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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Thoughts about Zuda...

I was thinking about this Zuda thing. So far the biggest criticism I've seen of it has to do with the issue of rights. Who owns the product?

It's a damn good question.

But it occurs to me, and I might just be weird or clueless here. But I don't necessarily mind the idea of submitting something and selling the rights to it.

I'm not saying this is true of everything, of course. I've got quite a few projects I'm tremendously possessive of and would never want to sell my rights away. But those wouldn't be the projects I'd be submitting to Zuda.

Others, though...

Imagine for a moment, creating some idea, some character or concept that you're tremendously fond of. That you put your heart and soul in designing and writing. You've finished all the stories you had to tell with it and you set it down...and then someone else picks it up again. And this person has their own ideas about the concept, which are different than yours. It's a brand new direction, new characters, new designs. And then when he or she is done, it's handed to the next one, with his or her own take. And so on.

And in the end you have a product that was reshaped and remolded, revamped and transformed by each person who's had their hands on it since you gave it up to the point where it's all but unrecognizeable. It's been folded, spindled, mutilated, degraded, savaged into this...mess!

It's horrible.

And it's beautiful. Because it isn't yours anymore. It's greater. It's the cumulative creation of you and everyone after you. And it's wrong and it's alien and it's only going to grow. And if you're really lucky. If the stars are all aligned, if God smiles at the right time...

You could have a creation that could outlive you. Imagine. After you die, there will still be stories written with this concept. With this idea. And it all came from you.

It's immortality.

At least until they kill the character off in a giant crossover. But heck, maybe there'll be a successor!

All silly blatherings aside though, I really don't see the big deal about this particular situation. So Zuda'll probably keep the rights. As long as people realize that's probably the case ahead of time and submit things that they don't mind losing, they'll get a chance to make a name for themselves and all will be good.

And then maybe that'll help new creators start to get the recognition needed to make what they really want to make and keep the rights to them.


  • At July 10, 2007 6:44 AM, Blogger Jaap said…

    That sounds A) like Dick's anarchist/punk approach to License, and it sounds like B) a giant game of Telephone. Aren't you afraid someone, somewhere down the line will throw in Purplemonkeydishwasher just because he can?

  • At July 10, 2007 6:54 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    The risk is part of the fun!

    And there's always retcon!

  • At July 10, 2007 7:31 AM, Blogger Jaap said…

    Still, that's just a playfull risk, and indeed the retcon can't be far behind, but let's say that the idea you've obviously spend some time on, given that you're done with it and it's, at least to you, over, let's say the idea catches on big time.
    DC now owns it and can do with it whatever they want, including "maturing it up" to include rape, murder, "edgier" costumes and footprints in brains. Maybe your most beloved creation could die in a Final Crisis.
    And who's to say your mind is as made up as it is now? People are known to change minds, and if you want to revisit your characters, this could mean unneeded legal troubles.
    It kind of reminds me of the whole Superman legal troubles.

  • At July 10, 2007 7:55 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    That's the thing though, if you want a character to play in the DC Universe, you can go one of two ways I think.

    You can do like James Robinson did with Jack Knight and keep strict control over your character, limiting the crossover use and not allowing others to write it. (And I'd imagine you have to be a bigwig type to do this anyway. I doubt they'd let little folks get away with this.)

    Or you can go the Kyle Rayner route and let the company go it's course.

    And honestly, while Jack is the clearer artistic vision. He's also pretty much done with. In twenty years, who's going to remember him aside from a short footnote.

    Kyle has the potential to be around a very long time.

    I'm also a person whose favorite characters have, every single one of them, personalities and histories that are the synthesis of many writers over many decades of time. So I don't consider it a bad thing to allow some of my character ideas the same chance.

    Besides, I'm a comic book fan of this day and age. I read and enjoyed Infinite Crisis. I even enjoyed Identity Crisis and I know what can happen to any character I don't own. And I'm fine with it. That's part of playing in a shared universe. Sometimes shit happens. I believe seriously that it's irresponsible to donate a toy to the mass DC toybox and then bitch because it wasn't used in the "right games". You give up control, you accept what happens. And I don't think that has to be a bad thing. (I'm sure I'd whine the first time one of my creations were killed. I just hope I have the presence of mind not to do it publically. :-P)

    And if I really want to use the same character, I'll rename it and shuffle around enough details. Heh. It seemed to work well enough for Peter David's Not-Supergirl in Fallen Angel. :-)

    Besides, I didn't say anyone HAD to sell their character ideas. I even said specifically that I have ideas I'm possessive/protective enough over that I would never sell the rights to.

    But there are a lot I would, just to see where they go. Think of it like having kids, they can only really grow into what they're supposed to be when their parents let go.

    Anyway, You're really not going to convince me otherwise, because honestly, that shared universe aspect is the main reason I read DC and Marvel. :-)

    It's like trying to convince a fish that swimming is bad. It's incredibly unlikely that you'll succeed. :-)

  • At July 10, 2007 9:00 AM, Blogger Jaap said…

    Okay, fair enough - still my main problem would be monetary. So you throw your toy in the big toybox, never to look back at it again and other kids play with it. And more. And more. Eventually the kindergarten -to stay in the reference- begins to notice that the toy you created gets played with an awful lot lately and decide to make their own your toy.

    This is the part where it get's iffy. People are afraid that when DC thinks your stuff to be good enough, they might publish it without as much as thinking about you. Now you can say that "Just seeing it published" is reward enough, and the feeling that people get to read something created by you is enough satisfaction, but let me tell you something about satisfaction; it can't pay the bills.

    Still it's a silly argument because untill we get to see the contract/user agreement in september, we can't tell how DC will act.
    Still, again, I'm thinking you'll be offered a relatively big cash settlement, in that it seems big, but in the actual "business" would be the financial equivillant of a fart.

  • At July 10, 2007 5:16 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    :-) I can't disagree money wise. It probably would be a downright pitiful sum.

    But then, if the character/concept catches on, that'd be a real good resume builder when you've got a real personal project you want to try. Publishers might be more likely to take a chance on "the person who created character X"'s unproven work than maybe someone else's. Maybe. I don't really know how it all works. :-)

  • At July 10, 2007 6:55 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    I'm not sure what this Zuda thing is and you haven't included a link, but I've done design work on characters so I thought I'd speak up.

    I've done concept designs and character designs and how much of my ideas make it through to the character in production varies wildly. But that's what I was paid for, and if they don't use the good stuff I came up with then I get to save that for another project.

    But once you deliver the work, you have to let go. Whatever is done with your designs is up to the people who paid for them. Sure, it's nice to see something in a character that you contributed, but it's not your character anymore, and if you are going to fret because they aren't staying true to your vision then save yourself a lot of misery and don't enter it.

  • At July 10, 2007 7:32 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Gosh! I'm sorry, I forgot the link!

    Zuda Comics.

    That's the main site for now!


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