My Tripod Page

An Introduction to
The Creatorís Bill of RightsÖ

Al Nickerson

I donít have to tell you how comic book creators have been abused in our history. I donít have to tell you about how certain editors and publishers stole ideas or creations from freelancers. I donít have to tell you about the fight for the return of artwork to those who created that artwork. I donít have to tell you about the right for creators to receive royalties to their work. However, if you think all of these issues were of the past, that things have changed greatly, then youíre dead wrong. Although things have gotten better for comic book creators, freelancers, artists, and writers, these same people continue to be taken advantage of by others.

Back in 1988, a group of comic book creators got together to see what they could do about protecting the rights of comic book creators. From a series of summits, specifically at Northampton, Massachusetts, the Creatorís Bill of Rights was created.

The participants of the Billís creation included Scott McCloud, Dave Sim, Gerhard, Steve Bissette, Rick Veitch, Larry Marder, Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Mark Martin, Steve Murphy, Michael Zulli, Eric Talbot, Ken Mitchroney, Michael Dooney, Steve Lavigne, Craig Farley, Jim Lawson and Ryan Brown. Please forgive me if Iíve forgotten to include anyone.

Following are the details to The Creatorís Bill of Rights that I swiped from Scott McCloudís website (thanks, Scott).

Please note that Scott McCloud points out that: "This version of the Bill is my proposed Ďfinal draftí with annotations as it appeared in THE COMICS JOURNAL. The original Summit version spoke of control of format and distribution rather than approval and included an additional article about labeling which had been a hot topic at the time, but should be adequately covered by format."

For the survival and health of comics, we recognize that no single system of commerce and no single type of agreement between creator and publisher can or should be instituted. However, the rights and dignity of creators everywhere are equally vital.

Our rights, as we perceive them to be and intend to preserve them, are:

1.The right to full ownership of what we fully create.

2.The right to full control over the creative execution of that which we fully own.

3.The right of approval over the reproduction and format of our creative property.

4.The right of approval over the methods by which our creative property is distributed.

5.The right to free movement of ourselves and our creative property to and from publishers.

6.The right to employ legal counsel in any and all business transactions.

7.The right to offer a proposal to more than one publisher at a time.

8.The right to prompt payment of a fair and equitable share of profits derived from all of our creative work.

9.The right to full and accurate accounting of any and all income and disbursements relative to our work.

10.The right to prompt and complete return of our artwork in its original condition.

11.The right to full control over the licensing of our creative property.

12.The right to promote and the right of approval over any and all promotion of ourselves and our creative property.

Over the years, I would start thinking about the Creator's Bill of Rights and how I could, in some way, make people aware of it again. One idea Iíve had been mulling over for some time was to interview the Billís creators, get their insights and recollections of the Bill. I was curious to see what they thought of the Bill today, if it was still valid, and if not, how could the Bill be tweaked for todayís comic book industry.

I had e-mailed Scott McCloud about the Creator's Bill of Rights on a couple of occasions. I had told Scott that I was interested in writing something about the Bill for Ya Canít Erase InkÖ. Finally, things went into full swing when I asked Dave Sim about the Bill. So, that got Dave Sim thinking, and he suggested we try and write some sort of article about the Bill for FOLLOWING CEREBUS.

In March of 2005, I began interviewing the various participants who were involved in the making of the Creators Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, I was unable to contact or interview all of the participants, while others didnít want to be interviewed.
The Creatorís Bill of Rights is a vital part of our industry, and should remain so. Itís still important to comics because the abuses it was formed in fighting against still remain. The comic book industry has yet to make the complete changes that impede on the rights of creators.

Even though most webcomics creators have ownership and control of their work, they should remain aware of the Creators Bill of Rights and of their rights as creators. This is even more important when webcomics creators begin to publish their comics in a printed format. Keep in mind, that at some point, webcomics will become profitable. At that time, I believe that the large comic book publishers will become more interested in webcomics and of the creators that make them. Itís important that these creators be fully aware of their rights so that that the abuses done to creators in the past do not happen to them, as well.

The Creatorís Bill of Rights is such a heavy and detailed topic. All itís points can not be fully covered here. I hope that the Bill will continue to be discussed by comic book creators, especially those who participated in itís creation. Only by continued discussion can the Billís impact be significant.

Also, please note that all artwork and writings used here are trademark and © to the respective creators.
Next: A Chat with Scott McCloud Scott discusses the Creator's Bill of Rights and webcomics.

Stop by the Creator's Rights Forum to discuss this or any other of our creatorís rights topics.

The Creatorís Bill of Rights main webpage