Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom created Crystal Frost, a character who became the Firestorm villain Killer Frost, back in 1978. But when Killer Frost was recreated in the New 52m it was as Caitlin Snow by Sterling Gates and Derlis Santacruz.
This is the response that Gerry Conway received from DC Entertainment, regarding his equity request for the character of Caitlin Snow, appearing on Flash, posted on his Tumblr.
We have looked into your equity request for Caitlin Snow, but you are not eligible for equity in the character, as she first appeared in the New 52 series Fury of Firestorm. That said, if Caitlin Snow eventually becomes Killer Frost on the Flash TV show, you will receive participations for Killer Frost. The creators of Caitlin Snow are NOT eligible for equity either, as that character is derivative of Killer Frost, created by you and Al Milgrom.
It feels hard that someone was able to type that without seeing the inherent contradiction. Whether it's Big Brother, or Catch-22, this is the smoking gun that explodes the major issues about what counts a a derivative character. Because maybe Gerry doesn't deserve anything for Caitlin Snow, yet. But Sterling Gates and Derlis Santacruz really do… it looks like DC Comics just weaselling their way out of a previous commitment.
One thing to recall however, the creator equity program is a voluntary one. Certain creators have entered into specific contracts with DC regarding characters they have created – this won't affect Watchmen say, even though the series was based on the Charlton characters that DC owned. And a number of DC creators have entered into specific contracts with their creations for DC Comics that may have not been shored up in previous years.
But what else could it affect?
One response suggested internally at DC is that the creator equity program simply be cancelled. But there are many speaking out against that. Right now the current system is an uneasy truce… even if it makes as much sense as a chocolate teapot.