On Not Paying Creators

imageI’ve been a comics pro for thirty years now, and watched many companies come and go. A lot of the companies that went had one or both of these things in common: they either didn’t pay their bills, or they insisted that the road to respect was papered with a contract that required a creator give up most or all rights.

I’m writing about this today because of this story: “Billionaire” Trump Can’t Pay His Transition Team’s Salaries.”

Good ol’ Orange Dictator has a habit of not paying for things. He’s ripped off countless small businesses, refused to pay the caterer for one of his weddings, and so on. And he’s about to be president of the United States. (#notmypresident)

If one of the most visible people on the planet is crappy about paying his bills and treating small business owners like vending machines he can shake for a free soda, why would a comics company no one outside of comics has heard of worry about paying a creator or giving them a fair deal? OD’s transition team was well aware of his habit of not paying, they just thought he didn’t dare to not pay them.

Don’t kid yourself that you have the magic or the pull to get paid or get a good deal from a unscrupulous publisher. Don’t assume that yours will be the property a crum-bum executive won’t exploit.

While bad apples in comics aren’t easily identified by having orange skin and flapping yellow hairpiece, your gut should be a reasonable guide. If it sounds to good to be true, it is. If a company keeps going out of business and coming back, there’s trouble. If you find yourself casting about for a “second-best” idea to pitch to a company, you don’t trust them. Run away. Orange skin and bad feelings are how nature says Do Not Touch.

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