A Modest Proposal For… The Reader-Owned Comic

The_Adventures_of_Tintin_-_Breaking_FreeAles Kot made the case for giving colourists and letterers percentage points on the multimedia rights of a comic book. It generated quite a bit of discussion.

But it got me thinking. Why stop there? Much has been made of Image Comics' contracts that don't give them ownership of any comic, but is that fair? Just as a letterer and a colourist may be more committed to a comic if they own a piece of it, why shouldn't that be true of a publisher? What about the printer, distributor or retailer? Shouldn't they get some of the back end too?

Maybe not. There is a line to be drawn, and it could be the actual creation of the contents of the comic, through editors may be a blurred line.

But then it struck me. What about the reader?

After all, much of the events if a comic, as Scott McCloud pointed out, occur in the reader's mind, between the gutters, filling in the space. The reader is doing as much creating the experience as the creators of the comic. They should get a cut of the exploitation of that!

Bear with me in this. What if you were to give away 1/100,000 of the media rights with the first issue of a comic book? Say one that had a 20,000 print run, so that you'd give away 20% of the rights. If you sold the movie rights for a million, everyone would get $10.

How it would be administered, I have no idea. Registering a digital code, unique with each issue? Transferring that code – and ownership – if you ever sold the comic on?

But would you feel more invested to buy the second issue? The trade? See the film, TV show, play the game on release?

Go on, who wants to be the first to create a reader-owned comic book?

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.