Sunday, March 29, 2009

Such a Deal . . . Not

FantoPro.com pointed me to a troubling article on how Marvel plans to lowball and (essentially) own writers developing their B-List superheroes.

Some key points:

"Terms call for Marvel to own whatever the writers work on during the year."

Marvel has a history of demanding all rights from various artists and entities involved with them, I believe, so this doesn't surprise me.

This is what made me blink a few times:

"Also Marvel has included in the contracts that Marvel gets a first look and last refusal to any and all projects the writers have previously written or will write for 2 years in the future."

I can understand a first look on future work (publishers do that) but last refusal? Previously written work? Oy, not good. The article writer offers this final warning:

"So to sum this up if you are lucky enough to write for any B list Superhero's for Marvel they will own your ass even if they fire you for up to two years after the fact."

Agreed. One should not be forced to sell one's soul like this, even for the opportunity of exposure with a company as large and well-known as Marvel.

11 comments:

  1. WOW! That's…crazy, kind of unbelievable too. I wonder what kind of poor soul would sign such a thing, even for exposure. Madness I tell you.

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  2. Holy Crap, my Spidey senses are not only tingling, they're on fire!

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  3. I find this very interesting. IIRC, I thought Stan Lee still owned or was chairman of Marvel. He sued them a few years ago because he never got any profits from the movies starring his characters. Marvel claimed they owned the characters and for a lot of years when he first started with them, he worked for scale and didn't share in profits at all.

    I might be a bit off on that, but I think I'm close. It almost sounds like he's forgotten what he worked so hard to gain.

    Shame.

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  4. Anonymous10:41 AM

    Maybe I'm just slow today (got a nasty cold), but what on earth is last refusal?

    BarbarellaJ

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  5. BarbarellaJ wrote: Maybe I'm just slow today (got a nasty cold), but what on earth is last refusal?

    This is a clause to prevent sales to other competitors, also known as "matching" rights. If the author obtains any offers from another entity or publisher than are more favorable terms than those offered by Marvel, then Marvel must be informed and can choose to match the offer, in which case they get whatever the writer is selling.

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  6. Guess they think they're big and bad enough to get away with it... and they are.

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  7. Anonymous12:34 PM

    Slavery is not dead. Marvel has reinvented it in such as way as to be politically correct. We all get equal treatment.

    Oh Joy.

    This reminds me of the pharmaceutical companies who contract their scientists in the same way. Anything they're working on is claimed, even if it's in the bathtub growing arms.

    Two years into the future? Past work?

    Right. Marvel may be big, but it ain't my Uncle Marvin and I'm not financing greed on that scale.

    And I used to love comic books.

    What a shame.

    Raven

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  8. Hmmm. Marvel recently approached me about writing for them, and we're still in the talking stages. But if these are the terms, forget it.

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  9. Hey Rob,

    You might want to contact Marjorie M. Liu since she's worked with Marvel a couple times already (www.marjoriemliu.com). Another perspective and view of the issue is always a good idea.

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  10. They must be effing kidding.
    What makes them entitled to a two-year chunk of your soul?

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  11. Anonymous11:50 AM

    Stan Lee has never owned Marvel Comics. He has held various titles there, including editor, writer, and "chairman emeritus", which primarily involved being Marvel's spokesperson. He has since cut all ties with Marvel.

    Marvel has always fought to keep its creative talent locked into work-for-hire agreements. This new arrangement sounds no different than some of its 7-year contracts, though why anyone would agree to hand over *previous* work boggles me.

    Terms are always negotiable, when you're willing to walk away.

    lynD

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