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Author Topic: Work for Marvel? what a joke
SNAKEBITE
IE # 101
Member # 17

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So ten years ago I did a short spiderman story for Marvel. got a good page rate, even by todays standards.

a couple months ago Marvel contacted me again to do Spiderman covers. I was stoked...BUT their offer was HALF what they paid me before...??? I reminded them I already had a rate with Marvel. but they came back to say they couldn't find the issue...since it was a short story I couldn't even find the old files let alone the pay slip to prove my position...I even told them the artist I worked over and they couldn't find it...but the editor who I was talking with wanted to work with me and in his credit did what he could in the Marvel red tape to get me on board.

So he took my case to the rate committee (yes, they have a rate committee) and it took two weeks for them to get back to me with the same offer...not even a 5 buck increase.

So I said, **** it, I'm gonna do it for free and write it off...I'd just tell my CPA that it was a donation on my part, it was worth much more to me literally as a deduction then an actual paying gig since the offer was so bad...and besides I didn't want to get into their records as making the amount they offered because it would be very difficult to get out of the pay range...not too many companies decide to pay you more out of the kindness of their own hearts once they start paying you crap.

not to mention even the indie companies would pay me more.

SO I did the cover, sent it in and got a call back from the editor. He loves it but he can't do anything with it. since I didn't except the pay rate they couldn't legally use it..ok, I get that. kinda figured that would happen.

BUT WTF? they call me, for a Spiderman book and they offer me crap saying thats what all the new guys get???....well, I have 18 years in the business and I'm not new to Marvel. its like everything I've done up to this point is worth nothing and since they lost my records my history doesn't even exist.

So if I work for Marvel for their offer I would be making much less then an indie artist on an indie book....they say I'm new, but they put me on one of their hot titles...????

and they all say they" totally understand"....why do you understand? cuz you KNOW its a **** offer??? you know you don't pay people enough and thats why you understand???

My beef isn't with the editor. He's cool, just doing what he can do with what he's allowed to do...

but seriously, Marvel, when you gonna turn pro?
Stop sending your editors to contact real pros with real **** offers. I'm sure it embarrasses the editors and it pisses off the pros.

thanks for reading my rant.

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GaryClair
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The reasons they can't afford to pay comic book artists and comic book writers to make comic books.. is because they have to pay for the pay rate committee... and their assistants and their swanky offices.
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SNAKEBITE
IE # 101
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hahahahahaha, yeah man, I just got off the phone with Charles and he said the same thing laughing hysterically.

when Marvel turns pro, they can call me.

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Richard
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It boggles my mind that you're getting half of what you earned a decade ago! What the heck happened? Are they giving us an opportunity to compete with Asia before they send even that out?!

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SNAKEBITE
IE # 101
Member # 17

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thats what I'm saying. I broke it down and hourly I could probably make as much working for McDonalds.
I mean, its a Marvel book, I would of really kicked much ass on it to leave my mark.

what killed me the most is that they called me, I wasn't soliciting...I mean, there had to been an initial "Hey lets call Snakebite. what do we offer him?" meeting....geesh, the more I think about it the more its hilarious....and sad.

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E. Allen
IE # 301
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The following may seem a bit insensitive, so I beg for your understanding in advance Bite!

I'm not surprised to learn you were Marvel's latest victim of the red-tape rigamarole. Sucks, but as Gary said, they need to make room in their budget to pay for the guy who cleans out their water cooler.

Plus, as you know Bite, who knows how many germs can accumulate on a rug that hasn't been steam-cleaned in a whopping six days! Think of the horror, Bite! So, you know--but you do know, so . . .

At this point, I think you'd be treated better at DC or Image!

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tstevens
IE # 234
Member # 801

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Just for fun, whenever we get into discussions about the big media conglomerates I like to play "who's on the board!"

Fortunately for us, most of the websites list the board of directors.

http://marvel.com/company/index.htm?sub=executives_current.htm

What is even cooler is that if you search for most of these CEOs you can get nearly all of their financial information from sources like Business Week.

Isaac Perlmutter, the CEO of Marvel, is outlined on this page from Business Week.

http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/people/person.asp?personId=667576&ric=MV L

Note: his base pay is estimated at $700,000 a year. His Total Calculated Compensation... $3,180,073.

David Maisel, the Executive Vice President of Office of Chief Executive and Chairman of Marvel Studios Division, according to Business Week has a base compensation of $810,978 and a total Calculated Compensation of $5,189,502

http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/people/person.asp?personId=9406091&ric=M VL

If you get a chance, read the bios in the Business Week pages. You'll hit the roof and never want to read a Marvel Comic again.

When we talk about these things I think we should start arming ourselves with more knowledge and less banter. Spread the word on these guys through out the industry. Tell your friends. If you don't... It will never change.

Make it known.

Things will never change if you don't inform people what is really going on. Fortunately for us Busiess Week and Marvel have documented it.

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Greg B
IE # 118
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Sorry to hear about that Bite.

Looks like a simple case of equity choices.

You're already famous in your field so you didn't need the name recognition by any means. Marvel didn't want to meet your pay rate so state to them it's inequitable and part ways amicably.

That's business.

Marvel has to pay you. You can't do it for free because it's against the law. If they had accepted your work on a professional basis and not compensated you, it would have put them in great jeopardy.

You can call your editor and just send a formal statement that you cannot work at that rate and any such inquiries by Marvel in the future will have to take into account your acceptable page rate. It's that simple.

I don't think it's a major conspiracy against artists, it's a matter of the company has investors and those investors are only interested in their bottom line. Investors can, not saying this is the case, can engage in legal tacticcs against a corporation if that corporation doesn't exploit every niche and sympathy is not an acceptable integer in their equation. It's what's destroyed the economic foundation of our world to date. In the old days when companies and employees were friends, families, the stats were through the roof. When companies started playing 'hardball' stats went through the floor.

Don't know what's happening at Marvel but they're not going to let a great artist get away. The competition might get them.

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tstevens
IE # 234
Member # 801

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I agree that there isn't a conspiracy here, but to imply that these guys are penny pinching under the guise that they may be held liable for it by investors is a bit ludicrous. Budget cuts like this are irrational when you consider the executive compensation. To add to it, many of these executives are cutting deals with stock options and bonuses that are by any stretch irrational.

If you can, pick up the October 12, 2009 issue of the New Yorker and go to an article titled The Pay Problem by David Owen. That article has a pretty good assesment of executive pay and why they probably aren't as much under the stress of the stockholders as you might think.

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Greg B
IE # 118
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tstevens, no it's not ludicrous. It's a reality in business. Listen to the stockholder meeting just before Eisner got the boot. The unions threatened to sue him and Disney that's why he got tossed. Had nothing to do with board salaries, sweatshop labor in China or anything else, it was the drop in dividends.

The American worker outside of the state and big unions like police, fire, corrections officers are screwed.

We have no protections and won't take the high ground of boycotting companies that pay low or outsource because we've become dependent on the stock dividends from companies that do undermine the American workforce.

If we initiated the protections other countries have we'd see a boom in our domestic spending and confidence but getting your fellow human being to take that risk is like pulling teeth.

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SNAKEBITE
IE # 101
Member # 17

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no conspiracy theories here.

tstevens, right on! I have to say though, rallying comic artists is like rallying animation artists. but you are totally right, spread the info!!! i will too!

but I had to rant about it. I deal with and see too much of this sort of stuff. I know I always have the right to say no, but this was more than that. THis kinda illustrates the illusion of what most chase. I'm not looking to stroke my ego by saying I said no to marvel. The pay scale is waaaay outdated, even before the economy thing currently before us (which has nothing to do with comic book sales mind you ) the pay scale was messed up big time.

But they have mad people knocking on their door for work...so when they contact an artist specifically you'd think they might be prepared with a tad bit better offer. why go out of your way to offer someone crap if people are kicking the doors in to work with you?? I don't get it.

I mean, I take **** offers. I work for other companies all the time and sometimes the pay is crap. but I take it, cuz sometimes you have to...no doubt. But this, no sir, this took the cake. the factors. They called me, top title, top company, bottom offer. hahahahaha, oh man, my side hurts.

I get they can't take the work for free. I even kinda expected it even not knowing it was law against it. But to me, they are sure doing their best to get it close to free as possible, so I felt like there really was little difference.by the time taxes was taken out I don't even think I could fill my gas tank with the flow.

bad form Marvel. Its a shame you put your editors in such compromising positions. They all seem like real cool people too.

thumbs down.I could only imagine what you do with other artists.

I think artists should boycott these dudes. their attitudes stink.

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Charles
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Thanks tstevens, for posting that info and the links. Really helps to put this into proper perspective.

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Greg B
IE # 118
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Yeah it sucks but that's business.

Marvel's brand name is so huge they don't need artists to sell their books unless that artist has gathered enough attention outside of the industry.

Remember how director Kevin Smith once said he had to make movies in order to get into the mainstream comics industry?

Remember how Spike Lee's jeans commercial put Rob Leifeld in the public spotlight?

There are still comics artists out here that can get big pay. Only a dozen or so.

It's Marvel, they're a corporation and their goal is their bottom line, not the talent. Now that they've been bought by Disney will things change? Unknown. Marvel doesn't sell tons of comics but their online presence earns big ad dollars. It's not the same clubhouse that it used to be and in order to survive it, you gotta realistically understand it.

Freelancers are hired guns. Doesn't get more complicated than that.

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SNAKEBITE
IE # 101
Member # 17

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My lawyer buddy called me, he read this thread. He said there is no federal law that says I can't work for free. If I sign a waiver I'm cool.

So I wouldn't be putting anyone in jeopardy.

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SNAKEBITE
IE # 101
Member # 17

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I'm really embarrassed for them. really. its kinda sad. how much time wasted, how many people set in motion, how much money spent to decide to offer me crap.

so sad.

and what a ****** job too, calling people and offering them poopoo rates. that sucks. they really shouldn't force their editors to make such calls.

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SNAKEBITE
IE # 101
Member # 17

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The bottom line in the business of art and the art of business is art. the better the art the better the business the better the bottom line....thats the bottom line.

I thought the idea of Corporations was to profit? Their bottom line is not at the top of its game me thinks.

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SNAKEBITE
IE # 101
Member # 17

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Its sad to think I couldn't even buy the whole rate committee lattes to go with their donuts for their meeting discussing how they want me to work on one of their most successful IPs in history...

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E. Allen
IE # 301
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You? Buy them lattes! WTF?

I'd be buying you lattes--but hey, I was born and raised in Upstate New York, for what it's worth . . .

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Greg B
IE # 118
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E.Allen how far upstate in NY? Past the Hudson Valley?

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E. Allen
IE # 301
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Sorry for the late response!

Actually, Utica, which is 15 miles north of Rome, 45 miles north of Syracuse & 370 N of NYC. Where Utica is in relation to the Hudson Valley, I'll likely never know! No offense, Hudsonites.

I'll hazard a guess & say it is South, but again, I could be wayyyy off.

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dermot
IE # 193
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.....hmmmm.....I'm not "exactly" thinking there are conspiracies out there.......but I have been in a few meetings where producers talk rather recklessly about new ways to keep the artists under control.

I'm always reminded of it when I see that scene in "On the Waterfront".....where they pick a few workers from the crowd.....always picking different ones to keep the rate down and the others desperate .

If you were going to do the work for free anyway....I'd suggest it might be more to your cause to do it for a COMPETITOR to Marvel.....something that would threaten their business !

A couple of years back a slippery company called Platinum offered me $500 to do a 96 page comic ...pencil / ink and colour....with another $500 when it was done...AND they would own it all.

Seriously......noone has to ask permission to do their own work and creative ownership....and at such ridiculous rates I'm sure that SOMEONE would pick it up and cover printing costs.

Not everyone is as strapped for cash as Marvel lol

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SNAKEBITE
IE # 101
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I only did the cover for free to take back control over the situation. there's no negotiating in comics cuz there's lots of people who will do the job for practically nothing...I had a bunch of pro colorists turn on me and say I was a snob because I believe we are worth more than pay rates that are almost 20 years old. its crazy.

I'm not willing to work for free for anyone but me..I did that cover for me, to set them straight, that I'm in control, not them.

and yes, I do work for the competitors because they pay me more...but how does a smaller company pay more then the big dudes? its fuked up, really it is....especially when they call you to work on one of their main titles...stupid.

and the "professionals" want me to lower my standards to that or amateurs trying to break in. I couldn't even start to mention the big names in the business that thought I was a douche for doing what I did. they all fear for their jobs and will take anything even if its wrong. Marvel is not hurting, comic sales have not been affected by the current economy, so why should I work for bullsht rates? why should any of us? I said they are worth more then 20 year old rates and they call me a snob??? whatever....but I'm nuts, somebody grab me.

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Greg B
IE # 118
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Bite, you should know that when you work for a company like Marvel on a work-for-hire basis that makes "them", "your" client, not the other way around.

It's just like as if they hired you to come over and fix the plumbing, or their roof, or as if you were their lawyer or account.

You are providing them with a service. They are not entitled to do jack squat for you other than give you the job details, you give them your estimate, they agree or disagree and do what follows.

It's not like you were on staff with them. That's a whole nother matter. The one thing that bugged me most when I got into comics was the attitude most freelancers had that they felt the companies owed them a living and a future.

It's not love, hate, or friendship, it's just service, exchange, and equity. When you keep that in mind you'll sleep better.

I am more than certain that you will continue to find clients who'll have an equitable exchange to your liking considering your talents.

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SNAKEBITE
IE # 101
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Owe me something? please, thats not my attitude at all.they do, however, owe something to the people they hire to produce their work...like, rates that AREN"T almost 20 years old.

I think I know where you're coming from, but I disagree at the attitude that I should of known better. I raise the bar, I don't lower it thank you very much.

I don't want to be their friends, or lovers or whatever amateur thing you think I'm doing, its allll about service exchange and equity on this side. I think I'm the only one really conducting it as a business, they are the one that thinks I should work for peanuts for the love or something...obviously, because if we were actually conducting business I would be able to quote rates that are fair and respectable and still get hired.

So, I guess you woke up on the defeatist side of the bed this morning, Greg, because I think you totally have it wrong.

I'm all about the business, I want to get paid. I've done indie for a long time. Successfully I might add. I can compare my work to theirs any day of the week. But if I'm gonna work for them its because of service exchange and equity.you're right...but you got it wrong about me bro. totally.

and I sleep fantastic, BTW. My dreams are rockin and I wake up to beauty every morning.

also, I have plenty of people to work with and for. this is not the issue. I'm always working, even when no one is paying.

But again everyone, this is Marvel. not just some company. this is supposedly the top tier.How is it business when one of the largest asks you to work on one of their largest for the smallest amount? and how can anyone be ok with that?

Hey, I have no problem being their competition. my history proves that.but this picture is larger then myself. this is industry standard. amateur rates paid by the leading companies. so silly. and kinda outrageous.

I dunno, seems like a lot of big talkers come out of our industry, but when it comes to standing up to their own industry...forget it.

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Greg B
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Equity exchange is important. However if they don't meet your standards, go somewhere else.

No one is saying you're an amateur or anything. Just don't work for a company if they don't meet your price or offer you something that is of equal value.

That's all.

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Paburrows
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Problem is since they are top tier and a lot of fans would do anything just to draw Wolverine or Spiderman it gives Marvel the reins of power. They are not used to someone who doesn't have stars in their eyes and won't bend over just to draw their favorate characters. Thats the problem with the big companies like Marvel, Cartoon Network, etc. they hold most of the cards.

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SNAKEBITE
IE # 101
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Well the situation certainly didn't freeze me in my tracks. I'm still working for other people. I paused, though, to point out the whackness. Its not just Marvel though, its the industry as a whole. its behind when it comes to pay. Even the Illustrators Guild pricing guide has rates that are almost 20 years old. The whole industries standards are way skewed. I know why, I'm no dummy, I just have to point it out and reveal the culprits...and its usually fellow "pros" that say I'm the one with the problem.

When comic book people started bleeding into animation they brought that sensibility with them. They brought down industry rates in animation and they contributed to the mentality that most executives have when they hire you.

young kids need to realize that sooner or later they are gonna need more pay too so they can grow up. if only the big picture was considered by all.

I was especially impressed, not, buy all of my peers saying I was the one with the problem. they are really progressive thinkers I must say...and now I hear some of them complain about their insurance going way up and they can't afford it...I wonder if they see the irony.

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Greg B
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Now I can agree more with you Bite. It's not that the comic book people fouled up animation, it's the comic book industry associations that fouled things up. The crooks in animation met the crooks in comics and the twain met and the crap spread.

Meanwhile the good guys in animation and the good guys in comics didn't meet. They were too busy living off the fat of their heads to see the forest from the trees. It wasn't like we didn't try to warn people back in the 80's and 90's, we didn't have forums like AN then. The cops and courts didn't give a rat's ass because their investment portfolios were fat.

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SNAKEBITE
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Well then, everyone played a part it seems. But as much as I want to victimize the artists from the fat cats, my point is the artist do it to themselves most the time.

they turn on their own and wonder why they can't afford insurance. I'm not trying to play the martyr, fuk that, cuz I know I'm not the first to
give a finger to "the way it is". I know better men and women before me and after me will address this issue.

but point is, we have to except responsibility. fully. all of us. do your part. ya know. I'm not preachin, just talkin. this is how I feel and do my best to act on...and in doing so I really see where the responsibility lies.

carry your own weight. fully. in every aspect. that also means seeing how your actions affect the whole....the toughest part.

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Charles
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How many times over the years have we addressed the issue of artsts being their own worst enemies. Enemies to each other.

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E. Allen
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I've sadly realized that it's no small surprise, but y'know, it's like Bite said, we must march on and do what we can to reverse this pathetic cycle.
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Skynet
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For me, since I can remember, humans have been their own worst enemy. Since humans have been on this planet they have been their own worst enemy in every possible way. I don't think we need to question that obvious fact. On a fundamental level, I think this is what needs to somehow change if we are going to last, but what are the chances of that happening? It's laughable when you look out at the current situation of the world. Why else do we have idioms like "it's dog-eat-dog..." and I think the music industry is where dog-eat-dog supposedly came from, but it's always been dog-eat-dog almost everywhere you go. I guess it's human nature.

All you can do is live up to your standards as much as possible and hope it makes some kind of difference.

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skynet[at]animationnation.com
http://www.alivenotdead.com/slipperysky
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