US writer Gerry Conway has launched The Comcs Equity Project, appealing for fans help to track and identify DC Comics created since the mid 1970s to help DC creators receive a share of the profits generated by their creations that the company insisted back then – the first major US comic publisher to launch such a scheme.
Gerry is asking fans to look for the first appearances of any character, major or minor, hero/villain/sidekick/bystander from the year 1975 on – not just his creations but those of other comic creators, who include a huge number of British writers and artists.
At DC (as noted in his Wikipedia entry), Gerry, who wrote Justice League of America for eight years, co-created the superhero Firestorm with artist Al Milgrom and Steel, the Indestructible Man with artist Don Heck, along with the Deserter (with artist Dick Ayers), the Vixen (with artist Bob Oksner), Vibe and Gypsy. As writer of Batman in the early 1980s, he introduced the characters Killer Croc and Jason Todd, the latter becoming the second Robin, succeeding original sidekick Dick Grayson.
At Marvel, he co-created the vigilante The Punisher and scripted the death of the character Gwen Stacy during his long run on The Amazing Spider-Man.
Here's the full text of his appeal, which we feel deserves the widest support – and credit to DC Comics for initiating such a scheme, because we don't know if its biggest rival, Marvel, ever has…
In All Fairness – Help Comic Creators Get What They're Owed
I need your help.
DC Comics is a great company.
It was the first major publisher to offer creator contracts on a regular basis, allowing the men and women who create characters for DC books to share in the profits those characters generate in other media. You may say, that's only fair, but until the mid-1970s it was standard policy for comic book publishers to buy all rights in perpetuity upon payment for a single story. Writers and artists received no further payment for their work after that first check — no money for reprints, no money for toys based on characters they'd created, no money for movies or TV shows or games or trading cards.
Nada, zip, zilch.
DC Comics changed that.
Starting in the mid-70s DC offered creators an opportunity for what they called “equity participation.” With the appropriate paperwork submitted and signed, DC creators would receive a share of the profits generated by their creations. Like I said, you may think this is only fair, but in the '70s it hit the business like a revelation. And for more than thirty years it's given quite a few creators an extra bit of income — in some cases, for some older creators, the only real income they receive from comics.
So, to repeat, DC Comics is a great company.
But, like all companies, it's a business, and its first priority is to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and maximize profits. So tracking which character was created by which writer and artist team thirty or forty years ago isn't part of their business plan. It's just too much work, and it requires a dedication and devotion to detail that only one group in the world has in abundant quantities:
You, the fans.
A personal note. I started this site because some of my fans alerted me to the use in the TV series “Arrow” of characters I co-created in the late 1970s, early 1980s. Without those fans I wouldn't have known those characters were appearing. I wouldn't have filed equity participation paperwork with DC. And neither I nor the artists I worked with would be eligible to receive money for the use of those characters. DC does not make payments retroactive. If a creator wants to claim equity participation in a character he or she co-created, they need to do so proactively.
Which is where you come in.
If you're a fan of DC comics published since 1975, you can help your favorite pros — not just me, but any writer or artist who worked on DC's titles. Go through your collection. Look for the first appearances of any character, major or minor, hero/villain/sidekick/bystander from the years 1975 on. Download and fill out the DC Comics Character Equity Request form (you'll find the link below) and email it to the creators involved. Most creators have an active presence on the web, either on Facebook, or Twitter, or through their own web sites or fan pages. Reach out to them. Encourage them to file the paperwork you prepared with DC.
Help them get their fair share.
Obviously, I include myself (Gerry Conway) in this list. I can use your help, too.
Between 1975 and the mid-80s I wrote literally hundreds of comics for DC and created dozens of characters. FIRESTORM, JUSTICE LEAGUE, LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, BATMAN, SUPERMAN, WONDER WOMAN, on and on and on. There's no way I can single-handedly track down each and every character who made their first appearance in a story I wrote. But all of you working together, each doing one or two characters — you can crowd-source it.
Download the form, fill it out, attach a piece of art identifying the character, and send it to the email link below with the subject line EQUITY. To prevent duplication of effort by fellow fans (and to claim credit for your help!) post a comment to this blog identifying the character you've discovered.
On behalf of all the DC creators who would otherwise never know, literally, what they're missing, thank you!
Here's the link to the Character Equity Request Form:
And here's the email where the filled-out forms for characters co-created by Gerry Conway, with the subject line EQUITY: firstname.lastname@example.org
We think this is a great project DC Comics fans should support, to help the creators whose work you have enjoyed earn the dues the company has agreed they're owed.
• Check out Gerry's project at: http://comicsequity.blogspot.co.uk
A crowd-sourced effort to provide creators of characters for DC Comics since 1975 with equity participation contracts. Not an official DC Comics site, this is a cooperative project bringing together fans and pros. Help your favorite pro creator claim his or her fair share!