Johanna Draper Carlson (who’s been covering the hell out of this story by the way) already has a statement back from the company. Note this little piece:
Making the contracts available to all is just the first positive step for TOKYOPOP that the Pilot Program represents. Of course we want our Pilots to be successful, and we want to work with Pilot creators to develop their Pilots into other media. And if we do so, an entirely new contract is drafted for that particular project—whether it be a full-length book deal, a film/TV deal, etc. However, TOKYOPOP realizes that some Pilots will not develop beyond their initial stage. And that’s why the Pilot Program is also progressive in returning rights to creators. For any Pilot that doesn’t pan out, the rights to the project are returned to the creator after the one-year Exclusive Period ends. After that, the creator is free to take that exact chapter created for us as well as the property anywhere they like—whether that’s self-publishing, publishing with another company or putting it on the back burner. At this point, for example, if the creator were to land a film/TV deal based on their Pilot property, TOKYOPOP would have no stake in that venture.
Meanwhile, here’s John Jakala:
I really don’t want to be promoting a company that engages in (let’s phrase this charitably) extremely questionable business practices at the expense of creators. In fact, I’ll take it a step further and suggest it’s time for a general boycott of Tokyopop until they get this contract mess straightened out so it’s more equitable for creators:
WHAT ARE YOU DOING TOKYOPOP?! I WANT TO LIKE YOU BUT YOU’RE MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE. I may no longer want to like you.
Just because creators occasionally sign contracts with which they’re not 100 percent happy doesn’t mean that the worst contract out there, and this sounds like just about the worst contract out there, is justified in any way, shape or form. Always remember that the most successful and admirable creators have become so almost uniformly by not signing contracts like this one. There are so many options today for a lot of what they’re promising you, there are a ton of great publishers and many viable self-publishing options. If your work doesn’t click so that it can find purchase with a company that’s not ripping you off, or it fails to make a name for itself on its own, that’s a strong sign that the company’s interest in you is dependent not on the awesomeness of your talent and ideas but on their ability to screw you over. Please, don’t let them do it.
So they can have you do another 24-36 pages for only $750, instead of signing a contract where you get better rates and more rights. $750 for 36 pages = a $20 page rate. $20 for something that can take two days? Not a wonderful deal.
I can see why they wouldn’t give a page rate– everyone would be doing longer stories if they could, adding in extra pages. But $20 for (over) a day’s work is awful. Doing one chapter at that rate is bad enough, but they have the right to request another one with the same pay?
Simon Jones (NSFW):
I don’t have much to say on the particulars of Tokyopop’s new “pact”, simply because I’m not in a position to care for all the details as much as a creator like Ms. Hernandez does and should. But I will make the general observation that convoluted contract shenanigans seem to be symptomatic of a comics publishing industry that no longer sees the comics publishing part as its number one priority. Be it publishers who don’t focus on putting out books, or artists who worry their heads off over secondary rights before they draw their first page, this is all a horrible way to go about making comics.
Wow, where to begin. Starting with the disingenuous, smarmy language of this “contract,” we can’t believe that whoever okayed it at Tokyopop wasn’t seriously on meds to allow it to go up. It is a phony, arbitrary and patronizing document that sounds more like something that might come out of the mouth of a pimp trying to coax a runaway into a life at the House of the Rising Sun. For comparison, just go listen to Foulfellow in PINNOCHIO. You know, the Foufellow who called himself “Honest John.”
The bottom line is this: I agree with Lea that signing away moral rights is serious business. However, I can see how someone who is already making comics professionally could create a property specifically for Tokyopop and stay detached enough that they would be willing to allow that exploitation in exchange for the exposure it would bring. It’s a tightrope that some creators are walking already (under a different set of agreements) for Zuda. Lea, Bryan, and the other commentators have done creators a considerable service by pointing out the flaws in the contract; now it’s up to the creators to decide whether they can live with a deal like that or not.
Oh, and according to this guy, TP is no longer welcome at SCAD.
Both Heidi and Carlson note the comparison towards the company’s earlier attempts at creating an OEL line. There was initially concern over those contracts too, which was tut-tutted by some young cartoonists at the time. If you’re wondering how well that turned out, just ask Ross Campbell.
Keep adding links if you find them. This isn’t going to go away any time soon.