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Contract Advice - Updated

Recently I was accepted to create content for a comic, but the lack of communication and hazy guidelines are becoming a concern for me. I'm looking for advice how I might move forward.
Here's a rough layout of the events, I'll try to make it as cut and dry as possible for efficiency's sake. Let me know if you need more details.
1. I received contact offering me a spot in the comic
2. I read over the guidelines, and sent in my sketches to make sure they fit the criteria
3. Sketches approved, I completed 1/2 of the images using their formatting templates
4. I asked if I'm allowed to sell the originals/prints of my work, they say no: I'm not allowed to redistribute them at all, online or otherwise. At the time I thought 'that makes sense, given that they want to sell the comic'. Later I remembered that another contributing artist has sold the original of their one of their pieces, and sells prints in one of their portfolios.
5. When turning in my first finished piece, I mention I've seen another contributing artist (didn't name them) selling prints and the original of their contribution, and asked if they were aware of this, because I'd really like to sell my originals too.
6. Without acknowledging my questions, they reply asking me to convert my piece into CMYK for printing and resubmit it.
7. On Mar 20, 2014, I ask if they had received my email asking about selling my originals. As of this writing I have not received a reply, and have not turned in the converted file.

No money has currently changed hands, and this is the current business model they're working with (From their FAQ):
"Payments are sent to myself, and I divvy payment between the contributors. Money is split by comic, and to each artist by submission number. Pin ups pay less than comic pages. Otherwise, an artist is paid by their page submission/total pages of the comic (For example: submitting a 5 page comic out of a 25 page anthology would yield 20%). This is based off net profit, which is after a 5% cut is taken for the organizers, to cover cost of shipping to conventions, table space, etc."

Is this common for small publishers?  Would it be wise to back out of this project?
I'm really worried there's a degree of favoritism happening here (because furries), and I don't feel comfortable with that.

Thanks in advance for any helpful input you can offer!

UPDATE: I contacted the artist in question, and they had worked something out before agreeing to create content for the first book. It appears they got into this project with the same intent as myself, not as much for money, but for exposure and something for my fans to enjoy. I've not signed any contract (I wasn't offered one), but I'm going to move forward with the project on the word from the other artist that these guys are decent folks.
Thank you all for your input, I'll definitely bookmark this post's comments for future reference! 

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 31st, 2014 09:29 pm (UTC)
If you don't feel comfortable don't do it, or at least don't give them all of your artwork without confirming exactly what that entails. The fact they're not being easy to reach when you haven't even been paid yet is already a red flag. I personally would never take on work like that for people I don't know without upfront payment or real binding legal contract. Especially if your are selling exclusive reproduction rights to your work, which should never be given away on the cheap.

As an artist when offers like this pop up it can be very tempting to jump in full force because you want your art to extend out into other mediums but be very wary not to let someone take advantage of you and turn you into a commodity for their exclusive gain.
Apr. 1st, 2014 12:12 am (UTC)
I'm worried my reputation might be damaged if I back out, but the complete lack of communication now has me worried. Especially because the deadline is the end of April.
Mar. 31st, 2014 10:28 pm (UTC)
Even small publishers should have a formal contract to sign before work progresses. That they did not and have only refered you to a FAQ for something as important as payment terms is a major red flag. I would cease work at this time if I were you.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 1st, 2014 01:34 am (UTC)
You should tell them that this is making you uncomfortable, list the reasons why, and do as suggested above - run for the hills. Since you weren't paid for this, you have no obligation to follow through.

This is a sure sign that they are going to disappear with any promised pay. And if they get back to you, DO NOT send art without being paid first.
Apr. 1st, 2014 03:00 am (UTC)

What kind of contract did you sign, if any at all? Did it mention anything about "Work for Hire."

- Don't send sketches without discussing money first. They see your portfolio, they will see what they get. I'm a bit weary you had to send sketches to "See if they fit in the comic." Also sketches are just as time consuming and hard work as finished pieces. These should be charged for separately (I'm saying this for non-fandom work). The only sketches you should be sending them to approve are ones you are getting paid for.

- UNLESS YOU SIGN A "WORK FOR HIRE" OR YOU HAVE A AGREEMENT IN A CONTACT YOU STILL OWN THE COPYRIGHT TO YOUR WORK. IT sounds like they want work for hire, but don't understand how it works, since this legally NEEDS to be in writing in the form of a contract. This can't be done over phone or verbally. Also, for them to publish it, they also should be paying a "usage fee" to publish your work, at the very least. They can't demand for you not to repost it anywhere or that you can't make prints of it unless they make a "work for hire" contact with you.

- The whole payment scheme sounds awfully fishy to me. Do you know how much you are supposed to be getting paid? A lot of this sounds a lot like Spec work where you may get paid a little stipend for what you really did, or possibly nothing at all if it doesn't sell.

Honestly from the sounds of it, backing out of this won't hurt your "reputation" at least in the professional world I don't think. I wouldn't work with anyone who doesn't outright come to you with a budget. This whole "you get a cut of this" is a huge risk to take, which often will leave you without getting paid for your work. If you signed a contract though, unfortunately you may have to still go though with it.

Since I'm horrible at describing things, here are some articles a professor of mine wrote that are insanely helpful for you I think (The whole blog is full of useful stuff):





(EDITED because I completely missed the part where it says "contract.")

Edited at 2014-04-01 03:12 am (UTC)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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