Note From The President, Cerebus 75, June 1985Copyright 1985 Dave Sim
Jim Shooter told me a wonderfully ironic story in Houston in the summer of 1982. It had slipped my mind, but then, considering that he told me the story a month before Deni and I split, I suppose I can be forgiven for that.
Neal Adams has been working on a movie for a long time. Neal's movie. Script by Neal, concept by Neal, starring Neal's friends. See, Neal is shooting this film a few feet at a time because it costs a lot of money to shoot movie-theatre-quality footage. And Neal wants to make a movie-theatre-quality movie. When it's done he looks for a distributor and makes a few dollars or a lot of dollars. This is the kind of guy Neal is. (I guess. I've only talked to him on the phone once and written him a few letters). He's got that Can-do, New Frontier, Right Stuff, Nobody's Grabbing Their Nuts Over This One, Eyeball to Eyeball and The Other Guy Just Blinked, Don't Get Mad Get Even quality that makes Continuity Associates the Adams White House to anyone who was a comics junkie between 1968 and 1973.
Neal is also one of the pioneers in the field of creator's rights in comics. Neal raised stinks about everything. Who gets the original art? Why aren't we getting reprint fees? Why are we getting the same page rate in 1972 we were getting in 1952? What about overseas reprints? What about translations? What about use of drawings in product licensing? Neal got a lot of people pissed off, a lot of people thinking and a lot of people working on solutions or at least starting on them.
The biggest stink he raised was over the Marvel Work Made for Hire contract, a blanket document which commits the freelancer to sell his work and all attendant rights from anything Marvel might decide todo with anything that you did for them. Create a character that makes a million dollars? They will give you whatever percentage of that they feel you deserve. Legally they didn't have to give you anything. In practice they would give you something. Neal issued alerts to all freelancers not to sign the agreement because it would hinder any attempt on their part if they ever wished to contest ownership of a character, a concept, a drawing, whatever. They should consult a lawyer before signing anything.
Very good, very practical advice.
Some artists see things as they are and ask "why", Neal sees things as they never were and says "I can bring that about single-handedly".
So Neal happens to need a very tall person to play a small part in Neal's movie. So Neal asks Jim Shooter if Jim would like to do it. "Sure" says Jim (who is a very nice guy and wants to help out).
So Jim goes to this location in Manhattan and gets all set to do whatever it is Neal tells him to do in front of Neal's camera So Neal walks up to Jim before they start, see? And he hands him this piece of paper and he tells Jim to sign it. And Jim says, like, what is it? Nothing just a standard release, just sign it Well let me read it first. You don't have to read it, it's a standard release, just sign it.
I think that's a wonderfully ironic story.
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