Reading things like this is very distressing. I’ve talked about things like this once in a while in this blog, trying to make readers here aware of the things they should know about being comic book creators in the Philippines.
Philippine komiks is in a turbulent period of transition. Old practices are slowly, and painfully, giving way to new and different practices. There are a lot of things that both creator and publisher need to be made aware of that seriously affects the roles they play in the industry.
Young and aspiring artists are very eager to see their work in print, willing to work even for free just to see that happen. I know the feeling because I was there myself. And this is a very dangerous thing because it opens the young artist to all kinds of exploitation. I talk about exploitation further here:
Don’t Sell Yourself Short
Exploitation and Self Exploitation in Comics
Because we are in a period of transition, a lot of artists don’t realize that they are entitled to certain rights.
You have the right to own your original art. If the publisher wants to keep it, they have to pay extra for it. But you can keep it if you want to.
You have the right to own the characters that you create. If the company does not allow you to own the characters you create, they are in violation of the Intellectual Property Code. They can only own your characters if you sign away your right in a contract. You can sell the right to them if you like, but it will cost them extra. So don’t sign any contracts until you read it carefully.
The Significance of Republic Act 8293 to Philippine Comic Book Creators
Many artists, specially those who worked for the big companies in the past, don’t realize that they are entitled to these rights, but Philippine law gives this to them. But they will only be yours if you ASK for them. Because publishers will take it by default. This is the “old way”. It is the way in which they feel they are entitled only to pay you a page rate, and they get everything else.
That is no longer the case.
It’s really up to us, the writers and artists, to tell these publishers that the “old way” is gone. And as artists and writers, we are entitled more than just rates. And you will only get your rights if you ask for it, push for it, INSIST on it. Nobody is going to do these things for you. And if you want things to get better, you can’t sit on your ass waiting for it to happen, and then piss and moan when things continue to suck.
If publishers don’t want to give those rights to you, then don’t work for them. That’s a hard stand to take when you are young and eager and the only thing you want is to get your work in print. It’s equally hard for and older guy, who can’t afford not to accept any jobs. That’s understandable, but it’s also why people get exploited, and that’s one of the many reasons why industries die.
A word of advice to publishers. It’s well and good that you have decided to publish comics. The Philippine comics industry really needs more publishers today. Just don’t forget that aside from putting out comics out there, part of being a comics publisher is the capability of paying your writers and artists well, and treating your artists with respect.
If you cannot do that, then don’t even bother publishing comics at all.