Dale Lazarov And Changing Digital Comic Content Considerations

It's not just Sex Criminals #2. Gay erotic comic creator Dale Lazarov writes to his latest digital comic book distributor. Possibly. And shares it with Bleeding Cool;

Dear [name redacted]:

It's encouraging to hear that you're happy with the gay smut you publish. And you do come off as someone I would like to do business with; you're very charming. But, don't hate me for saying this, your word as a Community Manager via e-mail that my comics aren't "offensive" doesn't mean your CEO won't disagree with it and kill my account at his or her whim or convenience. Which is exactly what happened with Ribbon. For good, bad or indifferent, you've contacted someone who now knows the game that digital content distribution and sales companies play when it comes to gay erotic comics.

Listen, I have four hardcovers of gay erotic comics with international distribution published by a German art book publisher. I have a fifth one coming out in March. My reputation and profile could not be better. I may be a gay erotic comics writer/editor but I do not fuck around. Your industry, on the other hand, has a history of reserving the right to be unreliable and acting without integrity. It's encoded into their Terms of Service; they can be changed *at any time*.

I signed with Ribbon, who contacted me about publishing through them after I made the Gumroad debacle public, because their Community Manager reassured me in writing that my comics were within their Terms of Service and he actually changed their terms of service to make it legal. So, naturally, the CEO reverted their Terms of Service three weeks later and contacted to let me know that I couldn't publish with them anymore. He claimed that Ribbon changed credit servicing and their new agreement stopped them from publishing smut. I responded that he made their agreement with their new credit service after they made their agreement with me, and, unfortunately for them, that doesn't magically liberate them from their obligation to me. Their CEO backed down when I threatened to give them bad publicity for their lack of integrity.

Six months later, they dumped me without telling me — even though I'd cordially, continually agreed to all the changes they asked of me so I could continue publishing with them during the period following my conversation with their CEO. They blocked me from accessing my sales records when they discontinued my account so I don't know what they actually owe me, which is excessively punitive. The CEO wouldn't let me access them, either, when I asked.

tumblr_mvw19xtjIh1qaj7ouo1_500Heck, Ribbon hasn't paid me what they owe me for three weeks, either. I shamed them on Twitter earlier tonight for not following through with payment or submitting documentation records on sales.

At least Gumroad paid me immediately AND didn't block me from checking my precise sales records.

I decided not to throw my considerable weight on giving Ribbon bad publicity (heck, you found me BECAUSE of the bad publicity I gave to Gumroad!) since I have better and more productive things to do…such as publishing books in hardcover with fine art paper and printing, distributed on an international scale within a regulated European publishing industry with a commitment to freedom of speech and the moral rights of creators.

This is my "better solution": I need a real, binding commitment signed by someone with legal standing to make it on a company's behalf that it won't, pardon the expression, dick me around after I agree to do business with you. I am willing to even submit my comics to you before publication, ahead of time, if that's what's required to enter into a binding agreement with you. But I won't agree to publishing through you and giving you the power to decide to terminate my whole account without notice or recourse because your Terms of Service are vague and/or applied inconsistently and/or subject to revision without notice and/or without good-faith negotiation with a creator with whom you have a pre-existing working relationship.

I do appreciate that you want my business. But I refuse to be subject to Terms of Service caprice and/or vagueness a third time. If, AS AN INSTITUTION, [name of company redacted] doesn't regard my content as "offensive", put it in a legal document signed by someone with accountability in your company. THEN, I will sell my comics through you.

Dale Lazarov

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.

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