Comics Creators – Together We Will Stand?

As French comic book creators take to the streets to protest about imposed digital exploitation fee structures from their publishers, and launch a second petition against such action… it seems there are stirrings in the USA as well.

Tony Harris, best known for his work on Starman and Ex Machina, with a Sony deal signed for his War Heroes book, has been tweeting calls for a creation of a new comic book creators organisation//guild/thing, alongside Steev Niles.

Calling it the Sequential Arts and Entertainment Guild, Tony has been putting the word out.

I am sending out an open invitation to ANY working pro ( writer,artist,colorist, letterer etc…) get in touch with me. .less than a minute ago via web

In person at Heroes Con this year.We NEED to talk about a UnionI will update soon about some face time concerning this@ Heroes Con.less than a minute ago via web

Lets give it a name, whil we are talking about it, a “working title ” , if you will?less than a minute ago via web

Sequential Arts And Entertainment Guild, or S.A.A.E.G. ( pronounced like sage)less than a minute ago via web

Tony saw problems ahead;

@dlx_artist –Lets not get ahead of ourselves. Again, right now its a name, an idea. Organization, and..less than a minute ago via web

a mission statement Identifying all the problems that we would like addressed.Etc…Its not going to be easy itsless than a minute ago via web

going to horrifyingly miserable, and an uphill BATTLE. But nothing worth doing SHOULD be easy.less than a minute ago via web

and there will be fallout. Of talent, at the publishing level, between friends and collaborators.less than a minute ago via web

We are talking about a fundamental change here in how our industry works. At the VERY base level. Its going to take time,less than a minute ago via web

Its going to take money, and most of all its going to take US! US!, we will not move an inch with out individuals joining hands here.less than a minute ago via web

Soon SAEG had its first member, Ron Marz.

@ronmarz is now with SAEG ( Sequential Arts and Enterrtainment Guild) !!less than a minute ago via web

And Tony went to work;

Made TONS of headway with SAEG yesterday amidst drawing pages and having video conference. Exciting news coming!less than a minute ago via web

And we started to get some definition.

SAEG is an ADVOCACY guild to promote the professional betterment, health and well being of Comic Book pros.less than a minute ago via web

Thats it. Nothing else. We arent planning on storming publishing offices with picket signs, or shutting things down with strikes!less than a minute ago via web

No. No. No. We are talking about advocating a better industry through awareness. Connecting a fragmented family of creatorsless than a minute ago via web

Lobbying publishers through well respected creators a our face to improve working situations on both ends.less than a minute ago via web

Raising $ thru (possible) member dues, and slush funds created by sale of merch to match money paid by creatorsless than a minute ago via web

toward LOW health insurance provided by companies who will give lower rates , the larger the group.less than a minute ago via web

and thru those same groups , options for saving for retirement thru many diff options that are open to individuals.less than a minute ago via web

But Tony wanted to make one thing clear.

SAEG is NOT a UNION! I did use that word initially in my early rants, but this is diff. SAEG is an ADVOCACY GUILD. RT this everyone.less than a minute ago via web

Of course not, that would be socialist. Tony has continued to post about plans, here are a few more highlights.

another thing( among MANY) that SAEG wants to tackle, is Colorists getting cover credit AND royalties.less than a minute ago via web

Royalties which most colorist currently DO NOT recieve. ( Only @ Marvel, so Im told)less than a minute ago via web

Free Tax advice, thru SAEG contacts, and retirement benefits for group members. Most of whom have NONE now.less than a minute ago via web

Scenario: Do lots of work. Publisher not pay. Bills late. Cant shave off tax money from checks, because they were late.less than a minute ago via web

when get checks, pay bills, but not shave taxes. Happens frequently. Tax debt builds over the fiscal year. Snowballs!less than a minute ago via web

April 15th comes and cant pay. File extension. Checks still late . Now editors busting balls to turn in pages.less than a minute ago via web

Hard to create pretty pictures when have no food, and cant pay bills, or taxes. IRS comes after you. Puts lean on your house.less than a minute ago via web

You have to hire attorney to file an offer in compromise. It works. You sell all you own to pay off agreed upon amount.less than a minute ago via web

live in fear, and check to check forever.less than a minute ago via web

That was presented to you in the voice of the Incredible Hulk. And it is a scenario I have heard happening MORE than once to guys in comics.less than a minute ago via web

We are not rich. Well, not all of us. We are working stiffs who love what we do so much that we have allowed a LOT of crap over the years.less than a minute ago via web

Hell we were not even given back our original art until Neil Adams raised hell, and made things happen. Publishers threw it away, or pulpedless than a minute ago via web

it. Or gave it away to kids visiting th eoffices, so they could go home and color it in with markers.less than a minute ago via web

Tony may not want to call it a union, but it does seem to want to do the kind of things that unions do. There is a fear however that if employers see the word union, suddenly they come up with a word of their own, blacklist.

The concept of forming a comics union has been tried before. In the forties and fifties, it was scuppered by creators offering lower-than-union-suggested rates to get work. The aforementioned Neal Adams launched a number of initiatives in the seventies over health care, royalties and the return of art board, but the proposed union became guild, albeit with prominent members. Then in the eighties, a Creators Bill Of Rights was proposed by a number of the day’s movers and shakers, from Dave Sim to Steve Bissette to Larry Marder. But since then, the move for industry representation has fallen to the side – the emergence of creator owned comics enabling creators of a certain mind set to set up on their own.

Of late, many creators have returned back to the fold of company-owned comics. It could be that the time for a union guild is upon us again…

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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