Sunday, June 30, 2013

In All Fairness - Help Comic Creators Get What They're Owed

I need your help.

DC Comics is a great company.

It was the first major publisher to offer creator contracts on a regular basis, allowing the men and women who create characters for DC books to share in the profits those characters generate in other media. You may say, that's only fair, but 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.

Nada, zip, zilch.

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. Like I said, you may think this is only fair, but in the '70s it hit the business like a revelation. And for more than thirty years it's given quite a few creators an extra bit of income -- in some cases, for some older creators, the only real income they receive from comics.

So, to repeat, DC Comics is a great company.

But, like all companies, it's a business, and its first priority is to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and maximize profits. So tracking which character was created by which writer and artist team thirty or forty years ago isn't part of their business plan. It's just too much work, and it requires a dedication and devotion to detail that only one group in the world has in abundant quantities:

You, the fans.

A personal note. I started this site because some of my fans alerted me to the use in the TV series "Arrow" of characters I co-created in the late 1970s, early 1980s. Without those fans I wouldn't have known those characters were appearing. I wouldn't have filed equity participation paperwork with DC. And neither I nor the artists I worked with would be eligible to receive money for the use of those characters. DC does not make payments retroactive. If a creator wants to claim equity participation in a character he or she co-created, they need to do so proactively.

Which is where you come in. 

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 (you'll find the link below) and email it to the creators involved. Most creators have an active presence on the web, either on Facebook, or Twitter, or through their own web sites or fan pages. Reach out to them. Encourage them to file the paperwork you prepared with DC. 

Help them get their fair share.

Obviously, I include myself (Gerry Conway) in this list. I can use your help, too. 

Between 1975 and the mid-80s I wrote literally hundreds of comics for DC and created dozens of characters. FIRESTORM, JUSTICE LEAGUE, LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, BATMAN, SUPERMAN, WONDER WOMAN, on and on and on. There's no way I can single-handedly track down each and every character who made their first appearance in a story I wrote. But all of you working together, each doing one or two characters -- you can crowd-source it.

Download the form, fill it out, attach a piece of art identifying the character, and send it to the email link below with the subject line EQUITY. To prevent duplication of effort by fellow fans (and to claim credit for your help!) post a comment to this blog identifying the character you've discovered.

On behalf of all the DC creators who would otherwise never know, literally, what they're missing, thank you!

Here's the link to the Character Equity Request Form:

And here's the email where the filled-out forms for characters co-created by Gerry Conway, with the subject line EQUITY:


  1. Mr. Conway, you might want to try this resource.

    As you can see, it has a comprehensive list of characters you created (I don't know if it's complete).

    1. Thanks, Michael, but this isn't just about me (and that list isn't completely complete).

    2. Gerry,

      I am the founder of the Marvel and DC Databases (linked above and below). We have created the largest crowd-sourced database of comics information on the Internet, including information on which writers and artists created which characters.

      Though our databases are not exhaustive, they are likely the most complete in existence, and we specialize in research of this nature. I'd like to help out with this initiative if I can.

      I will reach out to you via email with my contact information. I think we could jump-start your initiative.

      Here is the equivalent link, for your Marvel creations:

      I look forward to hearing from you!

      Jamie Hari
      Marvel and DC Databases

  2. Can't you do this for Marvel characters as well? Marvel characters are being used MUCH more in other media than DC characters currently.

    1. I don't know what Marvel's policy is regarding character equity participation. You might contact them and ask!

  3. Hi Gerry - I've given this a plug on my British comics news site downthetubes, you and other DC creators have many fans here: Hope they can help yur endeavour.

  4. Does DC still do this? Last week in a Twitter exchange, Mark Waid seemed to indicate they had changed their policy on discretionary payments to creators whose work is used in outside media adaptations after Paul Levitz left. Was he talking about something else?

  5. Dear Mr. Conway,

    This is what I was able to find for you within 2 1/2 hours of research. I am willing to look up more for you or any other artist or writer. The only thing I would ask from any artist that I do this for is a quick sketch of a D.C. character after they receive their complete list. I hope you and anyone else involved in creating these fascinating characters gets all the payments they are due.

    Warmest Regards,

    Gregory Estes

    Gerry Conway
    D.C. Comics

    Justice League of America
    #203 Intro/Origin new Royal Flush Gang

    The Fury of Firestorm
    #1 Intro “The Black Bison”; Brief Origin
    #17 First Appearance of “Firehawk”
    #23 Intro “Byte”
    #24 First Appearance of “Blue Devil & Bug” w/Origin
    #34 First Appearance & Origin of “Killer Frost II”
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    #1 Intro Tempest, Packrat, Babe, Morphea, and Dart

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    #4 First Appearance of “Hyena”

    #1 First Appearance of “Kobra”

    Freedom Fighters
    #1 (All former Quality Characters) Uncle Sam, Black Condor, Doll Man, Human Bomb, and Phantom Lady Begin)

    1st Issue Special
    #12 Origin/First Appearance of “Blue” Starman
    #13 First new costume for “Orion”

    Swamp Thing
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    DC Blue Ribbon Digest
    #5 New Zatara and Zatanna

    DC Special Series
    #10 New Origins for Dr. Fate, Lightray, and Black Canary

    Batman Family
    #17 Batwoman and Catwomans first meeting

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