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Michael Grabowski On Use Of The World “Acquired” In Recent Comics Publishing Announcements
posted December 2, 2010

Is there a story in the use of the word "acquired" in D+Q's worldwide claim to rights for The Death Ray comic? I guess it applies here, but it's normally something you read about corporate properties -- Marvel acquiring Marvelman, for instance, or Sony acquiring Spider-Man.

It just seems unusual to to me to read a press release like D+Q's that follows the format of the traditional Hollywood press release for something like this. I also wonder if "acqiured" means something other than "purchased," since I can't imagine D+Q having the resources to compensate Clowes in the same way that Pantheon must have been able to do for Ice Haven.

It also makes me really curious as to how it is that Fantagraphics seems to fare poorly when it comes to projects and artists they once published moving on to other publishers. Especially in this case. To me, the movement of a property from FBI to Pantheon at least seems logical in a way that a similar movement to D+Q does not. I imagine it's some difference inherent in the publishers' respective relationships with FS & G vs. Norton because it's not as if D+Q by itself has any greater name recognition in the book buying world than FBI. No doubt these are the sorts of things that are closely guarded negotiating secrets and for all I know Fantagraphics had the opportunity to bid on it too, but even if this isn't as big a story as it would be if, say, IDW were to start publishing Love and Rockets, it's still notable for being yet another case where a book that FBI took the initial risk in publishing in a (probably) money-losing format sees a second and somewhat-to-far-more public and likely profitable life for some other publishing house. I think there's a story in that, too, but probably a harder one to be able to tell.

On the other hand, what a wonderful time for comics when the person who created the work in question is able to have such discretion to choose his publisher and negotiate the value of his work, and benefit from its iterations in other media. In the same time period that comics' founding fathers' estates are battling over whether they are due a fair share of past or future corporate profits on characters and concepts their dads created, Clowes, Kirkman, & O'Malley, among others, are able to earn hopefully really good money for the work they created and more importantly they have the full unchallenged right to determine its value on their terms. Their example is a huge story, too. Way to go, comics!