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10 May 2009 @ 02:25 pm
1976: Marvel and DC Begin Paying for Reprints  
I've probably made more money in the first decade of this century from the reprinting of comic books I wrote in the mid-'70s than I earned during the mid-'70s from the original publication of those comics.

When I started working in comics back then, however, the concept of getting paid for reprinted material was just a pipe dream. The artists and writers could complain all they wanted, but the companies wouldn't budge. At least not until 1976, when both Marvel and DC decided that they needed to institute reprint payment policies to hang on to talent.

First out of the gate was DC Comics, which issued the following undated memo somewhere between July 20, 1976 and August 10, 1976. (The reason I'm sure of those dates is that I've kept all of my memos from the old days, and those were the dates of the memos just before and just after this one.)

Here's what Jeannette Kahn and Sol Harrison had to say:



[Click on each scan to view at a legible size.]

A few months later, on December 13, 1976, Marvel came forward with its own reprint policy. Take a look at what Jim Galton and Stan Lee countered with:



Reprint payment rates have increased since then, to the extent that I now get more per each reprinted page than I did for having written it originally. I may not have written anything new for either company since the early '80s, but thanks to that long-ago change in policy, I continue to get paid. Which is how it should be.
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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
rtbinc on May 11th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
Why Page
Maybe I should know this, but why are comic writers paid by the page? I can see why for artists. I always thought that writers submitted what was more or less a script. Does that include pages?

Sorry if I'm being dumb.
scottedelman: Marvel Comicsscottedelman on May 14th, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Why Page
Luckily, Steve Grant answered your question so I don't have to. And he did it much better than I ever could!
rtbinc on May 15th, 2009 02:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Why Page
Thanks to you and Steve Grant. I have a fascination for the gritty little details of how things actually work. We think of comics as these colorful ephemeral pamphlets. They are also the end result of a way people and their work is organized. Thanks for the look. Would Frank Baum hate me? There is nothing I like better than peeking behind the curtain.
(Anonymous) on May 13th, 2009 05:00 pm (UTC)
Effect of inflation on comparison of page rates
"Reprint payment rates have increased since then, to the extent that I now get more per each reprinted page than I did for having written it originally."

Do you get more, even if you take into account the effects of inflation? (If I'm correctly reading the CPI data on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, $100 in 1976 was worth the same as around $400 today.)
scottedelman: Marvel Comicsscottedelman on May 14th, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Effect of inflation on comparison of page rates
Spoilsport!

No, I am not making more if inflation is taken into account, since according to your stats my current reprint rate would have to be more than four times my previous original rate for that to occur.
(Anonymous) on May 18th, 2009 10:55 am (UTC)
Re: Effect of inflation on comparison of page rates
Sorry.

Anyway, a dollar's still a dollar, and long may your reprint income continue.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )