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    Default Ask Kurt Busiek

    With his very informative post in the Kirby/Marvel thread, I thought that we should bring back his popular thread from the old forum.

    My question: Mr Busiek, with creator rights in the forefront more than ever, are movie rights to characters more prominent than before or have they always been negotiated in contracts and is it a separate part of the negotiating?

    Thanks, I'll hang up and listen on air.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marvell2100 View Post
    With his very informative post in the Kirby/Marvel thread, I thought that we should bring back his popular thread from the old forum.

    My question: Mr Busiek, with creator rights in the forefront more than ever, are movie rights to characters more prominent than before or have they always been negotiated in contracts and is it a separate part of the negotiating?

    Thanks, I'll hang up and listen on air.
    Payments for characters' use in movies are generally a standard part of contracts for company-owned stuff these days, at least at the larger companies.

    At other companies and under other deals, it can vary wildly, since contracts can say lots of things. You can own all rights but license them all to the publisher for a set period of years, or grant them the right to buy movie rights on pre-set terms, or reserve them entirely to yourself...it varies a lot.

    kdb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt Busiek View Post
    Payments for characters' use in movies are generally a standard part of contracts for company-owned stuff these days, at least at the larger companies.

    At other companies and under other deals, it can vary wildly, since contracts can say lots of things. You can own all rights but license them all to the publisher for a set period of years, or grant them the right to buy movie rights on pre-set terms, or reserve them entirely to yourself...it varies a lot.

    kdb
    Thanks for answering my question.

    So in the case of Fox owing the rights to the X-Men and Sony to Spider-Man, Marvel sold the movie rights to those companies on a short term basis with the rights reverting back to Marvel after an agreed upon date. Maybe this is why Marvel isn't pushing to get those rights back any time soon because they know the rights will revert back to them. In the meantime they get to concentrate on developing other characters within their own studio.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marvell2100 View Post
    Thanks for answering my question.

    So in the case of Fox owing the rights to the X-Men and Sony to Spider-Man, Marvel sold the movie rights to those companies on a short term basis with the rights reverting back to Marvel after an agreed upon date. Maybe this is why Marvel isn't pushing to get those rights back any time soon because they know the rights will revert back to them. In the meantime they get to concentrate on developing other characters within their own studio.
    I think you just changed the focus from creators negotiating deals with publishers to publishers negotiating deals with movie studios, which is a whole 'mother apple barrel.

    I have no insider info, but I think Sony and Fox own the rights to the FF, the X-Men and Spidey as long as they keep making movies. If they don't make a new movie in X number of years, the rights revert, which is why they keep making movies. And they didn't make a new Daredevil movie, which is why the rights to that reverted.

    So I don't think Marvel's pushing to get those rights back not because the rights will return anyway, but because pushing doesn't do any good. The rights will stay with those studios as long as they keep making movies. And they'll do that as long as there's good money in it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt Busiek View Post
    I think you just changed the focus from creators negotiating deals with publishers to publishers negotiating deals with movie studios, which is a whole 'mother apple barrel.

    I have no insider info, but I think Sony and Fox own the rights to the FF, the X-Men and Spidey as long as they keep making movies. If they don't make a new movie in X number of years, the rights revert, which is why they keep making movies. And they didn't make a new Daredevil movie, which is why the rights to that reverted.

    So I don't think Marvel's pushing to get those rights back not because the rights will return anyway, but because pushing doesn't do any good. The rights will stay with those studios as long as they keep making movies. And they'll do that as long as there's good money in it.

    kdb
    Okay, I thought those rights would eventually revert.

    As far as individual creators negotiating with publishers/movie studios, do most reserve the rights entirely to themselves as standard practice or is there a scenario where they would have a different kind of agreement?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marvell2100 View Post
    As far as individual creators negotiating with publishers/movie studios, do most reserve the rights entirely to themselves as standard practice or is there a scenario where they would have a different kind of agreement?
    Negotiating with publishers and negotiating with movie studios are two entirely different kinds of negotiations.

    And I can't tell you what most creators do -- for one thing, it's a whole different game if I'm introducing a new character into the Marvel Universe (which would be a work for hire deal) or starting up a new creator-owned series like ASTRO CITY.

    As I noted in the earlier answer:

    "Payments for characters' use in movies are generally a standard part of contracts for company-owned stuff these days, at least at the larger companies.

    "At other companies and under other deals, it can vary wildly, since contracts can say lots of things. You can own all rights but license them all to the publisher for a set period of years, or grant them the right to buy movie rights on pre-set terms, or reserve them entirely to yourself...it varies a lot."

    That's not a complete list of the possibilities, either. The terms can be whatever you and the publisher agree on.

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    I have a question about technique, but I don't quite know how to phrase it... forgive me if this is awkward:

    It seems like until 2001, the prevailing narration style at Marvel was in the style I associate with Bronze Age Marvel - very caption-heavy, with the captions usually narrated in the third person, and with the narration used not only to fill in background but add atmosphere to what we're seeing. (I think of it as Bronze Age because Stan Lee's captioning style was a bit different sometimes.) Having written Thunderbolts and Avengers in that omnisciently-narrated style, I was wondering if you had any thoughts on what it adds to a story and how you judged whether a scene needed captions or not. Also, and I don't know if you can talk about this, whether you ran into trouble continuing to write Avengers that way given the big stylistic shifts that took place at Marvel in 2001-2.
    Last edited by gurkle; 09-28-2014 at 12:26 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gurkle View Post
    I have a question about technique, but I don't quite know how to phrase it... forgive me if this is awkward:

    It seems like until 2001, the prevailing narration style at Marvel was in the style I associate with Bronze Age Marvel - very caption-heavy, with the captions usually narrated in the third person, and with the narration used not only to fill in background but add atmosphere to what we're seeing. (I think of it as Bronze Age because Stan Lee's captioning style was a bit different sometimes.) Having written Thunderbolts and Avengers in that omnisciently-narrated style, I was wondering if you had any thoughts on what it adds to a story and how you judged whether a scene needed captions or not.
    It's one particular style of narration. And yeah, it can add atmosphere, as well as clarify transitions, build a certain narrative rhythm and so on. As to whether a scene needs captions or not, I don't like the word "need." There's seldom only one way to do something in fiction/entertainment, so the way you do it is a choice, not a necessity.

    I would use captions based on practice and experience, mainly -- if I thought that it helped the story, whether by adding a bit of atmosphere, or clarity, or if it slowed the reader down at a point I wanted them to slow down, or pulled them through a sequence I wanted to feel like it happened quickly...it's a matter of practice and comfort, really.

    Also, and I don't know if you can talk about this, whether you ran into trouble continuing to write Avengers that way given the big stylistic shifts that took place at Marvel in 2001-2.
    Nobody ever said anything specifically about captions, but I was aware that the Powers That Be thought of the book as "old-fashioned," which is one of the reasons I left when I did.

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    Wow that's a shame. Your run on Avengers has always been one of my favoirtes and I'm not even that old.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trident View Post
    Wow that's a shame. Your run on Avengers has always been one of my favoirtes and I'm not even that old.
    I'm glad you liked it, but considering it took 6 oversized volumes to collect my run (including AVENGERS FOREVER), I don't feel like it was cut short.

    And hopefully, I've gone on to do other stuff you've enjoyed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gurkle View Post
    I have a question about technique, but I don't quite know how to phrase it... forgive me if this is awkward:

    It seems like until 2001, the prevailing narration style at Marvel was in the style I associate with Bronze Age Marvel - very caption-heavy, with the captions usually narrated in the third person, and with the narration used not only to fill in background but add atmosphere to what we're seeing. (I think of it as Bronze Age because Stan Lee's captioning style was a bit different sometimes.) Having written Thunderbolts and Avengers in that omnisciently-narrated style, I was wondering if you had any thoughts on what it adds to a story and how you judged whether a scene needed captions or not. Also, and I don't know if you can talk about this, whether you ran into trouble continuing to write Avengers that way given the big stylistic shifts that took place at Marvel in 2001-2.
    I was thinking a similar thing with the current narrative style of Marvel Comics. I kind of missing getting inside the heads of the characters like they used to do. I think Ed Brubaker used a lot of that on his Cap run and Fraction did some with his Iron Man. Maybe that and the stories themselves is why I liked their runs so much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt Busiek View Post
    Nobody ever said anything specifically about captions, but I was aware that the Powers That Be thought of the book as "old-fashioned," which is one of the reasons I left when I did.

    kdb
    I'll take that kind of old fashioned story-telling any day. It wasn't just the captions but the whole Avengers narrative. I think you did a great service to many Avengers characters, villains included.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marvell2100 View Post
    I was thinking a similar thing with the current narrative style of Marvel Comics. I kind of missing getting inside the heads of the characters like they used to do. I think Ed Brubaker used a lot of that on his Cap run and Fraction did some with his Iron Man. Maybe that and the stories themselves is why I liked their runs so much.
    Rick Remender tried to make that kind of third-person narration a regular feature of Uncanny Avengers, but dropped it halfway through the run. It probably won't be the last attempt to bring it back.

    There was a period at Marvel when writers more or less had to write that way, at least for some editors. Joe Casey said that when he scripted some late '90s X-Men over Alan Davis's plots, he suggested trying a different approach by using no thought balloons or captions, and the X-Men editors said you simply couldn't do a mainstream X-book without them. Within a couple of years that would change.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gurkle View Post
    There was a period at Marvel when writers more or less had to write that way, at least for some editors. Joe Casey said that when he scripted some late '90s X-Men over Alan Davis's plots, he suggested trying a different approach by using no thought balloons or captions, and the X-Men editors said you simply couldn't do a mainstream X-book without them. Within a couple of years that would change.
    That was specifically the X-books, where for a long time Marvel insisted that they read like reheated Claremont, regardless of who was actually writing them.

    A few years later, from what I understand, editors were even cutting most of Claremont's captions, when he'd write an X-book.

    There's a reason I rarely pursued writing an X-book (and when I did it was something odd and offbeat), even though when I was a teenager I desperately wanted to write X-MEN someday. They were simply the most strongly-editorially-controlled books at Marvel, post-Claremont, and I wanted to write books where I could write the way I thought served the story best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt Busiek View Post
    That was specifically the X-books, where for a long time Marvel insisted that they read like reheated Claremont, regardless of who was actually writing them.

    A few years later, from what I understand, editors were even cutting most of Claremont's captions, when he'd write an X-book.

    There's a reason I rarely pursued writing an X-book (and when I did it was something odd and offbeat), even though when I was a teenager I desperately wanted to write X-MEN someday. They were simply the most strongly-editorially-controlled books at Marvel, post-Claremont, and I wanted to write books where I could write the way I thought served the story best.

    kdb
    Mr. Busiek, I really enjoyed your episode of "Rachel and Miles Explain The X-Men" and it leads to my question(s). Have you read the X-Men: Season One GN? & if you have, does it capture the feel and tone that you connect with from the Silver Age O5 stories?

    Also are there any plans for a 20th anniversary edition of Marvels?

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