Really good Chris Roberson interview by The Comics Journal
. Some interesting bits --
But hand in hand with that there’s been this awareness on the part of DC, it seems, over the course of the last few years that they need everyone to present a kind of unified front. And so you would get things like a few years ago before he passed away, Dwayne McDuffie was fired from DC for having the temerity in public on a message board saying that a plot point was not his idea but editorial suggestion. He didn’t argue with it, he didn’t complain, he merely answered a fan, saying, I was going to do something different but these characters belong to them. Now that can’t happen, because everybody that works on DC work-for-hire projects has to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and legal action can be taken if they say something even as innocuous as I didn’t want those two characters to date or whatever the case may be.
Did you happen to see [DC co-publishers] Dan DiDio and Jim Lee’s public reaction to your declaration over the weekend? What did you think of it?
...what I found really fascinating was the last sentence of the first thing that Jim Lee said. He talks a bit about how Alan signed the contract, how Alan didn’t read the contract, that we’d paid him money, and then he said, “To say there’s clearly one side that’s right, I would dispute that.” Which is a weird thing to say if you think that you’re in the right!
Alan Moore has implied that one of the reasons he hasn’t sued over Watchmen is that if he did, he wouldn’t be able to speak publicly about the situation.
I think there’s that. I think there’s also, and he’s joked about this a couple of times, but if he were to file suit against Time Warner he would likely have a protracted and very expensive lawsuit on his hands. We have the case of the Siegel estate who had a very clear-cut indisputable claim to recover the rights on Action Comics #1 after a certain amount of time passed. They exercised those rights and were awarded them, and still Joanne Siegel went to her grave never seeing the end of that, because Time Warner has a battery of lawyers who were going to fight her.
Your career previous to comics was in science fiction and prose publishing. Do you ever have conversations with your friends from that world about creators’ rights in comics, and if so, how do they react?
I’ve had those conversations and it depends. I mean, to people that have a blushing familiarity with prose novels, they’re aghast at the way that the rights structures work, at least for work-for-hire stuff, but for those novelists who’ve done work-for-hire novels, whether it’s writing novels for tie-ins for TV shows or games or action figures or whatever the case may be, they’re perfectly sanguine about it, because it’s the same thing. The difference is that in the prose world, the work-for-hire stuff is a very small sliver that is kind of—I don’t want to say the bottom rung, but it’s not the thing that the most attention is paid to. More attention is paid to stuff that people create themselves and own. And there are sometimes confused looks when I have to explain that the reverse is true in the comics industry.