One afternoon after I came home from work, I sat down in front of our computer and checked my emails, there I found an email from a writer/editor who used to work for Marvel Comics and was now working for an indie publisher. He wrote to me about his new venture, about this story he wanted me to try out for and he mentioned that this was a great opportunity for me. He also said he wanted to talk to me on the phone, so I replied and we set up a phone call appointment for the next day.
When we talked it was obvious he'd been in the industry for a long time and that he was knowledgeable about the business, it was also clear to me that he'd done a quick check up on my Facebook page because he started talking about things I cared about deeply. He mentioned Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby and Bill Finger, he talked about how they were taken advantage of and how he didn't wanted to do that with me; I should've known he was about to do exactly the same thing to me as they did to them back in the day!
I immediately called him and then came the excuses, the avoiding my calls, the "contact so and so"; etc. Sometimes you read these stories online and you feel angry at corporations and how they take advantage of the little guys, but to have this happen to you is such a helpless feeling, such an enraging feeling; you can understand how some people resort to violence and/or fall into a deep depression. Thank God I had a wonderful wife who lifted me up when I so desperately needed it, because if I were on my own; who knows what would've happened. But just to show you I'm not making this up, here are some of the last interactions between me and this... editor. Enjoy!
Me: I'm the penciller on ***** #6 and I want to know what's the status on the book. I can see that the cover is on your website's home page and it says ON SALE NOW!!! I only recieved around $10 bucks from the sales of that book and I doubt that's all I'm entitled for. At this point I could care less about royalties but I do care about buying some copies in order for me to re-sell them at conventions and events I'm a part of. I expect to hear from you very soon.
Editor: "Hello Manuel, I hope this note finds you well. Below is a message I received from ****. The tone of your letter is extremely confrontational and it doesn't need to be so. I will now take the time to answer your note as politely and business like as possible:
1) What's the status on the book?
The book is no longer publishing in print or digitally. It has not published since 2012. There was an original print run through Diamond. Diamond stopped carrying our books late in 2012. The last issue published was ***** #7. There have been no other sales of ***** #6.
2) I can see that the cover is on your website's home page and it says ON SALE NOW!!!
Yes, along with other titles that were the last offerings to Diamond before the company shut down. The Facebook page and website is up for promotional/informational purposes only. *** Comics may have shut down, but the characters still live on and hopefully will publish elsewhere. There have not been any new postings or offerings since the company shut down in 2012. There have been no sales through the website to date.
3) I only received around $10 bucks from the sales of that book and I doubt that's all I'm entitled for.
Actually, we pride ourselves on transparency. We shared any and all sales totals with all our freelancers, that includes you. See #1.
4) At this point I could care less about royalties…
Actually, as a freelancer, you should care about royalties. Hopefully in the future, we'll use these stories in a digital format. Your % of sales will remain in place and hopefully you'll realize additional revenue from your work.
5) … but I do care about buying some copies in order for me to re-sell them at conventions and events I'm a part of.
There are exactly 41 books left in inventory from that original print run. There have been no other print runs. I need to keep some for reference and promo purposes. As I have told you in the past, we sell copies at 50% cover price. I can sell you 25 copies at $1.99 each= $49.75 plus USPS Medium Flat Rate Box- $12.95= Total- $62.70 … let me know if you want them and we'll sort out the payment/shipping arrangements.
6) I expect to hear from you very soon.
And here you are, you heard back in less than 24 hrs. Hopefully that met your expectations.
Please, the next time you communicate with me or any other member of my team, I will expect you to comport yourself in a professional manner.
Me: I want to be clear, I may have sounded confrontational in my previous message, that's because I was trying to be. I worked extremely hard on that book, I took time away from my family and my own projects in order to complete your work and for what? You sold me a dream, and I wanted to believe you but I should've listened to my instincts and my better half; it sounds too good to be true. And God knows I wanted it to be true, I would've stuck with you guys and actually done some cool projects; but not after all that's happened. Btw, when you tell me that I should comport myself in a professional matter, that goes both ways. Everytime we talked you told me that they were sorting things out, or that they were planning in having the comics be on the ******** toys, or that they were in talks with Hollywood or that they were going to be digitally printed... meanwhile I'm here waiting, not knowing what's going on, bills pilling up and people asking me what happened to the book I worked on? I'll buy those books from you and I'm done. If you ever print more books contact me and I'll buy more from you, besides that; I'm done with you guys. Id rather work on my own comics, my own terms and don't get screwed over ever again. Have a good day.
Editor: Manuel, I like your feisty spirit, I really do. Any start up venture has a high element of risk. It's a gamble every time. You'll learn that when you self-publish your own project… and you should, it will be a great learning experience for you.
As for the things you mentioned below:
1) they were planning in having the comics be on the ******* ****** toys.
Yes, we were talking about a **** costume for ** and/or a 6" 2-pack figure with ****** and **… then the ** company lost their distribution at Toys R' Us and the project dropped off the radar.
2) or that they were in talks with Hollywood
Yes, *** is gone, and **** and ****** are no longer involved. I have formed a company with two Hollywood partners. We are prepping for a launch at SDCC this summer if all goes well.
3) or that they were going to be digitally printed
Yes, if all goes well with #2 and it happens, then the plan is to "grandfather" some *** projects into this.
4) what happened to the book I worked on?
*** distributed your book as ***** #6. It sold through Diamond Comic Distributors and went into comic shops across the country and Canada and England. You received contracted compensation for those sales.
If and when we reprint that work on paper or digital, you will again receive your contracted compensation.
6) Id rather work on my own comics, my own terms and don't get screwed over ever again
As I stated above, you should do that. It will be a great learning experience for you. Use all this angry energy you've got and take it out on the drawing board. I believe in your talent and you certainly have passion. Any and all start up ventures have a high probability of failure. For every Star Wars or Superman, there are hundred and thousands of failures we never hear about. It's the nature of the business, it's a fact of life. If you want to walk around thinking you got "screwed over" that's your prerogative, but that's not the case.
You are now a "published", "professional" artist. You have something solid and real to put on your resume. You have professional samples of your work to show other companies. How you use that ammunition is up to you… and remember, we took the chance on you, an untested and untried artist. When all the other companies were rejecting your submissions, we took you on and gave you guidance.
If you finish your personal project, we work with creator owned projects. It is a 50/50 split on costs and revenue. We will be working primarily on digital material. And yes, I would consider reviewing your material for publication in the future. Make sure (not just for anything we do, but in general for Comixology, etc) the new industry standard is 600 DPI for all art work.
Good luck to you.
"You are now a "published", "professional" artist. You have something solid and real to put on your resume. You have professional samples of your work to show other companies. How you use that ammunition is up to you… and remember, we took the chance on you, an untested and untried artist. When all the other companies were rejecting your submissions, we took you and gave you guidance."
And THAT my friends is the biggest pile of bull crap I've ever heard in my entire life... well, until Donald Trump won the Presidency. LOL! Now keep in mind, this interactions happened after weeks of not answering my calls and messages so I was at the end of my patience; I don't know how I stayed somewhat coherent because I was so mad I could've done something very stupid. This is just another one of the horror stories I've had to deal with throughout the years so if you ever thought I was "the angry dude", "a bit pessimistic" or "too impatient" know that I've dealt with scumbag after scumbag after scumbag... this hasn't been a cakewalk for me at all.
But guess what? I AM working on my own comic book now, eventually I'll finish it and it'll be on my own terms; I've had enough people like these. Hopefully you'll stick around and read my comics someday. Only time will tell. Stay Truthful my friends.