Did Comics Get Its First Union?

In surprise breaking news, the entire comics industry has united under a single banner: The Comics Creator Union. It’s unprecedented that every single publisher will now have to report to a union which will actually take care of their talent, giving them collective bargaining rights, higher wages, better benefits, and more. Creators currently work as freelancers, eschewing the perks of regular jobs (health care, job security), in exchange for working on properties they loved as children.

This move comes at the perfect time where beloved comic creators such as Bill Mantlo, co-creator of Rocket Raccoon, and Don Perlin, co-creator of Moon Knight, are aging and need help with healthcare. Luckily, The Comics Creator Union has installed a safety net for their older creators, who’ve given everything to the medium, which is now being mined for billions of dollars by Hollywood. Comic book publishers are now popping up overnight as IP farms in an attempt to get rich quick. These publisher have creators do work-for-hire, money for a page rate, in exchange for film and television rights.

Traditionally, publishers don’t care about comic creators, unless there’s a possible public backlash. Superman was created in 1938, by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, but it wasn’t until 1975 that Warner Bros. agreed to give Siegel and Shuster a yearly stipend, medical benefits, and credit their names in all future Superman stories, in exchange for no longer contesting ownership of Superman, following various lawsuits. Siegel’s heirs later settled another lawsuit with Warner Bros. in 2001 for a payment of $3 million, an annual stipend of $500,000, a 6% royalty of Superman and a 1% royalty of his publications, and full medical benefits. Warner also agreed to insert the line “By Special Arrangement with the Jerry Siegel Family” in all future Superman productions. The most recent lawsuit between Shuster’s heirs and Warner Bros. ended in 2013.

Similarly, Bob Kane and Bill Finger co-created Batman in 1939, but thanks to a contract with National Comics (the future DC Comics), Kane received sole credit. Finger didn’t receive his first creator credit until 2015, 41 years after his death, following a deal between the Finger family and DC. A union solves all character creation issues.

Just kidding. There’s no comics union. April Fool’s.

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