As French comic book creators take to the streets to protest about imposed digital exploitation fee structures from their publishers, and launch a second petition against such action… it seems there are stirrings in the USA as well.
Tony Harris, best known for his work on Starman and Ex Machina, with a Sony deal signed for his War Heroes book, has been tweeting calls for a creation of a new comic book creators organisation//guild/thing, alongside Steev Niles.
Calling it the Sequential Arts and Entertainment Guild, Tony has been putting the word out.
I am sending out an open invitation to ANY working pro ( writer,artist,colorist, letterer etc…) get in touch with me. .
In person at Heroes Con this year.We NEED to talk about a UnionI will update soon about some face time concerning this@ Heroes Con.
Lets give it a name, whil we are talking about it, a "working title " , if you will?
Sequential Arts And Entertainment Guild, or S.A.A.E.G. ( pronounced like sage)
Tony saw problems ahead;
@dlx_artist –Lets not get ahead of ourselves. Again, right now its a name, an idea. Organization, and..
a mission statement Identifying all the problems that we would like addressed.Etc…Its not going to be easy its
going to horrifyingly miserable, and an uphill BATTLE. But nothing worth doing SHOULD be easy.
and there will be fallout. Of talent, at the publishing level, between friends and collaborators.
We are talking about a fundamental change here in how our industry works. At the VERY base level. Its going to take time,
Its going to take money, and most of all its going to take US! US!, we will not move an inch with out individuals joining hands here.
Soon SAEG had its first member, Ron Marz.
@ronmarz is now with SAEG ( Sequential Arts and Enterrtainment Guild) !!
And Tony went to work;
Made TONS of headway with SAEG yesterday amidst drawing pages and having video conference. Exciting news coming!
And we started to get some definition.
SAEG is an ADVOCACY guild to promote the professional betterment, health and well being of Comic Book pros.
Thats it. Nothing else. We arent planning on storming publishing offices with picket signs, or shutting things down with strikes!
No. No. No. We are talking about advocating a better industry through awareness. Connecting a fragmented family of creators
Lobbying publishers through well respected creators a our face to improve working situations on both ends.
Raising $ thru (possible) member dues, and slush funds created by sale of merch to match money paid by creators
toward LOW health insurance provided by companies who will give lower rates , the larger the group.
and thru those same groups , options for saving for retirement thru many diff options that are open to individuals.
But Tony wanted to make one thing clear.
SAEG is NOT a UNION! I did use that word initially in my early rants, but this is diff. SAEG is an ADVOCACY GUILD. RT this everyone.
Of course not, that would be socialist. Tony has continued to post about plans, here are a few more highlights.
another thing( among MANY) that SAEG wants to tackle, is Colorists getting cover credit AND royalties.
Royalties which most colorist currently DO NOT recieve. ( Only @ Marvel, so Im told)
Free Tax advice, thru SAEG contacts, and retirement benefits for group members. Most of whom have NONE now.
Scenario: Do lots of work. Publisher not pay. Bills late. Cant shave off tax money from checks, because they were late.
when get checks, pay bills, but not shave taxes. Happens frequently. Tax debt builds over the fiscal year. Snowballs!
April 15th comes and cant pay. File extension. Checks still late . Now editors busting balls to turn in pages.
Hard to create pretty pictures when have no food, and cant pay bills, or taxes. IRS comes after you. Puts lean on your house.
You have to hire attorney to file an offer in compromise. It works. You sell all you own to pay off agreed upon amount.
live in fear, and check to check forever.
That was presented to you in the voice of the Incredible Hulk. And it is a scenario I have heard happening MORE than once to guys in comics.
We are not rich. Well, not all of us. We are working stiffs who love what we do so much that we have allowed a LOT of crap over the years.
Hell we were not even given back our original art until Neil Adams raised hell, and made things happen. Publishers threw it away, or pulped
it. Or gave it away to kids visiting th eoffices, so they could go home and color it in with markers.
Tony may not want to call it a union, but it does seem to want to do the kind of things that unions do. There is a fear however that if employers see the word union, suddenly they come up with a word of their own, blacklist.
The concept of forming a comics union has been tried before. In the forties and fifties, it was scuppered by creators offering lower-than-union-suggested rates to get work. The aforementioned Neal Adams launched a number of initiatives in the seventies over health care, royalties and the return of art board, but the proposed union became guild, albeit with prominent members. Then in the eighties, a Creators Bill Of Rights was proposed by a number of the day's movers and shakers, from Dave Sim to Steve Bissette to Larry Marder. But since then, the move for industry representation has fallen to the side – the emergence of creator owned comics enabling creators of a certain mind set to set up on their own.
Of late, many creators have returned back to the fold of company-owned comics. It could be that the time for a
union guild is upon us again…