Manga writers: don’t sign that TokyoPop contract!
Attention webcomic creators!
TokyoPop is trying to sign up new talent for its Manga Pilot program. The young manga-style webcomic artists among you might think this is a great deal. Finally, a break in to the big time! Not so fast, says Heidi MacDonald of the PW Beat.
Don’t want to read through all that? Here’s the relevant portion:
What is it? Basically, Tokyopop has started the next iteration of their “Rising Stars of Manga contest/OEL” method of developing IP and talent, with their “Manga PIlot” program:
In this new program, promising manga creators are selected and hired by our editorial team to create a 24-to-36-page “pilot”—a short-form manga that will be used to determine whether or not a full-length manga will be created. The Manga Pilot will be published online for TOKYOPOP community members to review, rate, and discuss.
The contract for this program is posted at the link above, and it drew sharp, immediate and universal condemnation, starting with Lea Hernandez, for such passages as this:
““MORAL RIGHTS” AND YOUR CREDIT
“Moral rights” is a fancy term (the French thought it up) that basically has to do with having your name attached to your creation (your credit!) and the right to approve or disapprove certain changes to your creation. Of course, we want you to get credit for your creation, and we want to work with you in case there are changes, but we want to do so under the terms in this pact instead of under fancy French idea. So, in order for us to adapt the Manga Pilot for different media, and to determine how we should include your credit in tough situations, you agree to give up any “moral rights” you might have.”
To which Lea wrote:
There you have it, folks: Moral Rights are dumb because the French thought of them, so give them up.
So here’s the long and short of the deal: you’re basically giving up your creation for $750 for 36 pages, or $20 a page. Might as well work a gig at MacDonald’s for all the blood and sweat you pour into your comics. And the exposure might sound all nice and swell at first, but creators have been screwed out of royalties owed by their milestone creations in the past, including Shuster and Siegel. If you want any more proof, ask any comic book geek about Bill Finger. And those guys were pioneers. The competition’s much too vicious nowadays to be giving up your creations for a mere $20.
Heidi MacDonald is the more experienced voice on the matter, so I’ll go ahead and quote this:
We’ve often railed against work for hire on this site, especially when its applied to a cartoonists own original creations, as it is in this contract. We say that as someone who has worked on worked-for-hire projects and hired people for work-for-hire. WFH has its place and its purpose. And we try to give people the benefit of the doubt most of the time.
But the way this Tokyopop contract is written is so transparent in its attempt to cozy up to the young and inexperienced, so brazen in its contempt for established standards, so smarmily confiding and chummy, “dude” even as it disgustingly strips you of the right to your creations…it is truly a vile, and alarming document. If Tokyopop were just offering young creators the chance to sell their original creations for $20 a page, it would be bad but there would be those who would want to do it just for the chance to get published.
However, the way the document is written is so much worse than that. The most shocking part is that the people who put it together come off as so clueless as to normal, above board business practices, that it should put ANYONE off from working with Toykopop. Someone there needs to apologize and distance themselves from it…FAST.
Listen to Heidi. She used to be editor for Vertigo Comics and Disney Adventures magazine. She knows her stuff.