How To Get Your Rights Back – Burke & Hare, A Case Study?

Bleeding Cool ran a number of pieces on problems that some creators have had with the graphic novel publisher Insomnia.

First rumours of their potential division at the Bristol Comics Convention, editor and  writer of Burke & Hare Martin Conaghan resigning, and some serious spinning from the publisher in the aftermath.

Now artist of Burke & Hare, Will Pickering, has decided to speak out on his blog. In a series of posts called The Wake, he makes serious allegations about the publisher. He then writes aboit attempts to get the rights to their book back from the, in their eyes, discredited publisher.

On Wednesday 26th May, Martin asked for his contract for Burke & Hare to be dissolved, on terms which would leave Insomnia free to sell the remaining stock of the first edition and (assuming my and Paul McLaren’s rights also reverted, being of limited value in the absence of a script) us free to look for a publisher who’d be capable of exploiting the book’s potential without pissing on our goodwill.

Predictably, Crawford rubbished the point when it was brought to his attention – unpredictably, he accompanied his rebuttal with dark accusations of various kinds of misbehaviour on Martin’s part, whereupon the whole thing went into the hands of his lawyers.

But it seems they had a get out clause. Pin up artists whose work appeared in the printed book. Gary Erskine, Dave Alexander and more.

None of them were on contract.

I’m not sure who was the first of the gallery artists to come out in sympathy with Martin and withdraw permission for their page to be circulated, nor who did or didn’t follow suit, but it doesn’t matter. Once somebody had pulled out, Insomnia could no longer sell the first edition of Burke & Hare intact. To all intents and purposes, the book was out of print…

This is, as you say, developing…

About Rich Johnston

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

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