It was just brought to my attention that a fan artist who was kind enough to let me put her work in A Distant Soil in the 1990’s claims that I never paid her for use of the work.

I didn’t. It’s fan art.

If you don’t want me to publish your fan art, you are welcome to send it to me with a note asking me NOT to publish it. You are welcome to post it on your own pages.

But don’t send your work to me, then claim I am ripping you off or trying to steal it when I publish it at your request.

This artist befriended me at a show then begged to be allowed to contribute to Images of A Distant Soil, a gallery of ADS art by professional creators. Her work was so late we could not include it, and while it was good amateur work, it was not professional caliber. For some perspective, that book included the work of Walt Simonson. David Mack, Jim Valentino, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Buichi Terasawa: top quality creators. (And for some more perspective, the whopping profit on this thing was $23 per page.)

This was nothing personal against this artist. Leah Adezio also sent me a nice piece for Images of A Distant Soil which I chose not to use. She also later asked me to please publish it as fan art, and I did. I never had any further complaints from Leah. And I truly appreciate the fan artists who take time to make pictures of my work.

The disappointed fan artist asked me to publish her work as fan art in the A Distant Soil comic. I was happy to do so. Until…

Even I, the artist, do not get my work back from the publisher within 60 days. But within 60 days of publication, the fan artist imagined I was trying to steal her original art.

As the creator of A Distant Soil , I do not get paid within 60 days of publication. Sometimes not even within six months. But I was accused of non-payment for fan art on a book within 60 days of sale date.

There is little enough profit on the book as is without dividing up the modest income among the fan artists who send in their work. And there was no profit after adding up the costs of rushing the original art back via international Fedex from our printer to placate this woman. We could not use UPS: they were on strike. Not to mention the many long distance phone calls dealing with this mess: some $800 worth. And aren’t you glad we have long distance plans now? There was no profit.

After months of dealing with these complaints, I tried to track her down when the accrual statement for the book came in, but no go. She had disappeared. (EDIT) After she got the art back, my last communication from her was a note thanking me for its return, reading (quite hilariously, I thought) how “professionally” the art was packed. Like she’d know how the pros do it. Actually, when I get my art back from a publisher, it’s usually just thrown into a Fedex box without ceremony, but there you go. Anyway, I think the following spring when the new accruals came in, about a year after she blew the deadline to make Images of A Distant Soil and set the whole uber-drama in motion, I decided to let bygones be bygones and send her some extra copies of the book we had laying around. Her phone number was no longer in service, and I called that a sign from God to walk away. Which it wasn’t, because here we are twelve years later.

What should I do if I find her? I am pretty certain this is the kind of person who will not be satisfied no matter what I do. The minute her art was returned, she dropped off the face of the Earth. If someone owed me money, I suppose I’d, I dunno, send an invoice? Keep current contact info?

But there’s nothing to invoice because she knows perfectly well she asked me to publish her fan art for which she knew perfectly well she would not be paid. And while I’d love to detail the stratospheric heights to which this tale of lunacy ascended, that would make her easy to identify. She’s um…well, she’s had an online presence for years, and despite billing herself as an “arts ambassador”, she has less than 20 followers on Twitter. So, you know, overkill. Also, this woman is older than me, in her 50’s, and was an adult college student in 1996 according to something she wrote on a public forum (screen shot for posterity, thanks so much). Which had her a pushing 40 years old when she approached me. So, by her own public admission, an aspirant, just as I recall. And really…this behavior from an adult…seriously? Good God.

DON’T send me fan art, ask me to use it, and then complain about it later. There is NO payment for use of fan art on this website or in the comic. Can’t do it. Sorry.

PLEASE send me nothing you don’t want me to publish on the website or in the comic. OK?

I love fandom as much as the next person, and I think fanart and fanfic are great. I got my start in comics working on The Legion of Superheroes apazine Interlac. I’ll never forget the day Keith Giffen called me up and asked me if I’d be interested in working on the Legion!

But every once in awhile, someone becomes a pain in the butt.

If you want to make fanfic and fanart, it might be best to start a Yahoo group mailing list or something. I’d be happy to link to it. But I am not in a position to profit share fanart, and I can’t publish your fanfic at all.

If you don’t want it on the website or in the comic, PLEASE make that clear.

EDIT: To answer a couple of emails, no, the comics don’t make money. The graphic novels do. I have paid several authors and artists who worked on comics that made profits. Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, Jan Strnad, Caesar, Neil Gaiman, Kelly Freas, David Mack, to name a few.

But not every issue makes dough, and expenses vary, particularly advertising expenses. It’s pro-rated profit share. Every time we go to press with a GN, those expenses are accounted against comic book income, it can be 6-12 months or more before royalties come in to cover the five figure GN printing expense. If the expenses for her one page of participation were correctly applied, instead of spread over the whole book, her page was deeply in the red due to shipping costs and phone bills alone.

Have some reality to go with your check. Image is a co-op, and we don’t get page rates or any front income at all. It’s all back-end profit share. I’ve made decent money on the GN’s over the years, but not on the individual comics. They are a loss leader.

UPDATE: As of 2-10-12 the libelous comments this fan posted on their deviantart account about my non-payment, and attempt to abscond with her art (oh, for god’s sake, get some perspective, honey,) as well as the ludicrous claim my Teh Evil destroyed her comics career hopes, have now been hidden or removed on her deviantart page. She also removed all the critical comments from fans at her relating to the original post, including the link directing her to have a look here. I guess she didn’t like what she saw. Dishing it out when you think the subject will never see what you’ve written is so much easier than taking it, even when I didn’t out her by name as she deserved, I suppose. Since the remaining comments are hidden, I guess we’ve devolved back to the whisper campaign stage. Perhaps she’s worried that my Teh Evil will continue to destroy HER CAREEEEER. Yeah, whatever. I suggest she stop plagiarizing Mucha and photos of celebrities, and maybe she’ll have better luck with that.

And for the record, despite the claim that I failed to pay for her work, she never approached me for payment, even after seeing this post.

As far as I’m concerned, the matter is closed.

Though a public apology and retraction to follow up years of public excoriation would have been nice.

Yeah, I know, wish on a star.