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Tokyopop's contract is bad juju

This isn't a complaint, but a mild warning for anyone thinking of submitting to Tokyopop.

destroyerzooeygoes through the Tokyopop contract, picking it apart and tells us what to be wary of.
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( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 29th, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
Ohhh Tokyopop... Can't wait to pass this to friends who want to work with them. For the longest time I've been so wary of Tokyopop and I'mglad I at least now have something to show as to why.

Also can't wait for Viz to start picking up American creators. They don't seem to be shady. (Though everything I know is from a talk with the editor of Shonen Jump. But he made it very clear that creators are going to retain all rights to their work.)
May. 29th, 2008 03:29 am (UTC)
I think I had read or heard that they were looking for finished works though. It seems promising, but limiting.
May. 29th, 2008 03:32 am (UTC)
No. Not finished works. they're going to be picking up people and having them work from scratch. This isn't going to be for another couple of years though.
May. 29th, 2008 04:46 am (UTC)
I think that what they said in a recent podcast was frpm Viz marketing, so we will have to look for some official word /formal word to see if both scenarios really are true.

Prior to that though, I'm not convinced the manga market is going to hold up. While there was still growth this past year while the economy began sagging, if the economy goes really down the tubes, talent "a few years down the road" may be short-shrifted. The biggest sellers for the major publishers has been imported work thus far.
May. 29th, 2008 04:14 am (UTC)
This confirms a few things a friend of mine told me when she pitched them her comic. :( They wanted to change the names, have someone else draw it, and not give credit to her.

Oh, but if she wanted credit and to show up at the cons for book signings, she had to lose weight and pile on paler make up because she was a "mess." They also said some things that bordered on racism, seeming to imply she wasn't white or asian enough to be a manga artists/writer. D:
May. 29th, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC)
That's awful. o_o I hope she didn't sign anything.
May. 29th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
Oh hell no. Not after how they treated her just at that conference. D:

Crappy terms aside, they were jerks, they treat artists like show dogs to trot out at conventions and writers like the Phantom of the Opera, kept neatly out of sight for fear of turning off their audience.
(Deleted comment)
May. 29th, 2008 05:41 am (UTC)
I think I'm going to share this with the people at the anime cons I go to in the Artist's Alley. Definitely food for thought. Thanks for sharing!
May. 29th, 2008 07:52 am (UTC)

What do you expect for a company that takes on spec work only? smart comic artists don't do on spec work. Tokyo pop caters exclusively to young artists who want their big break without doing all the work, as such it's a riskier route than the long way is.

Also this person highlighted standard parts of a contract the freak about. The "you will protect us if you violate someone elses rights" clause is a standard in most contracts and Terms of Service contracts.

Modification rights? About standard. That's basically there so they can't reformat it for advertising and stuff or even fix some of the basic panel mistakes some artists make without having to ask the artist to do it for them.

"moral rights" is applicable only outside the US anyway, it falls under the european model of copyright. So if you're in the US, it wouldn't apply to you anyway. All it covers anyway is your right to have your name on the work. I doubt tokyopop will remove it but they also don't want to spend endless hours arguing with some artist who wants their name done a specific way.

The "match offer" part is standard, it's considered poor form in the industry to not offer first refusal to whomever you contacted first. Which is why a lot of them specify they must have first publication rights. You're not required to accept their counter offer though.

Hate to say this but at much as they harp on about how tokyopop is going to make lots of money off the work and omg you only get a fee? That's the way the comic world works! Most artists/writers/whoever else is involved only get a once off fee for their work. Unless you're some big name like neil gaiman, you don't get continual royalties for it and as far as I'm aware even he doesn't get squat from Disney for nightmare before christmas.
May. 29th, 2008 08:00 am (UTC)
Unless you're some big name like neil gaiman, you don't get continual royalties for it and as far as I'm aware even he doesn't get squat from Disney for nightmare before christmas.
I should hope Gaiman doesn't since Tim Burton did NMBC.
May. 29th, 2008 09:36 am (UTC)

Sorry, half asleep, I mean Tim burton and got them confused.
May. 29th, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC)
The keys are right next to each other :P
May. 29th, 2008 04:02 pm (UTC)
I disagree with this. I have a close friend who has published numerous short stories, novellas, and is currently marketing a novel and all of the magazines that bought her work offered much, much better contracts.
May. 29th, 2008 04:20 pm (UTC)

I said it was average, I didn't say it was the ideal. Plus I did say it's an ONSPEC contract, not to mention it's for art/comics which surprise surprise has different contracts than most magazines/book publishers. So your friends experience really isn't relevant as no doubt her work will not have been on spec.
May. 29th, 2008 12:48 pm (UTC)
The "moral rights" bit just made me wtf.

Seriously, wtf? D:
May. 29th, 2008 02:02 pm (UTC)
I agree with Lilenth, this is a pretty standard contract, just dumbed down a bit for us to understand.
May. 29th, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC)
If this is a standard contract, why the hell do I want to be in this business?

This is a standard "Work For Hire" contract. That's one thing, and that's fine if you understand it's basically a throwaway project / it's on someone else's copyrighted works anyway/ you're getting paid handsomely for it. For the Tartlet this is so painfully aimed at, they won't understand any of this and why it's such a bad idea, even if it's just a "Breaking In" project.

Anyone with any sort of respect for "Artist's Rights" can see that this deal is... well, shit. These are the sorts of contracts that gave us Batman and Superman, but left their creators lying dead in the gutters. Scott McCloud says it much better than I could in Reinventing Comics, but basically, there's no reason for a creator to have to sign over all these rights just to be published. There are plenty of smaller publishing firms available that do give you a better deal, and even, if you're really fed up with the system... God Forbid... you can start a webcomic!

Sadly, part of being an artist now also involves being a small business. If this contract doesn't make it clear I don't know what does.
May. 29th, 2008 03:57 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Work for hire. People should go into the contract knowing exactly what it states. It's our rights to simply say "no." This is just how this company does things. I don't think they're evil. They only have the power the artists give them.
May. 29th, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC)

This is why you educate yourself. Most of the people applying for stuff like tokyopop are going to have "bubblegum stories" anyway, in other words stuff that the business and public chew up and spit out eventually. It's very unlikely that Tokyopop will get something as iconic as Superman out of this stuff.

Like I said, this is going to trap the dim ones who don't want to take the long hard route into the business, if it burns them? Then at least they'll learn that there are no risk free short cuts.

Part of being an artist always was being a small business, if that's so objectionable to you? Get yourself an agent to handle the business side of things. Realistically everyone has to at least know about the business if they're going to work in it.
May. 29th, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
This makes me glad that I never submitted my idea to them. Procrastination saved my sanity for once.

I might buy some of their stuff but I think I'm quite pleased with not submitting anything to them.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )


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