Along with the work-for-hire contract presented to the creator I spoke with, Marvel included a copy of its Talent Incentive Plan, to help them understand how payments would be issued moving forward. “The incentive plan was pretty comprehensive,” they said. “It broke down what I might get for printed single issue sales, printed collections, and digital issues and collections. I say ‘what I might get’ because, after it broke down all these payment schedules, the incentive plan went on to state that the plan was in fact optional — and 100% at Marvel’s discretion. The plan explained that Marvel was the sole arbiter of who gets incentive payment money, and that all such payments are voluntary on their part. It also stated that Marvel can change the incentive plan at any time.”
I asked the creator if they’d considered taking legal action against Marvel to recover what they’re owed, only to be told that such a course of action would likely require a great deal of effort for what is likely to be little reward. “The amount of money involved is honestly pretty low. Like, small-claims-court-low,” they said. “It’s hard to justify even looking for an attorney who’d be willing to get involved. Let alone going through the complicated process of actually suing Disney.”
The mention of a small amount of money leads into perhaps the most obvious question of all: with Marvel not communicating with them at all over the issue, did the creator have any idea of just how much money Marvel owed them in royalties by this point? The answer was, bluntly, no: “There’s the incentive payment for the collections that have been printed since I got my last royalty check years ago. And there’s the question of digital sales. The comics I worked on are still available for purchase on comiXology,” they told me. “I’ve never received a statement saying how many have sold, let alone received money for them. So I really have no idea how much I’d be making if they actually chose to make payments.”
More about the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force can be found on their website
, including a form for creators who feel that they have been impacted by Disney’s lack of payment. Consider this a permanently ongoing story, unfortunately…
* Notably, Foster received at least a portion of money owed for his work.
** Suddenly, Marvel’s infamous tendency not to overprint collected editions makes a little more sense, if this is true. I reached out to Marvel for confirmation that this was still the policy, but haven’t received any response.