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Newest Tilting is up

Brian Hibbs

Coincidentally running the same day as the creator roundtable, I talk about why creator-owned comics (and Walking Dead #100 in particular) is great news for retailers.

Go read, and let me know what you think!



16 Responses to “ Newest Tilting is up ”

  1. One thing your article has me wondering; what if Kirkman was a mini-Marvel? Essentially, what if he did 4 or 5 monthly Walking Dead spin-offs using work-for-hire writer and artist teams? Would the book/Kirkman seem as virtuous? Of course if he’d done it, it would have been his decision but would he still be viewed as better than, or at least separate from, Marvel and DC? It’s a hypothetical question that can be applied to any successful creator-owned work (Scott Pilgrim for example). I’m not trying to pick on Kirkman, just wondering if people’s perceptions of his successes would have been altered if Kirkman “Marveled-out”.

  2. Anthony:

    I’d look to Rob Liefeld @ Awesome (etc.) or Jim Lee @ Wildstorm for the likely answers to that scenario?


  3. …and I’d look to see how Neil Gaiman feels about former creator-owned rebel Todd McFarlane; or for that matter, how Tony Moore and his supporters feel about Robert Kirkman.

    Brian, I really dug this post — and I’m hoping you’re right, that TWD and SAGA and the rest represent a new flowering for creator-owned comics. On the one hand, I’m rooting for Kirkman. It’s been little noted how his success is the clear vindication of his once-controversial “rant” where he encouraged other creators to ditch Marvel and DC for creator-owned work. (At the time, he said he was doing it to “save” comics, and your argument echoes his theories about the stagnation of the market and how a wave of strong creator-owned properties could benefit the industry as a whole, including Marvel & DC.) I also applaud Kirkman’s apparent role in revivifying Image as a place where new ideas can thrive.

    However, I *DO* think it’s a little disingenuous to present Kirkman as the poster boy for “creator-owned” without noting the Tony Moore situation. At the very least, the lawsuit makes Kirkman vulnerable to the same “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” critiques that have haunted the careers of Liefeld, Lee and McFarlane.

  4. I’m pretty sick today, so I was going to avoid commenting, but what Dock said! That’s what was sorta forming in my addled brain.

  5. Even if we assume that Kirkman is just “The New Boss”, he is still the New New Boss. Should comics never become more than sweatshops set up to enrich a few IP Plantation owners, at least it is a new plantation, rather than a farm that has been overworked since 1938.

    (Sure, I would prefer Artist Communes rather than Plantations. But I also want a future for comics.)

  6. The Beat has a solid report on the Moore/Kirkman suit, along with the docs here, for those who are interested: http://www.comicsbeat.com/2012/02/10/tony-moore-sues-robert-kirkman-over-his-share-of-walking-dead-money%E2%80%94which-could-be-a-lot/

    For myself, having read the complaint and the 2005 Agreement, I personally don’t see any “fraud” (that’s a solid and fair deal that Tony Moore signed, I think?), and we only have their individual words on whether the accounting has been properly assigned. This would *appear* to be different than the McFarlane/Gaiman thing, which was “a handshake deal” as I understand it.

    Overall, I don’t think “creator owned” or “creator controlled” necessarily precludes “work made for hire” at all — especially when Moore is getting (in theory) half of all of the money from TWD v1; 25% of all money from TWD HC v1, 12.5% of all money from TWD deluxe HC v1, and 6.25% of all money from Omnibus v1; and 20% of TV proceeds. That’s a lot of money, and it seems eminently fair to this observer. (assuming that it is, in fact, being paid)

    I have to say that I do strongly believe that even in “jointly created” concepts, trademark and control needs to stay with a single entity. Otherwise, problems appear to almost invariably appear.


  7. The Beat’s “solid reporting” is grossly undermined by gross naivete and an inability to read.

    Their calculations about Moore’s potential cut are made on the incorrect assumption that the 60% net share of the published work applies to TWD as a whole.

    “When you throw in the next 15 volumes of WALKING DEAD trades that continually top all the best seller lists, you see why Moore would want to get his share,” THE BEAT writes. However the contract makes it crystal clear that the 60% net share applies ONLY to the material Moore was directly involved in creating (the first 6 issues). Also , that work has been mainly sold as a TPB with an “introductory price” significantly lower than subsequent volumes. (Vol. 1 currently retails at $9.99 for 144 pages; Vol. 2 retails at $14.99 for 136 pages.)

    “Although the contract specifies ‘net profits,’ that should still be quite a bit of money,” writes THE BEAT. Not for someone like David “Darth Vader” Prowse, whose net profit-based deal for RETURN OF THE JEDI had, as of 2009, yet to result in a single dime of residuals .


    You’re right, Gaiman vs. McFarlane is probably the wrong example. Depending on how this shakes out, it may be closer to Alan Moore’s problems with DC, where the contract is followed to the letter, but not the spirit.

  8. I said ” a solid report”, not “reportING” — mostly, I was referring to them actually having the complaint, instead of just talking about it :) I agree that the math on display is wrong.

    I tell you what though, v1 and and HC 1 and Omnibus 1 are, BY FAR, the best-selling books of the line, there’s still a pretty damn significant chunk of money being made there, even at the lower prices. Back of the envelope math would suggest that Tony’s share just from those has got to be at least in the $100k/year range right now — for work he did 7 years ago.

    Contracts, no matter how well intentioned on either side, are eventually going to have strife in them, that’s a sad fact of life. I certainly hope that this situation gets resolved with all involved parties being content.


  9. Net profit in comic publishing on a book drawn 7 years ago is basically everything after printing and shipping, and Image’s standard flat fee. There are no extra expenses like a movie studio can make up. I’d be willing to guess that at 60 percent of profit Tony Moore’s probably made far more on that one book than Alan Moore has made on Watchmen trade sales, at DC’s royalty rate.

  10. Yeah, I count between BookScan and DM reported numbers 62k on the first TP.

    Figuring that wholesale/retail takes 60%, and that printing takes a third of what remains, that leaves like 25% of cover for the creative split. On a color book that will be a chunk less… 15% of cover?

    So (62k x $10 x 25%) = $155k. 60% of that (Tony Moore’s stated share) = $93k, just from the first TP alone.

    (And of course, the book sells better than that, and there’s UK sales, and Library sales, and there are foreign editions, etc etc.)


  11. (though deduct some for shipping and warehousing fees, as well)

  12. Printing on that book would be low, per unit, as they print a huge amount. Probably around 80 cents a unit.

    They sell way more than 62K of it every year, especially since the show. Hell, the first Chew trade has sold over 62K already.

  13. There’s definitely a more eclectic range of interesting stuff available at the moment and recently.

  14. e.g. when was the last time there were several spy comics around, etc.

  15. @Anthony I think the closest to Kirkman doing TWD spinoffs would be the Hellboy-verse comics that Mignola puts out from Dark Horse.

    There are like three or four BPRD/Hellboy/Lobster Johnson/etc. comics coming out every month. Checking the most recent BPRD collection Mignola is the only one who owns copyright on the characters and stories.

    Mignola has some amount of involvement in these comics, but I believe for the most part he just talks with the writer for a couple of hours, maybe designs some characters, and then lets the writer and artist do their own thing.

    These comics sell pretty well (for non Marvel/DC stuff), and generally receive good reviews. So I think if Kirkman wanted to “oversee” a TWD spinoff that had other people writing and drawing he could do it to some amount of success. (Admittedly I don’t think it has worked so well for Invincible.)

  16. @Matthew Murray Yeah, I have no doubt a TWD spin-off series would be successful from a financial standpoint, and perhaps even from a critical standpoint as well. I was more thinking akin the lines of, as David Oakes put it, Kirkman becoming the “New New Boss”. If Kirkman all the sudden econe like Marvel/DC and started milking this IP for every penny it’s possibly worth to the point where it diluted the original product. I mean, we’re certainly getting tv shows, video games, board games, novels, statues, etc but none of that stuff truly harms the quality of the base comic. If suddenly there were a Walking Dead-verse with 10 comics and line-wide crossovers, would we still praise Kirkman. As Brian said, there have been examples of that on a smaller scale, and that didn’t seem to go so well ultimately.

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