An Open Letter to Publishers
To Whom It May Concern:
We, the founders of Creators Edition, issue an appeal to all intellectual property holders and character licensors to carefully consider your stance on allowing or disallowing access to the emerging market for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for creators and artists worldwide.
As creators ourselves we have a growing fear that limiting this groundbreaking technological, artchain advancement as an additional source of income from low paid artists is a short-sighted legal view that will have long-term effects on industries like comic books, film, graphic novels, manga, motion pictures, television and the creative arts in general.
These industries are comprised of hundreds of thousands of unsung heroes who, because of their love of the arts, knowledge of the genre or unique artistic abilities are consistently and dismissively underpaid and exploited for their talents.
There is already a precedent within industries like the comic book industry where artists of all varieties have long been allowed to retain and sell their original works, with legal acknowledgement from the publishers of even the most popular characters from the most popular publishing companies. This original sequential art is freely sold by artists and frequently traded between collectors and dealers gaining in value with each transaction.
Likewise, across the globe at physical and virtual conventions, these same artists take commissions of the same popular characters as a sort of performance art for adoring fans of both the artists and the characters that they draw.
In the form of sketch books, limited edition prints, ashcan editions and other creative ventures, artists have attempted to incrementally increase their earning potential, all of which have been allowed or ignored by top publishers. These handshake agreements of the industry have been in place since the 1960s, when artists would mail in their artwork and the publishers would incur the cost of returning the originals. Now, most artwork is transmitted digitally and rarely leaves the home of the artist before a project is published.
However, with the rise of digital colors and illustration, the question of “just what is an original” has often been debated. Yet, again, digital prints of ”originals” have been allowed to be sold as, just that, originals.
We call on writers, IP owners and publishers both large and small to acknowledge that NFTs are simply an advanced digital version of this commonplace practice of the digital original, commonly sold by the artist. Allowing artists to participate in the NFT economy allows for secure ledger tracking and, even possibly, residual benefits for the artists long after the initial sale of the work. While we, as all artists, recognize the boundaries of licensed property, we also ask that you consider the slippery slope that classifying digital artifacts differently than the traditional physical artifacts may create for thousands of artists.
What other industries have been forced to form charitable organizations to prevent homelessness or financial ruin due to insufficient or non-existent medical insurance or employee benefits? The very existence of the Hero Initiative is a sad commentary on the compensation and benefits that these highly talented individuals are granted. In some cases, the salary and benefits provided to sequential art creators by some of the most well-known publishers on the planet, compare to minimum wage, when the time and materials of the artwork are considered.
We argue that the absolute least you can do is to carry forward the status quo. Honor the precedent that past generations have set. Maintain the delicate balance that has been established between publishers and artists to ensure that this truly unique form continues to generate enjoyment and revenue for all well into the future.
Our very culture, industry and passion depends on it.