Back in the mists of time, Lying In The Gutters ran a story that Rick Olney, of TightLip Entertainment, had not been paying creators of its horror anthology Tales Of The Spooky. When asked, Olney claimed that all matters had "been worked out to the mutual satisfaction of both parties." This opened the flood gates with many creators claiming non payment, including Chuck Dixon. Gail Simone, who had her own problems with Rick Olney, started a thread on her Comic Book Resources forum which has become the site's longest thread to date, and is constantly updated. The highlights of which are catalogued here.
Through the years I covered more attempts by people to get their money and more justifications from Rick Olney. He has cited immense personal issues and stress at the time, but was very aggressive in this and other threads, citing NDAs and issuing repeated promises to sue people, even serve them legal papers at conventions, that never came to fruition. Rick Olney's other business matters were examined and doubts were thrown over his claims to have raised money for certain charities.
The non-profit organisation Unscrewed was set up with an aim to recover moneys owed by Olney, which also became a body dedicated to recovering non-payment from other publishers. Mark Waid even joined in, offering to fund people's legal fights against Olney. One that came to light was that of a judgement made against Rick Olney for Scott Reed (left). Unscrewed currently offer an free and open assistance programme to people wishing to take the legal route against Olney.
Earlier this year I talked to Rick Olney, trying to broker a way forward to help pay his debts, currently estimated at $35,602.76 $35,502.76 from those who have openly stated how much they are owed (though there appear a number not included, and Rick does dispute some of the amounts) including the likes of Val Staples, Danny Donovan, Mike Bullock and more. But he seemed to appreciate the change in tone and while still remaining openly obnoxious online to people who criticised him, told me that he was, indeed, planning to start paying people. I was sceptical but I'm a sucker for profigal sons.
A plan to pay two artists, Mike Kaluta and Greg Horn at Pittsbugh Comic Con seemed to have fallen through when he didn't attend, and further online spats convinced me that I was being strung along.
But then last week, he paid Scott Reed the first $100 of a legally enforced order, as part of an agreement for regular payments to clear almost $3000 debt. The evidence can be seen below;
I have also seen evidence that indicates he will start paying creators Dash Martin and Cesar Feliciano the thousands he owes them in a matter of weeks.
But Rick Olney has continued his self aggrandising and hostile statements on his blog, stating that he will only pay back people who accept his apology and sign a "hold harmless" contract to prevent them from suing him over the matter. Something that a number of people just aren't willing to trust him enough to do.
He is also planning to restart his old APA operation and talks about getting back into the publishing game. I don't know if many people will trust Olney enough to work for him again. But if he can pay back the moneys owed and shows willingness to do so, it seems that some may give him a second chance.