Marvel and creator-owned comics

Contracts

Once upon a time, Marvel Comics had an imprint called Epic, which provided a place for creators to produce non-Marvel-Universe stories which they retained ownership of. Last year, Marvel announced they were bringing the imprint back, with a different spin. Not only would it publish new creator-owned material, but people were invited to submit proposals for Marvel-U stories, which would become Marvel property. But the creator-owned option was cancelled early on by Marvel execs, who didn’t want to publish material the company didn’t own outright. The whole Epic experiment got shut down completely within the year. But now Marvel is bringing back the very thing they axed first. Only this time It’s called Icon.

This new Icon imprint will publish creator-owned non-Marvel-Universe material, much like the original Epic did. The first books to come out from it will be Brian Bendis’ Powers and David Mack’s Kabuki, both snagged from Image. Bendis and Mack have both been doing a lot of work on Marvel-owned material in recent years, which points out the goal of Icon: giving star Marvel-friendly creators a chance to “do their own thing” without going to other publishers. So it probably won’t be a place for “unknowns” to get their stuff into print.

I’m curious what kind of deal Bendis and Mack are getting from Marvel for this. The creator-owned contract that Marvel (briefly) offered for Epic required the creator to give up a lot: Marvel would have exclusive rights to the series for several years (indefinitely if they kept it in print), Marvel would control the movie/game/etc rights and get 60% of the money from any deals, Marvel could even fire the creator/owner from actually producing the book and hire someone else to do it. (See my earlier article for all the gory details.) I can’t see someone like Bendis or Mack agreeing to those terms (certainly not with these titles), so Icon must be offering something closer to what publishers like DC offer. (I can’t imagine it being close to Image’s terms, which - as evidenced by how easily and quickly these two titles were moved to Icon - are pretty close to “no strings attached”.)

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