Media Royalties: Not so fast, Alan Brennert

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201407101301 Media Royalties: Not so fast, Alan Brennert

On Tuesday we posted writer Alan Brennert’s pique over not getting equity participation for the character Barbara Kent Gordon, who will appear as Jim Gordon’s wife on the Gotham TV show. Although we’re all sympathetic to creators getting their due, former DC editor Janelle Asselin pointed out that the character comes under the “derivative” heading, since spouses and kids are excluded from media participation:

As a former DC editor, I’m well aware of the equity process. In the course of my job at the company, I was involved with sending the equity paperwork to creators, letting them know the guidelines, and occasionally submitting related paperwork to the proper department within DC to ensure the creators were taken care of. There were some characters from comics I worked on where creators requested equity and were turned down based on the above criteria, and Brennert is one of many such creators. There are lots of creators who have been granted equity when their characters do meet those qualifications.

Based on my experience, my reading of the situation is this: Brennert’s creation of Barbara Kean Gordon is not only “close” to her sometimes-daughter in the DCU, Barbara Gordon; it fits all of DC’s stated criteria for being officially derivative. She looks the same, has the same name – she’s even at a library after hours, implying that she, like Barbara Not-Kean Gordon, is a librarian.


So…not this time? The winner here is clearly Jim Gordon, however, because he’s got a very foxy wife.

Comments

  1. Don’t worry, it’s DC so she’ll still die horribly in front of him and stuff.

  2. So does this mean that Jack Kirby gets “equity participation” if WB uses Darkseid in their upcoming films?

  3. Bill Cunningham says:

    They’re already unpacking the refrigerator…

  4. Darren Hudak says:

    Brennert’s Facebook post addressed this argument, He points out that Mark Waid apparently got royalties when they used Bart Allen on Smallville, and it’s really hard to argue that Bart is not derivative. Also doesn’t Marv Wolfman get royalties for Nightwing, a character he didn’t create, just put in a new costume with a name that had been previously used. My point is the rules seem very inconsistent.

  5. DC’s argument is that I “reverse-engineered” Barbara Kean our of Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon—because I liked the notion that Babs Jr. got some of her beauty, brains, and even name from her mother–and that therefore she is derivative of her daughter. I have a different opinion, obviously. In the 30 years since a “Mrs. James Gordon” last appeared in a DC comic, in 1951, no one had ever thought of introducing a wife, even in flashback. I introduced Barbara Kean in 1981, and within six months DC had retroactively renamed the Golden Age Mrs. Gordon “Barbara”—so somebody at DC liked the same notion I did. Frank Miller revived the character in BATMAN: YEAR ONE, and found a dramatic use for her. That first unnamed “Mrs. Gordon” appeared twice in 1951, then vanished. After my story, Barbara Kean Gordon has appeared 52 times since in comics, and in two movies. So obviously DC has found the character to have a dramatic value. Who was the guy who first thought that might be so? Me. And no matter what any corporate flacks might say about her not being “original” enough, she was original enough that DC kept on using her, and is using her now in GOTHAM. She has value to them, and if she has value, the estate of Dick Giordano and I should be compensated.

  6. geoffrey thorne says:

    pay the man. you know it’s the right thing to do. ll this gymnastic twisting to try to prove he and Mr. Giordano didn’t create the character just make you look like assholes. maybe you don’t care about that but the people watching this do.

    pay the man. do right. it’s not even hard.

  7. @Steve Sherman: “So does this mean that Jack Kirby gets “equity participation” if WB uses Darkseid in their upcoming films?”

    Yes. Kirby had an equity deal with DC, and his heirs get paid when Darkseid, the New Gods, the Demon, etc. show up in other media (TV, movies, etc.).

  8. Andrew Scopelitis says:

    Any person creating enterainment that has this much value should be compensated,Or,,,Is this like the money batman made?,,(or did not make),

  9. Chris Duffy says:

    Thad–While Kirby’s heirs may have a specific deal with DC where they get money for a Darkseid appearance or toy or movie, that isn’t necessarily an equity deal. The equity program was something started in 80s I believe to grant creators a piece of the action. It had pretty specific criteria and numbers. But I don’t recall it being retroactive to the 70s. Then again I worked at DC nearly 20 years ago, so I could be wrong.

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