Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hey, look who posted!

No sooner did I vow to post more than I discovered Twitter (You can see my Twitter feed over there on the right.) and became a Tweet-a-holic. With Twitter, any thought that pops into your head can be put out there for public ridicule and it's sort of usurped this blog as my pressure valve. There are a couple of things I wanted to post about that the character-limit on Twitter won't accommodate, however, so here I am.

First, I'm still drawing, despite not posting anything. I've been working on layouts for the first "issue" of HAND ME DOWN HORROR. My workload at my job has doubled lately and I haven't had much spare time. I'm loathe to complain about it because the increase in workload comes from some creative opportunities that I'm pretty happy about. But the loss of free time has been stressful. Still, Christian's insane work ethic has shamed me into putting more time into it. There's not much I can show yet, I'm afraid. I can say I've reached the part of the story where my lead character is introduced and it was at that point that the character design just "clicked" into place. I just threw my hands up and started drawing him onto the page and there he was. Exactly like I'd seen him in my head but was unable to translate before that moment. The sensation was THRILLING. The villain has been nailed down for a long time so I'm not worried about that. He shows up soon enough. And my female lead doesn't appear until the "second issue", though I've got her design pretty much in hand as well. I'm very excited to be working on it.

Second, I thought I'd chime in on the whole Gary Friedrich thing. If you've been living under a rock, you haven't heard that Gary Friedrich, the co-creator of Marvel's motorcycle-riding demon character Ghost Rider, lost his lawsuit against Marvel for the rights to the character. There's a nice summation of the story here:


Nobody (and I mean nobody) cares what I think about this. But this is my blog and I feel strongly about it so here goes. As John Gallagher has said here (http://jbgall.livejournal.com/7951.html) I hate bullies. Always have. I grew up with them and sometimes I had the guts to stand up to them. Sometimes I didn't. When I did, I got the strength to do so in part by leaning on the example set by my heroes: the characters in Marvel's comicbooks. How sad it is to now see the company I loved as a child failing to live up to the principles of justice and fair play espoused in their own products. This isn't the first time we've seen this sort of thing. Jack Kirby was famously mistreated by Marvel and we've all heard of what happened to Steve Gerber. You can debate the legalities of who created what and who owns what forever and never get to a satisfying conclusion. But this should be about what's right, not what's legal. It was one thing when Marvel won the lawsuit filed by Mr. Friedrich for ownership of the character. It was another thing altogether when they went after him for money he's earned at conventions trading on what little fame being the creator of a third-tier character afforded him. They're kicking the guy when he's down and that's just wrong.

I can't express my disappointment. The few folks at Marvel I've ever dealt with after Mike's death have been nothing but wonderful, accommodating people. They've returned artwork whenever it turned up (at their own expense) and have had nothing but nice things to say about Mike. I guess now that Marvel is owned by Disney, a soulless, famously litigious corporation, things have changed. After years of trading on the names of creators and using the popularity of various artists and writers to attract readers, the new suits have decided that they would have you believe these characters all materialized out of thin air. Which is bullshit.

Whether you believe these creators (like Mr. Friedrich) went in with their eyes open or not isn't the point. These people were hired for peanuts to create ideas for comicbooks. Payment was then withheld for work already produced until they signed away their rights to those ideas. Then those ideas were turned into multi-billion dollar properties for corporations. It's not out of the realm of reason to expect there be some additional compensation as a "thank you." I'm outraged that they've gone completely in the other direction. It's cruel.

I don't believe in screaming "boycott!" whenever some company does something I don't agree with. And I certainly wouldn't do that here. Boycotting Marvel Comics would only hurt other creators whose work I admire who are just trying to make a living working with characters they love. But I do believe in voting with my wallet. In a case of strange timing, there's a new Ghost Rider movie coming out this week. I was going to go see it. But not now. Instead, I figured out how much money Suze and I would have spent on movie tickets and then on buying the DVD when it came out and sent it instead to Steve Niles' benefit fund. (You can find the link at the Ain't It Cool News story linked above.) Marvel, of course, will be getting the money either way. But this way I'm helping Mr. Friedrich and at least getting a symbolic dig in at the suits at the same time. It looks like some online auctions by artists Neal Adams, Mike Mignola and Eric Powell are doing really well. If Mr. Niles' fundraising goes as well, maybe Mr. Friedrich will be able to meet his legal "obligation" to Nu-Marvel for their blood money. But they've also taken away his ability to earn whatever living he was scraping together before all this.

One last note. If you think this won't have a chilling effect on the convention circuit, I worry you're wrong. Things may appear to stay the same. It would be difficult and expensive for Marvel to go after every artist selling sketches of their characters or writers selling copies of their scripts. But should those creators piss them off as Mr. Friedrich did, there would be no way to stop Marvel from inflicting crushing legal debt on them as punishment. Marvel now has a nuclear option whenever a creator steps out of line. Personally, this scares me because I was hoping to put together a book of Mike's blog sketches as a way of raising money for the scholarship fund. Now that idea terrifies me because Nu-Marvel would probably come down on me like a dropped piano. And I can't afford that.

Anyway, enough of that. I'll try to scrounge up something else to post soon. I'm working on a drawing for a co-worker. It's a bit of a departure for me and I'm not sure if I like it. But the co-worker wants me to finish it so I hope to have that done soon.

Oh, and I guess I should change my banner back some time soon, hunh?