What I'm going to say may seem contradictory, but while I totally agree in principle with Mr. Davis' outrage, I would cut Book Palace some slack. As far as I can see, they are a small press concern that is putting out very limited editions (a few hundred copies tops), so I seriously doubt the profit pie (if there is any at all) is big enough to share even a small piece with the heirs of the authors. I imagine these books barely break even and if they do, any meagre profit is used to finance the next projects in the pipeline. Of course, I could be wrong, and even a small symbolic fee would be nice, sure.
To me the real outrage is with mass-publisher Prion books
and its line of UK classic reprints, because unlike Book Palace and Titan books, they don't even put the names of the creators on the books.
The following is a disjointed rant I wrote some time ago on the subject, and posted on other boards:http://archives.tcj.com/messboard/viewt ... 956#101956
I also try to send it to "the right places" in order to raise awareness on a subject that I find an outrage, but nobody seems to care: What if DC published right now a comic without credits to the authors?
Could DC release one of those showcase phonebooks totally uncredited? With a contents page featuring only the title of the stories, their page number on the book, and no mention whatsoever of the writers and artists? Furthermore, with no credits to the authors anywhere to be seen in the whole process of marketing and promotion of the book?
Wouldn't people wonder "Hey, who wrote and drew these 600 pages of Superman comics"? or to put it less mildly, wouldn't people be surrounding DC Comics with torches and burning that temple of corporate mediocrity to the ground? Wouldn't it be like the scandal of the year in the comic industry?
DC would never do that. In fact, most Showcase volumes, specifically the ones that reprint the older and more obscure material, have disclaimers to explain why some stories are credited to "the unknown writer", and those disclaimers send the reader to this page: http://www.dccomics.com/errata/
An entire section of DC official webpage devoted to the company's commitment to creator credits:
"DC Comics believes we should properly credit every story that we publish when information is available."
OK, but does this commitment apply to publishers that licence comics from the company? In other words, if you buy the rights to reprint comics from DC, can you publish them uncredited and get away with it? Maybe a recent Internet episode can give us a clue.
Do you remember the recent controversy surrounding a collection of Japanese 60s Batmanga? It was a book licensed to DC to a mass-market publisher, Pantheon, and some people protested because the name of the editor, Chip Kidd, was far more prominently displayed and acknowledged than the name of the actual cartoonist who wrote and drew the manga, Jiro Kuwata. http://myriadissues.blogspot.com/2008/1 ... manga.html
Anyone can imagine what would have happened if the name of the cartoonist were totally absent from the book.
Well, that's what's happening in the UK right now, and not with a single book. An entire line of books, licenced by DC Comics, is being published with the name of the editor prominently displayed on them, credited as "author" or "general editor", while the names of all the writers and artists that actually created the comics are totally absent from them.
DC Comics is the "custodian" of the vast comic catalog of IPC Media
. My theory is that they have been assigned with that task because both companies belong to Time Warner, but IPC no longer publishes comics and DC is the only comics publishing unit in the corporation. Anyway, the fact is that in the last 2 years, DC has been licensing some of this material to Prion Books, an imprint of UK mass-market publisher Carlton Books, which has released more than a dozen collections. All of them, without exception, have no credits to the writers and artists that created the stories reprinted within.
I discovered this atrocity months ago when I bought 2 of these books: RICK RANDOM SPACE DETECTIVE and the Western collection HIGH NOON, and was aghast to see the lack of credits anywhere on the books. Then, I started googling and I discovered how the evidence is there on the Internet for all to see.
The DC implication can be easily seen in each and every indicia page of those books: http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... ynVcO+Lm/Y
"Published under licence from DC Comics
The publisher would like to thank the team at IPC Media Ltd and DC Comics for their help in compiling this book
, particularly David Abbott and Linda Lee
Copyright IPC Media 2008"
Other examples: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/reader/18537 ... eader-page http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... 1lzWNuGhma http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/reader/18537 ... eader-page http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... ccyrjTPQv9
Uncredited contents page: http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... 63MqMZIKRq
Among these books, of special interest to me are the collections of the IPC "Picture Libraries", series of digest-sized books of around 64 pages each, very popular in the 60s, 70s and 80s, http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2008/12/f ... f-war.html
that employed a huge legion of excellent Italian, Spanish and South American artists to illustrate their stories, among them names of the caliber of Hugo Pratt or Alberto Breccia
, one of 2009 Will Eisner Comic Industry Hall of Fame Nominees: http://www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_eisner ... ml#Breccia
Prion has released so far at least 8 collections of IPC Picture Libraries, with 2 more announced for the first half of 2009. The format is very similar to the Essential/Showcase phonebooks from Marvel and DC, but usually even thicker with a minimum of 650 pages, reprinting at least 10 Picture Library digests each. None of these books has been solicited through the Previews catalog, apparently because the reprint rights don't include North America. For months, I saw how the editor and compiler of these books, Steve Holland, posted on his blog entries with the credits of the books. I though this was only for information and promotion purposes, until very recently that I finally was able to finally buy the 2 abovementioned books and was appalled to see the lack of credits, so now I think Mr. Holland has been posting the credits on his blog because he isn't allowed to include them in the actual books: Unleash Hell: War Picture Library Collection No.1
Credits of the stories in editor's blog entry: http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2007/09/unleash-hell.html
Cover, spine and back cover with name of editor prominently displayed: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_XsVALQtGIZM/R ... h+Hell.jpg
This book reprints one story (64 pages) drawn by Hugo Pratt, creator of Corto Maltese and one of the most important comic authors of all time. No credit or mention of this fact on the book.
This is only one of the eleven Picture Library issues, that according to this page: http://www.dandare.info/artists/pratt.htm
Pratt drew for IPC in the early 60s. Over 700 pages of Hugo Pratt comics.
From the Amazon preview of the book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/reader/18537 ... eader-link
Contents page without credits to any of the authors, including Hugo Pratt: http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... U4Ma5f8eOU
"The Iron Fist" Page 329.
64 pages of Hugo Pratt art, probably never before reprinted. Uncredited. Published in the UK in the year 2007 and licenced by DC Comics. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Promotional page: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_XsVALQtGIZM/R ... ll+UKT.jpg
Author: Steve Holland
Rights: "World excluding North America" Against All Odds: War Picture Library Vol. 2 http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2008/08/a ... brary.html http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_XsVALQtGIZM/S ... ull%29.jpg
Amazon Preview: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/reader/18537 ... eader-link
Indicia page with DC references: http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... LWI8Ci/9Et
Uncredited contents page: http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... U4Ma5f8eOU
Death Or Glory: Battle Picture Library Collection No.1 http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2007/09/d ... glory.html
Featuring one story (64 pages) by John Severin. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_XsVALQtGIZM/R ... +Glory.jpg
Promotional page: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_XsVALQtGIZM/R ... +UKT+1.jpg
Author: Steve Holland
Rights: "World excluding North America"
From the Amazon preview:
Indicia page with DC references: http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... ynVcO+Lm/Y
Contents page without credits to authors: http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... Ksl7UQiFt0
Do you think DC would dare to reprint comics drawn by John Severin without credits? Of course not, it would be an scandal: http://www.dccomics.com/dcu/graphic_novels/?gn=8757
But is there any difference between doing that and selling reprint rights to other publisher and letting them do it? Let 'Em Have It: Battle Picture Library Vol.2 http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2008/09/l ... brary.html http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_XsVALQtGIZM/S ... ll%29s.jpg
Amazon Preview: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/reader/18537 ... eader-page http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... 7iEh2joYVN http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... L9xHc4oui0 High Noon http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2008/09/high-noon.html http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_XsVALQtGIZM/S ... ull%29.jpg http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/reader/18537 ... eader-link http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... uFYTSfABow
Double uncredited contents page: http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... BXWR1HPaCM http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... Hk5QBGSBXK
This one reprints 3 stories by legendary Alberto Breccia, the most important South American comic artist of all time, and one of 2009 Will Eisner Comic Industry Hall of Fame Nominees: http://www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_eisner ... ml#Breccia
In a just world, any book with almost 200 hundred pages by Breccia, or 64 pages by Hugo Pratt, would be a publishing event. Here and now, DC comics allows these books to be published without any credit or mention of this fact, and makes money of it. Rick Random - Space Detective http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2008/09/r ... ctive.html http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_XsVALQtGIZM/S ... +FINAL.jpg http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/reader/18537 ... eader-page http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... BkxhVCl7Pf http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... CEYTR7UvLk
This book is somewhat of an exception, because although the contents page is uncredited like all the others, the name of the artist that drew the entire content of the book, Ron Turner, receives a passing mention in the introduction and in the back cover: http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... 3XJZgX+fIT
I suppose that publishing almost 700 pages of comics by the same artist without at least mentioning his name in passing was just too much, even for these guys. Valentine Picture Story Library http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2008/01/v ... brary.html "Hospital Nurse Picture Library": Love on Ward B
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/reader/1853756660/ref=sib_dp_pt#reader-link http://sitb-images-eu.amazon.com/Qffs+v ... OQ5i6CIdM2
Upcoming in 2009 (April and June respectively): Up and at 'em!: War Picture Library Vol. 3 http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2008/11/c ... ts_17.html http://www.amazon.co.uk/%2522War-Pictur ... 853756989/ Aces High: The 10 Best Air Ace Picture Library Comic Books Ever!
http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2008/12/comic-cuts-aces-high-10-of-best-from.html http://www.amazon.co.uk/Aces-High-Pictu ... 853757039/
No Amazon previews available yet, but it's safe to say that these books will perpetuate the infuriating no-credits practice.
All these books (except the female oriented "Valentine" and "Hospital Nurse") have been edited by Steve Holland, but I don't put the blame on him. The guy has written 3 books devoted to catalog every single IPC Picture Library, investigating all the credits: http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2007/09/w ... aries.html
"Where possible we have identified the artists, scriptwriters and cover artists"
He clearly loves this stuff and is doing a great job with all these books. On top of that, he has edited other books for other publishers: http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2008/02/f ... -hood.html http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2008/09/f ... d-his.html
where the name of the creator, Frank Bellamy, not only is given credit, but also prominently displayed on the covers.
So it's obvious that, if he could, he would include credits in the Prion books, but the publisher doesn't allow it. (It's also true, however, that he hasn't refused to let his name be displayed on the spine and covers of the books in big letters under the pompous title of "General Editor", while the names of giants like Hugo Pratt or Alberto Breccia are nowhere to be seen). Still, the real culprits are Prion, of course, and DC Comics, for allowing this to happen on comics authorized and licenced by them, and making money of it.
Speaking of which, here's a list of Amazon sales ranks compiled by Holland himsefl: http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2009/01/c ... ts_10.html
It's obvious the books are selling, at least well enough for Prion to keep churning them out.
Also, for contrast's sake: not long ago, DC was licencing some IPC stuff like "The Spider" and "The Steel Claw" to Titan books, at the same time than Wildstorm was using some of those characters in a modern relaunch: http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=29348 http://www.dccomics.com/wildstorm/graph ... s/?gn=6312
As far as I know, these Titan reprints credited the authors of the strips inside and even on the covers: http://www.fustar.info/images/site/spidersteelclaw.jpg
Titan did the right thing with the credits, as they always do. Prion isn't, because DC is letting them.
BTW, I'm focusing this rant on the credits issue, but in a perfect world any publisher reprinting this kind of stuff would be tracking down the writers and artists (or more likely their heirs, because most of them are dead by now) and paying them royalties. There's no legal obligation to do it, but morally it's the least they could do. But since that won't happen, the very least those artists deserve is getting credited. For instance, one of the most featured artists in the War books is José Ortiz, an Spanish artist who is alive and professionally active, drawing TEX for the Italian market. Other examples of artists still alive and kicking are Solano López or John Severin. Wouldn't they like, at the very least, to know that their old British stuff is being succesfully reprinted?
Other issue that baffles me is what DC is doing with the vast IPC catalog. IMO all those classic British comics are far more interesting and certainly far more readable than the vast majority of superhero pap DC churned out before the 80s that has ben extensively reprinted first in Archives and now in Showcase form. The fact that the rights of these Prion books are, as seen above, "World excluding North America", could imply that DC has its own plans for this material, but I doubt it.
Is DC even aware that they could publish dozens of comics, hundreds and hundreds of pages by Hugo Pratt, Alberto Breccia or Solano López, without having to pay any rights or translations?
Certainly, DC could easily launch its own line of Showcase-format books for the IPC catalog, but if all they want is licencing the stuff to others and collecting the money, the least they could do is make sure the books have credits.