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Author Topic: Business Ethics of Webcomics  (Read 5005 times)

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Offline LegendWoodsman

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Business Ethics of Webcomics
« on: January 10, 2010, 09:54:59 PM »
This might be a topic out of left field, however, I've seen controversies or "drama" crop up in webcomic circles and I believe that at the root these hot topics are ethical debates. The Graphic Artists' Guild has a section dedicated to ethics, would we as webcartoonists want to declare an ethical guideline or would the ends justify the means?

Offline Cole

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Re: Business Ethics of Webcomics
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2010, 09:58:01 PM »
No ethics, no guidelines.  Look at the guys at Cyanide and Happiness.  I've never laughed so hard at child molestation/rape jokes.

Offline ZingerSteve

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Re: Business Ethics of Webcomics
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2010, 10:12:37 PM »
I can see two possible sides to ethics.  1. Being ethical with content.  2. Being ethical in business.

As for content, I agree with Cole's sentiment.  There are too many different tastes in humor and interest to set standards.  The web is a place that can accompany all.  Now, I don't think it's a good idea for comics (or any medium) to encourage hate groups or racism, etc.  But cartoonists have a way of pushing the envelope with content.  That's an important part of our industry and I see no need to stifle that.

As for business ethics, I think it's very important.  But with the current popular model of each cartoonist running their own small business, it's difficult to track/implement.  The ways cartoonists make money online, i.e. product stores, advertising, licensing, does not lend itself to poor and unethical practices.  These are normal systems already set in place.

If there were some "official webcomics guild", sure, that group may compose some guidelines of sorts.  But that doesn't exist and I don't think it's what this community is about.
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Offline CorvusErebus

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Re: Business Ethics of Webcomics
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2010, 10:35:56 PM »
Official Administrator Statement - This Community is not seeking to form a governing body for webcomics.

I never thought that would have to be said. =P

Woodsman, you can speculate on what we SHOULD do all you want, but I think we both know that you can't make people do things your way. The people who will act in a clean and ethical manner will fallow you, but those who won't will continue to do what they want. So I really don't see much point in outlining "Guidelines" personally. As a Designer, let me let you in on a well known secret. Not all designers fallow the Graphics Artists Guild either. ;)

Offline LegendWoodsman

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Re: Business Ethics of Webcomics
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2010, 10:57:45 PM »
 ;D I wasn't seriously thinking of an official governing body. Heh.

Nor do I expect people to do things my way (I've learned that lesson too).

I was thinking of the Creator's Bill of Rights and seeing if there's anything that we cartoonists could discuss in relation to our business practices. I'm relating this question with any webcomics drama that has drummed up in the past: issues of plagiarism, intellectual property, bad contracts, work for hire vs. work for self, micropayments, etc.. I know that this is the new frontier and we're all gunslingers, does that mean we shoot the sheriff? (Bob Marley ref.)  :)
« Last Edit: January 10, 2010, 10:59:24 PM by LegendWoodsman »

Offline Rob

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Re: Business Ethics of Webcomics
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2010, 12:53:29 AM »
Most of the webcomickers I know are so fiercely independent that I can't imagine them stealing someone else's jokes. And honestly the way that webcomics works, what would it profit you to steal a joke or a strip from someone. Even if you updated only once a week that would be what, one, two, three strips out of 52? Any more and the thievery would become quite obvious.

As far as the Creators Rights thing I'd have to say that at the time perhaps it seemed important. Maybe it even was. I remember before McFarlane broke off and successfully formed Image both comic companies were pretty cavalier about their stranglehold on the comic artist community. I think as much as he is sometimes reviled the comics community as a whole owe a huge debt to McFarlane for simply sticking it to Marvel and DC and removing that air of omnipotence they had. As they say, success is the best revenge right?

But nowadays that document is a bit of a joke. It represents a sort of unifying theory of behavior in comics that seeks to supersede the legal. I think what McCould says in the narrative above  the document:

Quote
A few years later, several top-selling Marvel artists would break from the pack and form a new company called Image, shifting the debate from rights and principles to clout and competition, but both developments would share a common premise, still relevant today: that comics creators already have the right to control their art if they want it; all they have to do is not sign it away.

is really the most telling and most applicable statement to comics and webcomics today. The only ethics that are involved in dealing with a publisher or collective is what you agree to when you sign the contract. Anything more would require the unionization of the industry and I doubt (once again citing the independence and relative insanity of artists as a whole) that would ever come to pass.

Also the general rule of "don't steal shit" applies as well.  ;D

« Last Edit: January 11, 2010, 12:55:29 AM by Rob »

Offline LegendWoodsman

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Re: Business Ethics of Webcomics
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2010, 09:19:14 PM »
Thank you for your thoughts, guys.

Also the general rule of "don't steal shit" applies as well.  ;D

I thought the general rule was "don't get caught"  ;D

Offline Novil

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Re: Business Ethics of Webcomics
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2010, 03:49:14 PM »
Most of the webcomickers I know are so fiercely independent that I can't imagine them stealing someone else's jokes. And honestly the way that webcomics works, what would it profit you to steal a joke or a strip from someone. Even if you updated only once a week that would be what, one, two, three strips out of 52? Any more and the thievery would become quite obvious.

Well, yeah. But I guess it’s not that uncommon that a strip is “inspired” by one of another artist and the webcartoonist does not give credit to the original strip. I think this happened to me twice. But it’s not really that much of an issue and extremely hard to proof anyway.