Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who Can We Screw Now?

There's a reason I refuse to publish my friends.  Becoming a publisher meant I Went To The Dark Side:  publishing other people is Going Asshole.

Now Marvel and the Kirby family are at each other's throats. If they discover any evidence Jack (I use that as a comics-industry title of respect) was forced to sign a Yellow-Dog Contract -- had no choice or chance to negotiate -- then the family may have something.  If not, he was working for hire, and let's hope he put money in a good fund for the grandkids.

I had a chance to make good money once, but the publisher wanted full copyright -- for a mere $150.00 a page.  When are publishers going to get it through their heads that copyright is expensive?  I would have gladly signed a work-for-hire contract if there'd been copyright-level money in it.  As it is, I have the art and I plan to share it any old way I want.  Let's face it -- if they can't afford to pay you full price, they can't afford to sue you either.

My editor at the Peninsula Daily News (and I have to cut the poor woman some slack; the publisher is in the same office, right where he can see her, and they have a culture of blame-to-not-pay in that place) is pulling on the next guy what she pulled on me.  After a recent blame game they couldn't resist so they didn't have to pay me, I decided they'd get work from me -- for anything -- if they caught up on their bills.  

Now they've found another photographer, and guess what?  They owe him $300.00.  I wonder how long they'll take to run through him.  My editor at The Forks Forum pays promptly when I bill the company -- and once (I swear to gods!) reminded me to bill him three days into a new billing period!  No, honest to gods!

This guy just started photographing for them, and they owe him triple digits?  WTF?  Years ago I had to virtually beg for $20.00 for a photo and $35.00 for an article.  I'm not blaming the photographer -- he's just doing his job -- but what are they paying him?  And why?  If this is because he has the danglies, they may not know how much trouble they're in.  If it's because he's a very hard and eager worker -- and he seems to be, then more power to him.  If not, they better think about their payment structure.

The Forum pays me even less, but they're the "country weekly" that's made fun of in The Devil Bat, an old movie with Bella Legosi and a couple smart-alecky newspaper workers who must have been written by Ben Hecht.  And you know the shape small newspapers are, with every podunk business up here demanding stories along with the ads.  I think they've finally all heard my joke:  "Ads are like male prostitutes.  You get the inches you paid for."  (Why am I repeating any of this?  Kipling took these people apart in The Man Who Must Be King).

Our county commissioner -- in front of a sheriff's deputy -- sneered about how hard I worked and how little I got paid.  With me standing there (at least he did that much).  The fire department's buddy sent in a rant about me -- and the PDN PUBLISHED IT.  So if anybody's crying about lost coverage up here, you can blame those people.  I won't work for people who won't pay me, won't back me up, and make fun of me.  The commissioner, at least, has realized he better be nice to me.  I'm all they got up here to save the papers gasoline on anything but Bleed Lead stories, and I CAN SPELL AND USE GRAMMAR.  Only one other person up here can do that, and she's smart enough to devote her time to the library.

It doesn't help that there are a couple of amateur papers up here that are taking ads -- and using volunteer stories.  Not a person up here can get it through their heads that, if they want to be part of the arts and tourism industry, they have to be paid for what they do.  Especially when there's ad money involved.  Then again, they think renovating a building makes you a "hero."  Yeah, THAT culture.  

They all run around saying "we" about the Mariners (you know... that fan culture that thinks they're on the field and don't mind guv'ment money getting used to build stadiums while the roads fall apart?).  Do they ever notice the only people who ever really get paid in sports are all those media people, including the artists, writers and photographers?  It's like 1910 out here for industry, and the 1950's for the attitude toward unions and workers' rights.

Maybe if the Photosynthesis Festival comes back again, they can begin to understand artists get paid.  Our local gallery owner -- lovely lady -- was freaked over the prices those people charge.  Welcome to REAL prices and rights for creatives.  The Makah seem to realize this.  Maybe all the trouble I've described is just more Stupid White People tricks.  Then again, the First Nations people invented copyright -- it just took palefaces a couple centuries to try to sort it out, mostly because we don't seem to have the Respect gene.

A local deputy who really enjoyed working the festival was telling people, "Under all those pretty clothes, they're real capitalists!"  His tone sounded as though he thought they were being hypocritical.  I THINK I got through his head that "no socialism = no capitalism."  No roads, no clean environment, no health care, no jobs people really want to do and not used as a stranglehold, and how can anybody buy anything?  I love that moment when the eyes begin to boggle and you can see the ideas leaking in.  I think it was when I said, "I'm a good capitalist -- and a good socialist."

They ARE learning.  Now maybe the Kirby family can help the rest of us learn. Remember, cheap at the beginning, expensive at the end.  Prostitute yourself, and you end up in the hospital -- or the morgue.  Same for artists.

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