Saturday, March 29, 2008
Truth and Actual Justice -- Amazing news on the Superman legal front. Here's good commentary from:
* Christopher Butcher
* Uncivil Society
Expect tons more from everyone on Monday.
My take is basically that, contracts and legal niceties aside, whenever a company or corporation benefits from its employees' or contractors' work in a way that neither party could have anticipated, and which results in unimagined and unimaginable magnitudes of revenue for the company or corporation, it's not just the ethical thing to do to recognize the actual creators of the unexpected windfall; it's good business. A large reason why DC and Marvel have been so creatively bankrupt for decades (save the occasional, almost accidental Moores and Morrisons) is because generations of creators have now seen that there's no real reason to give your creative best when working-for-hire in the virtual superhero sweatshops.
This is how we have ended up with truly, indisputably shit superhero writers like Loeb, Johns, Bendis, Straczynski and the rest of the Fan Fiction Age of Superhero Comics seen as visionaries, when they are just enthusiastic typists exercising wrongheaded stewardship of international storytelling treasures on a massive, tragic scale.
In the 1930s, '40s, '50s and '60s, the ideas good and bad flew fast and furious, a decades-long surge of new characters, settings and tropes that endured for years and years and years. In the 1970s and '80s, when creators saw how criminally awful people like Siegel and Shuster and Simon and Kirby were ultimately (mis-)treated by the companies they allowed to exist and thrive in the first place, the floodwaters of creativity receded to a trickle of new ideas. How many enduring characters have been created, work-for-hire, at Marvel and DC since 1975? Elektra comes to mind -- along with Marvel's ultimately going back on any promises they made to her creator, Frank Miller. How many successful superhero movies are being made about characters created work-for-hire in the past thirty years? Face it, the good superhero ideas were virtually all created by writers and artists who got the shaft from the corporations they made the mistake of trusting with their best interests, their livelihoods, their very ability to feed their families.
So, I don't know exactly what the consequences of this decision are, but it can only be seen as a landmark day for creators rights, and a shot across the bow to two arrogant, shortsighted corporations that, if they had better treated the people that created the entire foundations of their existence, would be far better off these days and facing far less ill-will, among intelligent readers, among the creative community, and inside the legal system, which has finally meted out a little truth and justice in a seemingly never-ending battle.
Labels: corporate comics
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