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    Default Image Comics staff form Union

    Some interesting developments: Comic Book Workers United have announced the formation of a Union of Image Comics staff. I'm not well-versed in labor laws or history, but I wonder if this is the first proper Union in the (American) comics field?

    Obviously in Hollywood the Unions and Guilds have a lot of sway over the Studios and Distributors, so it's no surprise to see similar attempts made in other entertainment industries such as the comics industry. On the creative talent side Image have always been strong proponents of creator rights and equity/ownership of IP. It'll be interesting to see if that people-centric approach extends to their production staff, too.

    An excerpt from the Union's statement:
    Quote Originally Posted by Comic Book Workers United
    This should not be radical or revolutionary, and is, in fact, a natural development for a company that started the way Image Comics did.

    In the early stages of organizing, we looked to Image's founders for inspiration. Their dreams of self-determination and more equitable treatment in the industry they loved and helped make successful are also our dreams. [...] we know that Image has, at its heart, a desire to be first when it comes to doing the right thing for comics workers.
    Image Comics have replied the following:
    Quote Originally Posted by Image Comics
    "Image has always believed in the fair and equitable treatment of staff and has always strived to support employees to the best of our company's ability with regard to their employment."
    Sounds promising, although they don't explicitly say they recognize the Union yet. Let's see if Image will walk the talk and continue their people-centric approach to comics, and if so, whether it'll have any consequences for Marvel/DC in particular.
    Last edited by TotalSnorefest; 11-03-2021 at 02:29 PM. Reason: Corrections. I had misunderstood the Union to consist of artists etc. instead of publishing staff.
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  2. #2
    Astonishing Member MRP's Avatar
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    Just to clarify, it's not content creators (writers, artists, letterers, colorists), it's the workers employed by publishers that do production work, marketing, event planning, talent relations, conventions etc.

    There were previous attempts to unionize comic creator freelancers (mostly spearheaded by Neal Adams and others in the early 1970s) but it's never gotten anywhere. Many comic creators who also worked in animation have been part of the animators guild and had guild/union cards and benefits, but there hasn't been a proper comic book creator union. In the 80s, there was another movement to establish a Creator's Bill of Rights (spearheaded by Scott McCloud and others), but it never gained traction due to resistance form the publishers at the time.

    But this movement would apply to workers on staff at publishers working in the process of producing comics, not freelancers or staff creating comics' content, but many of these workers work hand-in-hand with those creators and are essential in the process of taking that raw content and getting it in a form it can be delivered to market.

    -M
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    Astonishing Member thwhtGuardian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TotalSnorefest View Post
    Some interesting developments in the realm of creator rights: Comic Book Workers United have announced the formation of a Union of Image Comics creators. I'm not well-versed in labor laws or history, but I wonder if this is the first proper Union in the (American) comics field?

    Obviously in Hollywood the Unions and Guilds have a lot of sway over the Studios and Distributors, so it's no surprise to see similar attempts made in the comics industry where creator-owned properties are not yet the norm. As far as I know Image are the most outspoken proponents of creator rights of the big American publishers, so it would be interesting if both parties together could put more pressure on especially Marvel & DC to make proper equity deals.

    An excerpt from the Union's statement:


    Image Comics have replied the following:


    Sounds promising, although they don't explicitly say they recognize the Union yet. Let's see if Image will walk the talk and stand with creators.
    I have to think that Image will support the proper unionization of comic writers and artists...it's a direct out growth of why the company started.
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    Astonishing Member MRP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thwhtGuardian View Post
    I have to think that Image will support the proper unionization of comic writers and artists...it's a direct out growth of why the company started.
    But again, it's not writers and artists that are unionizing. And even if it were, the Image founders have had some issues with treating other creators at times within their own studios the way they wanted to be treated themselves .


    -M
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by MRP View Post
    Just to clarify, it's not content creators (writers, artists, letterers, colorists), it's the workers employed by publishers that do production work, marketing, event planning, talent relations, conventions etc.

    But this movement would apply to workers on staff at publishers working in the process of producing comics, not freelancers or staff creating comics' content, but many of these workers work hand-in-hand with those creators and are essential in the process of taking that raw content and getting it in a form it can be delivered to market.
    Ah, my apologies for getting that wrong. Will update the title & first post. Thanks for the clarification & historical insights!

    Your signature seems on point for this topic.
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    Astonishing Member MRP's Avatar
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    If you've never seen it before, here's a link to the Creator's Bill of Rights as drafter by Scott McCloud and others... http://scottmccloud.com/4-inventions/bill/rights.html


    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.

    -M
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  7. #7
    Astonishing Member thwhtGuardian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRP View Post
    But again, it's not writers and artists that are unionizing. And even if it were, the Image founders have had some issues with treating other creators at times within their own studios the way they wanted to be treated themselves .


    -M
    Ah, that wasn't clear from the initial release. Still sounds like a good move and perhaps it could help move towards other types of comic professionals getting more rights.
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    Astonishing Member MRP's Avatar
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    More movement on this issue reported by BC...so take with a grain of salt

    https://bleedingcool.com/comics/imag...orkers-united/

    Looks like Image isn't recognizing the new union formed, but there is an appeal to the National Labor Relations Board to get a pre-existing union involved somehow. Since it's BC and picked up from bits and pieces here and there on social media with a whole lot of supposition and assumption thrown in with a side of conjecture, it's not entirely clear what is actually happening but it doesn't look like Image is going to readily live up to the much flaunted principles of the founders and apply to those in the trenches without it being an ordeal. But I will wait and see until I can read some actual news and not conjecture before drawing any real conclusions. It may work out and the delays and actual real news may be because things are getting worked on behind the curtains. Only time will tell.

    -M
    Last edited by MRP; 11-06-2021 at 12:36 AM.
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  9. #9

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    I can see why Image isn't happy with the union, seeing as how the employees want the ability to cancel any book they want if they dislike a creator. I wouldn't acquiesce to that demand, either. Hopefully, things work out between Image and the union. If they go on strike, I'll definitely be pulling my dollars from the publisher.
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  10. #10
    Astonishing Member thwhtGuardian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRP View Post
    More movement on this issue reported by BC...so take with a grain of salt

    https://bleedingcool.com/comics/imag...orkers-united/

    Looks like Image isn't recognizing the new union formed, but there is an appeal to the National Labor Relations Board to get a pre-existing union involved somehow. Since it's BC and picked up from bits and pieces here and there on social media with a whole lot of supposition and assumption thrown in with a side of conjecture, it's not entirely clear what is actually happening but it doesn't look like Image is going to readily live up to the much flaunted principles of the founders and apply to those in the trenches without it being an ordeal. But I will wait and see until I can read some actual news and not conjecture before drawing any real conclusions. It may work out and the delays and actual real news may be because things are getting worked on behind the curtains. Only time will tell.

    -M
    While it would have been nice for Image to just recognize the union on their own, what they're asking for is their legal right so there's nothing shady or controversial about asking that the union vote again in an election conducted officially by the National Labor Relations Board.
    Quote Originally Posted by armlessphelan View Post
    I can see why Image isn't happy with the union, seeing as how the employees want the ability to cancel any book they want if they dislike a creator. I wouldn't acquiesce to that demand, either. Hopefully, things work out between Image and the union. If they go on strike, I'll definitely be pulling my dollars from the publisher.
    It's fairly standard to ask for things you know are higher than what you think you'll get in a negotiation like this, if you only ask for the bare minimum then through the appeasement process you'll often get less than what you deserve.
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