Veteran comics writer Gerry Conway, who created the character of Felicity Smoak and only became aware that he was entitled to money for her use in Arrow after a fan pointed it out to him, has launched a Tumblr dedicated to helping creators get paid for characters they’ve created at DC who appear in other media.
Conway writes that “until the mid-1970s it was standard policy for comic book publishers to buy all rights in perpetuity upon payment for a single story. Writers and artists received no further payment for their work after that first check — no money for reprints, no money for toys based on characters they’d created, no money for movies or TV shows or games or trading cards…. DC Comics changed that. Starting in the mid-70s DC offered creators an opportunity for what they called ‘equity participation.’ With the appropriate paperwork submitted and signed, DC creators would receive a share of the profits generated by their creations.”
For older creators who tend to work less, he argues, their share of equity in characters they’ve created is often more money than what they’re making actually writing and drawing new comics on a monthly basis. However, he says, the company doesn’t monitor these things; it’s on the creators themselves to become aware of a character’s use and then solicit them for payment. That’s where he’s asking fans for help.
“If you’re a fan of DC comics published since 1975, you can help your favorite pros — not just me, but any writer or artist who worked on DC’s titles. Go through your collection. Look for the first appearances of any character, major or minor, hero/villain/sidekick/bystander from the years 1975 on. Download and fill out the DC Comics Character Equity Request form and email it to the creators involved.”
He also provides an e-mail address where these things can be sent if readers don’t have a way of getting in touch with a given creator. The idea, here, is to make the process as easy and painless as possible for people to use a service that DC is already offering (he emphasizes repeatedly that they’re a great company and this is not about “sticking it to them” or anything like that), he explains. This is presumably especially important to creators who no longer work in the comics market and/or those who are older and perhaps not as technologically-savvy.