Roy Thomas on DC Comics Paying – and Crediting – What's Due
The following statement by Roy Thomas regarding DC Comics has been shared with Bleeding Cool by Roy's manager John Cimino. Thomas writes;
We hear a lot these days about how the big companies are so much more enlightened about creator credits and payments. And it's probably true, to a certain extent. Certainly, despite no situation ever being perfect from any person's POV, I've been pleased with my relationship with Marvel for the past half decade or so, whether or not I was receiving any writing assignments from them at the time. After all, times change… wheels move on, and all that.
Unfortunately, I'm finally forced to admit that my relationship with DC Comics (or DC Entertainment, I suppose, nowadays) is a puzzle to me. Yes, I receive small to medium payments from time to time for the reprinting of comics I wrote for them mostly in the 1980s, and I'm pleased to write the occasional introduction for a reprint volume (and seem to have a decent enough relationship with that department, at least to date). However, DC continues to stonewall me on one or two of the most important co-creations I devised for them during the 80s. Mainly, Artemis and Hazard, who were introduced in INFINITY, INC. #34 (Jan. 1987), as co-created by my wife Dann and myself and penciler Todd McFarlane.
When these characters began to appear in TV series–Hazard live-action in "The Flash" and Artemis in the animated "Young Justice," I contacted the proper people at DC to inquire about what payment I could expect–and was informed that these characters did not count as "my" co-creations (or, I assume, Todd's), since Hazard is the daughter of the Golden Age Gambler villain, and Artemis (aka Artemis Crock), the daughter of the Golden Age Huntress and Sportsmaster villains. I was, quite frankly, stupefied. After all, Hazard has virtually nothing in common with her father except what seeps through in word balloons: she has the super-power of luck (he had no super-power at all, was simply a guy who using gambling gimmicks and dressed like Colonel Sanders), is female instead of male, and has an entirely different name.
The same is true, of course, of Artemis. Oh, I suppose the original Huntress may have used bows and arrows on occasion back in the Wildcat stories, but she was not primarily an archer and had a different name. She has even less in common with her father, the Sportsmaster.
Yet, there it was on the cartoons in which Artemis appeared: creative credits for virtually every other member of the team, but none for Artemis… as if she just appeared out of nowhere, instead of out of the pages of INFINITY, INC. #34. (Lately, DC has renamed her "Tigress," but that doesn't change the basic character… simply overprints onto her the name that, in a late-80s issue of YOUNG ALL-STARS (a predecessor of "Young Justice"), I gave to her mother, the Huntress, when she was a teenager not yet turned completely outlaw.
When I opined that DC was hiding behind a technicality on both characters, offense seems to have been taken. I was told: Why, it's just their policy! As if somehow the institution and defense of a dumb and unfair policy was some kind of explanation.
Eventually, with some fanfare, somebody decided to give me some sort of non-required "bonus" or some such thing for the use of Hazard in the live-action TV… but my repeated inquiries concerning money and credit for Artemis (and/or the Tigress character she has been rechristened) have been met with silence. I suppose the idea is that, eventually, I will go away and stop bothering those paragons of policy. Well, they're probably right. There's some principle at stake here, and perhaps a bit of money… but I'm doing well enough between my other work, Marvel payments, and social security that I'm hardly going to reduced to selling apples on the local street corner if DC continues its unenlightened policy of denying credit to the creators of a character who has proven quite popular in animated TV.
But you know me… I'm not the type to go quietly into the good night. Besides, as long as DC Entertainment continues to deny me payment and credit for one of my co-creations (just as they did for years to Tony Isabella before FINALLY admitting, well, yes, maybe he HAD created Black Lightning after all), there is absolutely nothing "good" about DC's policy. It is about as transparent a credit denial as one can imagine… and hiding behind the genes of the Gambler, Sportsmaster, and Huntress doesn't make it any better. As far as I'm concerned, they should be ashamed of themselves… but instead, they're probably treating themselves to a pizza with the money that would've come my way.
Hi, Jerry and Joe–and H.G. Peter. The more things change, the more, it seems, they stay the same.
[Rich adds – you may know that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as the creators of Superman who had to fight for decades to get anything like recompense, let alone credit, for creating Superman – and the genre of superheroes. HG Peter is less well known as the co-creator of Wonder Woman when he was 61 but does not get official credit for this. William Moulton Marston arranged the publishing deal to give himself the sole credit, in a similar fashion to Bob Kane with Batman. HG Peter worked on Wonder Woman until his death at the age of 78.]