The GeeksverseNEWS Round-up | Week of June 22, 2013

NEWS Round-up | Week of June 22, 2013
Published on Saturday, June 22, 2013 by
We cap off a busy week updating the Comixverse’s skin with a look back on the week’s biggest stories, including Valiant’s deal with Amazon’s Kindle Worlds and its implications, a recap of the SDCC exclusives revealed thus far, and more!

Valiant Entertainment ties up with Amazon’s Kindle Worlds: What does it mean?

In what could be one of those “game-changers” we always hear people talking about, comics publisher Valiant Entertainment and Amazon have announced that the latter has secured the licenses to the former’s properties for use in Amazon’s Kindle Worlds commercial fan-fiction program. That’s right, if you’ve got some X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, or Archer & Armstrong fanfic lying around, this could be the chance for you to maybe make some money off of it (emphasis on “maybe,” as we’ll get to later).

valiantkindleworldcrossover

As a heads-up to those of you thinking of sending in Archer & Armstrong slashfic, the guidelines plainly state that "Armstrong may not be depicted in excessive or graphic sexual or illegal activities, despite his penchant for indulgent and hedonistic activities."

As a heads-up to those of you thinking of sending in Archer & Armstrong slashfic, the Additional Content Guidelines plainly state that “Armstrong may not be depicted in excessive or graphic sexual or illegal activities, despite his penchant for indulgent and hedonistic activities.”

Don’t get too excited, though. As Dark Horse editor Rachel Edidin pointed out last month in an article written for Wired, there remain many questions about the agreement writers will have to enter into with Amazon if they want to submit their fanfic for publication. Some authors, industry observers, and copyright law experts have brought up their reservations about the potential issues posed by the contract writers must agree to in order for their submitted work to be accepted for potential publication: While fanfic authors retain copyright to “original, copyrightable elements” (such as characters, scenes, and events) introduced in their stories, the exclusive license to these “original, copyrightable elements” granted to Amazon by the contract could mean that authors will not be entitled to royalties beyond the gross-percentage sales payments of the original e-book—so say, if a Kindle Worlds work or an “original, copyrightable element” from a Kindle Worlds work gets licensed out by Amazon and adapted as a graphic novel, a film, a TV series, or a video game, the author may not be able to claim a share of the profits generated by the adaptation or spin-off.

Think about this for a second. The implication is that the fanfic author grants Amazon the exclusive license to original work that may or may not even pay the author, since payment for Kindle Worlds submissions is based on a percentage of the gross sales, not on a page rate or word rate. Imagine a Kindle Worlds e-book failing to sell more than a few hundred copies at the $0.99 through $3.99 Kindle Worlds price point. Maybe the author makes, oh, let’s say a couple hundred dollars from the gross sales. Now let’s say a film adaptation of the work, or maybe an original character introduced in the work blows up big-time and makes millions in merchandising, licensing, and film profits—the exclusive license the author grants Amazon could mean that he or she isn’t entitled to any of that for the term of the license.

The best-selling novel Fifty Shades of Grey started out as erotic Twilight fanfiction. Would author E.L. James have had the opportunity to turn it from fanfiction to original novel had she submitted the original fanfic to something like Kindle Worlds?

The best-selling novel Fifty Shades of Grey started out as erotic Twilight fanfiction. Would author E.L. James have had the opportunity to turn it from fanfiction to an original novel had she first submitted the fanfic to a platform that grants an exclusive license to the fanfic’s copyrightable content to the platform operator?

Here’s another scenario that could be problematic for fanfic authors: Let’s say a fanfic author’s Kindle Worlds submission gets accepted. The submission flops, maybe it sells a couple dozen copies. Now imagine a year later perhaps, the fanfic author, now she’s actually prospered so as to become a professional writer of note and wants to adapt/update some scene elements from her old Kindle Worlds submission for use in an original (non-fanfic) book. It’s quite possible that the agreement with Amazon won’t allow for this, and that she’ll be caught in the surreal legal trap of “self-plagiarism.” Think about how something like Kindle Worlds would have changed the course of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, the most commercially successful fan-fiction derived work to date with over 70 million copies of the series’ novels sold (the first novel currently holds the record for fastest-selling paperback of all time, beating out the Harry Potter books) and a film adaptation currently in production. [We’re just using the book as an example, we haven’t read it. Honest!—ed.] Those of you familiar with the book’s development will know that Fifty Shades of Grey actually started off as erotic Twilight fanfiction entitled Master of the Universe that James posted on various fanfiction sites. At some point, she reworked the story of Master of the Universe into the original novel that became Fifty Shades of Grey. Had Kindle Worlds existed back then (and if Amazon had the license to the Twilight property) and had James submitted Master of the Universe to Kindle Worlds as the Twilight fanfic that it was at the time, she would not have been able to reuse, adapt, and update the story elements of Master of the Universe for use in Fifty Shades of Grey. Sure, maybe the argument can be made that Master of the Universe would have sold just as many copies as Fifty Shades of Grey, but somehow we doubt it. Not with that title (is it about He-Man?), the exclusively e-book platform, and the baggage the “fanfic” label brings to the marketing and branding game.

Of course, we imagine most people who write fanfic do so because they enjoy it, and if they can make a few bucks off of it and reach a larger audience through Kindle Worlds, that’s good enough for them. But as we’ve established, remuneration isn’t a given, and we’ll argue that the “larger audience” isn’t assured, either. Part of the intrinsic and widespread appeal of fanfic is that it’s free. Charging money for fanfic, even if it’s just 99 cents, changes the calculus on so many levels. Will readers still read fanfic in the numbers they have if they have to pay for it? Additionally, will publishers now become much more aggressive in pursuing and shutting down sites that host fanfic because Kindle Worlds’ commodification of the form can now be used as a cornerstone in legal arguments that say fanfic is intellectual property theft?

Don’t get us wrong, we feel a genuine, tempered excitement about the prospect of a comics publisher working with Amazon on Kindle Worlds, but as Edidin suggests in her article, it might be a better idea for fanfic writers aspiring to turn their hobby into a full-time professional gig to stick with open platforms and just do as James did and “file off the serial numbers” when it comes time to adapt the characters, scenes, and events they used in fan-fiction for original works.

Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon on the recent Brazil protests

Earlier this week, Brazilian artists Gabriel Bá (The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, Casanova: Luxuria) and Fábio Moon (Daytripper, B.P.R.D.: Vampire) posted on their joint blog that they would be joining the demonstrators in the siblings’ home city of Sau Paolo. As readers may know, Brazil has been rocked in recent weeks by protests on a wide-scale, as people have taken to the streets to express their discontent with president Dilma Rousseff’s government on issues ranging from a recent transportation price hike, the rising public cost of hosting next year’s fútbol World Cup, the heavy-handed police response to public rallies, the declining quality of the national health service, and other issues. While violent clashes between protesters and police did erupt in many cities over the past week, it seems that Sau Paolo was spared the worst of it, and the Comixverse extends our wishes for a safe and violence-free resolution to the affair to our readers in Brazil.

SDCC 2013 exclusives updates

You want updates on the SDCC 2013 comics exclusives? We’ve got updates on the SDCC 2013 comics exclusives!

  • To start off, here are the Diamond Comics Distributors (booth #2401) exclusives that we revealed two weeks ago.
  • And here is the detailed visual listing of the exclusive, limited edition comics and collectibles Dark Horse (booth #2615) will be selling at its SDCC booth, as we revealed earlier in the week.
  • BOOM! Studios has 16 SDCC-exclusive, limited edition variant comics and hardcovers going on sale at their booth as well.
  • Archie Comics (booth #2842) will be selling a variant cover version of Mega Man #24 ($10), the first issue of this year’s “Worlds Collide” Mega Man/Sonic crossover.
  • Bongo Comics (booth #2519) will be offering the Two One-Shot Wonders in One special ($10, collecting The Malevolent Mr. Burns #1 and Professor Frink’s Fantastic Science Fictions #1), and con-exclusive variant of the Futurama Comics: To Infinity! trade paperback ($20).
  • Besides the exclusives that will be sold at SDCC via Diamond Comics Distributors’ booth, DC Entertainment/Graphitti Designs (booth #2315)  will also sell variant cover editions of Batman #21 ($10), Batman ’66 #1 ($10), Superman Unchained #1 ($10), and Justice League #22 ($10) at its own booth.
  • Titan Entertainment (booth #5537) is making a big splash in its foray from across the pond with 11 SDCC variant comics, trade paperbacks, hardcovers, and art books, including pre-street date editions of the DMC: Devil May Cry—The Chronicles of Vergil collection, Lenore: Purple Nurples, Monster Massacre, Vol. 1, the Thrud the Barbarian collection, The First Kingdom, Vol. 1: The Birth of the Tundran, and more.
  • UDON Entertainment (booth #4529) will be offering six, con-exclusive, video game-themed premium hardcovers and art books, and several UDON artists will be on hand to do signings. The titles on offer are the MM25: Mega Man & Mega Man X Official Complete Works limited edition hardcover ($100; features a blue “laser foil” dust jacket created exclusively for the SDCC 2013 edition), Street Fighter Classic Vol. 1 limited edition hardcover ($60; includes a hidden “Chun-Li on the Beach” dust cover image), Street Fighter Origins: Akuma limited edition hardcover ($60; includes a hidden “Sakura on the Beach” dust cover image), Super Street Fighter Vol. 1 limited edition hardcover ($40; includes a hidden “Juri on the Beach” dust cover image), The Art of Brütal Legend limited “Heavy Metal” slipcase edition ($80), and the World of Warcraft: Tribute limited edition hardcover ($100; Blizzard Entertainment concept artist Arnold Tsang will be available for signing at the booth).

To view all the other SDCC 2013 exclusives (including shirts, toys, statues, posters, and calendars), go here.

More comics news from around the web

  • Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson passes away (Comixverse)
  • Cosplay does not equal Consent: Photographer and comics fan Dan Morrill calls for changes in how photographers, professional and amateur, should treat cosplayers at cons and vice cersa (Comics Forge)
  • Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times by Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton wins the 2012 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel (Horror Writers Association)
  • Chris Claremont and John Bolton’s Marada the She-Wolf to be reissued as a hardcover by Titan Books (Comixverse)
  • Hong Kong comics creators worry about the medium’s future as sales of local mànhuà continue to decline (South China Morning Post)
  • Becky Cloonan’s Demeter debuts as a comiXology Submit title (Comixverse)
  • “Superman’s killer” Dan Jurgens talks about his favorite comics (New York Post)
  • Alistair Anderson takes a look at the state of the South African comics market (Financial Mail)
  • Dark Horse launches new Bloodhound series with Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine (Comixverse)
  • There’s some delicious irony here if you look for it: Chinese media and telecommunications giant Tencent Holdings acquires cross-platform publishing rights in China to Naruto, One Piece, Bleach and other Shueisha properties and it stomps down hard on China-based scanlation sites. (Kotaku)
  • ComiXology launches 400 French language comics on its Europe-based app, limited selection also available for international readers (Comixverse)
  • Tekkonkinkreet and Sunny creator Taiyo Matsumoto at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival: “… it’s a little tricky at Japanese shōnen (genre fiction manga predominantly for boys) events where I don’t fit in with the cosplayers, or in Europe when I’m supposed to be the manga guy.” (The Japan Times)
  • Allegory Media to develop and publish comics featuring Paula Garcés’ Aluna (Comixverse)
  • Party with former Marvel Comics artist John Stangeland as he shuts down his Atlas Comics store on June 29 (Comixverse)
  • Kickstarter-funded Steve Rude 2013 Sketchbook now available for pre-order online (Comixverse)

In case you missed them…

Don’t forget that we post new previews of trade paperbacks and hardcovers every week. This week alone, we put up previews of 14 books from BOOM!, Dark Horse, IDW, and Image Comics. Check them out!

Do you want to know which characters the legendary neal Adams considers his favorite creations? Find out by reading the latest Leaving Proof.

Do you want to know which characters the legendary Neal Adams considers his favorite creations? Find out by reading the latest Leaving Proof.

On the Leaving Proof front, we talk about that tricky little “R” word—race—in superhero comics, as we reflect on Miles Morales, John Stewart, Milestone Media and Dwayne McDuffie, and other topics in Leaving Proof 191 | Living Color: The changing discourse on race in superhero comics.

If you haven’t read them yet, scope out the reviews and preview galleries of Crow: Curare #1, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #1, Six-Gun Gorilla #1, Wild Blue Yonder #1, and Joe Hill’s Thumbprint #1 here. The Crow: Curare #1, Six-Gun Gorilla #1, and Wild Blue Yonder #1 earned our EDITOR’S PICK designations.

The Crow: Curare #1, Six-Gun Gorilla #1, and Wild BLue Yonder #1 earned high marks in our recent First Impressions review.

The Crow: Curare #1, Six-Gun Gorilla #1, and Wild Blue Yonder #1 earned top marks in our recent First Impressions review.

Not so fortunate was Age of Ultron #10, which Troy Osgood described as a “colossal waste of time” and “horribly bad.” Not one to mince words, that guy.

Also, if you guys have been going to the site for a while, you’ll notice that we’re sporting a revamped look. How do you like it? Let us know in the comments section below or via our social media channels (you can get to them using the icons at the top right).

Apropos of nothing, how about we end this week with some Suicide/Rollins Band/Crow/Ghost Rider crossover goodness:

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