When indies go super

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13 icecream When indies go super
Giant Robot NY has a swell online gallery of images from their recent Free Ice Cream show, including R. Kikuo Johnson, Alison Cole, Anders Nilsen and Jeffrey Brown. But sharp-eyed John Jakala notices that Johnson has posted pages from his “Marvel Indie Anthology” story starring the Thing, The Puppet Master and Alicia Masters (above.)

No coincidence, Eddie Campbell just wrote about his experiences writing and drawing Batman for DC:

Then I made things complicated. I said that nothing would make me happier than to draw this myself. They said they didn’t allow a situation where a creator would both write and draw the same book unless he was ‘incorporated’. I mentioned this to Whitey, whom you may remember is a chartered accountant, so that’s exactly his field. He said, “It’s not as complicated as you think. A company’s just a box of documents you can keep under your bed.” And it doesn’t cost too much either, well compared to the amounts I’ve been bandying about here of late. Now, companies are usually named and indexed by having two unassociated words hinged together (well, this is the campbellian explanation), so he finds a combination that he figures will embarrass me, runs the checks to confirm it’s not already in use, and next thing you know I’m director of a company named ‘Antelope Pineapple Pty. Ltd’, just so I can get to draw Batman.


Which points out a curious thing. Although we enjoyed DC’s two BIZARRO anthologies, the rather clumsy “team-up” approach was a bit odd considering that 80% of the contributors are cartoonists who write and draw their own tales. However, as Campbell alludes to, DC has very firm guidelines against creators writing and drawing stories involving DC characters unless the creators are incorporated. The reason is a very narrow reading of certain copyright laws, which always struck as a sad because all the greatest creators in comics are cartoonists, after all. But luckily Howard Chaykin, Kyle Baker and Darwyn Cooke, to name a few, are incorporated and can do their thing.

Evidently, at Marvel they have no such worries. We are definitely looking forward to this issue of Coober Skeeber!

Comments

  1. I remember Kyle Baker talking about this back during the “Superman’s Babysitter” fiasco. That’s why that story is credited to him and someone else (his wife, I think) even though he did it all by himself.

    -Steve!

  2. I wonder if anyone knows whether Brian Wood has to be incorporated in order to contribute his few-page segments to DMZ. I merely speculate that as his segments don’t constitute the lion’s share of most issues (I’m reading it in trades, and haven’t seen all of them), that perhaps he wouldn’t need to Brian Wood, LLC in the same way that Eddie Campbell had to create Unrelatedfirstword Unrelatedsecondword in order to produce a fully-realized commercial product.

  3. The Beat says:

    DMZ is creator-owned, not work for hire. Brian owns it.

  4. CBrown says:

    I have heard of this “No writing AND drawing for DC characters unless you are incorporated” rule before. Can anyone elucidate exactly what the legal issues involved are?

  5. Frank S. Kim says:

    CBrown: That’s because of the way US copyright law defines “work made for hire.” In order to be “work made for hire” it has to be either “a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment” (since few comic publishers today hire creators as regular employees with full benefits, this doesn’t apply to most comics) or “a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work…as a compilation.” DC’s thinking is that if one person does the writing AND the drawing, it doesn’t fit the definition of “a collective work” or “a compilation.”

  6. Torsten Adair says:

    The Googlewhack name is not a problem, as one can always use the “d/b/a” technique as a storefront. I’m quite taken with the antelope pineapple name… good for a rock band or anthology title.

    Unfortunately, the company ceased publication, a victim of the “lit bomb” speculation fueled by libraries and bookstores in the early 21st Century. The company’s assets were purchased at auction by Egmont, with plans to develop a line of novels set in the Ottoman Empire.

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