Nov 6, 2007

Support ALL Creators

I guess you've heard about the Writers' Strike that is just beginning to affect the entire entertainment industry (don't worry, otaku, you'll still be getting translated dubs on the air; you won't like them, but you'll get them). No, friends, NBC isn't recycling episodes of Leno, Conan, nor Carson as part of their companywide Green is Universal campaign. They're the first of many to be impacted immediately from the strike. No writers mean no new shows.

But let me present the Comic Creators' Bill of Rights. It's almost two decades old familiar to about .5% of the readership of Thoughtnami and completely relevant to the second half of the article. If you've never read them, well, here's your first time:

For the survival and health of comics, we recognize that no single system of commerce and no single type of agreement between creator and publisher can or should be instituted. However, the rights and dignity of creators everywhere are equally vital. Our rights, as we perceive them to be and intend to preserve them, are:

1. The right to full ownership of what we fully create.
2. The right to full control over the creative execution of that which we fully own.
3. The right of approval over the reproduction and format of our creative property.
4. The right of approval over the methods by which our creative property is distributed.
5. The right to free movement of ourselves and our creative property to and from publishers.
6. The right to employ legal counsel in any and all business transactions.
7. The right to offer a proposal to more than one publisher at a time.
8. The right to prompt payment of a fair and equitable share of profits derived from all of our creative work.
9. The right to full and accurate accounting of any and all income and disbursements relative to our work.
10. The right to prompt and complete return of our artwork in its original condition.
11. The right to full control over the licensing of our creative property.
12. The right to promote and the right of approval over any and all promotion of ourselves and our creative property.

I don't know what it is about new media that makes entertainment companies squirm. New media provides new opportunities for business endeavors. DVDs pretty much saved the anime industry in North America, not to mention created a cheap, yet convenient format to collect older shows, movie series, and classic shorts without taking up massive bookshelves. The internet virtually eliminated the need for shelf space, but you'll probably need a bigger hard drive. With access to the interweb available on the go, you could take shows and movies with you.

You'd think that the creators and writers who help create the films and shows we watch would be the ones benefiting the most from the advent of new media in the public arena, but they're not. In fact, unless you have direct ownership in the show (or have a preexisting deal when they sold the concept to a studio), writers will only get a residual of $.04 per disc (not per episode they worked on, but per DISC) sold and NO residuals per download. This means that for every 100,000 discs sold for a an average retail price of $30 per disc, a writer can get a residual of only $4,000. Where the rest of the $3 million goes is anybody's guess. Now, these creators/writers feel that they should get a little more than that, about $.08 per disc and per download.

Media companies feel otherwise. That shouldn't be surprising to anyone. After all, if there's anybody who can emphasize with the screenwriters of America, it's comic creators. They've been denied their dues (literally and figuratively) many, many, many times over. Not surprisingly, the comics and entertainment industry is intertwined (comic adaptations are all over the television and big screens while film and television creators are also creating many of today's popular comics). Creators of comics tend to have a brotherhood when it comes to defending the medium as well as each other. That spirit of brotherhood (and sisterhood) was the inspiration behind the Creator's Bill of Rights, ideals and things they believe each comic creator is entitled.

Articles Two, Three, Eight, and Nine of the Comic Creators' Bill of Rights are almost echoes what the Writers' Guild want and the fact that they're not getting those rights is exactly what the strike is all about. I know my brothers and sisters at Toon Zone aren't taking an official stand on the strike, but as a creator and a writer, I'm supporting the Writers' Guild and I hope they're successful in their stance.


Daikun said...

"I don't know what it is about new media that makes entertainment companies squirm."

Let me give you a hint: Shift+4.

Robert Peterson said...

There was a time when I use to just watch a show and not see or care who the writers, directors, or voices actors were but I started to. I learned more about them and I had the idea that writers were paid the most but now that the strike has happened, I support the writers. But there's not much I can do.