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DC reboot

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Not to forget that all the other series, for the most part, are being written and drawn by B Talent. I feel bad, a little bit, for guys like Rucka, because, as Len Wein says: "continuity handcuffs your best writer to your worst writer." When you're involved like something like that and there's only like three good writers involved, it's going to be an absolute shitshow.

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So apparently DC is using the new 52 to screw creators out of equity. Gerry Conway, on Caitlin Snow:

"Who created Caitlin Snow, the alter ego of Firestorm super-villain Killer Frost, who appears regularly on The Flash?

According to DC Entertainment, nobody.

Thats right. Caitlin Snow, the brilliant scientist working for Harrison Wells, fiancée of Ronnie Raymond and friend of Barry Allen, aka The Flash, sprang fully formed into existence without a creator or creators.

But thats okay, because, by the logic employed by DC Entertainment, nobody created Barry Allen either.

Let me explain. See if you can follow me here.

As Ive described elsewhere (http://comicsequity.blogspot.com), many years ago DC Comics established the first program to provide comic book creators with a share in the revenues generated by their creations in other media. This concept became known as creator equity participation and it was a small but significant step toward compensating creators for their work beyond a simple page rate. For me, personally, its been moderately lucrative (thank you, Bruce Timm, for putting Killer Croc in the animated Batman) but in recent years its also become an increasingly frustrating and, lately, infuriating process.

The reason, I believe, is the shift of corporate culture at DC Comics that occurred around the time Paul Levitz left his position as publisher.

As a comic book creator himself, Paul displayed a protective empathy for creators. Once the creator equity concept became policy, Paul applied it liberally and proactively often notifying writers and artists their creations were due to receive equity participation when creators would otherwise have no idea. For thirty plus years, under Paul, creators were valued and supported as equity partners. (We can argue about the level of support, whether the percentage creators received was commensurate with their contributions, but we cant deny that the support was there, and it was consistent.)

All of that changed when Paul left, and DC Comics became, officially, DC Entertainment, a fully subsumed cog in the Warners Entertainment wheel.

I first learned how this change would effect DCs approach to creators equity when I received a letter from DC Entertainments new president, Diane Nelson, informing me I would no longer receive equity payments for Power Girl because she was now considered a derivative character. To soften the blow and show appreciation for my contribution she enclosed a check for $1000.

Thank you, Diane.

The next thing I learned about DC Entertainments new approach to their comic creators equity program was just as distressing, given how many characters I created for DC over the decade-plus I wrote for the company: if I wanted to receive an equity participation contract for a character I created, I had to request one, in writing, for each character, before that character appeared in another media, because DC would refuse to make equity payments retroactively.

By a rough guesstimate, I probably created over five hundred characters for DC between 1969 and 1985. Most of them were minor one-shot creations, and some of them, like Felicity Smoak (now a regular on Arrow) were minor supporting characters whove taken on a new life in other media. Unless Im willing to commit a large chunk of my life to tracking down each character and filing a separate equity request in anticipation that somehow, some day, one of these characters might end up on a TV show, I risk being cut off from any share in the fruits DC enjoys from the product of my labor. A share which DC acknowledges Im due but which DC refuses to assist me in receiving.

Thank you, DC.

But now we come to the catch-22 of DCs new approach to creator equity agreements. Assuming I perform my due diligence (which should really be DCs due diligence) and dig up references to characters Ive created that might soon be appearing in other media (maybe as a chess piece, or a Heroclix figure, or a recurring character on The Flash), and assuming I file the necessary request form in a timely fashion DC can still decide, unilaterally, that my creation is derivative and they dont owe me a dime.

What, exactly, is DCs definition of a derivative character?

Its a character that DC decides was derived from some other previously existing character.

For example, Power Girl derived from Superman, because, like Supergirl, shes a relative of Superman. Which means I cant claim to be her co-creator because Superman is a pre-existing character. Fair enough, I suppose. The logic here is that Superman is the original creation, so Power Girl is derived from that original creation, so in effect, Power Girl is an extension of Superman, which means, by this tortured logic, that Power Girl was more or less created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Uh, no.

This was the tortured logic National Periodical Publications tried to use back in the 1940s when Siegel and Shuster sued National for the rights to Superboy. National (the company that preceded DC) argued that Superman was the original creation, which Siegel and Shuster sold to National, and that Superboy was just a derivative creation. A court-appointed legal referee found that Superboy was in fact a unique creation and that National was guilty of copyright infringement. Sadly for Siegel and Shuster (and for creators everywhere), legal expenses forced the creators to sell National the rights to Superboy in a consent decree that obscured this fundamental finding. But the finding is pretty clear:

Characters derived from other characters are legally unique, and DCs claim that derivation deprives creators of any equity participation rights in those characters is nothing more than an immoral, unethical, deceitful and despicable money grab.

Yet, it gets worse.

Lets say DC agrees you created a character, like, for example, Killer Frost. In your original creation, Killer Frost had a secret identity named Crystal Frost. Later, a new Killer Frost is created for the New 52, and this new Killer Frost has a secret identity named Caitlin Snow.

Youll be pleased to hear (I hope) that DC agrees I and Al Milgrom are the co-creators of all manifestations of Killer Frost. We are also considered the co-creators of Crystal Frost. And, of course, by the twisted logic that credits Power Girl as a derivation of Superman, Al and I must also be the creators of Killer Frosts New 52 secret identity, Caitlin Snow.

Right?

No. Were not. And DC insists we are not. And I agree with DC.

Caitlin Snow was created by Sterling Gates and Derlis Santacruz.

Except, according to DC Entertainment, she wasnt. Because she was derived from the original creation of Killer Frost.

Which means Al Milgrom and I created her.

Except, according to DC Entertainment, we didnt.

Nobody created her.

Or, rather, nobody gets credit and creator equity participation for creating her.

And that, my friends, is truly obnoxious and despicable.

DC Entertainment has created a marvelous catch-22 that allows them to cheat creators by using both sides of an argument to serve DCs interests.

According to DC, Sterling Gates and Derlis Santacruz didnt create Caitlin Snow. Don Newton and I didnt create Jason Todd. Ric Estrada and I didnt create Power Girl. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster didnt create Superboy. Bob Kanigher and Carmine Infantino didnt create Barry Allen.

These characters just appeared out of nowhere.

But the money for their exploitation goes directly into DCs bank account.

/

Just in case you think Im making this up, as an experiment I filed a creator equity request for Caitlin Snow (of The Flash) and received this email response from DC:

We have looked into your equity request for Caitlin Snow, but you are not eligible for equity in the character, as she first appeared in the New 52 series Fury of Firestorm. That said, if Caitlin Snow eventually becomes Killer Frost on the Flash TV show, you will receive participations for Killer Frost. The creators of Caitlin Snow are NOT eligible for equity either, as that character is derivative of Killer Frost, created by you and Al Milgrom.

Catch-22 in action, folks."

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Who is this for? New readers? How are you advertising this? Current comics readers? I think at this point, the people that are going to buy those issues are the ones that were already going to buy it.

Comics marketing is fucked up.

Also...

So apparently DC is using the new 52 to screw creators out of equity. Gerry Conway, on Caitlin Snow:

And now Conway has completely apologized for what he's said now that he'll be getting cash for Killer Frost, which is what DC always said. Oof! That's ugly!

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OHHHKAAAY...SO.

This must be what the other half of the DC line will consist of, after Black Canary and unlikeable Superman and Robocop Batman and all that. We haven't seen the last of Jean Paul Valley, Cassandra Cain, Helena Wayne Huntress or the others after all. But undoing CRISIS?!?!?!?!

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It would be interesting if they started doing comics in the pre-New 52 universe again and those books started outselling the New 52 stuff. It could be almost like a Marvel 616/Ultimate situation.

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This wasn't uncommon in the 1960s and 70s. It sucked then as well.

Seriously, imagine what the TPB will look like with a huge blank space.

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Seriously, imagine what the TPB will look like with a huge blank space.

The artists have been told to make pages that can be easily split in half and then recombined in the trade, like what happens with digital-first comics now. IT's still awful

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I'd noticed it with The Flash and Harley Quinn, but I just rolled with it. Both are getting a huge push in other media, they want to profit more, etc.

And on the Marvel side of things, I'm willing to be that when Ms. Marvel comes back in a few months, it's gonna be $3.99.

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