Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gotta Say I Disagree

Over on Robot 6, Kiel Phegley answers criticism for not pressing more on the question of royalties in his Cup O' Joe interview with Marvel's Joe Quesada.

Joe Quesada: Going pretty far back, in discussions about electronically/digitally distributed comics, our publisher Dan Buckley stated at several convention panels and in interviews that we would be paying incentives for creators of these books. We just didn't put out a press release about it, and I guess some folks just didn't catch it when he said these things. But there you go, welcome to the world of the Internet.
Kiel Phegley: To clarify the specifics of Marvel's plan a bit more, why did the royalty program take longer to get in place than the digital comics sales platforms?
Joe Quesada: Well, that's just the thing; it hasn't. Like all incentive programs, whether paper or electronic, sales are tabulated, math is done and then, eventually, checks go out. If you want specifics, okay I'll give you one: our first incentive checks for e-comics will be going out sometime right after San Diego Comic-Con. Announcing this, now maybe DC can put out a press release saying that they’re going to pay their incentives the week before San Diego. Cool, if they do that, then they’ll manage to be the first at something in the digital arena.

Phegley cited some fan reaction to the interview being negative about him even bothering to ask questions about the royalties. The idea being: imagine how much more negative reaction there'd be if he pressed with a few more questions. It would have been a waste of everyone's time.

Things I would have pressed on and wouldn't have thought were a waste of time:

  1. Sure, Buckley said Marvel intended to pay "incentives". It was first said in reference to Marvel DCU that has been around for years...and still hasn't seen a dime paid out to creators. So, you know, the fact that he said Marvel would be paying incentives is about as meaningful as all of those black and white 1950s serials that said we'd have flying cars in the year 1980. When a statement that hasn't resulted in any action over a period of years is used as defense, it would be smart to politely press on that. Otherwise, you've wasted everyone's time fielding this poor excuse for an answer.
  2. All due respect to Joe, but, well, that's just the thing: IT HAS. Marvel first started offering single issues via Comixology back in October 2009, but are PLANNING on paying their first incentive checks "sometime right after SDCC"? That's supposed to refute that their compensation plan has taken longer to figure out than offering their books for individual digital sale? Again, if you let that nonsense pass without a follow up, especially in light of all the "boy who cried wolf" claims about payments from Buckley that passed before, you're wasting everyone's time.
Phegley is a really good writer and, from all accounts I've heard, a great guy. I honestly think he'd be better off having not responded to complaints. Why? Because when tough questions aren't asked or bad answers aren't challenged on comic book news sites, I'm pretty sure the real reason is that freelancers have to fear professionals deciding they want to be interviewed by someone else from now on. 

Access is everything when you make your money covering comic books...and you'd be surprised how publishers and even some creators can be when deciding who to give it to. I know a writer who was pegged to do a running feature on a major comic book event and almost lost the job before it started because he had given the company's writer a negative review on one of his books months ago. 

I can't say it loudly enough: ACCESS IS EVERYTHING. And fans expecting high standards of journalism should stop looking for it from major comic book sites until less fans decide what sites they frequent based on how many exclusive interviews and previews a site gets. 

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