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The Creator's Bill of Rights:
A Letter from Erik Larsen

Below is a letter from Erik Larsen where Erik addresses Dave Sim's letter concerning creator's rights and "The Right to Reprint". -Al Nickerson


Shit. Sorry about that, man—this gig is keeping me hopping in all kinds of directions. Much of it completely unexpected. I’ve been spending the better part of the last couple months re-coloring American Flagg. The files came in and it was a mess. I’m pretty handy at this Photoshop stuff and so I jumped into it but—man, what a nightmare. The final collection should look pretty nice—but I was not anticipating it taking up so much of my time.

Again—I’m still interested in doing some sort of Cerebus collection. I’ve talked to Todd McFarlane and he’s NOT going to include the Cerebus issue of Spawn in his next Spawn collection and I’d really rather have it reprinted at Image if it’s to be reprinted at all--but that may just be me.

I’ll let Bob Chapman know that, yes--I’m REALLY interested in publishing a Cerebus cover and/or short stories collection and WILL put it on our schedule. It’s not something I want to sit on—and, like American Flagg—it’s something I’d want to make sure is done right even if it means not getting back to somebody else for months on end because I’m so caught up in making it awesome.

The creator or right to reprint chat is all fine and dandy. It starts a dialogue and that’s the important thing. We could debate specifics until the end of time, however. I generally err on the side of generosity. I give out ideas and suggestions freely and expect nothing in return. I figure that—I’ve got more and that if they’re ideas for a character that don’t apply to what I’m doing and my book—why NOT give them away? I sure as heck can’t use ‘em! When Todd redesigned Spawn’s costume some years back—I offered some suggestions, which were used—and that was fine by me. If helped out a pal and it ultimately made for a stronger visual. There were toys based on the costume and it never even occurred to me that I should get toys or credit or money—my brain just doesn’t work that way. If a fan suggested that Captain Cockroach ought to dress as Wolverine next time out (a fairly obvious suggestion given Wolverine’s popularity) would you have felt obligated to cut that fan a check for his "idea?" Fans suggest battles and ideas all the time—sometimes accurately predicting plans already set in motion—where do you draw the line? Is a backwards baseball cap on Franklin Richards "creating "something?

Your example of Frank Frazetta may raise an eyebrow or two but Frank knew the deal going in. He knew he was giving it away. If I do a drawing for a fan at a convention and he chooses to sell it on eBay—I might not think that’s so cool. I might hope that he would want to keep it and treasure it forever but once I’ve given it to him—it’s his to do with as he sees fit—not me. Artists have, over the years, pitched in to help others in a pinch--I’ve inked pages in Spawn, Youngblood and given away tons of art and drawn numerous pieces for no compensation whatsoever. If somebody decides to sell those pieces—well, there you go—somebody profited from my efforts. Oh, well.

I’ve sat in on countless meetings where I’ve offered suggestions, which were used—at Marvel, DC, Image and elsewhere. I’ve helped design costumes and I’ve done cover sketches for books at Image as well and I don’t do it because I expect a reward or a paycheck—I do it because it helps another creative person and because I want these guys to succeed.

The Neil Gaiman issue continues to be a sticking point for a lot of people. Neil got $100,000 to script a funnybook. That he’d feel shortchanged boggles my mind. Spawn was selling gangbuster before Neil wrote an issue—how much hid his name drive sales? How much did yours? As I recall, ALL of the guest-written issues sold about as well as each other. So—what was REALLY brought to the table there?

Ultimately, this comes down to people needing to get stuff in print—to create contracts—because you never know beforehand whether you’ll end up dealing with an Erik Larsen or a Neil Gaiman.

In any case—I hope you’re still interested in proceeding with some kind of Cerebus project at Image.

And I’m happy to be done with Flagg.



-Erik Larsen

Next: A Letter from Dave Sim 7 Dave Sim addesses Erik Larsen above letter concerning creator's rights and publishing.