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Author Topic: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties  (Read 1121 times)

TordelBack

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Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« on: 08 May, 2019, 08:46:53 am »
This topic split from https://forums.2000ad.com/index.php?topic=44203.3120 — IP

—————

Probably inappropriate to bring this up here, but Uncle Pat has some pretty shocking Ultimate Collection numbers to report: £129 royalties to him and Bisley for the Horned God volume. Ouch.

There's always an element of "you signed that contract 30 years ago" in my reaction to these Mills Bombs, but it does seem crazy that their work being used as the flagship volume for the whole series would deliver less than the price of a night in a Comfort Inn.

Mind you, Pat's own calculations of Rebellion's profits  (around  £2500 an issue, and presumably declining as the series goes on) seem pretty borderline. £60K a year for splurging a huge chunk of your back catalogue? For the half-and-half split Pat proposes, would it be worth doing at all?
« Last Edit: 09 May, 2019, 07:19:18 pm by IndigoPrime »

moogie101

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Re: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« Reply #1 on: 08 May, 2019, 09:49:32 am »
Probably inappropriate to bring this up here, but Uncle Pat has some pretty shocking Ultimate Collection numbers to report: £129 royalties to him and Bisley for the Horned God volume. Ouch.

There's always an element of "you signed that contract 30 years ago" in my reaction to these Mills Bombs, but it does seem crazy that their work being used as the flagship volume for the whole series would deliver less than the price of a night in a Comfort Inn.

Mind you, Pat's own calculations of Rebellion's profits  (around  £2500 an issue, and presumably declining as the series goes on) seem pretty borderline. £60K a year for splurging a huge chunk of your back catalogue? For the half-and-half split Pat proposes, would it be worth doing at all?

Thanks for posting as makes for an interesting read.

I think most of us know that the creators aren't getting huge money but just £129 each seems insulting.

IndigoPrime

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Re: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« Reply #2 on: 08 May, 2019, 11:05:13 am »
As someone in this business (albeit a different area – tech writing), I see royalties as a bonus on the for-hire contract I signed. I get that Mills wants better, but airing dirty laundry like this and his ‘interesting’ approach to IP rights anyway (that colouring book, for example) makes me wonder if at some point Rebellion will say: enough.
« Last Edit: 09 May, 2019, 07:18:37 pm by IndigoPrime »

sheridan

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Re: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« Reply #3 on: 08 May, 2019, 12:48:38 pm »
As for Mills, as someone in this business (albeit a different area – tech writing), I see royalties as a bonus on the for-hire contract I signed. I get that Mills wants better, but airing dirty laundry like this and his ‘interesting’ approach to IP rights anyway (that colouring book, for example) makes me wonder if at some point Rebellion will say: enough.

Pretty similar to how I see things.  If I left my current employer tomorrow some of the work I do will have effects long after I've left (and some of the templates, etc were originally created by people from over a decade ago) but I (and they) won't get any royalties.  That's part of the job.  If the contract I signed said I would get royalties or have partial or complete ownership of what I've created that would be difficult, but it didn't, so I don't.

sheridan

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Re: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« Reply #4 on: 08 May, 2019, 12:49:52 pm »
As for Mills, as someone in this business (albeit a different area – tech writing), I see royalties as a bonus on the for-hire contract I signed. I get that Mills wants better, but airing dirty laundry like this and his ‘interesting’ approach to IP rights anyway (that colouring book, for example) makes me wonder if at some point Rebellion will say: enough.

Pretty similar to how I see things.  If I left my current employer tomorrow some of the work I do will have effects long after I've left (and some of the templates, etc were originally created by people from over a decade ago) but I (and they) won't get any royalties.  That's part of the job.  If the contract I signed said I would get royalties or have partial or complete ownership of what I've created that would be difficult, but it didn't, so I don't.

p.s. I'm not saying that contracts (particularly those that end up in creative work that may be republished for decades to come) shouldn't respect the creators, just that once those contracts have been signed there's not much point complaining about not getting more than was on the paper.

IndigoPrime

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Re: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« Reply #5 on: 08 May, 2019, 01:28:01 pm »
43 & 44 finally here
Likewise. Horned God replacement, too, for some reason.

p.s. I'm not saying that contracts (particularly those that end up in creative work that may be republished for decades to come) shouldn't respect the creators, just that once those contracts have been signed there's not much point complaining about not getting more than was on the paper.
His argument appears to be that Rebellion is reneging on a commitment to be better. But Rebellion clearly is better than what came before, purely by the virtue of issuing royalties at all. Whether it beats the going rates, who knows? But comparisons with French publishers are problematic, since that’s a different market. And the nature of a specific strip is meaningless unless you also consider the ‘container’ it’s in. So a super-deluxe hardback of a much-loved mainstream volume is going to make a shed-load of cash. Part X of a partwork volume aimed at a smallish sector of an already niche publication probably isn’t.

It also boggles the mind what Mills thinks he’s going to achieve by airing this all in public. Does he think he’ll guilt Rebellion into upping its rates? Does he want the Kingsleys and others from Rebellion on the phone, offering humble apologies – despite, let’s remember, them being responsible for 1) 2000 AD still existing at all; 2) 2000 AD having a reprint line in the first place; 3) continuing the reprint line after DC almost kicked its face off; 4) buying up much of British comics history, so it doesn’t disappear into the ether; 5) still having Mills write a load of strips on a regular basis, despite the fact he keeps doing this kind of thing?

Gah. I have great respect for Mills’s achievements. But although I have some sympathy for his position as outlined in the blog, I have none whatsoever for the way he’s going about this.

TordelBack

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Re: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« Reply #6 on: 08 May, 2019, 02:27:54 pm »
That's always the thing with Pat. The guy is a genuine god-level creator in this squaxx's eyes, all-time Top 5 at least, and damnit he's good value as an unrepentently belligerent  contrarian shitstirrer. And there's obviously some genuine  merit in his case. You can't look at the historic and ongoing treatment of comics creators without wishing it was otherwise.

But sometimes, how he goes about saying these things...!

And if his numbercrunching is accurate, this kind of reprint strategy is bordering on marginal as it is.  If I pitched a cross-company resource-hungry project on that scale and told a Board it would only yield £200K tops over a 3 or 4 year timescale... well, I wouldn't.
« Last Edit: 08 May, 2019, 02:32:01 pm by TordelBack »

Frank

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Re: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« Reply #7 on: 08 May, 2019, 08:18:58 pm »
If I pitched a cross-company resource-hungry project on that scale and told a Board it would only yield £200K tops over a 3 or 4 year timescale... well, I wouldn't.

Letting Hachette reprint the material that's already in print* is free money. Allowing Hachette to subsidize any costs associated with making neglected archive material ready to reprint as Megazine floppies seems like a canny move.

Expecting any creator to subsidize Hachette's business model by foregoing royalties to which they're contractually entitled** is no-one's idea of fair.  Those wondering why there are so may Slaine volumes in the collection can understand this as compensation for the loss of royalties on The Horned God.

Like many readers, I'm 100% behind Pat Mills 50% of the time.

As to why he's speaking out and whether it's effective - in his memoir, Be Pure, Mills described how he and other creators were asked to take a pay cut twenty years ago and hadn't received an increase since. Shortly after publication, Tharg got in touch to offer Mills his first rate hike since Britney was in pigtails. Metaphor.


* Which includes all of Slaine

** The idea that Rebellion introduced royalty payments is an odd one. In his memoir, Mighty One, Steve MacManus describes creating the Crisis creator contract, including royalties, which would serve as the basis for all subsequent Fleetway (and Egmont) contracts. If Rebellion changed that existing contract, I've never read mention of it. In a post on his Vicious Imagery blog, David Bishop describes Egmont's royalty terms and page rates at the moment Rebellion bought 2000ad at the turn of the century - a flat page rate for reprint and royalty payments at 'standard book rates' (8-12%, apparently) for trade collections.

athorist

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Re: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« Reply #8 on: 08 May, 2019, 09:20:24 pm »
I think it is unfair to only give the royalties based on the £1.99 price, when the creators didn't have any say in the price. But then would I have cared about reading another 12 books of Slaine if I hadn't read it? I didn't even subscribe for The Horned God, so probably not.

On the other hand, Mills still agreed to the deal, he must have known that it might not sell as well as they were telling him. And getting £9.99 royalties off 24 books will probably get him more money than 25 books selling less copies at full price. Hachette have enough partworks series that I'm prepared to believe them about the loss leader - did the Mega Collection do that?

It's Henry Flint and Robbie Morrison I feel sorry for, I hope they actually got paid for my free copy of Shakara: The Avenger.
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Jim_Campbell

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Re: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« Reply #9 on: 08 May, 2019, 09:28:18 pm »
I think it is unfair to only give the royalties based on the £1.99 price, when the creators didn't have any say in the price.

This isn’t how work-for-hire contracts function.

Quote
On the other hand, Mills still agreed to the deal

This also isn’t how work-for-hire contracts function.
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TordelBack

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Re: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« Reply #10 on: 09 May, 2019, 07:12:24 am »
Letting Hachette reprint the material that's already in print* is free money.

I don't think it is 'free money'. How much have Matt and Molcher written?  How much time has gone into sorting and sifting, choosing and chopping? How much revenue has been foregone in future sales of Slaine, Stront and (say) Kingdom and Shakara collections? (Probably not a lot). And, er, royalties.

Obviously it does make business sense for the reasons you outline  (visibility and easy entry point to the comic would be the big ones), the Kingsleys are no fools, but if we are talking Pats 50/50 split, and if his figures are correct, you're down to about 500 quid a week profit. I dunno man, that won't butter many parsnips, and it's a LOT of effort that could be put elsewhere.

I suppose my point is, if proper levels royalties can't be paid, should these things even happen?
« Last Edit: 09 May, 2019, 07:14:31 am by TordelBack »

IndigoPrime

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Re: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« Reply #11 on: 09 May, 2019, 07:49:13 am »
Again, we have no idea about context here. Figures have been cherry picked. (Had Mills compared against US averages, especially for reprint, I suspect things wouldn’t have looked quite so rosy for his argument.) Notably, some publishers – many publishers – don’t offer royalties at all for reprint/rework.

I’m not saying Mills should be grateful for what he got here, but again I wonder about his tactics. I’m already seeing people arguing for boycotts. Some are rabble rousers, but we’ve no idea about the margins on which Rebellion operates. And as a company that does so much for British comics, and where certain creators are keen to work despite so many opportunities elsewhere, this kind of rant always strikes me as a bit off. (That said, reprinting chunks of personal emails and spotlighting specific individuals is something I’m very much not OK with in that blog post.)

James Stacey

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Re: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« Reply #12 on: 09 May, 2019, 10:32:44 am »
Is this the first money Pat has ever received from his work on the Horned God then, or is he just unhappy with the latest paycheck. Lets face it, its a book most people have a couple of copies already since the last 30 years its been in print.

Jim_Campbell

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Re: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« Reply #13 on: 09 May, 2019, 11:21:48 am »
Is this the first money Pat has ever received from his work on the Horned God then, or is he just unhappy with the latest paycheck. Lets face it, its a book most people have a couple of copies already since the last 30 years its been in print.

This is just one crucial piece of context missing from Pat’s rant — what his six-monthly royalties were in the run-up to the Ultimate Collection. As you say, Horned God has been in print for thirty years, so I would imagine pretty much every regular 2000AD reader has a copy or two.

The Hachette collection, I’m assuming, was looking to target lapsed readers and maybe the odd impulse buyer when it was on the shelves in Smiths — essentially, new readers and the Horned God volume  was a loss-leader for that strategy.

It seems to me that it’s this, the low price point reducing royalties, Pat is primarily complaining about, and he simply doesn’t get to dictate how Rebellion chooses to deploy content he sold to them decades ago under a WFH contract.
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James Stacey

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Re: Pat Mills and 2000 AD royalties
« Reply #14 on: 09 May, 2019, 12:41:55 pm »
also surely he'll be creaming off a healthy slice from those tempted in to subbing as a _lot_ of the collection contains his work