Scan and information from milehighcomics.com
, thanks to Ilke.
HEADLINE: George Perez issues a challenge to artists: Pay tribute, not homage.
the 17-plus years since I've been in the industry, this is the first
letter I've ever written to any fan or trade publication. While there
have been many controversial discussions to which I wanted to submit my
opinion, I've usually let my more fluent and articulate contemporaries
handle the sometimes bellicose banter that often prevails in these
pages. In these times where our industry is hurting and many
professionals see themselves forced into figuratively taking arms
against one another, I'd just like to pass on a recent experience I had
with an editor that shows that there is still such a thing as integrity
in this four-color business.
A while ago, I
received a phone call from DC editor Mike Carlin regarding a cover he
and artist Jon Bogdanove were working on for Superman: The Man of Steel
#10. It was to be one of those ever-increasing numbers of what we now
call "Homage Covers," covers which are patterned after another artist's
cover of years past and usually acknowledged as such. This particular
cover was to be based on my "death of Supergirl" cover for Crisis on Infinite Earths
#7. Mike thought that, since the actual design for the cover was originally mine, then I was entitled to the cover design fee.
for the sake of the uninitiated: Total payment for cover art is usually
divided into three parts: The Design Sketch, The Pencil Art, and The
Ink Art. In the major companies, many covers are designed by specific
cover editors and/or art directors, although these days many more are
being designed by the pencillers themselves. When I worked for Marvel in
the 1970s, practically all my covers were designed by Marie Severin,
John Romita Sr., or Ed Hannigan. While I designed a few, it wasn't until
I went over to DC in 1980 that I started designing all my own covers as
well as some for other artists.
offer both flabbergasted and embarrassed me. It turns out that this was
a regular policy for him, and that other artists had been similarly
remunerated in like cases involving the Superman titles.
all the fuss that we artists, myself included, make and have made about
the rights, worth, and value of any individual artist in this business,
the fact that such an obvious means of expression has escaped most of
our notice is pretty unpardonable, at least for me.
I know of two instances in my career when I deliberately used another artist's design. I used Nick Cardy's cover for Teen Titans
#23 as my inspiration for my The New Titans
#55 cover. Since his cover introduced the new Wonder Girl, it seemed
fitting to use that layout to introduce Troia, Wonder Girl's newest
incarnation. I added backgrounds and changed and added characters, but
the layout was definitely Cardy, as I indicated on the signature.
More blatant was my homage to Joe Shuster's cover for Superman
#1, which I lifted with nothing more than stylistic changes for my cover of Action Comics
#643. While, like the Titans
cover, the source art was acknowledged, I never even thought of paying
the original artist for the use of his design. In the case of that Action Comics
cover, DC used it as a promo, and it even appeared as accompanying art
for one of the Superman Action Figures for which I received further
payment. Plus, I made money on the resale of the art, while neither
original artist saw a penny. I am ashamed that I had not thought of this
myself and am taking steps to reimburse Messrs. Shuster and Cardy for
the use of their work.
The reason I am writing
this letter is to rally other artists to consider doing this, as well,
if they haven't considered it already. (Who knows? Maybe I'm the only
guy who's been so inconsiderate all these years.)
seen homage covers everywhere, to artists past and present. We are all
beneficiaries of the legacies these men and women have left, many of
whom could never have imagined just how much impact their work would
have. Nor could they ever foresee just how lucrative comic book art
could be. Much of our success we owe to them. They need to know, as all
us artists need to know, that the creative spark that individualizes all
artists is worth something. It's a simple matter of respect. Homage is
fine. Tribute is better. These artists deserve the design fee, if
nothing else. It isn't much, but it is right.
I'm blowing off so much wind, this is a good time to give a
much-belated public thank-you to another man who early on showed me that
there was more to creating comics than just lining one's own pocket. At
a time when artists and writers seldom crossed over into one another's
turf, Marv Wolfman, acknowledging plotting contributions to The New Teen Titans
totally on his own volition insisted on giving me half his plotting fee
straight out of his own pocket. This, at a time when most artists'
contribution to a comic-book story
was seldom acknowledged. The
idea of co-plotting credit and payment (which was unheard of then) has
since become an industry standard. Marv made me feel like I was more
than just another artist -- I was his equal partner.
To Marv Wolfman and Mike Carlin: Thanks for reminding me, both yesterday
and today, that there's always room for integrity in this beleaguered world.