Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

The Weird, Deceptive Life of American Comics

The American comic industry is a strange one.

I don't know a lot about it from an insider's point of view, but from an outsider, man, its fucking weird.

It has this really quite insane and long history of creators being treated badly, the most famous, perhaps, being Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman. It wasn't until 1975, and after a negative campaign based on the fact that they were broke, that the creators were, after thirty years, again acknowledged for their work. They had signed the rights away, possibly because they did not know better, but I'm not sure, and that was that despite their attempts to get it back--a legal fight that continues still, with Warner Bros claiming a recent victory.

And if you think that's cold, then what about Marvel's legal battle with the creator of Ghost Rider, Gary Friedrich, and their victory that he could no longer call himself the creator of Ghost Rider, and that he could only sign items that had been endorsed by Marvel. Apparently broke, Marvel even went one step further, and asked for seventeen thousand dollars. Friedrich's crime, it seems, had been to sue Marvel, saying the rights of his character had reverted to him...

And more recently, there's Alan Moore and Before Watchmen. There, after years of telling people publicly that both he and Dave Gibbons--the illustrator of Watchmen--had been lied to and deceived and that he had lost the rights of his creation, his statement that he thought DC cashing in on the graphic novel by making prequels with a host of creators both good and bad, has a mix of reactions. A lot of people even called Moore a hypocrite, because of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in which he took well known literary characters (most, if not all, public domain) for his and Kevin O'Neill's series. The original story of being mistreated by the publisher, of essentially losing the rights and control of their work, seems to have been entirely lost by the audience, as this piece in Forbes will attest.

The worse part is, this is not even the beginning or the end of the situations like this, and it doesn't even really put a dent in all these creations. They're products that people grab at greedily for more, never questioning the ways in which they were created, or what happened to the creators.

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