I've taken the liberty of making some of my larger points bold.
I notice though you didn’t say anything about the design style of the characters which is a big issue and is very much derived from the SEGA Sonic style.
Ken Penders wrote:
Sir Bert Leaman wrote:that doesn’t mean you can continue to write in the Sonic universe and expect to publish it.
That depends how one defines the Sonic universe. Let's use my Knuckles stories as the example. While they were published in a title featuring a Sega-licensed character, though they took place primarily on a floating island, which is a setting in the games, the setting itself is not one Sega can own as a basic concept. What they do own are the various zones they establish in the games. Using those game-specific environments would be an infringement on Sega's rights. However, because I was never supplied with all the details of the game, once you get past the broad strokes - Knuckles, Chaotix, Chaos Emerald, Floating Island - there is absolutely nothing else that was based on anything Sega created for the games. All the details, characters, scenarios, etc. that were given life in the series were a product of my creativity.
You’ve repeatedly gone over the fact floating islands and magical rocks are broad ideas. I am familiar with that; I get it, I honestly do. You’ve made some vague suggestions that the terms “Angel Island” and “Chaos Emerald” won’t come up or will be renamed, but you’ve neglected to commit to either idea. If your intent is to just side-step that stuff, not just in your replies to us but also in your stories, I wish you’d be clear and say that.
I’m not sure how thoroughly you read my last post so let me be clear: I was saying that the abundance of similar ideas, even if renamed or somehow altered, can still constitute infringement. If you intend to just ignore all of those things that make the Sonic universe what it is, fine, give it a whirl and see what happens. If you intend to use a red anthropomorphic echidna who can fly/glide, has hard nubs on his fists that he uses for punching and is the guardian of a magical object and the island said object keeps aloft but totally isn’t Knuckles, you might have to think again.
Ken Penders wrote:
Sir Bert Leaman wrote:Your characters, however, were written for a licensed comic. That doesn’t change that you should be credited, but you cannot use Mobius, Sonic and co, Agel Island, Chaos Emeralds or Magic Rings among other things.
Where have I said I'm using Sonic, Mobius, Angel Island, Chaos Emeralds or Magic Rings? Just because my Knuckles characters, concepts and stories were used in a licensed comic doesn't mean Archie and/or Sega automatically owns anything and everything I created. They need a written contract where I assign them my rights. Absent that, all they have is the right to print the story one time. That's it.
You HAVEN’T said either way, and that was my point. These characters were created for a world that contains more than just what you added to it. My concern was over how you intend to approach characters that were made to work in a certain context and will lack that context if you try to use them on your own.
Ken Penders wrote:If you look at any other comic book work I ever did for any company, I received a contract which spelled out what the work I was doing for each and every issue on a separate basis in great detail. I would receive x amount of dollars per page for a total of x amount of pages. In addition, I was offered royalties spelled out in a variety of scenarios, including if my work was licensed or used by a third party. None of this occurred in my dealings with Archie.
I am familiar with how it works. I also wasn’t trying to bring up anything about your contracts with Archie. I just wanted to know how you plan to get around the things you didn’t create.
Ken Penders wrote:While this next part may sound egotistical, it's really not, but it is a part of the equation most don't take into consideration. One of the arguments people put forth is that the value of my material is derived because of its association with the Sega source material, but that totally ignores the flip side of the coin, in that it's my material which has provided value to the Sega source material, which in this case we're speaking primarily of KNUCKLES.
I didn’t bring up anything in this regard but while we’re on the subject, I personally feel your characters and stories would lose quite a bit without the attachment to SEGA. Regardless of how you feel about it, if I, the consumer, feel something has been lost and I am dissatisfied with the new work, I simply won’t buy it.
Ken Penders wrote:Outside of SONIC, no comic book based on a video game has lasted more than a few issues. Had I taken the approach many others did with other properties or kept to the format Mike Gallagher established, it's a pretty safe bet the title would not have lasted as long as it has. That's not ego, but an opinion rendered based on historical fact of how the comics industry worked back in the day. The Nintendo titles published by Valiant were based on video games that were the highest sellers of their day, yet they flamed out spectacularly when readers felt the comics added nothing extra to the game experience or understanding of the respective universe.
Again, this wasn’t anything I don’t already know nor was it something I brought up. You don’t need to continually fight for credit when replying to me because I’ve already acknowledged that the work you did on Sonic helped give it the oomph it needed to remain a viable comic property even to this day. You, however, didn’t do it alone and it has been carried on for years without you.
Ken Penders wrote:
Sir Bert Leaman wrote:You did a bunch of work on the book and as such the work that’s being done now is built on top of your contributions. Pull those out and the entire book would need restructuring to the point it could potentially get a reboot.
Which makes my argument for me. Either my work was important enough to the book that it's removal would warrant a complete makeover for the series or else my work was inconsequential to the point where no one would notice it's absence. There is no middle ground. Thus even you admit the removal of my work would have serious consequences.
Yes, but that has nothing to do with the quality of the work and everything to do with you setting ground work for people who followed in your footsteps. You worked on the book for a decade or so. You can’t just remove a decade of the book’s history without the book changing drastically or anyone not noticing. It would necessitate a massive restructuring of the book even if none of your contributions were actively being used in the book today.
Consumers today don’t care about what you did, they care about what you’re doing. That’s not to devalue the work you did in the past but rather say that it may be received differently in today’s market. I don’t know about everyone who posts here but I was reading the book when your work on it was new, starting on issue 11. I was about 8 at the time. What I liked or would read then isn’t the same as the stuff I’d like now. I still read the comic today because of nostalgia and because the book as continued to grow, evolve and get better but if it was the same as it was back when I started reading it, I doubt I would be very interested.
Now though, you’re not arguing that your work has value, just that the book’s value would be less without it. What you contributed has grown and evolved with the book under other writers and I wouldn’t want it to go back to what it used to be. If you were to pull your work out of the book and just use it by itself, I’m not sure I’d want to read it. Of course, I’d need to see a sample before making that sort of a decision. What I’m trying to say is that their place within the book has given your characters added value just as they have added value back to the book and neither would be worth as much separately.
Ken Penders wrote:What other writers added is not important nor have I ever implied what they added would remain in my version. Clearly, whether this was corporate edict or a decision on any writer's part, the Knuckles material was treated cavalierly and basically tossed overboard, keeping only what Archie/Ian/whomever wanted for whatever commercial purposes they deemed worthwhile where the bottom-line profits were concerned.
What anyone else added to your characters certainly wouldn’t be reflected in your own vision. I also wouldn’t assume you’d take into account any of the changes after you left. It’s the entirety of the world the books inhabit that I’m curious about. The characters you made existed in that world and for you to continue that work, you’d have to ditch that world and replace it with your own in some way or ignore it altogether.
Ken Penders wrote:Absent a contract which would include me receiving some form of royalty payment, neither Sega, Archie or the writers have the right to make use of my characters, concepts or stories even in new works. For Ian to announce he's going to feature the "Anti-Brotherhood" shows he doesn't respect creator rights either, even though neither he, Archie or Sega has the right to use these characters.
The book thus far has not changed. It is a conglomeration of all the efforts of writers past and present. That is the very nature of comics such as this one. Regardless of any legal business that has yet to be sorted out, the book is, for now, intact and until such a time as these trials are resolved, it’s all fair game. If Ian wants to make an Anti-Brotherhood, for the time being there’s nothing other than one of the higher-ups rejecting the idea that would stop him. For the record though, he didn’t announce that he would be featuring them, he just said he had ideas.
Ken Penders wrote:To put matters completely in perspective with who I'm dealing with here, Archie has authorized the sale of the hardcover editions "THE BEST OF DAN DeCARLO" and "THE BEST OF STAN GOLDBERG", featuring work both men did exclusively for Archie Comics. You would think that the artists would be receiving a share of the proceeds from the sales of books featuring their names, and you would be 100% wrong. Neither the estate of Dan DeCarlo or Stan Goldberg (who's very much alive and doing well) is receiving a dime from the sale of these books. And this is only the tip of the iceberg of the creators that are not receiving what is due them from the company.
Are you trying to make Archie out to be some monster or something? Yeah, that sucks, I feel for them, but I don’t buy the comics out of brand loyalty to Archie. I buy the comics because I enjoy the comics. Most companies are terrible and will pull underhanded moves if it means more money. I’m sorry Ken, I know business practices like this can be brutal and unfair, but it is the nature of the industry and the world we live in.
Ken Penders wrote:Right now Sega is also profiting from the sale of my work while I and the other Sonic creators who have no signed agreements with Archie or Sega receive absolutely nothing. With that in mind, I find it hard to see things from your perspective.
Ken, dude, my perspective was that you should be paid for reprints. I seriously feel like you didn’t actually read my post, instead picking out little pieces to spin and make yourself seem more pitiable or in the right. I seriously hope that’s not the case and maybe we’re just having some issue communicating.
...That is unless you're referring to how SEGA and Archie continue to use your characters as is typical to comic books in which case I feel they should be able to continue doing so. You don't need to bring up contracts and who signed what. Frankly, you say you didn't sign anything, they say you did and it's not my place to make a judgement call there. All I know is it's common practice for characters and concepts to remain with the book, not the writer, and and I don't want to see the current comic destroyed over all this, though I still think you should get paid for reprints.