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  1. #1
    Incredible Member tib2d2's Avatar
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    Default Is there a financial benefit to writers introducing new characters?

    If you're writing for DC, and you create a new character, DC still owns it completely right? Its not like if Warner Bros decides to make a movie or show off a DC character a writer in 2005 created, that they need their permission?

    So besides the prestige of the "created by" credit, is there any financial benefit to a writer who creates a new character for DC?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by tib2d2 View Post
    If you're writing for DC, and you create a new character, DC still owns it completely right? Its not like if Warner Bros decides to make a movie or show off a DC character a writer in 2005 created, that they need their permission?

    So besides the prestige of the "created by" credit, is there any financial benefit to a writer who creates a new character for DC?
    None.

    But if you are writing comics as a way to do more than put food on the table, clothes on your back and a roof over your head you are in the wrong business.

    And who has a better chance to be seen in a TV or Movie: Character X (created by you) for DC Comics or Character X (who you alone own)? Someone like Mark Millar or Robert Kirkman is less likely to be you than you are to hit the lottery.

  3. #3
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    Len wein said he got paid far more for Lucius Fox appearing in Batman films than he ever got for Wolverine appearances so I guess it depends on the company and the deal you cut.

  4. #4
    Astonishing Member DragonsChi's Avatar
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    Yes.

    If a writer and/or artist develops a completely new character they have the opportunity to receive royalties for said character for as long as DC is in business, when DC uses said character in other mediums and in their own books.

    So a character like Signal/Duke Thomas would be eligible for royalties as Signal/Duke Thomas but a character like Damian Wayne/Robin/Batman would not since he isn't a real "original" character. DC had Robin/Batman already though his actions/personality may be different he is still the same property.
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  5. #5
    All-New Member smb5445's Avatar
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    How does Dick Grayson/Nightwing work then? Marv Wolfman and George Perez get credit for creating Nightwing. But Dick Grayson was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and the Nightwing persona was created years before.

  6. #6
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    In the late 1970s, DC began offering royalties/creative rights that were more attractive than what Marvel was offering and many writers and artists came to DC from Marvel for that reason. But I don't know the whole story. You have a case like Black Lightning, where DC didn't want to pay out and they stopped using the character. And I would imagine that all these cases are work-for-hire, so there had to be an extra deal to sweeten the pot, otherwise I don't know why DC would owe them anything.

    But that deal, which lasted for quite awhile, is why DC has to give higher royalities on work produced in that period--unless they negotiate down on the deal. And it seems to me that most of the reported cases of writers getting generous royalties are for characters introduced during that era, like with Len Wein and Lucius Fox. In the case of the New Teen Titans, Wolfman and Perez (who had both come to DC from Marvel) would have gotten this royalties deal and co-creative rights--so maybe that extended to Nightwing, as well, once Dick took on that identity. DC was willing to extend those rights, because these Marvel expatriates were helping them get back on top.

    Later on, when TPBs took off and there was much more film and TV adaptations, it bit DC in the butt--since they were on the hook to pay for stuff they hadn't counted on being so valuable in the future.
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  7. #7
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    Creators do get royalties when characters they created are used in outside media, but it is not a lot. Jerry Ordway talked about how little he was getting in royalties for the use of Cat Grant on Supergirl. He said now that Warner Bros has stopped selling off the rights to their characters to outside studios, the licensing fees are much less lucrative. This isn't to say that Ordway was unappreciative of the money he was getting, but it was only enough to pay for a night out.

    That said, thanks largely to Paul Levitz and Geoff Johns, comics creators have certainly gotten treated better by DC than they have ever been at Marvel, who are notoriously bad when it comes to compensating the people whose work they are profiting from. Like Wein with Wolverine, Jim Starlin said he was paid more for KGBeast's appearance in BvS than the entirety of Thanos's appearances in the Marvel films.

  8. #8
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    Bill Finger's estate only got credit for Batman three years ago due to the contract that Bob Kane made with DC back in the day which shows how difficult for it for artists to receive credits or royalties for their creations.

  9. #9
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    Prior to the 1970s, most creators didn't get anything. In the overwhelming number of cases, publishers were able to claim it's work for hire and never paid a cent in royalties. Siegel and Shuster could claim that Superman wasn't work for hire, because they could prove they had already created him--DC simply countered that they had bought the rights from S&S. With Bob Kane it was different, as he claimed that he was too young at the time to sign a contract (he wasn't) and that he had created a Batman character previously (he hadn't). DC could have fought his claims but chose to settle with him by giving him a deal--and that deal froze out Bill Finger.

    Royalties was one of the things that the DC writers were trying to get in the 1960s--because they saw that DC was reprinting their stories in 80 Page Giants, yet they were getting nothing for that. Otto Binder was leading the writers to strike until they got a better deal--but DC chose to dump him instead.

    I wonder what the situation is at Archie. Prior to their recent introduction of a new house style and the success of the TV shows, Archie was reprinting far more old stories (in their digests) than the amount of new material they were producing. Given that the art looked almost the same and the stories repeated all the same tropes, the reader was getting essentially the same content. I imagine they could fill those Double Digests with so much content because it cost them almost nothing to reprint--if they weren't paying the writers and artists any royalties (or very little).
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  10. #10
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    The "keep on truckin'" case was arguably one of the most scandalous and that was a court deciding the creator didnt have copyright over his own work while IRS wanted creator to pay taxes on income earned by others!

    So even when you dont work for the corporate beast you can still be totally shafted

  11. #11
    Concerned Citizen Citizen Kane's Avatar
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    When creating a new character/comic, I never really consider how "lucrative" the operation might be. I write a new character, and then I try to build a story around it. If it sells, I continue, and if it doesn't, I either scrap it or change something. In DC's context, I imagine it's even less lucrative. DC's readers tend to only be looking for stories about already established characters. I'd also argue that many new hero characters in DC are rather uninspired, and it contributes to the failure of many non-legacy characters. If you're going to make a new character in DC or comics in general, don't expect some huge payday.

  12. #12
    Ultimate Member Lee Stone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Clark View Post
    None.

    But if you are writing comics as a way to do more than put food on the table, clothes on your back and a roof over your head you are in the wrong business.
    You forgot 'because you enjoy it' or 'it's your passion'.
    Even then, you may want a second job.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Stone View Post
    You forgot 'because you enjoy it' or 'it's your passion'.
    Even then, you may want a second job.
    Plenty rich successful people in comics.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Stone View Post
    You forgot 'because you enjoy it' or 'it's your passion'.
    Even then, you may want a second job.
    Actually I meant to imply those two were the main reason to have the job. I think you need to balance your passions with what you need to live, but most of the arts should be jobs you don't go in expecting to get rich

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by iron chimp View Post
    Plenty rich successful people in comics.
    I think it's more like claiming there are rich actors, when for every Hollywood A-lister there are hundreds of people who'd kill for a minor role in an off-off-Broadway show. Can you get rich- sure. Will you get rich- not likely.

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