The Moral Maze: Commission And Be Damned

One of the industry's best artists, Sean Gordon Murphy tweets;

Well at least they asked permission. Many never ask and do it anyway.

But it does ask a wider question about what work people believe deserves payment and what does not, and what a purchaser believed they are buying.

It is of course a murky world, publishers usually turn a blind eye to such things, but creators often ask permission from publishers to use their characters in prints or commissions. Because it's unlikely that the IP holders of Batman would have received any money for this.

Though Sean Gordon Murphy is a valued creator for the publisher, so it would not be in their best interest to impede them in any way. But famously, Murphy got in a little hot water with Marvel's lawyers for his wonderful Wolverine ABC work.

 

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The smart move there, of course, would have been for Marvel to buy the original and publish it themselves and for both parties to make a small mint. But since Murphy's original even had an ISBN number, they came down a little harder.

New York Comic Con is coming. Creators at one of the largest Artists Alleys will do commissions featuring characters they do not own, some with the blessing of publishers, some not, some will sell prints, some will sell other people's prints that they have coloured, some will sell other people's work as their own, and some will take money and disappear. We've already had the Mayhem Comics/Frank & Son print selling debacle which no right minded person seems able to defend.

What's harder is when it becomes less black-and-white….

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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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