Hello. This is Kerry Gammill. You may remember me as penciller of comics like Powerman & Iron Fist, Marvel Team-up and Superman back in the '80s and '90s. I found this site and this thread because I was looking for information on contracts for comic creators. This is all very interesting because I'm currently in the process of becoming an independent publisher and have been facing the financial realities of the comics market in today's economy.
Our books will be horror anthologies and we have been fairly successful so far in attracting some major talent based on the chance to work on something fun and cool (and short) even though they will probably see little or no monetary reward. However, it becomes a problem when dealing with lesser known people who don't have high-paying day jobs and who can't afford to work for free. Although we would love for the book to be very successful, it's almost certain to do little more than break even at best, which means if we pay much for art and stories, we will definitely lose money which makes writing a workable business plan kinda tough.
Unfortunately, an arrangement like Bluewater's seems to be about the only way to get by when operating at this level. So let me ask a question to some of you who disagree with Bluewater's business practices. If you were in my shoes and wanted to publish comics but you knew that, from all indications, it would be next to impossible to actually make money on the books, what kind of contract would you offer? A meager page rate and a work for hire deal giving you all the rights? Nothing up front but a few bucks if the book makes a profit? No pay but complete creator ownership? Some pay and shared ownership with the company? What do you think would be fair to both freelancer and publisher?
I know the Bluewater contract may seem like it gives a raw deal to some artists and writers (even though they were aware of the deal from the beginning), but if you were running a small comics company and you knew a lot of the books you put out probably would not make a profit, what in the contracts would you do differently? I'm anxious to hear your thoughts. Thanks