This edition of Monsters Hide Under Comics (MHUC) presents us with another tale of woe, and confusion. I am not sharing any of these stories to denigrate, tear down, or call anyone out. If you will notice, I have yet to use any names, and/or company affiliations. Merely, I want to share with every new creator the things that you should know, and prepare yourself for, before getting into the indie comics/small press scene. After the response to the last article, I sat down with myself to try and analyze other aspects of my, albeit short, career. I harbor no ill-will toward any of these creators, and often do not reflect on these moments. I hope that future editions of MHUC will include candid insight from other creators.
A few years back, I had sent off some of my scripts to a few small press publishers to find a house that I could write under. I still had dreams of launching Catalyst Comics Studio, but this was before the growth of that company began. One of these publishers got back to me and asked to have a phone conversation, which ended up lasting a good two-and-a-half to three hours. I was asked what my favorite superheroes were, to which I answered completely honestly. After a further conversation, I was asked to help conceptualize a version of one of those characters that would translate well into their style. So, I did, and I loved the concept I came up with. I began scripting the first issue, twisting tales of my own with the familiar elements of the more known characters. I was excited, and when I received the first pages back to review, I was truly thrilled to be a part of something at this level. The artist is fantastic and I could not wait to get that book out and into people’s hands. While that title was in development, I began working on another character concept for that company. This one was based on another favorite character of mine. Once again, I was thrilled when I started seeing the work from a different, and award-winning, artist. That book progressed much faster than the other one, and we eventually came around to corrections, lettering, and publication.
Here is where my tale of excitement flipped into a story of caution. As the pages came back for art corrections, there were no issues, and it went fairly smooth. However, once it came time to reviewed lettered pages, I began to have questions. The person lettering the book took their liberties with the script, adding in and taking out dialogue. This was NOT okay with me, nor had I been asked if I was willing to have my script altered. I voiced my protest and was told that it was meant to enhance my work, nothing more. I knew the protest would go nowhere from that point, and the book was finally released. My original script was a deep story of a father’s love for his child as he progressed through sickness, recovery, and the discovery of his superpowers. The story ended up a bit cheesier, with quips and lines brought in that take the reader right out of the story. Further, the letterer used some of the uncorrected art pages and they published that version of it.
Of course, this ended up being my first comic book, so I was still excited to have something in my hands that I had a stake in. I signed it, showed it off, and moved on. I had pre-scripted another issue for that series, although I do not believe it will ever be used. For myself, I re-lettered the book and printed a single copy of it, calling it the “Unredacted Version”. As for the first story I was excited about? The art is still gorgeous, and I believe it is about halfway finished, put on a back burner somewhere. Once Catalyst grew, we offered to buy the property, but to no avail.
The note to take away from here is DO NOT let yourself be pushed around when it comes to working that YOUR name goes on. Fight for what you believe is right. Heck, if I had just been asked to do some rewrites I would have had zero issues doing it. Guard yourselves, guard your work, and remember that your name only carries you so far if there is no integrity behind it. As always, do better, be better.