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Scoot Pilgrim Vs. Tokyopop


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Aaron White
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 10:09 am Reply with quote
Kagemusha wrote:
Who is this "Scoot" Pilgrim you speak off?


D'oh!
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Aaron White
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 10:13 am Reply with quote
BellostheMighty, I don't blame you for doubting the validity of the contract. It is hard to swallow. But it's been the talk of various comics bidness minded sights over the last day or so (Comicsreporter.com , etc.) and I trust them to check facts before commenting.
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Aaron White
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 10:20 am Reply with quote
BellosTheMighty wrote:
If I'm reading this correctly, it isn't intended as a long-term publishing contract for an ongoing series. This is set up to give untested talents experience, exposure, and possibly some credibility. Like making a low-budget indie film to try and get a break in Hollywood. This is a "put your money where your mouth is" kind of idea.


It's still an awful deal.
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Dargonxtc



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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 10:40 am Reply with quote
BellosTheMighty wrote:
Yes, I just questioned whether or not it came from TokyoPop itself. I mean, if I knew how to make a pdf files, I could probably whip up a forged legal form in about a day. Probably much less.


Very true. But what I was getting at was that the URL was leading directly from Tokyopop dot com. Which you can find out by either hovering over the link or actually clicking through it and looking in the address bar. That means that the website would have to be hacked, and the false material would have to be kept long enough for people to notice, and entrenched enough not to be easily taken down.

Aaron White:
Kagemusha is talking about the misspelling in the thread title. <--Just saying because you acknowledged the mistake but didn't change the title.


Last edited by Dargonxtc on Wed May 28, 2008 11:03 am; edited 2 times in total
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Aaron White
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 10:42 am Reply with quote
Tom Spurgeon of Comicsreporter attacks the Tokyopop contract.
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Aaron White
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 10:57 am Reply with quote
Dargonxtc wrote:

Aaron White:
Kagemusha is talking about the misspelling in the thread title.


Yeah... my multiple goof-ups really can't be mentioned enuff!
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Highway Star



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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 12:57 pm Reply with quote
Shit, that takes the cake. I wonder if I should still bother with RSOM...
I've posted this on the TP forums, I wonder what they'll think...
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BellosTheMighty



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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 2:52 pm Reply with quote
Aaron White wrote:
BellosTheMighty wrote:
If I'm reading this correctly, it isn't intended as a long-term publishing contract for an ongoing series. This is set up to give untested talents experience, exposure, and possibly some credibility. Like making a low-budget indie film to try and get a break in Hollywood. This is a "put your money where your mouth is" kind of idea.


It's still an awful deal.


Relative to what?

Seriously, if you want to be a big graphic novel artist, what other options do you have? This is the business of art- music industry, video games industry, television, movies, novels- pretty much everyone starts off as some random Joe schmoe with some talent and big dreams. To chase those dreams you have to spend some time being a producer's bitch and whoring your talents. They call it "paying your dues".

Yes, the contracts are often weighted in the producer's favor, and both fans and talents gripe about it eternally. They may have a point. But you know what? The harsh truth is that most potential talents aren't very good. And the mediocre ones are always the ones with the most inflated opinions of themselves, too. Go to the Otakon Art Auction sometime and check the starting bids- real professional-quality art is priced at 20 or 30 dollars, whereas the artists putting glorified chicken-scratch on the block are asking three digits.

Supporting an artist is a big deal. You have to edit and work with the artist- particularly difficult if the artist thinks he's above being edited- then once you've got a complete work, you still have to get it printed, distributed, marketed, and so forth, not to mention potentially dealing with the local political climate, retailers, and other nuisances that inhibit your getting the to the customer. If you go through all that, and then the work bombs, you lose money. Which, just incidentally, also means you'll be able to support fewer authors in the future. While it would be great if all the talents could get a square deal, no business should be forced to accept a contract that will put them out of business- especially for someone else's failure.

People have said you can go it alone. Yes, that's true. The internet makes that rather easier then it used to be. But the internet is also a harsh mistress. You're on your own to do all the marketing and distribution, not to mention dealing with the technical problems. How many webcomics have had to deal with server problems as they grow? Begging for PayPal handouts to pay for your bandwidth is, ironically, one of the first signs of webcomic success. And even if you can handle that, there's no guarantee you'll be able to make it as a career. For every Megatokyo and Penny Arcade, there are five other webcomics that are as good but just never caught on, and probably another two or three that were the biggest thing on the internet for a week or so, then faded.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is no, TokyoPop is not the only option, but it's one way to do it, and given the amount of tedious crap you have to go through just to get a completed work to your readers, I can see a lot of people going for it. The major issue here is, is TokyoPop decieving creators- in other words, do the creators know going in what they're getting? And I actually think this "Pact" makes it very clear what they're getting- not a career, not a quick elevator ride to the top, not a big fat paycheck, but a chance to prove that they have the skills to make it, without signing away the rest of their future.

That sounds like a reasonable deal to me.
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Aaron White
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 3:47 pm Reply with quote
BellosTheMighty wrote:

That sounds like a reasonable deal to me.


Your sceptical facade just crumbled. If you click on my Comicsreporter link you'll find a complete breakdown of why this is a bogus deal that no one should ever sign.
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The Xenos



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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 4:26 pm Reply with quote
Publisher's Weekly's The Beat has a very nice article on it getting comments from a number of creators.

http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com/​blog/​2008/​05/​28/​tokyopop-​hey-​dude-​totally-​bad-​contract/​

Glad to see TokyoPop called out for being the scam artists they are.
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BellosTheMighty



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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 5:19 pm Reply with quote
Aaron White wrote:

Your sceptical facade just crumbled. If you click on my Comicsreporter link you'll find a complete breakdown of why this is a bogus deal that no one should ever sign.


I checked that. I'm not terribly convinced. For one, he mentions that one of the things that a publisher can offer the creator is "access to a valuable property such as James Bond or Spider-Man". Which doesn't make sense from a graphic novel standpoint- who gets into this stuff to write glorified fanfic?- but it makes perfect sense from the standpoint of superhero comics. I'm not saying that this invalidates his arguments, but it is not inconceivable that the two markets would be different, and require different business practices from both the creator and publisher end.

But assuming they're more similar then different, his argument is still not compelling. The essential thrust appears to be that an author with zero experience can do better. That may be true, but like we say around here, "Source or it didn't happen." He gives us nothing but his assurances that there are better contracts out there. He doesn't even tell us what HIS first contract was like, which would seem to be the obvious example. Maybe he's under some kind of NDA, I understand that, but he couldn't come up with ANY kind of example of what a potential creator should consider acceptable? Telling someone "don't do that", without offering any alternatives, doesn't fly.

NO. I know what you IDIOTS are going to say, the response is NO. You're going to compare this to being told, for example, not to touch a live wire because you'll get burned to death. SHUT UP. The difference is, you don't HAVE to touch a wire, live or not. But given the goal to become a creative talent in the graphic novel world, you have to sign with SOMEONE, unless you want to embark on the herculean task of harnessing the internet and becoming the next big thing while doing everything yourself. We've talked about that above. If Mr. Spurgeon thinks the offerings are unfair, he should point out some alternatives that are fair, or even just MORE fair. He doesn't, he just tells us to take him at his word, and you shouldn't take anyone at their word for something as important as your career. If Spurgeon knows what should and should not be considered acceptable, let's hear it.

One other thing: he says, with very strong emphasis, that "no one controls what creation will hit with audiences or even work best to facilitate a creator's career." And that was exactly MY point as well. TokyoPop doesn't know what's going to hit big, and given that the manga-consuming audience is prejudiced against non-Japanese creators, a miss is orders of magnitude more likely then a hit. They have to make sure that they can stay in business, and that means playing this game conservatively. Letting an artist eat up resources and bomb on the racks is not going to keep the business alive.

And once more, keep in mind that this IS NOT A LONG-TERM CONTRACT we are talking about. If I've misread it, correct me, but from what I can see this is at best an offer to publish a two or three dozen page story IF you can put in the work to get it done. I don't see any obligation to keep working on it if you don't like the way business is done, and I don't see any restriction on just walking away if you don't like the way things are going- unless I've missed something, the creator could just walk away in the middle of the project with no consequences. Yes, this leaves your characters under TokyoPop's control, but so what? An old D&D technique- if your character dies before you're tired of playing him, create a character who's exactly the same guy with a different name. Hell, one of Marvel's most popular characters in the 90's was Deadpool, and he was unapologetically and unabashedly DC character Deathstroke the Terminator with the serial numbers half-heartedly filed off. I don't see anything in here that equates to anything like the slave contract people are portraying it as.
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jgreen



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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 5:47 pm Reply with quote
BellosTheMighty wrote:
I checked that. I'm not terribly convinced. For one, he mentions that one of the things that a publisher can offer the creator is "access to a valuable property such as James Bond or Spider-Man". Which doesn't make sense from a graphic novel standpoint- who gets into this stuff to write glorified fanfic?- but it makes perfect sense from the standpoint of superhero comics. I'm not saying that this invalidates his arguments, but it is not inconceivable that the two markets would be different, and require different business practices from both the creator and publisher end.


His argument is that if you get access to that valuable property, you get access to that property's built-in audience. You also don't have to "create" anything...you come up with a story revolving around pre-established characters based off of, in some cases, decades of mythology. In Tokyopop's case, you're being asked to create something brand new out of whole cloth, give up every single possible right to it, and get paid absolutely HORRIBLY for the privelege. $20 a page is practically slave wages...it's certainly less than one would earn washing dishes or waiting tables.

The worst part of the contract, to me, is if you sign it, you give up your right to sue them if they screw you. You only get mediation/arbitration, using a company of their choosing, and you are legally bound by the decision of this company. Oh, and you have to fly out to California for the hearing or you automatically lose. How's that for fair?

BellosTheMighty wrote:
But assuming they're more similar then different, his argument is still not compelling. The essential thrust appears to be that an author with zero experience can do better. That may be true, but like we say around here, "Source or it didn't happen." He gives us nothing but his assurances that there are better contracts out there. He doesn't even tell us what HIS first contract was like, which would seem to be the obvious example. Maybe he's under some kind of NDA, I understand that, but he couldn't come up with ANY kind of example of what a potential creator should consider acceptable? Telling someone "don't do that", without offering any alternatives, doesn't fly.


Image Comics (the 3rd biggest American comics publisher) offers a deal where takes care of all upfront costs for the creators they agree to publish. Once the book has been published, the first chunk of money goes to paying those upfront costs (printing, solicitation, etc.), then Image takes a small fee, then EVERY SINGLE PENNY above that goes to the creators. Image holds absolutely zero stake in the copyrights or trademarks of the books they publish.

http://www.imagecomics.com/​submissions.​php

Dark Horse and Oni Press, by my understanding, have similar deals for creator-owned books.

BellosTheMighty wrote:
I don't see anything in here that equates to anything like the slave contract people are portraying it as.


Well, this for starters:

The Contract wrote:
“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.
Of course, you still have your rights under this pact to your credit.
WHAT WE CAN DO WITH YOUR CREDIT
And, speaking of your credit, customarily we give you credit for your work as the writer and/or artist of the Manga Pilot. However, we may have to shorten or leave out your credit when the space available or the conventions of a format won’t permit it or if it would have to be too small to read (for example,when the Manga Pilot is viewed on mobile phones). You’re OK with this.


They'll take your name off your work if they decide randomly they can't fit it. That's nice of them. Also this, which I mentioned earlier:

The Contract wrote:
USING MEDIATION AND ARBITRATION
If you and we can’t work things out after giving it the ol’ college try, we’ll each have the right to bring the issue to mediation in Los Angeles, California.
If you and we can’t resolve the issue through mediation, you and we each will have the right to bring the issue to binding arbitration, also in Los Angeles County, California. You
-11-
and we agree to use JAMS, an alternative dispute resolution service, for any mediation or arbitration.
Mediation and arbitration are less expensive ways than litigation in court to help you and us solve any problems arising under this pact. California law will apply to interpreting this pact. Since this pact is an agreement in the legal sense, once you and we have signed it, it’s legally binding on you and us and your and our heirs, successors, and assigns.
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Aaron White
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 5:55 pm Reply with quote
BellosTheMighty wrote:

I checked that. I'm not terribly convinced. For one, he mentions that one of the things that a publisher can offer the creator is "access to a valuable property such as James Bond or Spider-Man". Which doesn't make sense from a graphic novel standpoint



His point is that if you're going to do work-for-hire for a more or less exploitive company, they'd better bring something to the table that makes it worth your while.

Quote:

But assuming they're more similar then different, his argument is still not compelling. The essential thrust appears to be that an author with zero experience can do better. That may be true, but like we say around here, "Source or it didn't happen." He gives us nothing but his assurances that there are better contracts out there.


You're playing the hard-boiled sceptic, but how come you're the first person to defend the most scepticism-worthy figure in this discussion: Tokyopop?

Spurgeon doesn't source notions like "there are better contracts out there" because he's writing for an audience that largely understands the context of who he is and what his background is; dismissing him with "source it or it didn't happen" is like saying "if you don't hand me all the contextual information on a silver platter, I have a blank check to dismiss everything you say," which is just petulance masquerading as hard-nosed skepticism. Spurgeon has been covering the comics business for a long time, and has a broad and deep understanding of this topic. As he points out, this isn't even a boilerplate contract, and I don't have to source that; a little rudimentary checking up will prove that point.

Furthermore, Bryan Lee O'Malley publishes through Oni Press, so he knows a thing or two about how to sign with a publishing company without yielding his moral rights. He's got credibility on this issue. So do Lea Hernandez and The Beat, both of whom have savaged this contract.

Saying that a fledgling creator should go ahead and sign this crappy contract is like saying "No one likes their first job, so you might as well take a job where you get paid a dollar a day and your boss gets to pee on you."
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BellosTheMighty



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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 7:15 pm Reply with quote
Aaron White wrote:

Saying that a fledgling creator should go ahead and sign this crappy contract is like saying "No one likes their first job, so you might as well take a job where you get paid a dollar a day and your boss gets to pee on you."


Yep, there it is. I knew the ridiculous analogy was coming sooner or later. But really, urophilia? That's the best you can do? What about the Nazis? What about Stalin? What about 9/11? I mean, if you're going to try and get your point across with comparisons of dubious merit to great and vile evils, you can't go halfway, dude. You have to show you're a retard with NO sense of scale, not a strangely defective one. Hell, if it has to be human excrement, at least go all the way to #2.

Sheesh...

Look, I am skeptical of TokyoPop- I would have to be if they seriously tried to call something so sloppily written a legally binding document, which is why I at first doubted the document's authenticity. But I'm more skeptical of people within the anime and manga fandom who throw complaints, attacks, insults, and accusations at North American companies, because those fans are full of shit. Around 1% of the time they have legitimate grievances. The rest of the time they're clamoring for attention, spouting self-righteous bullshit, or quibbling over minutia like the absence of honorifics. And even when they DO have a topic worthy of some ire, they do it completely wrong. They read some website that got the news second or thirdhand, then they go right to ranting about it. They never check sources, they never do any research, and they consistently rely on arguments that play on the fears and prejudices of other fans.

And they'll believe anything, ANYTHING that squares with their preconceived notions. Remember that press release that was posted on April Fools' Day? TTGL coming to CN with edits, I think it was? Even overlooking the fact that it was April Fools' Day, there were gaping flaws in it that several individuals pointed out. And STILL, people swallowed it hook, line, and sinker, because it squared exactly with their opinions that Adult Swim, dubbing companies, and/or parenting groups were out to ruin anime.

You ask why I didn't question TokyoPop. The questions were there, in the back of my mind. But at the front of my mind was the opposition- a bunch of suppossed experts who I'd never heard of, and who didn't give any context for their conclusions- everyone said it was a bad contract, but noone said what was a good one. That's a larger problem, I think- who's going to know a bad contract if people would rather point and jeer then explain to anyone what rights should and should not be given away. And these experts from Spokane were supported by people spouting the same juvenile anti-establishment notions all smug young fanboys do. I wound up on TokyoPop's side because the opposition had no credibility.

To simplify all of the above to five words: Because I don't trust you.

But, none of that matters now. I looked up Heidi MacDonald's column for Publisher's Weekly, and I saw jgreen's post above, and THOSE were compelling arguments. Publisher's Weekly is a respected journal. Mr. Green I don't know, but he provided backup that was more than just another blogger saying "this is wrong"- including the example of a good contract that noone else can be bothered with. Take notes, people, THIS is how you argue a point.

As what will hopefully be the final word on this issue: If someone came to me and asked me if this Pact was a good contract, I'd say, "Well, don't trust the contract, but don't trust what someone on the internet says either. Hire a lawyer whom you trust and who knows the publishing industry, and ask HIM if it's a good contract. That will be an opinion you can take to the bank." Because, from my perspective, a person should not entrust his career to any random prick with an internet connection.


Last edited by BellosTheMighty on Wed May 28, 2008 8:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ikillchicken
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 8:01 pm Reply with quote
I can see what you're saying here. You're absolutely right that fans are often pretty dumb and way to quick to jump on companies for anything and everything. But pick your battles. Do you really have to be a lawyer to recognize that there are some pretty obviously questionable parts to this contract? I think this is probably a case where the fan reaction is really relatively appropriate. If anything what seems a little over the top is how you seem hell bent on defending them. First you say it must not be true because it's so terrible and then when you find out it is, you start rationalizing it and explaining why it isn't really that bad after all. Yeah, fans jump on companies prematurely a lot. But there are certainly also times when companies do screw up. This seems to be one of them.
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