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A Good Start And A Narrow Escape

It’s a good news, bad news — or more precisely, bad but narrowly escaped much worse news — kind of day. Let’s start with the good news first.

  • The Abominable Charles Christopher Book 3 Kickstart is up, funded in less than an hour, and at the six hour mark is running more than 250%. It’s beautiful, it’s happening, and if there’s not a hardcover at the moment, if things go very well on the campaign¹, Karl Kerschl just might be able to swing it.

    Speaking for myself, I’d upgrade my sketch edition support tier (featuring three softcovers, original art in the latest) to a hardcover sketch edition to match my vol 1 and vol 2 in a heartbeat². We’ll look at predicted funding finish levels in the next day or so, but in the meantime, congratulations to Kerschl, it’s well-deserved; and congratulations to all of us who get to have such beautiful work on our shelves.

  • Okay, bad but coulda been much worse news: mere hours after taking an Eisner nomination for Banned Book Club, Ryan Estrada mentioned he was losing his day job and try to make a go of this cartooning thing as his sole form of income. Today, he gave us the details and it is not pretty.

    I’m going to quote this pretty much in its entirety because there is a lesson for everybody in the story:

    I have to leave my library gig because they asked everyone to sign a new contract that says
    -they can demand we stay after work to make new teaching materials for them
    -we have to use the images they demand (and I know they have little regard for copyright)

    Okay, that first point is bad, because fuck you, pay me, that’s why. The second point is worse, as it opens up Estrada and his colleagues to liability. It gets worse:

    -They’d have eternal, exclusive ownership of anything we make and can use it in any way we want
    -We’d accept unlimited and eternal legal and financial responsibility for damages caused by any copyright infringement in the things they demand we make them to use however they please

    I believe that third item should read any way they want, not we want, but the real horrorshow is the fourth. Under no circumstances should anybody, ever, accept legal responsibility for work that you are directed to produce by your employer. But maybe they just don’t realize what a bad ask this is?

    As it turns out, nope:

    I obviously could not sign that, so my employment will end.

    It was two little lines in an otherwise boring and ordinary contract, and after asking questions I learned it was not hypothetical and they intended to make use of it.

    Read your contracts carefully, kids.

    So like, they could say “stay until 9 and make us a powerpoint about Frozen” and then use it in the curriculum at dozens of for-profit schools across the country for years, then when Disney sues make me pay all the damages and legal fees.

    I had to explain to them today that we can’t even make materials using the images in our textbooks, by reverse image searching and finding out how their subsidiary paid for them on shutterstock.

    Too many fellow teachers signed without realizing how ruinous it could be. [emphasis mine]

    So yeah, being without a job is bad, but not reading the contract, not realizing the importance of those two lines, signing and ending up on the hook down the line? Disaster. And anybody what asks you to sign that contract and doesn’t take out those lines when you point out how you can be held responsible for illegal acts ordered by your superiors?

    Run as far and as fast as you can.

    Normally, this is where I’d put links to the store of the creator in question, but if you look up and down Estrada’s site, almost everything is marked Read It Free!, which is not going to help him come October. So here are books that Estrada has sufficient financial interest in³ that buying a copy of them might actually benefit him directly: Banned Book Club; Student Ambassador; Poorcraft: Wish You Were Here.

    He doesn’t have a way to directly send him money, so maybe just post a lot on social media about how much you like his work (pictures of purchases would be helpful), give his agents something to work with.

    And whatever else you do, read your contracts carefully, kids, and also thank Estrada for sharing this object lesson that you might not end up in the coulda been much worse category yourself.

Spam of the day:

Many have the misconception of Buddhism being a religion. Buddhism is really more of a way of life whch can wired our brains positively and see changes in a different light.

Not according to Zach Weinersmith, it’s not.

¹ Which they appear to be doing at the moment.

² My hardcovers of book 1 and book 2 featuring drawings of a panicky chipmunk and Moon Bear, respectively. Book 3? LUGA. Book 4? So many choices — deranged great horned owl and grandowlet? Andy the bumblebee? The domestic drama with the songbirds, the roleplaying critters, some of Sissi Skunk’s minions hawking Squirrel Chew? So. many. choices.

³ That is, he’s not one of many contributors in an anthology.

Okay, I know US labour laws basically suck compared to much of the world, but how in hell is that contract Ryan Estrada faced even legal? Here in Australia, that would be completely unenforceable. And if you took the contract to the Fair Work Commission, they’d definitely have something VERY EXPENSIVE to say to the employer – AND Estrada’s job would be protected and they wouldn’t be able to fire him without a huge compensation payout.

Ugh. I wish him the best.

Ryan lives in Busan, South Korea.

In the US, it would also be unenforceable, but the rest of what you said wouldn’t apply because Freedom.

So kind of you, Gary! The broadness of the “any IP you own in the building” thing freaked me out too because I’m always working on stuff in my down time. It wouldn’t be on their radar but anyone who wanted to get weird could hypothetically scroll my twitter timeline for any pictures of art with the pattern of my desk in the background and say “we own that graphic novel.” But hopefully I’ll start earning my first royalties in 40 years! I don’t earn royalties on Poorcraft: WYWH (though I do recommend it!) but Banned Book Club and Student Ambassador, yes! The best thing comics folks can do for Hyun Sook and I is vote for us in the Eisners so we can turbo-boost our path to more book advances!

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