The two comic related stories that impressed me the most this past year were the Kirby v. Marvel settlement and Rocket Raccoon co-creator, Bill Mantlo’s generous treatment by Marvel in response to the Guardians of the Galaxy film.
I found these moments to be significant because they were the culmination of decades of struggle by the men, their families, and a legion supporters of Creators Rights in the Comics Industry.
Thirty years ago, the idea of Jack Kirby or his family being compensated appropriately for the Marvel characters he created or co-created was an idealistic fantasy that most people believed could never be fulfilled.
Twenty-two years ago, when prolific Marvel writer Bill Mantlo suffered a traumatic head injury in a tragic accident, there was little hope that any potential success gleaned from characters or stories that he created while working in comics would benefit his long term care.
In 2014, after years of monumental success of comic book properties in film, the ice began to thaw on the relationship between creators and comic book companies. Deals began to happen behind closed doors to satisfy creators who challenged ownership of properties that had long been held tightly under the premise of “Work for Hire.”
Though everything regarding Creator’s Rights in comics may still not be perfect, strides have been made.
For me, little was much more pleasing than watching a proud and content Neal Kirby participate in a Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration or seeing pictures of a beaming Bill Mantlo watching a private screening of Guardians of the Galaxy from his bed in a long term care facility, all set up by Marvel executives.
Knowing that deals have finally been made to secure the Kirby family well into the future and that Bill Mantlo will be the recipient of royalties that could be used to support his tremendous healthcare needs proves what many of us in the comics industry believed, that creators could and should be beneficiaries of the success of their creations.
It also proved that if you believe in something strong enough, work at it hard enough, and have enough support from the people around you, you should never give up. There is hope for the future.
While working on the fourth volume of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection, I had the opportunity to re-read an interview with me and Art Director, Geraldine Pecht while at Comico in 1987. It was a look back at my own hopes and dreams nearly three decades past in comparison to the reality that transpired.
It was true affirmation that we have no idea what the future holds but that some dreams never die. It was a flashback that rekindled a youthful enthusiasm that I can only hope to maintain throughout 2015 and beyond.
I had big plans for Comico in 1987. Plans that, for me, ended abruptly that same year. Like the Kirby family and Bill Mantlo, though, I have never given up and neither has by former Comico partner, Bill Cucinotta who had his Comico career cut short prior to mine.
Now we both have big plans for CO2 Comics but with the benefit of many hard lessons learned.
When I sat for that interview, Comico was at it’s peak and ready to celebrate its five year anniversary with a little product called Comico Black Book. Little did we know, the company was was poised to crash and burn.
I comparison, halfway through our fifth year, CO2 Comics is still building a solid foundation and growing. Though we may not have had the meteoric successes that we had with Comico and have seen our share of setbacks, Bill and I are content that we work with people we trust and have mutual respect for. We have more control over our product and integrity and we produce comics and product in a way that does not put us in jeopardy of the production expenses the distribution system or the competition that existed in the 1980’s.
The future is bright and hopeful for CO2 Comics because we have held on to a dream that we are unwilling to give up. Yes, we are looking forward to 2015 and many years after that!
Thanks to all the wonderful people that continue to believe in us and support us. We could not have come this far without you!
We wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year as we look forward to 2015!