Comic Art, Creativity and the Law
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Comic Art, Creativity and the Law

Marc H. Greenberg

The creation of works of comic art, including graphic novels, comic books, cartoons and comic strips, and political cartoons, is affected, and at times limited, by a diverse array of laws, ranging from copyright law to free speech laws. This book examines how this intersection affects the creative process, and proposes approaches that encourage, rather than limit, that process in the comic art genre. Attention to the role comic art occupies in popular culture, and how the law responds to that role, is also analyzed.
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Chapter 5: Uneasy bedfellows: comic art creators and publishers – how comic art publishing contracts shape the creation of comic art

Marc H. Greenberg


Perhaps one of the reasons comic art is often viewed as a ‘low’ form of art is that its creation is, in virtually all instances, intended as a commercial art form, generally reproduced on poor-quality newspaper, or published in inexpensive soft cover magazines (the aforementioned ‘floppies’). The comic book creators, both writers and artists, primarily are compensated by publishers, and the terms of their relationship with the publishers are governed by written contracts. The terms of these publishing agreements are affected by an array of different considerations, and the priorities, concerns and needs of the two involved stakeholders, the creators and the publishers, are often not in sync. Chief among those considerations are the impact of contract law, business and industry standards, and the relative bargaining power of the parties (an additional involved legal doctrine, copyright law, is discussed in Chapter 6, infra.) The history of comic art publishing contracts is marked by an interesting mélange of consistency in terms, as well as dramatic changes in terms.

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