As artists and fans flood the convention center, independent creators should keep in mind the changes in the industry that make the potential for long term success much more viable. In the past, comic writers and artists had very little control over the stories and characters they created. While there are still major challenges in the industry, the current situation is a major improvement from what was 25 years ago.
In the 1980’s artists struggled with big and small publishers over everything from credit to payments to getting their original art back. In 1988, a group of comic professionals including Scott McCloud, Dave Sim and Richard Pini drafted a Creators Bill of Rights which is analogous to a US Declaration of Independence for comic professionals. It lays out the minimum benefits a creator should expect from their publishing partners and has been adopted by the Comics Creators Guild. Since its inception it has led to successful creator owned imprints including Dark Horse, Epic and Vertigo.
When I was at Marvel, many creators sought to establish themselves with work for hire projects so they could pursue their own creator owned deals. The Creator Bill of Rights made that situation much more possible lucrative. When you are licensing your property, it pays to compare the language of your contract to the Bill of Rights. Any provision that reduces or eliminates the rights to your property should be questioned and if possible, removed the contract.
As you enjoy the trailers, panels and energy of Comic Con, remember that there is a foundation that you as a creator can use to be a part of and benefit from the fruits of your creation.
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