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#242533 - 09/09/01 09:53 AM Is it safe to put my comics online..?
DaveBulmer Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/09/01
Posts: 2
Loc: Liverpool, Merseyside, UK
Hi. I haven't been here before, so please excuse me if I come across as a raving newbie, but I've got a burning issue I'd like to address.

I'm a guy in the UK who has always been a big fan of comics. I never had a comic shop near me, until last year, so I'm only just starting to enter the actual tangible world of comics themselves, but for years I've had a strong understanding of the ideals of making comics, how they can be used as an art form, and so on.

I've set up a small company. Well... by that I mean I've got an artist girlfriend and we want to make comics together. We've got no end of ideas, we've got a company name and logo, a lot of people who already read our stuff online (we started by making comics based on video game characters to test our skills and work to an already established reader base) - and we want to take it further. The comicon site looks like a great place to set up a 'booth', so I'm eager to learn about html and finally get all our ideas together and up online.

However, there's one enormous factor which has been stopping us from doing just that for years.

Copyright.

We've got lots of ideas, but we LIKE them all. My main comic idea has been brewing for about two thirds of my life and its characters and stories really are a part of me now. If I set up a website about it - which believe me I am itching to do - I am terrified that someone would steal my
characters, take them away and DO things with them. That idea really scares me. You know about comics so you know what I mean - it'd be like someone selling parts of my body without telling me.

So how do we deal with that? How do online comic creators make sure that if the time came to sell their comics on paper they still could, because nobody else had already stolen them? We all know about the idea of mailing pages to yourself, but I'm told that doesn't stand up in court, and even when it does it only applies to the specific artwork you posted, not the characters and stories and ideas in general.

I see that these boards are filled with a huge number of online comic creators whose work is publicly available, so I thought you might know what to do regarding this, to set ourselves up as a company.

Can you help?

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Dave Bulmer

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#242534 - 09/09/01 01:09 PM Re: Is it safe to put my comics online..?
ScottChantler Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/00
Posts: 675
Loc: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Hi Dave:

The fact is that you can't copyright an idea; you can only copyright an individual work. Which is okay, because ideas are a dime a dozen--it's the execution of them that makes them special.

For instance, last year I created a short-lived online strip called PULP!, which of course I own the rights to. It was a humourous strip set in a city where pulp fiction and superhero characters really existed, but often behaved in ways that ran contrary to what you'd expect. Now, this was not a particularly original concept--it's also the idea behind Astro City, Terminal City, Watchmen, and many others. What made PULP! mine, however, is the specific content and style that I brought to it. So unless someone starts publishing work under the same title, or with characters who look similar with similar names, etc., I wouldn't be able to go after someone for ripping off "my" idea.

You also seem to be under the misconception that Web publishing isn't "real"--that putting work up on a Web site somehow negates any rights you might have in the work. This is just silly. There's no difference between publishing in cyberspace and publishing on paper, at least as far as copyright is concerned. As the author of the work, you are always entitled the rights that accompany your authorship.

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Scott Chantler
www.scottchantler.com

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different!"
- Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake
_________________________
Scott Chantler
www.scottchantler.com

"The more wonderful the means of communication, the more trivial, tawdry, or depressing its contents seemed to be."
- Arthur C. Clarke

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#242535 - 09/09/01 04:35 PM Re: Is it safe to put my comics online..?
DaveBulmer Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/09/01
Posts: 2
Loc: Liverpool, Merseyside, UK
Ah!

So, if a comic is posted on the Internet, there's no filling-in of forms or subscriptions fees - that comic is then owned under copyright laws?

What about outside the US? I'm in England, does the same apply there? I have been told it does, but I'd rather hear it from people who actually do this, ie you guys.

Thanks a lot for your help.

As for the idea that publishing a comic online isn't 'real'... I know that you're right, and I'd give the same opinion myself. However, it would be so much better to be able to see my comic on the shelves one day, I'm sure you know what I mean, to be able to actually see it as a tangible thing in your hands, and there's a second worry at the back of my mind that once a comic is on the web, no publisher will want to print it, since it would make (in their eyes) no profit, when the audience could simply log-on for free.

I'm sure this isn't how things work really - and in fact if I had any clue what html was all about and could impliment a subscription service, it might make me money sooner and without the worry of finding a publisher - but I just don't know. I've got ideas and a relative amount of skill, but no actual knowledge about the business side of things.

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#242536 - 09/09/01 04:49 PM Re: Is it safe to put my comics online..?
reinder Offline
Member

Registered: 08/26/01
Posts: 47
Quote:
Originally posted by DaveBulmer:
there's a second worry at the back of my mind that once a comic is on the web, no publisher will want to print it, since it would make (in their eyes) no profit, when the audience could simply log-on for free.



Many online cartoonists, on the other hand, are of the opinion that the online work is an advertisement for the printed work - precisely because people prefer tangible, high-resolution copies that they can carry around.

There's not a lot of evidence either way but being online doesn't seem to have hurt Dilbert's sales a lot. And the Keenspot crowd are now putting out print versions of some of their more popular titles, so that could serve as an experiment to determine just which point of view is right [img]/resources/ubb/smile.gif[/img]

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Reinder Dijkhuis
Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan , daily online fantasy comic
_________________________
Reinder Dijkhuis
Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan , online fantasy comic.

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