#DisneyMustPay: Comic Book Creators Chuck Wendig, Neil Gaiman Join Author Task Force

Image: Change.org

The movement to get Disney to pay back royalties to authors has intensified, with several authors now forming a “task force” using the #DisneyMustPay hashtag to put pressure on the Mouse House.

Joining the task force is Neil Gaiman, a legendary comic book creator and author, and Chuck Wendig, a former Marvel comic book writer and Star Wars novel author (who was fired over some anti-Republican tweets.)

Also joining the fray are authors Tess Gerritsen and Mary Robinette Kowal.

The hashtag #DisneyMustPay began when it was reported that Alan Dean Foster, author of the first Star Wars tie-in novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and novelizations of the Alien franchise, stopped receiving royalty checks from Lucasfilm after Disney purchased them.

“When one company buys another, they acquire its liabilities as well as its assets. You’re certainly reaping the benefits of the assets. I’d very much like my minuscule (though it’s not small to me) share,” Foster said in November.

There was massive media backlash to Foster’s treatment by Disney, and it would appear that Disney is working on remedying the situation with Mr. Foster per his blog.

However, it would appear that Foster wasn’t the only author to stop receiving royalties from Disney. His case was just the most vocal.

The “Writers Must Be Paid Task Force” alleges that other Disney-adjacent publishers, including comic book publisher Boom! Studios, still owes writers agreed upon royalties.

Authors may be missing royalty statements or checks across a wide range of properties in prose, comics, or graphic novels. This list is incomplete and based on properties for which we have verified reports of missing statements and royalties.

  • LucasFilm (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc.)

  • Boom! Comics (Licensed comics including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.)

  • Dark Horse Comics (Licensed comics including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.)

  • 20th Century Fox (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alien, etc.)

  • MGM (Stargate)

  • Marvel WorldWide (SpiderMan, Predator)

  • Disney Worldwide Publishing (Buffy, Angel)

If you have not been paid or are missing royalty statements, these contracts must be honored. We urge all authors to review their statements to make certain they are in order.

In the case of Boom! Studios, they published Disney comics based on classic Disney characters like Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Uncle Scrooge and Disney Afternoon comics such as Darkwing Duck for a number of years.

(Having worked on Disney Comics myself for a number of years, I knew full well that Disney did not pay royalties on anything created for those brands before agreeing to the work.)

According to Boom! Studios, they no longer owed royalties on Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics as the license was transferred from another comic book publisher.

Fox had initially licensed comic book rights to Dark Horse, but when Disney purchased Fox, the rights were taken from Dark Horse and given to Boom! Comics. The writer said they were told by Boom! Comics that “royalties don’t transfer”.

Now whether or not royalties transfer is a potentially sticky deal. It probably depends on the fine print of the writers’ contract, which may vary from author to author and publisher to publisher.

“Since Disney has declined to cooperate with the task force in identifying affected authors, the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force needs help to contact everyone who might be affected. The joint task members need writers, readers, and fans to alert authors who may be affected,” the task force says in its announcement.

Disney has since told The Guardian that they were working with authors to identify and remedy discrepancies with royalty statements.

“We are carefully reviewing whether any royalty payments may have been missed as a result of acquisition integration and will take appropriate remedial steps if that is the case,” said a Disney spokesperson.

[Source: The Guardian]

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