MAD MENTAL CRAZY! The True Life of the Fabulous Zenith, Part 3

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Welcome to crunch time. In this final instalment of MAD MENTAL CRAZY! things come to a head, so I highly recommend catching up with Part 1 and Part 2 and meeting me back here in a minute!

acid Archie MAD MENTAL CRAZY! The True Life of the Fabulous Zenith, Part 3I also recommend reading Brendan McCarthy’s comment on Part 2 here, discussing Strange Days, Doom Patrol, and the direct influence of McCarthy and Peter Milligan’s Paradax upon Zenith. I’ll be coming back to that in an upcoming close-review piece(s).

To sum up the situation so far then, here are the key points to bear in mind:

  • 2000 AD did not use contracts until the end of 1989 at the earliest. Before this point in time, it was customary to sign the back of a cheque (and later docket), but as far as I can tell this is not legally binding. This has never been tested in court.
  • After contracts were introduced they were not always used. In Part 2 I included a quote from artist John Ridgway stating that for his work on The Journal of Luke Kirby, which ran until 1995, he did not receive any contracts.
  • The same interview contained the information that Rebellion (owners of 2000 AD since June 2000) use contracts that include an addendum listing “all the work done by that person on work owned by that company”.

Since then I have also been told about the letters that were sent out by Fleetway around 1996 and Rebellion in 2001 to creators, which also covered previous works. The Fleetway one for example stated that due to the number of owners of Fleetway Editions over the years, the company wished to “acquire confirmation” from the creators of their rights to previously published material. For many, this was the first clue that their existing work was perhaps not in fact copyrighted to the publisher. Alan Grant spoke about the Rebellion letter in Comics International in 2002 stating that:

“by signing the commissioning letter, creators/contributors automatically give up all rights to their stories and characters which previously appeared in 2000AD or the Megazine”

This may have also tied into royalties, and almost certainly resulted in all creators that have worked on 2000 AD or the Megazine since 2001 having signed over their copyright to any works not explicitly recognised as being creator owned. There are several creators who have not worked for 2000 AD since 2001, Grant Morrison included, though perhaps some others who have returned have negotiated separately.

I am however led to strongly believe that Steve Yeowell has indeed signed over his copyright on Zenith to Fleetway, and subsequently Rebellion.

As before, all art in this series – unless otherwise stated – is credited to Steve Yeowell, and those involved in legal proceedings around Zenith are not at liberty to comment.

UK Copyright Law

So how does UK copyright work? Very basically (and bearing in mind that I am a freelance writer, not a lawyer!), an original work is immediately under the copyright of the creator when embodied in some physical form – eg put down on paper – with the main exception being if the work was created in the course of employment (not the same as freelancing). This is enshrined in the Copyright Act 1911 and remained the legal position under the Schedules of 1956 Act and the 1988 Act – the latter of which is the current copyright law today and came into force on the 1st August 1989, two years after the debut of Zenith.

In the UK as well, if more than one person qualifies as the creator of the work then all parties hold the copyright, and all must give permission for acts that would otherwise infringe the copyright (eg, reprinting and republication). In the case of comics the main creators are usually the writer and artist who work on the story originally – in the case of Zenith it would be split between Morrison and Yeowell, or Morrison and Rebellion as the case may be if Yeowell has signed over his copyright.

bestof zenith 219x300 MAD MENTAL CRAZY! The True Life of the Fabulous Zenith, Part 3Of course a creator may also assign the copyright to another party, commonly to the publisher in the case of book contracts and magazine contracts. Freelance or commissioned work belongs to the creator – the first owner of copyright – unless or until there is an agreement to the contrary, ie a contract. The contract will commonly either transfer all rights to the publisher, or – as is common in the case of my own newspaper work – grant only the right of first publication and guarantee that the copyright remains with the creator.

As stated above, this includes commissioned work – the copyright remains with the creator unless or until a contract is signed stating otherwise. Without a contract for commissioned work but in an environment where transferring copyright is (perceived to be) the norm, a court could find that there is an implied licence to the publisher from the creator so that the publisher is able to use that work for the purpose for which it was commissioned. However, this does not result in a transfer of ownership. Instead the publisher would commonly be given a limited non-exclusive licence – eg, the right of first publication.

To be clear, “work made for hire” or “work for hire” is not a legally recognised term in the UK. There is “work done in the course of employment” but this applies to employees, not freelancers or contractors (and can still have exceptions built into the contract of course).

European Copyright Law is remarkably similar, with some but not all incorporated into the UK legislation. (The main difference being that the EU is leaps and bounds ahead with regard to copyright within new technologies.)

In short then, the work is always presumed to belong to its creator(s) and a contract is required to prove that the case is otherwise. The onus in this case is on the publisher, not the creator.

zenith gasp 85x300 MAD MENTAL CRAZY! The True Life of the Fabulous Zenith, Part 3Why then, in the obvious absence of contracts across many a comics sphere, have more creators not taken their publishers to court? Well, money is the answer – as it often is! Publishers have far more financial power than even the most popular creator, as well as the time to focus on such a case. A look at any of the legal battles against DC and Marvel will show you just how protracted these things become, and that things are very, very rarely allowed to set a precedent. Settlements are key, as they have no impact on future cases.

Would all previous creators without contract suddenly seeking to establish their own copyrights finish 2000 AD? In light of Rebellion’s contracts covering previously published 2000 AD work, it is unlikely. What it might do is give several works currently in publishing limbo an out to be published elsewhere, or negotiated through Rebellion, on different terms.

2000 AD has been through many owners, and Rebellion are not responsible for practices of the past. However, they can only have bought what the previous owners legally owned, and in the case of missing contracts that have not since been redressed, they would have to prove their ownership – not the creators.

Regardless of your stance on who is right and who is wrong, copyright law is very clear – the copyright always resides with the creator unless proven otherwise.

Clearly in this case, Rebellion (or their lawyers) are interpreting the law somewhat differently. Either that the cheque and docket system does constitute a legal contract perhaps, or that a limited non-exclusive licence would somehow apply beyond the first printing. Answers on a postcard, ie the comments below!

Rebellion Go Helter Skelter

Back to my chronological unearthings then, to the year 2000. The new century saw not only the far off future of 2000 AD finally being realised, but the title alongside its sister publication Judge Dredd Megazine and all their characters, were bought by Rebellion from Egmont Fleetway. Egmont continued the post-editorial publication of titles already under contract from Rebellion until 2001.

2001 also saw the return of Garth Ennis to the pages of 2000 AD after a long break; the Irish scribe of Preacher, Hellblazer, Punisher, The Boys and oh so many more had originally worked on Crisis, Revolver and 2000 AD back in the early nineties. In an interview in 2002 with David Bishop, as part of the research into Thrill-Power Overload, Bishop asked Ennis how and why he had come to return to 2000 AD in 2001 to write the Dredd story, Helter Skelter.

“Well… A deal had been worked out whereby the rights to Troubled Souls, which was the very first thing I ever did for comics and did for Crisis, were available. Rebellion bought them from Fleetway and agreed to return them to me in return for a twelve-episode Dredd strip. And that was essentially it.

Obviously, I have no desire for Troubled Souls ever to see print again. But buried within Troubled Souls are the first appearances of Dougie and Ivor, who would go on to become the Dicks. They’re my all-time favourite characters of any that I’ve written, whether my own or somebody else’s. To get a chance to write them again, to get them back into print, to get Johnny McCrea and I back to doing what amounts to our favourite work was too good an opportunity to ignore. If all I had to do was write 12 episodes of Dredd – which I found thoroughly enjoyable anyway – then it seemed to me to be an excellent deal all round.”

According to Michael Molcher, PR Coordinator for Rebellion, the publisher retains full rights to Troubled Souls, but Ennis was given rights to two characters from Crisis (who star in Dicks), with the publisher underlining that Crisis was not 2000 AD.

I turned to David Bishop once more for some help on the matter, and he told me that while the situation pre-dated his time at 2000 AD, he believed every strip published in Crisis had a contract, with no doubts over ownership. There was also a contractual difference between Crisis and Revolver as compared to 2000 AD and the Megazine; in the former rights were licensed, but in the latter they were assigned.

But Ennis’ situation still seems to differ from that of Morrison at Crisis. While The New Adventures of Hitler had been partially published elsewhere before appearing in Crisis, Bible John had been published only in Crisis – and the rights belong to the creators, Morrison and Vallely. The latter was published in 1991, Troubled Souls was published in 1989. Another case of a missing contract perhaps?

Nonetheless, Helter Skelter does go to show that Rebellion were willing to negotiate over copyright.

Contracts

So what is the difference between rights being assigned and rights being licensed? Very simply, assigning copyright is akin to selling it verbatim which is typical of the US “work-for-hire” scenario, while licensing copyright only grants permission for a specific usage/purpose, for example perhaps one-off publication rights. The latter would be most likely used in the case of creator owned works, and it’s interesting that Crisis and Revolver, those publications under the very pro-creator rights MacManus and Hogan, both favoured a licence contract.

zenith youugly 229x300 MAD MENTAL CRAZY! The True Life of the Fabulous Zenith, Part 3Remember that these contracts did not come into force at 2000 AD until the very end of 1989, so these do not cover Zenith at all, and they are not the same as the current Rebellion contracts. But they do serve to illustrate the vast difference between a contract and a cheque/docket, and they show that the publisher did have form for licensing copyright as well as assigning it.

John Wagner and Arthur Ranson’s Button Man in 1992 is a prime example, originally conceived for Toxic. (Toxic was a sadly shortlived creator owned anthology set up by Alan Grant, Mike McMahon, Pat Mills, Kevin O’Neill and John Wagner, ie 2000 AD alumni who were chomping at the bit for greater creator control.) You can see a full list of (recognised!) creator owned strips in 2000 AD on the 2000 AD website.

I have in front of me both the Fleetway Assignment Contract and the Fleetway Licence Contract – note, these are not the Rebellion contracts, but the contracts that were introduced back in the early ‘90s, after the beginning of Zenith.

The Fleetway Assignment Contract contained no less than 6 schedules and 16 sections, including listing the various royalties (eg for different syndication methods), merchandising, assignment of rights, waiver, contributor’s warranty, reversionary rights, and so forth. The contents of this 11 page document would certainly not fit on a docket slip.

It should be noted that both contracts require the contributor to waive all moral rights (though I don’t believe this is possible under European Law?), and both state that the royalty given for a reprint in “graphic novel” format, ie trade format, is 5% split between all contributors. This royalty is calculated either from net cover price or net copy sales revenue depending on the wholesaler discount.

But before contracts at 2000 AD, before 1990, we know that the standard practice was to sign the back of the cheque and a docket slip. It was said that doing so was automatically signing away your rights to the publisher, “a legal commitment”, and I’ve been told that it also used to be said that when a creator sent in their invoice, if they didn’t state “First rights only” it was assumed that they were selling all rights.

zenith chikka 300x278 MAD MENTAL CRAZY! The True Life of the Fabulous Zenith, Part 3Aside from not being a contract proper, signing the back of the cheque was also back to front – the creator was only signing something after they had produced the work. If you wanted your money for your completed work, you had no choice but to sign. This is something that the stalled Artists Bill of Rights in the US sought to rectify, but various bids to protect the rights of comic artists and writers have ultimately failed over the years – the publishers still hold all the power, and those who challenge it soon find themselves out of work. And of course there are many others waiting to fill in the gaps when people do take a moral stand.

It’s a result of the never-ending tension between publishers who exist to make profit, and creatives who want to get their work out there and make some kind of a living. It’s the way it always has been is perhaps one excuse, but it’s certainly not one that exists in the greater publishing world. Novelists rightly balk at such practices.

Where Are We Now?

In December 2000, the 2000 AD annual (Prog 2001) featured the return of Zenith with zzzzenith.com. Like Judge Dredd, where our lawman ages in real time, Zenith too had aged with the times and Morrison seemed keen to keep his future open when speaking to Bishop for Thrill-Power Overload:

“I like the idea that Zenith’s a character who ages alongside me in his own little world. I can aways go back and do Zenith at 50 or 70, which should be fun. Every time he appears now it’s more and more cynical.”

Plans to re-print Zenith, and to collect Phase IV, were raised and postponed. We know of course that plans got so far as to see Phase I printed and then stashed in a warehouse with an errant few escaping into the world of eBay. But as Morrison told Bishop in 2002:

“Fleetway have no paperwork to confirm their ownership of Zenith so I’m currently involved in legal proceedings to clear things up. I’m not really interested in making the details public.”

And to Rich Johnston in 2003:

“This one’s in the hands of my lawyers so legally I’m afraid I can’t say a word about what’s going on.”

With Steve Yeowell adding in 2004 for the 2000 AD Review:

“There are indeed copies of a new edition of Zenith Phase One sitting in a warehouse that are waiting for legalities to be sorted out. A couple of dozen actually sneaked out into the market place when Titan, under the impression that everything was about to be resolved, sent some out for a signing. Funnily enough at Dreddcon I signed a copy someone had bought on Ebay. They are at the moment genuine collector’s items and I myself have two that Titan sent me at the time (as I believe does Grant).”

In a 2009 interview with Leonard Pierce at AV Club, Morrison is asked which works from his past he wished had a wider audience today:

“Bible John would be good. There aren’t many documentary comics like that one around. I’d like the Zenith series to be available. I’d love to have a collection of The New Adventures Of Hitler on my bookshop. The Big Dave strips I did with Mark Millar for 2000 AD are some of my favorites and would make a good, daft book. A lot of that late-’80s/early-’90s non-superhero stuff is missing from my shelves, and it’s some of my most interesting, diverse work, I think.”

Note that Bible John, The New Adventures of Hitler, and Big Dave are all creator owned with Zenith alongside them in Morrison’s list. Bible John and The New Adventures of Hitler both appeared in Crisis, while Big Dave appeared in 2000 AD.

And to fans at the 2012 Glasgow Comic Con when asked if he knew if Zenith was coming out:

“Beats me. What can I say? Personally no, I don’t deal with any legal stuff. I’d love to see him back out… it might never happen. It seems a shame. We’ll see what we can do is all I can say.”

Hang On! What About Robot Archie?

Ah yes, the other possible legal tangle surrounding Zenith is the inclusion in the cast of characters of various IPC properties. You can see a whole (fabulous!) scorecard here.

In fact Robot Archie may be another key to this whole mess.

While many of the old UK comics characters who appeared in Zenith were either unnamed (Thunderbolt Jaxon, The Leopard of Lime Street), re-named (Prince Mamba, Miss Wonderstarr), parodied (the 666 world of not-quite-DC Thomson) or simply paid tribute to (Korky the Cat), two characters in particular are quite prominent: The Steel Claw and Robot Archie.

Both look exactly like their good selves, introduce themselves as such (well, Acid Archie is close) and both are perhaps also familiar to readers of Albion, the miniseries from Alan Moore, Leah Moore and John Reppion. That series was published in 2005/6 by Wildstorm in its role as a DC imprint after a deal was forged between DC and IPC media and included a whole host of IPC characters.

Robot Archie first appeared in 1952 in the Lion, a boys weekly adventure comic from IPC that was intended to rival the Eagle. Originally known as The Jungle Robot, the strip later because Archie the Robot Explorer and then as simply Robot Archie. He was the most popular character in the comic which lasted until 1974, and is a treasured part of UK nostalgia.

archie MAD MENTAL CRAZY! The True Life of the Fabulous Zenith, Part 3

A late appearance in a 1973 issue of The Lion, art by Ted Kearon

After a brief cameo in Captain Britain for Marvel UK (courtesy of Moore again alongside Alan Davis), fans were pretty delighted to see Robot Archie’s extended role in Zenith Phase III in 1989 – even as a burned out acid head! Acid Archie gets some of the best lines (see my chosen series title!) and pretty much steals the scene whenever he appears. (His re-appearance in the 2001 zzzenith.com is perhaps a tad more uncomfortable.)

The Steel Claw is a creation from the first issue of Valiant in 1962, another boys weekly adventure comic from IPC. One of the publisher’s major titles, the comic lasted until 1975, and The Steel Claw also featured in a number of digest-size books. He too made a cameo appearance in Moore and Davis’ Captain Britain, though under the pseudonym of The Iron Tallon before later making his re-introduction in Zenith.

albion 195x300 MAD MENTAL CRAZY! The True Life of the Fabulous Zenith, Part 3

Cover by Dave Gibbons

Now, Zenith began in August 1987 when the creators probably believed they had the rights to use Robot Archie and The Steel Claw. However just one month prior, Robert Maxwell’s Persimmon BPCC Publishing had bought the IPC Youth Group which included the comics division and copyrights for all titles and characters published since 1969 (with some exclusions). The characters first appeared in Zenith Phase III in 1989. As we can see above, both Robot Archie and The Steel Claw predate 1969, and thus their copyright remained with IPC Magazines.

In 1998, IPC Magazines Ltd had a management buyout funded by Cinven, and was renamed IPC Media. This company was then sold on in 2001 to Time Inc, the magazine publishing subsidiary of Time Warner. Who else does Time Warner own? DC Comics.

In late 2004, IPC Media and DC Comics announced that:

“DC Comics was to become the worldwide master licensee of the rights to produce and publish new comics material based on the IPC library of properties.”

This does not of course cover the rights to reprints, which remain with IPC Media, but DC Comics does have the licence on the characters, and would quite probably seek to pursue any infringement on them.  The same announcement told of the upcoming Albion series which featured amongst its stellar cast one Louis Crandall, aka The Steel Claw, and Robot Archie. Albion #1 features Archie’s head on the cover.

Have Rebellion then struck a deal with IPC Media for the reprinting of a story featuring their character Robot Archie? Rebellion themselves do not own the rights to Robot Archie, and 2000 AD in fact never did.

Given Morrison’s worth to DC Comics, would Time Warner consider stepping in on this issue?

Where We Stand Now

On the 29th May 2013, it was announced that 2000 AD was to:

“publish a complete collection of Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell’s ground-breaking superhero series Zenith for the first time” and that “Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell have been informed of the exciting plans for The Complete Zenith.”

The reprint was available to pre-order from the 1st of July. Our own Pádraig Ó Méalóid was one of many who picked up on the peculiar phrasing of “have been informed”, and the absence of comment from Morrison himself has not gone unnoticed. No legal conclusion or mutual happy agreement has been reached.

Morrison – and Yeowell – will of course both receive royalties for their work – all 2000 AD reprints earn royalties for creators regardless of when they were first created.

zenith tyger 101x300 MAD MENTAL CRAZY! The True Life of the Fabulous Zenith, Part 3As a fan of both Morrison and 2000 AD I am delighted to see a Zenith collection coming up for publication, but it does feel like this may be “put up or shut up” move from the publisher with regard to the legal situation on who owns Zenith. Several 2000 AD alumni have told me that they worry the large price point on the book is to build up a hedge fund against legal action. Issues of creator copyright and missing contracts are nothing new in the world of comics, and fans are more than familiar with the ethical and moral conundrums they bring up.

I can’t help but wish that this collection was being published under the triumphant agreement of all parties, available for all readers, old and new.

It shouldn’t matter how successful or otherwise Morrison has been since, though of course it’s far harder for those with more to risk to push on creator rights – no one in comics is that rich, believe me. Equally this is not about people working in a “work for hire” environment and then exploiting a loop hole – copyright has no loopholes. You either have it, or you transfer it legally to another body. “Work for hire” does not exist in UK law, and no one should be pressured into signing over their rights in the name of further employment. We do know though that the majority of 2000 AD work has been retroactively signed over – there is no publisher collapse on the horizon.

If Grant Morrison owns half the rights to Zenith, and Rebellion own the other half by virtue of Steve Yeowell having signed his rights over, that still supplies the latter with a whack of profit and the former with his rights intact (and Yeowell with his royalties either way). It would also get the book back on far more shelves…

Hopefully my extensive look into the True Life of the Fabulous Zenith has underlined the key points in the Zenith story and why many Morrison fans are torn, without disrespecting any of the parties involved.

Because at the end of the day, while I believe creator rights should always be protected, and that publishers pushing comics should be supported, these are real people involved. And life > comics.

—Bonus Round!—

Wait, what company is called what now?

For the confused, here is the timeline on who owned 2000 AD and when that I used to keep myself straight throughout this series!

Back in the day, there was a newspaper and magazine publishing company called Amalgamated Press. In 1959 the company was bought by the Mirror and renamed Fleetway Publications, for the Fleetway House in which it was based. In 1963 the company was merged with others into the International Publishing Corporation (IPC), although the Fleetway banner was still oft used.

2000 AD launched in 1977.

In 1987, Robert Maxwell bought the IPC comics line as Fleetway Publications, along with its copyrights for characters and titles published after 1969, paying £6.8 million cash.

In 1988 2000 AD launched a sister publication, Crisis, which ran until 1991 producing 63 issues and 2 specials. Its editor was Steve MacManus.

Another sister publication, Revolver, was launched in 1990 and ran for less than a year, producing 7 issues and 2 specials. This title was edited by Peter Hogan.

Later in 1990, the Judge Dredd Megazine was launched – a monthly title that is still running today – also overseen by MacManus.

In 1991-2, Fleetway Publications was bought by Egmont (then known as Gutenberghus Press) and merged with their existing London Editions to form Fleetway Editions. In 1996 this was renamed as Egmont Fleetway.

In June 2000, Rebellion bought 2000 AD, the Judge Dredd Megazine and characters from Fleetway Editions.

In the meantime, IPC had retained the rights for comic characters and titles published before 1970 with two exceptions: characters from the Buster which had been sold alongside the other copyrights, and Dan Dare who had been sold separately. Characters they have the rights to include Robot Archie, the Steel Claw and Captain Miracle. In 1998 the company had a management buyout funded by Cinven, was renamed IPC Media, and sold on in 2001 to Time Inc, a subsidiary of Time Warner who of course also own DC Comics.

Resources:

David Bishop, Thrill-Power Overload (Rebellion, 2009)
Grant Morrison, Supergods (Jonathan Cape, 2011)
Speakeasy #76, #100-120 (1987, 89-91)
Alan Moore, The Ballad of Halo Jones Book III – Introduction (Titan, 1986)
Mustard (2006)
Arkensword #23 (1988)
After-Image #6 (1988)

With special thanks to:

David Bishop
Ben Hansom
Pádraig Ó Méalóid
Mike Molcher
David Mosley
2000 AD Alumni

Laura Sneddon is a comics journalist and academic, writing for the mainstream UK press with a particular focus on women and feminism in comics. Currently working on a PhD, do not offend her chair leg of truth; it is wise and terrible. Her writing is indexed at comicbookgrrrl.com and procrastinated upon via @thalestral on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Kate Halprin says:

    Just a quick note that I posted my undersanding about the legal status of the non-Tooth IPC characters in Zenith in response to the previous instalment (with a tangent as regards the 2000AD Action Special and Kelly’s Eye, which aren’t mentioned here.)

  2. Brian says:

    I may be talking out of turn here but the use of Robot Archie should of made someone think this is a IPC strip.

    Grant Morrison did not state that he was using with the permission of IPC, was this because he thought it was part of the same ownership. Like the creators of a Green Lantern tale does not pay royalties when it uses the Flash.

    Only whistling in the dark here.

  3. After the sale in 1987, Fleetway and the creators believed they still had the rights to the older IPC characters. This error was realised later, after the publication of Zenith. It was a mistake by all the first time around (not deliberate shenanigans!), but it brings up difficulties when it comes to reprints now – as 2000 AD never had the rights to use that character in the first place.

  4. sauchie says:

    I enjoyed all of that, but we’re essentially right back where we were at the start. Morrison wrote the entirety of Zenith under the impression that 2000ad owned it, Hilary Robinson’s threatened legal challenge threw that assumption into question, and so far Morrison has done absolutely nothing to assert his ownership of the strip, leaving it to languish in publishing limbo.

    I’d rather have the work back in print (a proper print run) and earning royalties for Steve Yeowell than see it forgotten on a point of legal principle. Thanks for the entertaining articles, Lorna.

  5. Kevin says:

    As you say you are not a lawyer. I’m guessing you got a lawyer specialising in copyright to explain and write out all the copyright information for you to make sure it is all correct?

  6. sauchie – “so far Morrison has done absolutely nothing to assert his ownership of the strip”, you might want to add in an “that has been announced publicly” there. As I’ve said in each piece those involved in legal proceedings around Zenith are not at liberty to comment….

    Kevin – the links to UK copyright law are provided in the article, and there’s even a handy guide here – http://www.ipo.gov.uk/c-essential.pdf – which I would encourage any freelancer writer or artist to familiarise themselves with. With the magic of internet, most already do these days as a matter of course.

    Being unable to afford the advice of a copyright lawyer (unless you’re offering? :D) I ran it past some lawyer pals and some comic editor friends. However the basic feedback was that copyright law is very simple if no contract exists – the copyright remains with the creator.

    Do feel free to read the Acts yourself, or at least that 101 guide :)

  7. Brian says:

    “After the sale in 1987, Fleetway and the creators believed they still had the rights to the older IPC characters. This error was realised later, after the publication of Zenith. It was a mistake by all the first time around (not deliberate shenanigans!), but it brings up difficulties when it comes to reprints now – as 2000 AD never had the rights to use that character in the first place.”

    Fully appreciate that, but at the time Grant Morrison must of thought (mistakenly as it turns out) he was doing a story within the IPC universe not a creator-owned comic. At least that is implied

  8. Ah sorry, I misunderstood what you were driving at.

    There’s been no statement that suggested Morrison thought he was working on a creator-owned comic – the opening of this piece in fact suggests the opposite, that it was only later when Morrison (and other creators) realised they might not in fact have signed over their copyright. And if they hadn’t, then it still belonged to them. Copyright law fully backs the creators in such a scenario, as it exists to protect creators (and other bodies if a contract has transferred copyright to them).

    Hopefully, Fleetway also believed that the creators had indeed signed over their copyright – otherwise, misleading creators into believing something in order to get them to sign a later contract that confirmed that deception would be incredibly immoral and quite possibly fraudulent. I wouldn’t like to think that was the case, and that it was just the result of disorganisation or oversight or similar. Either way, it does leave a few creators who have not signed over their rights to their properties.

  9. Kevin says:

    I’ve been to several meetings by copyright specialists as part of my job, they are often happy to talk to people to stop common errors creeping in.
    Your answer is yes, you talked to some lawyers.

    The ‘magic of the internet’ is normally that total rubbish is spouted as truth ;)

  10. sauchie says:

    Thanks for not making a big deal of my typing your name wrong, LAURA – but it’s been 20 years. I know the wheels of justice grind slowly, but it’s difficult to imagine that Grant’s been spending all that time fighting the goddam system.

    Meanwhile, that fantastic body of work has been making absolutely no money for Yeowell. As you point out in your article, it’s not as if it’s proven impossible for Rebellion and other high profile creators to come to a compromise regarding their past work in the past.

  11. Steve Yeowell’s right to earn money from his work doesn’t trump Morrison’s right to assert ownership. This isn’t a case of writer bullying artist.

  12. Kevin – very true! Though hopefully the easier access to legal information means that more people are aware of their rights when presented (or otherwise) with a contract :)

    sauchie – no worries on the name, I’ve been called worse! I don’t think Morrison has been “fighting the goddam system” for 20 years given that zzzzenith.com came out in 2000… from the quotes above it looks like he was questioning the rights from around 2003 onwards in public at least. But as said before, what goes on in public is not necessarily the same as behind the scenes! The problem is, we have no way of knowing how often Morrison has tackled Rebellion on this subject, and we won’t do until he is in a position to comment.

    I think too that Steve Yeowell made his very diplomatic opinion quite clear in the two interviews he’s given – he certainly didn’t appear to be desperate for the book to be published. I do agree that a compromise should have been reached, but without knowing the ins and outs, I don’t think it’s fair to rest the blame on Morrison’s shoulders here. And I’d say that for any creator as with the power almost always resting with the publisher, it’s the creator that often can’t speak out.

  13. You inspired me to do some digging. From Morrison’s TCJ interview #176: “any writer had to do a certain number of Future Shocks, and then they would be offered a new series, and the new series had always been something that was created by the editor. In this case they wanted a superhero strip, and I just happened to be the one who’d just completed his Future Shocks apprenticeship.” I wonder what that does to the chain of copyright, given that Grant here suggests that Zenith was created by the editor of the time and then he was hired to write it. It’s gosh darn complicated.

  14. I think the editors knew they wanted a superhero strip but had no input other than that (at least not that I’ve read anywhere) – Zenith was already half brainstormed by Morrison back in the early 80s, and then it was tailored for a post-Watchmen world (and influenced by Paradax). And then McCarthy then Yeowell came on board and it all came together.

    Editors did (apparently) often change up Future Shocks stories as they wanted, but Morrison has said he didn’t experience censorship on Zenith at all (mentioned in Part 2 maybe?), so he’d probably have mentioned any editorial steerings at that point I imagine. I don’t think 2000 AD really have a history of messing with non-Future Shocks strips though… at least not after the early days of walk outs and what not.

    Maybe someone who was older than me in the ’80s will know more ;)

    Mind, it would be interesting to know if any other creators had their own ideas for what was to be that superhero strip the magazine wanted! The UK needs more superheroes I reckon :D

  15. I’m wary of agreeing that Zenith was half brainstormed back in the early eighties. There’s no contemporaneous interviews which support that and Morrison was doing Captain Clyde during that era, so he was already doing a realistic superhero. I’m not knocking Morrison’s claim, but I do remember him once saying he always lied once in every interview. That makes him a somewhat unreliable witness, as does his contradictory recollections of what happened in Kathmandu. I think all we can assert for certain is that if Rebellion have paperwork which establishes them as the legal owner, they have yet to present it, and only a judge can ever really arbitrate on who owns what. There’s certainly an idea that McCarthy has a claim to something, since Morrison says in his introduction to Phase I that “working from Brendan’s initial sketches, I created the strip’s lead character”. I wonder who was attached to the project first. Were Brendan’s sketches commissioned before Morrison was given the job? Morrison also talks in that introduction of stealing it all from everywhere, from Superman’s debut through Captain Hurricane, Marvelman, The Flash, Doctor Strange, The X-Men and his own past work. I own all of Zenith, I was lucky enough on this one to be in the right place at the right time. I’ve got no horse to ride here. I feel most sorry for Steve Yeowell, because he struck me as a genuinely lovely guy when I met him, just the once. I’ll never understand copyright as long as I live, and what’s really annoying is that we moved on from the original copyright term of 14 years. If we’d all stuck to that, none of this would matter.

  16. Anyway, Laura, it would be remiss of me not to finish by saying thank you for the thought provoking read.

  17. That’s very true, which is really what it all comes down to – if the paperwork is there it’s there, and if it isn’t it isn’t. Though the early 80s thing wasn’t only from interviews I don’t think but… I was wary of tracking down people to interview them for this series specifically because I don’t want to tread on any legal toes. Things are messy enough as is! But yes, it’s tricky trying to ascertain things that happened so long ago based on interviews and faulty memories – which is why it all really comes down to that paperwork. But researching it all was quite fun :)

    Hopefully we’ll have an interview in the not too distant future with Mr M that will shine a light on some things.

    I also have all of Zenith, partly thanks to a very generous friend, and the rest from (cheap!) ebay trawling. Harder work flicking through progs though – and as a bookseller, I really wish I had it coming up on my shelves to sell to the keen young customers I have coming in wanting to read the “cool” comics that I point out to them.

    And thank you! Hopefully it’s been entertaining if nothing else :)

  18. I’ve enjoyed reading this too Laura – far fewer mysteries to be solved when compared to Marvelman, and increasingly apparent that Rebellion are going ahead with this to see if anyone makes legal trouble. I would if I was Grant, but that could just cause this to be unpublished forever. And it’s undoubtedly a great piece of work from Phase II on.

    And hey yo Steve Block, I remember that name from the Invisibles mailing list. Good to see you’re still around.

  19. A great article as alway, Laura and yes, it does seem likely that Rebellion have negotiated some form of license for Archie and the Steel Claw. Of course, it’s possible in the case of Acid Archie that a claim of parody can be used regarding the rights issue.

    A couple of things that may be pertinent to the background of the article:

    The IPC characters rights ownership problem first came up when the 2000ad group office published an Action special in 1992, which featured revisionist stories about them. A brief summation can be found here http://starlogged.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/1992-2000ad-action-special-fleetway.html along with it’s lovely Brendan McCarthy cover.

    And the IPC character Kelly’s Eye appeared in the 2000ad story Universal Soldier written by Alan McKenzie. The strip stopped in 1991, but I believe was at least in part the inspiration behind publishing the aforementioned Action Special.

    Further proof that contracts weren’t always given is from my own personal experience: I drew a four page Eric Cantona parody comic strip for Roy of the Rovers Monthly #17, a sister publication from Fleetway, in 1995. Neither myself nor the writer (who wrote a further two stories for the title) were ever asked to sign a contract. The publication was cancelled two issues later (I promise it had nothing to do with me!-)

    I do hope Rebellion come to some sort of terms with Morrison about reprinting Zenith, as it very much deserves a nice collection. The current edition feels a bit too compromised for me.

  20. Rich Johnston says:

    Also worth noting, Diamond Comic Distributors are notoriously risk averse and refuse to distribute anything while there is ongoing legal action, or even a C&D. By circumventing Diamond and going direct, this avoids that simple problem if there were a legal challenge.

  21. Amazing work Laura, well done. Thoroughly enjoyed all 3 parts of this (and thank you for the shout out!)

    @Steve Block – “There’s no contemporaneous interviews which support that and Morrison was doing Captain Clyde during that era” There are quite a few interviews where he mention that he pitched the strip to David Lloyd’s Fantastic Adventure (circa ’85), and one of his contemporaries told me there was also a pitch to John McShane at AKA prior to that (alongside an unrealised attempt ot re-publish Captain Clyde). There’s also a presumably pre-Brendan McCarthy sketch in the intro to the Titan Phase I trade that looks a lot like Morrison himself (you might be able to see it here – https://twitter.com/dstransmissions/status/353558417073397760/photo/1 – if not, you’ll have to follow me on Twitter :))

    Like Laura says, I think it’s just a case of a a creator’s pre-existing/half-formed idea (Zenith) dovetailing with a publisher’s need (2000 AD wanting a superhero strip).

    I would think that Grant would be the first to admit the debt of gratitude he owes Brendan for inspiration for Zenith’s ‘attitude’ but I’m not sure there’s any justification for cries of plagiarism. It’s a real shame these two titans of British comic books seem to have burnt their bridges, especially as – despite Grant’s enthusiastic cheerleading of Brendan and Peter Milligan’s work in Supergods and elsewhere – the two have never managed a published collaboration.

  22. The review PDF’s of the Zenith book are missing the copyright page entirely. Make of that what you will… :)

  23. Silly but True says:

    My experience with contract disputes (U.S., and not copyright) has proven that a contract is both 1) the plain language/meaning, and 2) the intent as understood by both parties.

    It’s the latter that doesn’t paint Morrison very well.

    My limited understanding is that both the publisher and Morrison unambiguously believed themselves to be working on the publisher’s work. Its only later as Morrison was informed of the nuances, that he’s dug his heals in (on a point he legally appears to hold the high ground). But regardless, I don’t think anybody was intentionally screwing Morrison — I think he knew the deal full well, but has been able to discover a loophole. That is, there’s an argument to be made, I think, that Morrison understood himself to be working on another’s work. Well, just sign a retroactive contract cementing that understanding (the kicker is that it’s now more lucrative, so Morrison seeks a retroactive change in understanding).

    Well, that’s my wholly uninformed opinion.

  24. My understanding of contract law (I have worked and trained in a paralegal capacity) is that the docket system you’ve described IPC using in the past is a valid contract. For a contract to exist, you need one party to make an offer, the other party to accept that offer, and consideration to change hands. In copyright cases this needs to be made in writing. So we have the offer, in writing – the terms printed on the docket – the acceptance, in writing – the creator signs the docket – and consideration – the creator delivers the work and the publisher pays him. Legally, that seems to me to be a written contract.

    Morrison says that the publishers have no paperwork to prove they own Zenith. That could mean that the docket system had fallen out of use at the time, that it was in use but the publisher failed to issue dockets in this case (like they failed to issue contracts in some later cases), or that dockets were issued and Morrison signed them, but copies have not been kept. If the first is true, that would be more favourable to Morrison’s case, if the third is true that would be more favourable to Rebellion’s. The second one is more of a grey area. Again, in my somewhat informed but still inexpert opinion.

  25. @ Silly But True – But US law has no bearing on UK law and there’s no such provision under UK copyright law. So I don’t see how something that doesn’t apply in this situation could possibly paint Grant Morrison in a bad light … especially when the intent of Fleetway was to coerce the creator into signing away his copyright on the back of a cheque (illegal) under the threat of blacklisting (also illegal).

  26. @Patrick Brown But if the third is true, Rebellion would still lose in court?

    I think it’s fairly apparent that Rebellion don’t have any paperwork – docket, contract, whatever – that indicates they (or rather Fleetway) purchased the Zenith copyright from Morrison/Yeowell in perpetuity, regardless of common practice at the time. If they did I assume they would have gone ahead and released that other Zenith collection they printed – at significant cost – 12 years ago, safe in the knowledge that, should the matter come to court, they had the necessary documentation (rather than leaving it to rot – at a further significant cost – in a warehouse somewhere).

    And if Rebellion have no contract with Morrison, then they have no proof they own his share of the copyright in this case, and it would seem it legally remains with the undisputed co-creator of the work.

    Casting aspersions on historic motivations and what folks could have/should have done long ago (and to which we have little or no first hand accounts of) is what’s wrapped uninvolved bystanders up in such a mess over the Seigel/Shuster and the Kirby Estate lawsuits for years.

    Here it seems that, just for once, the legal statute is on the side of the creator(s) rather than the publisher. Shouldn’t that be a cause for celebration rather than (more) handwringing?

  27. Silly but True says:

    Mr. A,

    Point well taken. I’m an American, so I don’t come at this with any special English experience.. But my point regarding Morrison doesn’t hinge on different jurisdiction’s laws. It appears to me that at the time he created the work, he believed it to not be creator-owned, but rather essentially work for hire. To me the more interesting Q/A from the human perspective is that: at the time it was created did he believe to be working on their property? Not “can someone produce a document.”. 30 years after the fact, there can be a host of reasons why a copy of something may not exist today, none of which need have anything to do with understanding the states of mind of the creators at the time. As that saying goes, lack of evidence is not necessarily the same as evidence of lack.

    It may just be me, but I find a response “they’ve not been able to produce a copy” to the question, who owns what to be especially legalistic or clever to a simple question. It’s that what I think paints him in the odd light.

  28. As said above, no paperwork = no rights being transferred. Whether or not dockets/signing the back of a cheque constitute a contract… a) it’s never been tested in court (probably due to the lack of paperwork if nothing else), and b) no contract I’ve ever seen could fit properly on a docket slip. But yes, without the paperwork that point is rather moot anyway.

    Also as included in the copyright blurb above (and sourced from the copyright acts and pdf):

    ‘Without a contract for commissioned work but in an environment where transferring copyright is (perceived to be) the norm, a court could find that there is an implied licence to the publisher from the creator so that the publisher is able to use that work for the purpose for which it was commissioned. However, this does not result in a transfer of ownership. Instead the publisher would commonly be given a limited non-exclusive licence”

    Which would have allowed 2000 AD to publish the original stories and perhaps even the various reprints that existed back then (best of etc). But it wouldn’t still cover a reprint edition today. That would require another license from the copyright holder(s).

  29. I should also mention (though I think I did already in the articles) the 2000 AD works included in Rian Hughes book, Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Really & Truly, and Dare.

    Really & Truly was never declared a creator owned strip. In Yesterday’s Tomorrows the copyright states:

    “Really & Truly was first serialised in 2000 AD magazine (UK)
    Prog 842, 3rd July 1993 to Prog 849, 21st of August 1993
    Copyright ©1993 Rian Hughes and Grant Morrison”

    As far as I’m aware, no legal challenge was lodged against Hughes or Morrison for this declaration, and the book is still in print and available to buy. Which would seem to imply that the publisher is happy to let smaller strips escape through the cracks, but hang on to Zenith due to the potential profit involved… which is understandable in a way, but I don’t think that makes sense from a legal standpoint. We all know how quick the big two US comic publishers are to stamp on copyright infringement lest small slips be used against them in larger cases.

  30. Deep Space Transmissions:

    @Patrick Brown But if the third is true, Rebellion would still lose in court?

    I don’t know. Civil courts rule on the balance of probabilities, and can be quite unpredictable in their judgements of fact. It may (speculating) be possible, by arguing that the docket system constituted a written contract and providing evidence that it was used in all cases without exception, to convince a court that a written contract did exist, even if it can’t now, 25 years later, be located. I don’t know how likely that would be to work.

  31. If we assume that the legal situation is that Morrison owns 50% of the copyright on Zenith and Rebellion owns the other 50% (due to Yeowell signing it over to them), is it not then the case that Rebellion can reprint the strip without Morrison’s consent anyway? As I understand it, in a situation where a joint work is created, and copyright is thus split between the creators, each co-creator has the right to commerically exploit those rights without the permission of the other creator/copyright holder. So Rebellion (or Yeowell) could give permission for someome to reprint Zenith even if Morrison didn’t want it to go ahead, as long as Morrison received the appropriate share of the proceeds.

    Any thoughts on this?

    R

  32. Okay, have just read that this is apparently not the case in the UK (unlike the US) and all copyright holders have to agree, so forget the above … :-)

    R

  33. Silly But True says:

    @Patrick Brown,
    That’s what I thought might be possible (reasonable?) as well. Certainly, state of mind at the time it occurred should go some way to validating a certain position, especially if both parties were in agreement over the intent of the contract. That is, if nearly thirty years ago, there actually was a meeting of the minds between the parties, then that would tend to strengthen — but probably not ever contravene — whatever physical proof that may have existed at the time (docket, cheque stub, whatever).

    With Morrison’s statement “Fleetway have no paperwork to confirm their ownership of Zenith so I’m currently involved in legal proceedings to clear things up,” I can jokingly half-picture him having the only copy that remains on the planet proving Fleetway’s ownership stashed away in his own vault. In this light — or any number of various permutations of Fleetway losing their proof (if they ever had it), his statement can both be true, yet still absolutely not answer who owned it when it was created.

  34. @Patrick Brown You’re right of course, UK civil courts do rule on the balance of probabilities but in my experience you’d be hard pushed to find a corporate legal department – notoriously over-cautious folk – that would recommend pushing back in court on this one given the ramifications if the decision goes in Morrisons favour.

    Obviously this prnciple doesn’t extend to the 2000 AD’s biggest guns (who’ve presumably been tied up tight, copyright-wise) but if , for instance, the court decide that no docket = creator retained copyright then Rebellion would lose all of the work produced by creators who haven’t signed the subsequent agreements unless they can provide the docket. The precedent set would mean all of the original work Mark Millar, for instance, did for 2000 AD reverts to him unless they can produce a docket saying otherwise (and that’s disreagarding any consideration of how legal the docket itself is as a contract – which could only be tested if Rebellion still had them).

    Half of the Zenith copyright can’t be worth more to them than
    the significant volume of IP Rebellion would likely lose if a decision like this went against them surely?

  35. Will Cooling says:

    @Deep Space Transmissions given the various mopping up exercises both they and Fleetway have done over the years I doubt there’s all that much they don’t have firm contracts for even if the docket was ruled as not being a contract (which it should stressed shouldn’t be assumed).

    @Laura Sneddon Really and Truly was like Big Dave done as part of the Summer Offensive 1993 which saw Morrison/Millar given a pseudo editorial role and carte blanche to put their own creator-owned strips in 2000AD. Therefore I don’t think it’s fair to say that 2000AD allowed something to ‘slip through’. Yes it’s not included in the list of creator owned strips but equally it’s not included under ‘Other Thrills’ either.

  36. “Really & Truly was never declared a creator owned strip.”

    Laura – wasn’t Really & Truly published as part of the “Summer Offensive” where Millar and Morrison did Big Dave? I thought the whole point of those stories was that they were creator-owned.

  37. Guess I should’ve read all the way through the comments…

  38. Wil & Sean – Brainiac 5 and Slaughterbowl were part of the Summer Offensive too, and are listed as Other Thrills. As far as I know, Big Dave’s ownership was contested at one point before being revealed to be copyrighted to Morrison, Millar and Smith – it was not on the table as creator owned from the start. If you look back through the 2000 AD forums you’ll see plenty of arguments with people speculating about whether the writers owned Big Dave or not… the other strips didn’t quite get the same amount of attention of course ;)

  39. Andy Canton says:

    @Deep Space Transmissions wrote:

    “If they (Rebellion) did I assume they (Rebellion) would have gone ahead and released that other Zenith collection they printed – at significant cost – 12 years ago, safe in the knowledge that, should the matter come to court, they had the necessary documentation (rather than leaving it to rot – at a further significant cost – in a warehouse somewhere).”

    Can this urban legend PLEASE be put to rest?

    That was not Rebellion, that was Titan who printed those books, and who elected not to distribute them. Nothing to do with Rebellion.

  40. @Andy Canton The title page of the 2001 tpb says “Printed by Titan … in association with Rebellion”, and “Zenith is copyright 2001 Rebellion” . Presumably the copyright notice there is the reason why that particular book never came out so it’s hardly “nothing to do with Rebellion”.

    Fair enough if the book was published under some kind of licence and it was Titan who’ve shouldered all of the costs for it’s non-release, but the principle remains the same. If any of the publishers involve had or have what they think is cast iron proof of their copyright over the character why didn’t the book come out, rather than throwing away a bunch of money on printing and storing a book that never reaches the shelves?

  41. Silly but True says:

    Stories of Atari’s ET: the Game had become too passe’, and a new warehoused-product myth needed to be created? Visionary business model we’ve yet to understand? The manufactured creation of a true collector’s edition? Reasons abound!

  42. @Silly but True hahaha. They should have buried it under the M4, Wicker Man style. Or shipped them out to the Congo so they could be destroyed in a civil war.

  43. Great article Laura, the whole piece has been well-researched, informative and enjoyable.

    I suspect Grant Morrison is blameless because IPC editors really believed they owned the rights to everything created out-of-house. For instance, and this is from personal experience, an editor might welcome you to the fold and suggest you create a new character, “something like a robot with a sense of humour”. You’d go ahead and design the characters, create the mise en scene, write the scripts, then rough it up to maybe 6 weeks worth of the idea, they would red pen a bit here and there, and get it back to you and then you would be good to go – and as far as they were concerned it was their property and you accepted that when you cashed the cheques. They would feel perfectly free to hand that character on to someone else. In my opinion they wouldn’t actually own the character, but that’s based on my current knowledge of changes in copyright law, but back then, I believe they would believe they did.

    By the way, and apropos of nothing, that’s the copy of Albion (above) that I appear in as a character.

  44. Larry B Vossler says:

    Hi Laura, I have a quick question.

    Actually, it’s an observation from someone else. It has to do with, “It shouldn’t matter how successful or otherwise Morrison has been since, though of course it’s far harder for those with more to risk to push on creator rights – no one in comics is that rich, believe me.” (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?459612-Brendan-McCarthy-on-Zenith-and-Morrison/page3) He questioned this and after reading it I’m going to have to agree with this.

    He stated, “I don’t know anyone with a large house in the West of Scotland and one in Los Angeles like Morrison has, plus if anything, if you’ve made your millions off the back of creator owned projects then there’s the argument that you should morally make the fight yours to help other people, but the idea that if you’ve little to lose that it makes it easier to fight for creators rights is just nonsense.” Which is true. Morrison is one of the very few creators to make a grand living out of comics and still does. I mean Morrisoncon, how much his name can sell a comic and also living in “millionaire’s row.”

    I was wondering what your thoughts are on that?

  45. “Wil & Sean – Brainiac 5 and Slaughterbowl were part of the Summer Offensive too, and are listed as Other Thrills.”

    That link that you provided lists “Really & Truly” under Other Thrills. Given that we know for a fact that it is creator owned and the copyright dates back to 1993, it seems difficult to take that page as any sort of legal proof. Certainly, the ones they publicly acknowledge as creator owned, that is likely sufficient proof (for our purposes), but I don’t recognize that page as any kind of authority based on the obvious errors on it.

    “As far as I know, Big Dave’s ownership was contested at one point before being revealed to be copyrighted to Morrison, Millar and Smith – it was not on the table as creator owned from the start.”

    I’m not familiar with this, can you give me more info on it? I’m really confused by the sentence as written, “contested” vs. “revealed” is confusing me as to who supposedly knew what.

    “If you look back through the 2000 AD forums you’ll see plenty of arguments with people speculating about whether the writers owned Big Dave or not…”

    There’s plenty of people here speculating about things they don’t have enough facts about, I don’t think I need to seek it out ;)

  46. Er, before that gets misinterpreted as a really snarky dig, I didn’t mean you in that last sentence.

  47. Larry B Vossler – Morrisoncon was set up by other people, not by Morrison himself. I remember talking to him about it and he was really looking forward to it – he’d had some say in who the other guests were and so forth – but he was keen to point out he wasn’t making a penny from it. It’s true that he has a house in Glasgow and one in LA, but that does not a millionaire make. Again, I don’t know of any person who creates comics (as opposes to publishing them or being Stan Lee) who is a multi-millionaire or even close.

    A successful creator in comics is one who is able to work only in comics really. That’s the mark of success as opposed to Ferrari’s and pots of cash – sad but true!

    Sean – as far as I know, the writers were not told up front that the rights belonged to them. That was something that was stated afterwards by the publisher, possibly in light of Millar complaining about Canon Fodder in light of the planned sequel in 1995 (it’s only from them onwards that Big Dave is talked about as being creator owned). There were also a few people who were waiting to see if the Really & Truly copyright notice in Yesterday’s Tomorrows went uncontested. To be honest, it looks like there are a few strips where people aren’t sure who owns them – or rather, whether the publisher would claim that it owned them.

    I could be wrong, I’m only going by what other creators and editors are telling me, but given the lack of paperwork some confusion wouldn’t be too surprising!

    And no worries – I’m guilty of abusing smilies just so people can tell I’m a big softie and not a hardass critic! :)

  48. Xanadude says:

    Were there any significant changes made when the strip was reprinted in the American 2000AD Presents? I picked the complete run up for cheap from MyComicShop.com. I already had the Phase 3 and Phase 4 and the one offs from later in the run.

  49. “There were also a few people who were waiting to see if the Really & Truly copyright notice in Yesterday’s Tomorrows went uncontested.”

    The fact the book’s acknowledgements specifically thank the Kingsleys is something that’s not been mentioned here. Whether it’s just a courtesy or perhaps an indication of a deal being struck or the reprint being okayed is another matter. (And then there’s the more recent volume with Hughes’s Tales from Beyond Science strips.)

    Also:

    “the 2000 AD works included in Rian Hughes book, Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Really & Truly, and Dare.”

    Since when was Dare a “2000 AD” work? It was in the short-lived Revolver and the final episode was in Crisis. Also, the rights on Dan Dare the character are pretty watertight, as are the rights on Dare the Morrison/Hughes strip.

  50. There is a thank you but acknowledgements have no bearing on who the copyright is allocated to in the book. As far as I know no deal was done, otherwise those few people wouldn’t have had to be waiting to see ;)

    Apologies on the latter – mixing up 2000 AD and Fleetway there in my haste. Revolver and Crisis were of course though sister publications to 2000 AD as detailed previously, and the rights on Dare are indeed watertight – they belong to Hughes and Morrison, with the character belonging to the Dan Dare Corporation, as stated in the previous instalment of this series (Part 2).

  51. Bazmatron says:

    Terrific articles Laura, to which I have nothing of any use to add (although Brendan McCarthy – or someone claiming to be him – used to sometimes pop into the comic shop (Fantasy Inn in Charing Cross Road) that I used to work in).

    Anyway, I stopped reading comics in the early-nineties and had only ever read the first chunk of Zenith, so I clicked on the links you provide throughout your piece for a bit more info. I can’t begin to describe my astonishment upon following your link to a site listing the use of old IPC heroes in Zenith Book 3 that characters from The Amazing Three from the ‘Jackpot’ comic were used by Morrison. I loved that strip when I was seven and it always stuck in my head for some reason (even used to play the characters in the playground). That I am now in my early-forties and reading that their adventures continued for a while is truly staggering to me – I’m going to have to hunt them down now. And to think I only stumbled upon this because I was reading some of the Miracleman stuff elsewhere on this site. From Alan Moore to Jackpot!

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  1. […] MAD MENTAL CRAZY! The True Life of the Fabulous Zenith, Part 3The BeatEither that the cheque and docket system does constitute a legal contract perhaps, or that a limited non-exclusive licence … you had no choice but to sign. This is something that the stalled Artists Bill of Rights in the US sought to rectify, but various …2013-07-06 23:53:23 […]

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