Oh my goodness, isn’t this just timely? And right in the middle of my VERY BAD PUBLISHER reposts!


OK, a publisher is approaching creators asking them to work on spec on a MR T project, and promises BIG RETURNS on the back end.

That’s what they ALL say.

This publisher’s previous graphic novel featuring MR T was touted in this press release. Did anyone ever see this? Did it sell? Did it make any money for the creators?

Buckley continues: ‘Most so-called “graphic novels” are reprints of comics, the equivalent of cobbling together a bunch of episodes of a TV show and calling it a “movie”; or works that, in their desire to be highbrow, determinedly distance themselves from their comic forefather.

‘Neither makes full use of the inherent potential in graphic novel storytelling. This book – an all-original like Mr. T himself – does.’

Good lord.

One wouldn’t want to be distanced from one’s “comic forefather”.


Working on spec NEVER WORKS. At least, not in my experience.

Rarely does ANY celebrity-related project pay off for the comic creator. I’ve NEVER had a celebrity related project do diddly squat for my career. Ever. Period.

If JK Rowling waves her magic wand and gives you the Harry Potter assignment, you can bet the publisher will pay you up front.

A lot.

If MR T is all that and a bag of chips like his press release claims, he ought to be able to afford to pay the artist up front, too. One thing’s for damn sure: someone can afford a lawyer.

I spent years doing free crap on a small press author’s books, and at no time ever did a single one of those free jobs (correction: for one job in ten, I was paid a WHOPPING $500) pay off in terms of future work, prestige, better work, or anything else. Ever!


And as you know from my previous VERY BAD PUBLISHER posts, creative accounting can keep you from ever seeing any profits on the back end.

The other lesson for today: some Very Bad Publishers shut down and reopen under new names. Why, one of my old Very Bad Publishers did this years ago, then tried to get me to sign a contract with them all over again.

Yet they did not let me know they were on the Board of Directors for the new company. They simply had an editor call me up and make me an offer. It was some time before I found out that they were the exact same people whose company I had just left, using a new name.

Nice one, hunh?

No, didn’t fall for it.

AND BY THE WAY, a few words about those STUPID EMAIL DISCLAIMERS. Just because you send someone an email, that does not force a contract upon the recipient.

A secret shared with dozens of freelance artists you do not know, and with whom you have no prior professional experience, and whom you do not necessarily intend to pay for their work is no secret at all.

UPDATE: I don’t usually recommend that you read comments. You should definitely read this crop.