Al's Letter to Dave Sim
The following letter was one that I had written to Dave Sim addressing some of his points on working with other comic book creators on collaborative projects. Normally, I wouldnít make a letter like this public, but keeping on the topic of The Creatorís Bill of Rights and to respond to the points Dave raised in his previous letter, I've decided to post this letter here in full. I donít know exactly when I mailed out this letter; sometime around April 12, 2005. ĖAl Nickerson
Thanks for your letter. Thank you, also, for your insights on the Bill.
Enclosed are my interviews and chat sessions with Scott McCloud, Steve Bissette, and Rick Veitch. As we talked about, you can use the information anyway you see fit for any sort of article.
I also sent the interviews to Scott, Steve, and Rick. Iím hoping to get some final feedback from everyone so I can put together a "Final Thoughts" piece. Feel free to send me any more of your comments about the Bill or on the other participantsí insights.
Iím also hoping to get an interview back from Larry Marder. Iím still waiting.
As I mentioned before, Iíll be self-publishing my Ya Cantí Erase InkÖ book. Iíll also include all of my Creators Bill of Rights interviews in the book. Again, I assume that would be ok with you. If not, let me know.
Your suggestion for me to go see Kevin Eastman at the Big Apple Con is a good one. However, since Kevin hasnít returned my e-mails, I donít want to corner him at a convention. That might be a bit uncomfortable. Good idea, though.
I was very pleased by your use of my team-up project with Joe Staton as an example for creatorís rights. You bring up many good points.
Joe and I had been talking for quite some time about working on a project together. In fact, I had asked Joe about doing an E-Man and Nihilist-Man story for the first More Fund Comics anthology (2003). At the time, Joe passed on the idea because he was afraid that a team-up story might dilute E-Manís copyright. Which I absolutely understand.
When the opportunity had come for (this new) benefit book, I proposed the idea to Joe again about doing a team-up story. In the story, our two characters would join forces to save the Earth from evil (I know this sounds silly, but I couldnít help myself mentioning the plot). I wrote the story. Nick Cuti reworked E-Man and Nova Kaneís dialogue. Joe is pencilling the story. I will be inking and lettering it.
Joe spoke with his attorney. We came up with a simple contract that basically stated that Joe and Nick Cuti owned the trademark and copyright to E-Man, I owned the trademark and copyright to Nihilist-Man, and we werenít going to try to claim any of the rights to each otherís character.
Yes, I hate contracts, too, but this was the only way for Joe to feel comfortable enough to do our story. Iím still waiting for the final contract to sign.
Now, you do bring up a good point about reprint rights. This is something that I will talk to Joe about. Since we each own our respected character, I have no fear that either of us would try or reprint the story without the other personís permission.
Since Joe and I are working in good faith, Iím optimistic that neither of us will be hurt by our working relationship.
Iím still waiting for Joe to pencil the story.
Back in 2001, I was involved in a similar partnership involving Crossover Classics. This was a comic book story which was produced by myself, Greg Hyland, Steve Remen, John Gallagher (who published the More Fund Comics anthology books), and Michael Kornstein. We had decided to do a comic book story which featured the teaming of each of our characters. The story was initially an Online Comic that started on my website (arggh.com), continued onto Gregís website, and then finished back at my site.
The parts of the crossover for my site were written and drawn by Michael and myself. Gregís part of the crossover for his site was produced by Steve and himself.
About a year later, John and Greg wanted to publish their own trade paperback and annual (respectfully) of their comics. They both wanted to include the crossover in their books, and all that took was to ask each of us our permission. There was no contract involved and no money exchanged. We worked in good faith. We had a mutual respect and understating for each other and the project.
Everything worked out fine, we are all friends, and Crossover Classics was a joy to work on. My only concern, at the time, was that proper copyright info be given whenever the story saw print, and that was no problem to see done.
Also, Iím sure it would be no problem if any of the rest of us that worked on Crossover Classics wanted to reprint the story on our own.
Now, not everyone can work like that. From what I can understand concerning your relationship with the Mirage fellows, the crossover project with Cerebus and the Turtles is in a bit of a messy situation. Thatís certainly unfortunate (mostly because I really enjoyed that story, and itís also sad to see friendships fall apart).
So, in regards to my story with Joe, I hope I have as a pleasant time working with him as I did with the guys on Crossover Classics. Your insight and advice on this matter is certainly appreciated, and itís given me something to think about.
Thanks for keeping in touch.
As always, I hope all is well. God be with you, Mr. Sim.