A comics readers’ Bill of Rights

Posted: 12 October 2011 in Uncategorized

I wrote this a while back, but came across it tonight, and thought that some people may not have seen it, and may be interested in it…

A BILL OF RIGHTS
About twenty years ago (1990, to be precise), Scott McCloud wrote the following, in Comics Journal #137. He had apparently been thinking about it for some time, as even a brief read of the document will make obvious. I understand that Dave Sim, Steve Bissette and several others were also involved in the drafting.

A BILL OF RIGHTS For Comics Creators
For the survival and health of comics, we recognize that no single system of commerce and no single type of agreement between creator and publisher can or should be instituted. However, the rights and dignity of creators everywhere are equally vital.

Our rights, as we perceive them to be and intend to preserve them, are:

1. The right to full ownership of what we fully create.

2. The right to full control over the creative execution of that which we fully own.

3. The right of approval over the reproduction and format of our creative property.

4. The right of approval over the methods by which our creative property is distributed.

5. The right to free movement of ourselves and our creative property to and from publishers.

6. The right to employ legal counsel in any and all business transactions.

7. The right to offer a proposal to more than one publisher at a time.

8. The right to prompt payment of a fair and equitable share of profits derived from all of our creative work.

9. The right to full and accurate accounting of any and all income and disbursements relative to our work.

10. The right to prompt and complete return of our artwork in its original condition.

11. The right to full control over the licensing of our creative property.

12. The right to promote and the right of approval over any and all promotion of ourselves and our creative property.

Now these rights were (and are) great – super, and something that generated a lot of discussion… But that’s just dandy for the creators – what about us poor shlubs who plunk down our money month in, month out for comic books. Where do we fit into all of this?

So, humbly, I offer up something that I call the:

A BILL OF RIGHTS For Comics Readers
For the survival and health of comics, we recognize that no single system of enjoyment can or should be instituted. However, the rights of readers everywhere are equally vital.

Our rights are:

1. The right to enjoy a comic book without having to read the previous issue.

2. The right to enjoy a comic book having read the previous issue.

3. The right to expect the solicitation for an issue to bear some relationship to that issue when it comes out.

4. The right to expect professional creators to be, well, to be professional.

5. The right to be able to follow a comic book page without a set of instructions.

6. The right to know when a comic book is coming out and to be apologised to if deadlines are not met.

7. The right to courtesy from professionals.

8. The right not to be lied to in a comic book story. (see addendum 1 below.)

9. The right to ask stupid questions in letters without having fun made of you.

10. The right to be proud to read comics.

11. The right to be taken seriously when pointing out an apparent error.

12. The right to be offended.

13. The right to choose not to read a comic book without being criticised.

14. The right to have price rises announced well in advance.

15. The right to be a fan.

(Addendum 1: In point 8, above, I don’t object to being misled — I’m referring to being flat-out lied to. In Uncanny X-Men #327, the splash page says “an adventure of Magneto”. Two years later, we’re told “nahh, that wasn’t Magneto…” That’s a lie from where I stand.

Addendum 2: I’m glad to see that the advent of digital comics hasn’t in any way invalidated the points made above.)

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