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  1. #1
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    Default Do not buy the Ditko, Kirby, Toth collections from Fantagraphics!

    Even though the work these collections contain are public domain, the creators or their families are not getting money! You'd think that after all the ballyhoo and trumpeting Fantagraphics has done over the years (particularly in Kirby's case) in favor of creator rights and compensation that they would do them a solid effort by letting them in on the action. Granted Simon, Kirby, and Toth are dead, so mmmmmaaaaayyyyybeeeee that's OK (it isn't), but Ditko is still very much alive and deserves to be paid for his work. Drawn & Quarterly's John Stanley Library is publishing comics the Stanley family doesn't own, but they are giving them money. I'm really quite shaken by this, quite literally heartbroken. Fantagraphics used to be my favorite comics company.

  2. #2
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    They're republishing works that are in the public domain.
    And would Ditko even accept the checks since he reportedly was refusing all money made from the Spider-Man movies?
    I think there is way too much outrage in the fan community these days.
    This shouldn't even be an issue.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonEMC View Post
    They're republishing works that are in the public domain.
    And would Ditko even accept the checks since he reportedly was refusing all money made from the Spider-Man movies?
    I think there is way too much outrage in the fan community these days.
    This shouldn't even be an issue.
    I disagree.

    Fantagraph doesn't legally owe them anything, but it's a generally accepted premise in the comic book community that these creators were essentially cheated out of significant compensation during their careers. While Fantagraph doesn't owe these creators and their families any proceeds, it would have been a nice gesture to have donated 1 or 2 percent of profits to them or something.

    It seems wrong that these masters' works lapse into public domain while Disney and DC have the financial power and influence to keep Superman and Mickey Mouse under copyright forever. A small press that supports creators' rights would do well to acknowledge this. It wouldn't cost them much to do so.

  4. #4
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    I don't agree with this. I download several comics that are in the public domain because they are free. Nothing wrong with it.

  5. #5
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasputin9977 View Post
    I don't agree with this. I download several comics that are in the public domain because they are free. Nothing wrong with it.
    That's a little different. You're not attempting to profit off of the work; you just want to enjoy it.

  6. #6

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    I have no objection to child slave labor if it lowers the price of my sneakers.

    Same here.

  7. #7
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    This whole thing is just so damned hypocritical of them. Through The Comics Journal, they've been instrumental in shaping my view of creator's rights. Their battles and criticisms with the big guys were inspiring. Even Gary Groth had a post a few months back on Tcj.com that took Shooter to the gallows once again over his unsubstantial claims on his blog involving Kirby. Like shaxper has said, these creators have been screwed by the industry. A little gesture wouldn't hurt them at all. They deeply love and respect these creators, then why don't they give them some compensation for their work? There's a difference when you cannot find the people, or that an estate wasn't even set up, but when there is, why not? Why not?!?! A compete turnaround. It just hurts to think that the company that put out such landmark work like Love & Rockets, Hate, Zippy the Pinhead, Eightball, Frank, etc. would do this. Absolutely terrible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeweasel View Post
    I have no objection to child slave labor if it lowers the price of my sneakers.

    Same here.
    The overall rationale of your post is one of the very worst things I have ever read.

  8. #8
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    If Fantagraphics wanted to give them or their estates something as a gesture, that'd be nice. But to insist that there's some obligation or, worse, some residual rights devalues the idea of the public domain.
    Expletive Deleted

  9. #9
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr.pants View Post
    Like shaxper has said, these creators have been screwed by the industry.
    To be clear, I didn't say that. I said it's a "generally accepted premise in the comic book community." I do realize how murky the right and wrong in these legal battles often get.

    Quote Originally Posted by Expletive Deleted View Post
    If Fantagraphics wanted to give them or their estates something as a gesture, that'd be nice. But to insist that there's some obligation or, worse, some residual rights devalues the idea of the public domain.
    Except that the public domain has become a joke of a concept. If you're a wealthy enough company, your signature characters never fall into the public domain because your hands are in the pockets of all the key congressmen.

    Kirby's pre-Silver Age works have fallen into the public domain because there's nothing his estate could ever do to stop that from happening, but do you honestly think Marvel will ever allow the Fantastic Four to fall into public domain?

    Public domain only applies if you aren't a wealthy company, and that's not fair.


    And it's not up to Fantagraph to right social injustices, but if they're going to profit off of this unbalanced law, then the right thing to do would be to offset the injustice a bit by paying a reasonable fee to the estates of the creators. And honestly, they should expect their fans to expect this from them. The base is clearly passionate and outspoken about creators' rights.

  10. #10
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    Completely agree with Shaxper and Mr. Pants here.

    Gary Groth and Fantagraphics should know better. I too have supported Fantagraphics over the years, and yes, think that despite not legally having to, should do the right thing and share at least some portion of the profits either with the creators, their estates, or perhaps make a donation to the CBLDF.

    If I were doing that as Fantagraphics, I'd also make it clear in my marketing of the books that I was doing that. Shaxper, Mr. Pants and I, along with others, would support that.
    I am what I am and that's all what I am

  11. #11
    Senior Member CromagnonMan's Avatar
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    whats the fuss - the creators and / or their families should have published the book first!

  12. #12
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    Public domain only applies to copyright, not trademark, so while Fantastic Four #1 will eventually fall into the public domain the Fantastic Four as characters that can be marketed, sold and have new material created for them will remain trademarked characters of Marvel for as long as they maintain and protect that trademark. What this will mean is that someone else will someday be able to come along and print/publish a reprint of FF#1, but even when that is in public domain, no one but the trademark holder (i.e. Marvel in this case) will be able produce new FF comics, movies, toys, etc. even after FF#! is in public domain.

    As for Fantagraphics and the public domain material, sure a gesture would be nice, but it is far easier to talk the talk than walk the walk. However, we don't know if Groth and the other folks at Fantagraphics made an attempt behind the curtains to contact the estates or representatives of the creators and likely never will. Perhaps a gesture was made, perhaps not. If you feel morally obligated to not buy the books, the don't. If you feel the need to publicize the issue, cool on you as well. But some of your assertions are made on assumptions that have not been verified. It does seem very hypocritical, but sometimes appearances can be deceiving. I am not in a position to know the truth of the matter, so I am not going to judge here. However, if the material Fantagraphics is reproducing is in the public domain, they are doing exactly what the public domain was created for-keeping non-copyrighted works available to the general public at the cost and potential profit of whomever chooses to do so.

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  13. #13
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    I am almost 100 percent positive that there isn't a whole lot to be made from such projects. Most of the time these are just projects that are cheap that will bring in a little profit.
    And who's to say that the families of Toth, Simon and Kirby and Ditko, himself, haven't approved of these books? Unless Mr. Pants, who seems to have an emotional stake in this matter, knows for certain that they are NOT paying the families anything, nor has Fantagraphics asked for their blessing in republishing material that has LONG been out of print.
    If publishing old Simon and Kirby NON-super hero work is so profitable, then why hasn't Simon's own publisher, Vanguard, already published these works? And, have you spoken to the late Mr. Simon's agent, J. David Spurlock, to find out if this reprint edition is being one without the consent of the Simon family and WITHOUT the family being paid any royalties?
    Can you show us where this has been explicitly stated that none of these creators, nor their families, have gotten royalties?
    This seems to me like an emotional, knee jerk reaction to publishing reprints that are in the public domain and ASSUMING that there have been no attempts to make payments or won't be any attempts.
    And Ditko still puts out those Ditko Packages, so why wouldn't he try to reprint ome of his old works that have fallen into public domain?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    I disagree.

    Fantagraph doesn't legally owe them anything, but it's a generally accepted premise in the comic book community that these creators were essentially cheated out of significant compensation during their careers. While Fantagraph doesn't owe these creators and their families any proceeds, it would have been a nice gesture to have donated 1 or 2 percent of profits to them or something.

    It seems wrong that these masters' works lapse into public domain while Disney and DC have the financial power and influence to keep Superman and Mickey Mouse under copyright forever. A small press that supports creators' rights would do well to acknowledge this. It wouldn't cost them much to do so.
    I'm not quite certain where everyone gets that these creators were "cheated out of significant compensation". As I stated on the Gary Friedrich thread, these creators were not paid McDonalds wages and they have all been compensated greatly. If they weren't, then they could have gone into advertising or animation and made fortunes. You characterize these comic companies as sweatshops where someone is standing over the artists with a whip and paying them in scrip.
    Most of these guys (and maybe NOT these guys mentioned in this thread) lived in mansions and live the high life when they were working, but, because they did not save anything, they become destitute near the end of their lives and have to survive on doing commissions, which, having bought a hundred or more of those from some of the most expensive artists, I can honestly say that commission works pays WELL. Some of these older guys get thousands of dollars to do a commission and they can churn them out in a couple of days. One artist, who charges a moderate fee, usually has my commissions already penciled before I hang up the phone.
    I talked with Joe Simon a few times before he died and Joe seemed to be happy with the way his life turned out. Sure, he wanted to get back the rights to Captain America, but I didn't hear him complain that he was broke and living from commission to commission.
    I think that many fans want to vilify comic companies as sweatshops instead of recognizing that they do pay VERY well. They hire freelancers to do work and they pay hefty checks to these guys. If said freelancers DO NOT like the work conditions, they have the talent to work in other fields. But, things have been good enough that they do not choose to find work elsewhere.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Public domain only applies if you aren't a wealthy company, and that's not fair.
    While I don't disagree that the system is broken, I don't feel comfortable excoriating Disney for breaking it while at the same time insisting that creators I like who've been mistreated should get a piece of the action.
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