeat.com/2012/01/02/the-beat%E2%80%99s-annual-year-end-survey-2012-edition-%E2%80%94-part-one/

    So Jim was just joking about Thanos being in the film at the time?? Because in this Hero Complex interview he says that he only found out about Thanos’s appearance a few weeks before The Avengers opened.

  20. “Are you kidding me? Marvel owns the character. End of story.”

    I pity people whose sole standard of conduct is what is required by the law.

  21. Mark Engblom says:

    Yeah…who needs the law when you could do what’s “fair” and “right”…pay no attention to the fact that 100 different people will have 100 different versions of what is, indeed, fair and right. But hey…it’s much more entertaining to keep singing those “someone done us wrong” songs than to actually read your contracts and, if you find them wanting, refuse to sign them.

    What a concept!

  22. Charles Ranier says:

    “Maybe its me but a lot of these creators seem to think they are entitled simply because they created.”

    This, right here, should be engraved in marble in gilded letters 300 feet high, and the whole of it dropped on Thomas Wayne’s head.

  23. Torsten Adair says:

    Does Marvel pay royalties on reprints?

  24. Medieval Guy says:

    I think the credits kerfuffle has its origin in that interview with Stan Lee, where he was asked about Kirby getting credited and apparently thought the question was about Lee’s producer credit, and was baffled that the interviewer would think that Kirby would get one.

  25. A company owns all its product, but when someone inside the company does a stand out creation/job/ect, they will give them a bonus on some level.

    That is the decent thing to do.

  26. Synsidar says:

    People who read mostly superhero comics might have exaggerated notions of how important characters are in a story.

    If someone wants to do a story about a sociopolitical issue, he creates characters who take stands on it and have them interact. Whatever attributes they might have—gay, straight, female, black, white, middle-aged—are only important to the extent that the characters are realistic and convincing advocates for their positions.

    If someone writes literary fiction, he might be as concerned with making abstract points as he is with making characters memorable.

    Compare a superhero story to other genre fiction stories; you’ll find that the characters and the plot pretty much are the superhero story. Being married isn’t an aesthetic weakness in any sense in a superhero story; it’s only a weakness in the sense that some readers might be unable to identify with the married hero or his wife, and any scenes devoted to the married life supposedly detract from the issue’s plot. Some people believe that a wife or kids are useless in superhero storytelling unless they’re threatened; similarly, if someone is gay, that aspect is only useful if it’s plot material. Having a supporting character who’s gay would be bad because scenes with him would be boring real-life stuff that only takes space away from the main story.

    I think that being greatly concerned with who created whom is greatly counterproductive because it focuses on one aspect of storytelling and minimizes the importance of everything else. Very few people expect to become rich from writing one novel, but if one is a bestseller and/or adapted into a movie, that’s wonderful. If a novelist wrote a close-ended story about a comics superhero, the character as he’s depicted in comics would only be a starting point. Working to flesh him out, to develop his theme(s) and to provide a convincing ending would all be new material.

    Starlin got the credit he deserved on Thanos, and arguably should get more than that. He’s not entitled to anything more, though. Regarding characters as lottery picks only lessens one’s incentive to create new ones and to write stories in which a story’s central character isn’t everything.

    SRS

  27. I had forgotten about what Jim said in my survey! At the time I thought, heh, that’s a good one.

    Also, IF Thanos does appear in the second movie, the presence of a very much alive Jim Starlin will have a very different effect than that of the eternal flame of a Kirby.

  28. Mark Engblom:

    And of course the Law is never wrong or misguided or misinterpreted. Thank god for that!

  29. DCis far better about this, largely due to Paul Levitz. If you see the credits of a crowded episode of YOUNG JUSTICE on the CN, you’ll see many creators credited from Joe Certa to jerry Ordway to Tony Daniel.
    I wonder if Marvel is being worse about this is due to the penny pinching of owner Perlmutter? If he won’t replace light bulbs in the office, why would he give out bonuses or movie tickets?

  30. RAGGEDT says:

    @Mikael, good point. While the “Before Watchmen” stuff places a cloud over DC, that company (at least under Paul Levitz) has done a lot to make sure that notable creators receive some compensation when movies come out that include their contributions to the mythos.

    I chatted with Neal Adams at the NY Comic-Con a couple years back and he said he was pleasantly surprised when he received a check from DC because of the use of Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins.

  31. Would Starlin give the any of this bonus money to the Kirby estate and/or DC Comics for Darkseid being the inspiration for Thanos?

  32. RAGGEDT says:

    @Nate — sorry about that. Looks like we posted at almost exactly the same time! I’m cool with that because I don’t think Paul Levitz gets enough credit for his leadership and vision while he was top dog at DC. I know he has his critics, but I kinda liked that he never felt the need to trash Marvel regardless of the amount of trash talking that Joe Quesada engaged in.

  33. Thomas Wayne says:

    The Beat and Kurt,

    Luckily “to hell with you, sir” is a compliment around my house.

    First to The Beat and the “greedy heirs” segment of the program…I never said the heirs were greedy…I said they should not be entitled to the rights to Superman. Plan and simple. I am all for creators rights – but I do not believe those rights extend to those who did not create unless passed down legally in a last will or the like.

    I believe the millions of Superman fans out there today have just as much an entitlement to Superman ownership (say in the public domain) having supported Superman in all forms over the years as the Siegel grandkids do. They created nothing – and are standing on the platform their grandparents built, wanting more. This, in my humble opinion, is wrong.

    I hope this clears things up and shortens my suspension.

    Now, Mr. Busiek, (whom has me squarely seated in the front row of the hot land show)…

    Perhaps my zest against Starlin’s comments were a bit strong – and If I offended you or him or anyone I apologize.

    However, my point was and remains – He got paid to do a job and that job was to create. Would it have been nice to see Starlin’s name in the credits – sure, I guess so but I didn’t stick around to see his name, Hitch’s name, Heck’s name or anyone else’s name. I already know they created X and Y and Z. For others who don’t know who created what, they don’t care.

    If you asked your average movie fan about the Avengers they would tell you it is awesome…asked them who directed it and at least half the time you will get “I dunno” as the response. They don’t care who directed and they sure don’t care who created Thanos. In actuallity, Hundreds of thousands left the theatre not knowing who Thanos was in the first place. I’m not saying this as harsh, I’m saying this as fact.

    When Thanos appeared in Marvel cartoons was Starlin credited or compensated? If he was on either front I would like to know. If The Avengers had bombed at the box office and was a shittly little movie would he have cared that his name was or was not in the credits? This was the point I was making with Gerber and Howard the Duck…would he have wanted his name on a terrible film? Would there have been a qualifier for him? Howard the Duck created by Steve Gerber (not the crappy version you just watched on screen, the cool version printed in Marvel Comics).

    Starlin is a stud creator. I love Dreadstar. But he almost comes off as whiny in that piece…that he had to “buy tickets” to a movie that had a character he created in it for what…five seconds tops????

    I love comics. I’d love for creators to have as many avenues for compensation as possible…but at some point you have to draw the line on who gets what from whom after the fact. If Starlin can talk his way into a financial bonus from Marvel and get his name in the credits of Avengers 2 when we see more of Thanos than a 5 second glance, great…I’m all for it. If he can’t I have no problem with that either.

    Look at it this way – are the folks who originally created Agent Coulson getting compensated for his appearances in Marvel comic books now? How about the writers who created Chloe Sullivan on Smallville or Harley Quinn on Batman the animated series. Do they get compensated for those characters in print form – I suppose its possible but I would bet it highly unlikely. Everytime she pops up on a video game or comic does it say Harley Quinn created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm? Again, possible but unlikely.

    And if I am wrong on any of those fronts please let me know – I’d like to know who gets compensated for what. Others should know to. Their contracts should be used as examples for all creators on how to keep the credit and compensation rolling when something you created moves into different media in the future.

    Anyway, thanks for sending me to Hell and I look forward to whatever you write next. Keep up the good work.

  34. Thomas Wayne says:

    Charles Ranier,

    I’m not sure 300 foot letters would do the trick…I have an awfully big head….thick too. You may need to go at least another 100 feet, perhaps 200 to have any kind of destructive affect on my crown.

    Perhaps engraving the entire thing out of steel would do the trick?

  35. Thomas Wayne says:

    And the one thing I forgt to mention – since I didn’t stick around for the end credits after Thanos I do not know if every individual (or pair) of creators for all characters in Avengers was mentioned, if they were on all levels and Starlin got left out that is not right.

    If this happened perhaps they were trying to keep Thanos a bit of a mystery and will name Starlin in the sequel. If not, it was either an oversite or they just didn’t care.

    Both slights are bad, one is worse.

  36. A lot of people who want to reduce their opinion to ‘he should have read the contract’ should realize that in a lot of these disputes, it’s actually the publishers who never got anything in writing (or didn’t get it in proper writing, &c). And the letter of the law often favors the creator over the publisher in the absence of contracts. Read through some of the disputes: you’ll find that publishers play the ‘at the time we didn’t forsee the need for a written work-for-hire contract’ …it’s all very complicated, of course. But people should realize that it cuts both ways. It’s not just creators that are whining-after-the-fact.
    About the only thing that’s clear is that BOTH creators and publishers didn’t see comics becoming billion dollar international brands. As Jimmy suggests, it would be nice (and probably best for the business) if the weathly could be spread a little more evenly–but unfortunately some of these disputes can’t find common ground.

  37. If you can find it, give his Gilgamesh II mini a read.

  38. Run Iago says:

    It seems to me that the point that Mr Busiek and Mr Palmiotti are making above are not necessarily legalistic. Again, IMHO, events like this are bad for business. In as insular an industry as comic book publishing is where 99% of the business is tied to intellectual properties, the good will of the men and women who create and maintain those properties is the company’s second most valuable asset (after the actual characters but not by much).

    Having someone drop by Jim Starlin’s house saying “Here’s a little sumpin’sumpin’ for Thanos’ appearance in the movie” would go a lot farther toward the company’s bottom line through the perception it would create in the comic community than however many dollars were actually on the check.

  39. jaroslav hasek says:

    starlin’s remarks seem perfectly reasonable to me. don’t see how anyone could construe it as a complaint, legitimate or otherwise. i would characterize them as exceedingly gracious given situation.

    hey since it was his idea to use thanos, maybe joss whedon could peel of a few thou from the millios he’s going to earn and toss them starlin’s way. youd also think the marketing/promotions budget would have a small discretionary fund they could use to appease the disgruntled comic creator supporters. i dunno tho, maybe lawyers stop them. just another reason to negotiate a piece of that potential future goldmine when you first sell your creations i guess!

    if this heklps gets an affordable tpb collection of Dreadstar on the market tho, i will be happy!

  40. B. Clay Moore says:

    I’m happy to know that if DC should use characters I created for them (which they own) in film or television, I’ll be compensated for that use.

    -BCM

  41. “How about the writers who created Chloe Sullivan on Smallville or Harley Quinn on Batman the animated series. Do they get compensated for those characters in print form – I suppose its possible but I would bet it highly unlikely.”

    Since the 1970s, DC has been far more reasonable about compensating creators (the Siegels vs Time/Warner notwithstanding)
    Example: In the 1980s, Paul Levitz, Joe Orlando, and Jeanette Kahn had Jack Kirby redesign the Fourth World characters so they could give him royalites for their use in the Super Powers merchandise line.
    The old contract that was in effect when Kirby created the characters in 1971 didn’t give him royalties for anything, and DC’s lawyers were claiming the old contract applied to the new Super Powers material as well.
    By redesigning the characters, they were listed as “new” versions, and the new creator-friendly contract terms would apply to them (and Kirby).
    God knows it created a lot of corporate headaches and grief for Levitz, Orlando, and Kahn, but they went out of their way for someone they felt deserved a break after the way he’d been treated over the years.
    Too bad none of them are in management at DC anymore.(Orlando passed away in 1998.)

  42. Martha Wayne says:

    Thomas, stop posting on the Internet and take me to the theater like you promised.

  43. “but I do not believe those rights extend to those who did not create unless passed down legally in a last will or the like.”

    Well, isn’t it legally the case that the estate of a person automatically passes to their spouse or children in the event of no will? That would include copyrights, which last 70 years beyond the creator’s death. So if the creator has any rights to dispute, why would their heirs not have a claim on those rights as well, even if not specifically outlined in some document?

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that if you’re willing to grant a creator certain rights, you ought to be willing to extend those rights to their estate or heirs, especially if there’s a means to profit from their work long after they’re gone.

  44. Derf Backderf says:

    Mr. Wayne is correct that creators before 1978 or so didn’t have contracts that gave them the rights to their creations. Where he is dead wrong is that those creators signed a contract giving away those rights. Most did not. When Marvel started printing such a contract on the back of freelance checks in the late 70s, Kirby, Adams, etc. stopped working for Marvel right then and there.

    Marvel & DC insist that this was a retroactive given. That’s not how contract law works, And that’s why some are successfully clawing back their creations. Or hasn’t Mr. Wayne been reading about the Siegel and Shuster estates regaining the Superman rights? That’s a pretty big friggin development to leave out of your argument! And you can bet that this epic win is just the beginning, especially since the Siegels have promised to help others in similar legal battles.

    The reason this has taken so long for creators to notch a few victories isn’t that Marvel-Disney and DC- Time Warner are legally in the right. It’s that they hurl a squadron of lawyers at any poor creator who asks for his due. Since they were chronically underpaid and later deprived of their rightful cuts, these people don’t have the resources to take on corporate giants.

    It’s just preposterous that Marvel has a movie that pulls in $1 billion in a couple months and get set aside a fair cut for the people that created those characters. It’s immoral. It’s also why I haven’t bought a Marvel comic in decades and have no intention of seeing this or any other Marvel film. And finally, it’s most definitely why Marvel has had a major new character of any significance since 1974 or so.

  45. I got a free ticket to see Avengers.

    Which means I got more than Starlin did.

    That’s fucked up.

  46. FAQS:

    I’d note that Jim Starlin—who is like Kirby a veteran—is not going around to every website on earth moaning and complaining. He spoke to one very highly read site, and is continuing to go on with his life.

    AVENGERS 2 is a loooong way away. Is Joss Whedon going to direct it? Unknown. Is Thanos the villain? Unknown. However I would bet money on this: if Thanos is the villain of Avengers 2, Jim Starlin will be thanked, credited and trotted out to the media at some point.

    The alternative is for him to become a Gary Friedrich. And Jim Starlin is no Gary Friedrich. With all due respect to Gary Friedrich.

    FACT: Marvel settled with JOE SIMON on the Cap matter. NOT the Kirby estate.

    As for what Derf talks about (thanks for posting, Derf!), Marvel has no records of any of this from the 70s, leaving them very vulnerable from a legal standpoint. However, their side of things has been consistently upheld in the New York courts which are notably more business friendly than the LA courts, which are open to the creator side. Hence the several wins for the Siegels and the lack of victories for the Kirby family. Marvel has been dead set on keeping it on the east coast all along.

    Thomas Wayne, you did not use the term “greedy heirs” instead you used the far more subtle one “those bastard grandkids.”

  47. Chris Duffy says:

    Tip for reading comments on this topic: Just skip to Kurt B’s postings.

  48. Thanks for posting that, Derf! That’s a real eye-opener. Likewise, thanks also to The Beat’s post.

    Commenting earlier, with less information, was just… not a good idea for me. I’m glad I read up to this point.

  49. Baaaah humbug says:

    The guys who created post it notes for 3M got a nice watch at retirement…

  50. Jesse says:

    I am always shocked by the corporate apologists who post. This is a huge issue, the lack of creator compensation, if fans were clear in their support of creators, financial support, then we would likely see more than a foot note in movie credits. Instead people actually waste their time defending giant entertainment companies that already pay lawyers to do it. Do you actually think if they give Starlin money you won’t see Avengers 2? Or if any heirs got financial restitution the characters you love would go away?
    On a further note if Jack Kirby was your grandad, you would bitch about money.

  51. Corey (Ottawa) says:

    I wouldn’t assume that Starlin is getting paid, just because people are buying his book….

    See this fairly recent incident from Charles Vess’ dealings with Marvel.

    http://blog.newsarama.com/2012/01/13/charles-vess-it-would-be-nice-if-marvel-actually-paid-creators/

  52. Chris Hero says:

    @Jimmy Palmioti

    “A company owns all its product, but when someone inside the company does a stand out creation/job/ect, they will give them a bonus on some level.”

    I’m sorry to say this hasn’t been true in quite some time. Most companies will kick their employees in the face and say, “Well, it could have been the balls.” (OK, not exactly those words, but close enough.)

    The way comic companies treat creators is WRONG, but it’s the way all companies treat all employees.

  53. Jesse says:

    @chris hero The difference here might be that this is an art, consumer driven art. So consumers can dictate compensation and change through purchasing habits and vocalizing concern. Unfortunately, for most folks who make widgets we need unions, attorneys or politicians. Most consumers buy basic materials through need and then price becomes the bottom line so companies can treat employees as well or as poorly as the market will support. Art seems to work a little differently; All discretionary purchasing so corporations have to listen to consumers. You are not simply going to buy one comic over another because of price. I think you are right but in the case of comics it does not necessarily have to be that way.

  54. >> I already know they created X and Y and Z. For others who don’t know who created what, they don’t care. >>

    I don’t think “most people don’t care” is or should be what matters in determining ethical behavior.

    >> When Thanos appeared in Marvel cartoons was Starlin credited or compensated? >>

    Probably not.

    >> If The Avengers had bombed at the box office and was a shittly little movie would he have cared that his name was or was not in the credits? >>

    I don’t know why you’re obsessing about credits here. Starlin didn’t say anything about the credits. And he was credited.

    But I bet he’d have cared, yes.

    >> This was the point I was making with Gerber and Howard the Duck…would he have wanted his name on a terrible film? >>

    Yes.

    >> Starlin is a stud creator. I love Dreadstar. But he almost comes off as whiny in that piece…that he had to “buy tickets” to a movie that had a character he created in it for what…five seconds tops???? >>

    He’s far less whiny than you’re being, going on at greater length than he did about how bad it is that Jim thought it’d be nice if they invited him to a screening, now that they’ve used two of his creations.

    >> If Starlin can talk his way into a financial bonus from Marvel and get his name in the credits of Avengers 2 when we see more of Thanos than a 5 second glance, great…I’m all for it. >>

    It’s nice to know you wouldn’t actually object if he got paid a little something, just so long as he doesn’t offend by saying anything in public.

    >> Look at it this way – are the folks who originally created Agent Coulson getting compensated for his appearances in Marvel comic books now?>>

    Probably in some way, yes. There’s a standard clause in movie contracts that says that if you invent a new character and that character spins off into other movies and such, that you get something for it. It’s probably not in the form of royalties on the comic, but there was very likely some sort of deal made.

    >> How about the writers who created Chloe Sullivan on Smallville or Harley Quinn on Batman the animated series. Do they get compensated for those characters in print form – I suppose its possible but I would bet it highly unlikely.>>

    That’s because you’re depending on your imagination.

    In fact, when I was writing SUPERMAN, we were going to bring Chloe in, and the story was nixed at the last minute over just this sort of concern. They’d sought permission to bring Chloe in without paying anything on the comics themselves (but with certain other compensations in place), and Chloe’s creators had said sure, it was fine with them. But then the writer’s strike happened, and people thought it would appear insensitive to be using Chloe with no compensation at a time when these guys weren’t able to make a living. So we yanked the Chloe story.

    The irony of the situation — that DC/Warners was choosing not to use a character even though they’d been given clearance to, because the character’s creators didn’t have an income at the moment — is striking, but there you go.

    Later, they made new arrangements to use Chloe, and whatever deal they worked out at the time is what they’re doing. And whatever deal was made to bring Harley into the DCU almost certainly includes some sort of compensation to Paul and Bruce, just as me co-creating Striker Z in POWER COMPANY does, too.

    >> Everytime she pops up on a video game or comic does it say Harley Quinn created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm? Again, possible but unlikely.>>

    I don’t actually know whether it’s likely or not, but imagining that it’s unlikely is meaningless.

    >> I’d like to know who gets compensated for what. Others should know to.>>

    While it’s up to you what you’d like to know, I’d disagree that you or others “should” know who gets compensated for what. Particularly if we adopt your yardstick of “if those terms weren’t in the contract you need to get in line and pay for your tickets like the rest of us.” I’d figure there that if people want to make their compensation public, they can (if they’re allowed to), but there’s no “should” involved.

    It’s odd, though, that you think it’s whiny of Jim to say he’s being paid nothing, but that you’d like to know who gets compensated. How are you two know Jim doesn’t get compensated unless he says something? You’ve already declared that whiny and entitled, and told him to get in line like everyone else.

    >> Their contracts should be used as examples for all creators on how to keep the credit and compensation rolling when something you created moves into different media in the future.>>

    Their contracts very likely have NDAs in them, specifically so the companies can try to keep them from being examples to newer talent. But that’s an odd note to wind up at, considering that you complained about Jim thinking maybe a ticket would have been nice. Now you’re suggesting that credit and compensation should keep rolling — just as long as they don’t say anything in public, maybe.

    I’m all for credit and compensation to keep rolling. Getting to that point will probably involve the occasional creator noting that he didn’t get a dime, though.

    >> Anyway, thanks for sending me to Hell and I look forward to whatever you write next.>>

    Thanks. And I’d never send you to hell. Unless you suggested that maybe a free movie ticket would be nice and were quoted on The Beat…

    kdb

  55. swampy says:
  56. Steven Grant says:

    As I was quite close to Steve Gerber in the last few years of his life – we lived in the same town & saw each other frequently – I can verify Kurt’s assertion that, yes, Steve would very much have wanted his credit on anything involving Howard The Duck. Whatever the result of his lawsuit with Marvel over the character, he never stopped thinking of it as one of his finest works.

    As far as Jim goes, yes, Marvel/Disney own Thanos. But listing him among the acknowledgements costs them nothing except perhaps the veiled admission that without creators they wouldn’t have these characters to exploit in the first place – it’s not one of those film credits that triggers a mandatory payout – while sending him a screening pass amounts to such a negligible cost it’s not worth arguing against, & in theory would pay for itself in good will & better publicity than “and both films I had to pay for my own ticket to see them.”

    Creators should be acknowledged when their creations are exploited in media beyond comics. Although I know it’s popular now to think otherwise, there’s no reason to abandon basic good manners just because you’re in business &, like I said, it’s a tiny, cost-free gesture that pays for itself in good will.

  57. briguyx says:

    I’m not buying that Thanos will be the villain in “Avengers 2,” as Marvel has hinted about doing a “Guardians Of The Galaxy” and I think Thanos would work just fine for that.

    Of course, this hope comes from my opinion that Kang and Ultron are much more interesting villains…

  58. Ray Cornwall says:

    There’s no question that Marvel owns Thanos outright, to be sure. But I’m a little confused that he might not be seeing compensation for reprints, toys, etc.

    I mean, Starlin created Thanos in 1973, sure. That’s before the 80s when companies like Marvel and DC started handing out (or at least touted that they were handing out) better contracts to creators, with things like royalties and toy payments and whatnot.

    I wouldn’t expect Starlin to get money for any pre-Infinity Thanos project (or, for that matter, his first run of Warlock). But the more popular Thanos books- Thanos Quest, Infinity Quest and the other books, his Silver Surfer run- happened in the early 90s. Don’t the contracts of that age have some sort of royalty mechanism built in?

    It isn’t like Starlin didn’t understand Marvel contracts. I read his recent IDW art book, and he talked about his struggles with Marvel on earlier contracts (he didn’t get paid for a lot of the Epic Dreadstars because of a problem with Marvel’s accountants, for example!). I would thank that, when he came back to Marvel in the early 90s, his contracts would have royalties in them.

    Not sending the guy a movie ticket is just stupid and rude, of course. But Marvel being rude doesn’t surprise me. Not paying royalties to creators for work in the 90s kinda does surprise me. I’d love to know the answer, though of course it’s not my business, and I would understand if Starlin didn’t want to talk about these things.

  59. Jason Quest said:

    “I pity people whose sole standard of conduct is what is required by the law.”

    But who decides the appropriate standard of conduct when it comes to matters outside the bailiwick of legality?

  60. Leialoha says:

    The current Marvel does pay for reprints of work done before the advent of royalties (pre ’78 or so). Which is to say, I get royalties on Warlock reprints. I would assume Starlin does also. No invites to the movie, though.

  61. MattD says:

    For the person who asked why people work (and create) for Marvel and DC, and don’t learn?

    Well it’s because they pay the best rates and give the best exposure, right? It makes the most financial sense on some levels to make your name there and thus be able to afford to do your creator owned stuff on the side?

    Is that greed? Foolishness? Just a desire to do what you love and to make a living off of it? People CREATE things for Marvel because it’s their job. And I think the contracts are a lot better than they were 30 years ago on top of that. You don’t get ownership but you do get some level of compensation, right? Whether it’s fair, I couldn’t say because I don’t have those contracts in front of me (And even then, who am I to decide?)

    But people work for Marvel and DC for lots of reasons. Some are perfectly valid. Some are an unfortunate side effect of the market (which most industries have). I don’t think it’s either some great evil that people work for Marvel and DC or that they’re idiots for doing so, though. They’re just trying to make a living doing what they love, which to be honest, is far more than I or a lot of us do.

    I make a living and provide for my family, but it’s sure not following my dreams.

  62. Ray Cornwall says:

    “The current Marvel does pay for reprints of work done before the advent of royalties (pre ‘78 or so). Which is to say, I get royalties on Warlock reprints. I would assume Starlin does also. No invites to the movie, though.”

    Steve, does that include Marvel Masterworks? I had thought differently. (Or maybe that’s just for Kirby’s estate.) That would make me feel better about buying those books. (To be fair, I think I’ve bought about 3 or 4 different printings of Warlock…)

  63. >> Steve, does that include Marvel Masterworks? I had thought differently. (Or maybe that’s just for Kirby’s estate.)>>

    As I understand it, Marvel stops paying incentives on the work of any creator once they’ve been dead for 5 years.

    kdb

  64. Shawn Kane says:

    While guys like Jack Kirby and Jim Starlin don’t get enough credit for their contributions to parts of the Avengers movie, Mark Millar goes around saying that the movie is based on his work. I don’t necessarily care for Millar’s antics in the comic book media but honestly if that’s how you make fans aware of your contributions it’s sad. I think Jimmy nailed it. Give these people bonuses. Show some sort of appreciation that you have a billion dollar movie and it wasn’t all done by the “Marvel Movie Committee.”

Trackbacks

  1. […] Marvel writer/artist Jim Starlin (whose work was credited in the Avengers film) had to buy his own ticket. And didn’t get any money for the use of his work. […]

  2. […] Marvel’s The Avengers, there was a minor dust-up online over Starlin’s comments about “paying for his own ticket” and “compensation or lack thereof.” He even went so far as to post on Facebook an […]

  3. […] Marvel’s The Avengers, there was a minor dust-up online over Starlin’s comments about “paying for his own ticket” and “compensation or lack thereof.” He even went so far as to post on Facebook an […]

  4. […] Marvel’s The Avengers, there was a minor dust-up online over Starlin’s comments about “paying for his own ticket” and “compensation or lack thereof.” He even went so far as to post on Facebook an […]

  5. […] Marvel’s The Avengers, there was a minor dust-up online over Starlin’s comments about “paying for his own ticket” and “compensation or lack thereof.” He even went so far as to post on Facebook an […]

  6. […] Marvel’s The Avengers, there was a minor dust-up online over Starlin’s comments about “paying for his own ticket” and “compensation or lack thereof.” He even went so far as to post on Facebook an […]

  7. […] Marvel’s The Avengers, there was a minor dust-up online over Starlin’s comments about “paying for his own ticket” and “compensation or lack thereof.” He even went so far as to post on Facebook an […]

  8. […] Marvel’s The Avengers, there was a minor dust-up online over Starlin’s comments about “paying for his own ticket” and “compensation or lack thereof.” He even went so far as to post on Facebook an […]

  9. […] Marvel’s The Avengers, there was a minor dust-up online over Starlin’s comments about “paying for his own ticket” and “compensation or lack thereof.” He even went so far as to post on Facebook an […]

  10. […] Marvel’s The Avengers, there was a minor dust-up online over Starlin’s comments about “paying for his own ticket” and “compensation or lack thereof.” He even went so far as to post on Facebook an […]

  11. […] Marvel’s The Avengers, there was a minor dust-up online over Starlin’s comments about “paying for his own ticket” and “compensation or lack thereof.” He even went so far as to post on Facebook an […]

  12. […] Marvel’s The Avengers, there was a minor dust-up online over Starlin’s comments about “paying for his own ticket” and “compensation or lack thereof.” He even went so far as to post on Facebook an […]

  13. […] Marvel’s The Avengers, there was a minor dust-up online over Starlin’s comments about “paying for his own ticket” and “compensation or lack thereof.” He even went so far as to post on Facebook an […]

  14. […] terms with one another, and I especially don’t love that someone as influential as Starlin needed to buy his own ticket to see the character he created up on the big screen. The man should have been at the premiere. […]

  15. […] would pursue legal action after Thanos showed up at the end of the Avengers movie—and while he complained about it mildly in an interview, he’s stayed mostly quiet about he matter […]

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