doonesbury and stuff

My 2 cents on the conversation twixt eeteed and Michele in the comments of this here blog:

1. I can't stand Doonesbury, so I'm inclined to think Trudea is a jerk. But I really don't know that much about the particular situation. eeteed says Trudea sux because he's a fame and glory-hog, and Michele says he's cool because he farms out work that other artists are frankly very happy to get, thank you very much. It sounds like one of those deals where do-gooders put a child-labor factory in Klondoodio out of business and the children lose their jobs and go hungry. A big fat gray area.

2. I use assistants. But unlike Disney and Groening, who I agree are assholes, I USUALLY split the money down the middle and give the other person creator credit. I only work with people who are capable of pulling that much weight. I said USUALLY because sometimes I'll hire somebody to do simple grunt work when I need help that way. I always try to prorate the money so they get their fair share of money vs time spent.

3. I think Disney, Groening, Hillenberg etc are assholes because their name gets listed as creator on projects they never touch. But I realize this is probably a necessary evil when ownership of a multinational super-licensing phenom commences.

4. I have in fact toiled anonymously for one of the above-listed "assholes". And like the Klondoodions I was very happy to get the work. I made a hell of a lot more money doing that than I expect to make off of Runaway Comic (at least in the short run). I never met the asshole, and I expect he is really not an asshole. I "know a guy who knows" both Groening and Hillenberg, and I hear they are okay guys. I haven't a clue what Disney was like in real life.

5. On a couple of the asshole projects I illustrated, I did in fact get illustrator credit, but my partner who did half the work got no credit at all. I gave him half the money, but he had to ghost because he is not an "official Character X artist". It feels very uncomfortable for me. This thing exists with my name on it, and my friend gets no credit? What kind of a jerk am I? A Klondoodion sweatshop jerk I guess. An asshole.

6. On the other hand, this friend and I have an agreement: 10 or 20 ownership of one of each other's characters. If his character or my character ever hits the bigtime, the owner of the bigtime character gives 10 or 20% ownership to the other guy. Period.

7. We don't have it in writing. I trust this guy. And he trusts me. And I hate to mess with lawyers and all that crap. Call me stupid, but this way of doing things has served me very well so far in life. I believe in karma and my friends more than I believe in lawyers.

8. I honestly can't recall if it's 10% or 20% or 15%, because if I get a million dollars I don't care if I give my pal 100,000 or 200,000. At that point what's another 100 large?

9. Conversely, if HE gets a million dollars, I really don't care if I get 100,00 or 200,000 for sitting on my ass. It's all gravy at that point. My friend has a much better memory than me. I'm sure he remembers what we said. I know the range. Whatever.

10. Here's the part that is going to frost eeteed's butt: If I ever hit the bigtime, I may actually have to protect my property by insisting that my name be plastered on it EACH AND EVERY TIME it is used. Even if I never touched it. Even if it's just something I scribbled in a meeting.

11. Hi Janet! Can you scan that banana pic and send it to me???


eeTeeD said...

well, i think it's a lot better to say things like "created by mark martin", or "art by mark martin studios", then to simply have say "beetle baily by mort walker" when m.w. hasn't picked up a pencil since 1968. so i wouldn't feel badly if you at least gave SOME acknowledgment that you weren't the only person involved in the creation of some cartoon. there's just so many cases of artists landing a big fat contract, then hiring assistants and keeping all the fame/glory/$ for themselves. batman by bob kane..... AS IF!!!

Janet said...

You do remember coming to my Halloween Party?? Bart was there and made a great Spock. I saw it not long ago...I take so many photos and store them everywhere, so it may take a while.

SRBissette said...

Live & learn -- (a) friends can turn on ya in a heartbeat when you least expect it; (b) you'd be amazed how quickly (a) kicks in if you can't keep it straight whether it's $100,000 or $200,000; (c) the paperwork is also to make sure your son and/or wife and/or heirs get what was agreed to, cuz baby, those verbal agreements dissolve in a heartbeat under all kinds of circumstances; (d) American trademark (not copyright) law requires "Mark Martin's XXX" be trademark Mark Martin and zealously protected or you LOSE it, (e) and lose it REAL fast if you don't have the paperwork in place; (f) work-for-hire emerges from, and protects, trademark issues, including for you & me when it's our trademarks.

Ethics are another thing, and that's in large part what's being discussed here. Ethically, you can set things up any way you see fit -- but from hard experience, I still suggest, even if it's just a signed letter or something -- get it in writing, keep it somewhere.

I could go on and on, as all this is meat for my sausages, but it's your blog, not mine.