All for One and One for All (Collaboration Agreements in Comics) - Creative Contract Consulting

The Pocket Lawyer for Comic Book Creators (book) - Thomas A. Crowell Esq.

The Law for Comic Book Creators (book) - Joe Sergi

Publishers will almost certainly provide their own contracts (if they don’t, be weary) but if you’re self publishing, you’ll be handling it yourself.

If you’re collaborating with a team on a project, you’re going to want a contract, especially if it’s long term. People will naturally forget things that were agreed upon so it’s a good idea to have written and signed information down when that happens. It also help clear up any confusion at the start of projects.

MANDATORY DISCLAIMER: I’m not a lawyer! As always, my suggestions here are just that: suggestions. When in doubt, talk to a professional.

With that said, I like to make sure my contract answers the following questions:

  • Who is responsible for creating each element of the property? Who’s doing the writing, the pencils, the inks etc…

  • What does the creation of each element entail? Specify the steps you expect to see before a page is deemed complete (thumbnails, pencils, inks). Make sure to include how many edit requests you’re entitled to at each step.

  • What is the amount of work to be done before the contract is complete? Generally this is the number of pages for your comic but it doesn’t have to be.

  • How is the copyright for the property going to be distributed between each creator? Decide who retains the rights to things like the original art, characters, the story…

  • How will the revenue be distributed between each creator? Indicate whether your collaborator will be receiving a percentage of sales or a fixed rate and what that amount is.

  • How often will payment will be awarded? If you’re hiring percentage, decide how many times per year you’ll be paying out to your collaborators. If you’re hiring fixed rate, are you paying 50% in advance, per x complete pages, one bulk sum at the end…

  • What is your method of payment? I’ve always used Paypal but there are other options out there.

  • What happens if payment is not granted? This is to reassure your team members that you won’t hang them out to dry. Usually they retain the complete rights to their work until payment is awarded.

  • Who has right to sell the work? Decide if your team members will be able to sell their own copies or if you or someone else will be handling the sales.

  • What are your deadlines? When does the project have to be completed? How many pages should be done per week?

  • How will you show attribution for the work? This usually entails something like adding the artist’s name to any of their work you post online.

  • What countries laws apply to the contract? If your contract is between people of different countries you have to explicitly establish which countries laws you want to apply.

  • Who has decision making authority for the property? Someone has to have the final say on how the pages will look. Generally this is the one doing the hiring.

  • What are the means of terminating the contract? Explain what happens if the contract is not completed as agreed upon. How will payment be awarded? Who retains rights?

  • How will privacy be handled? If you want to avoid spoilers, add a non-disclosure section to make sure they don’t post certain work publicly.

Here are a few example templates for collaboration contracts: Collaboration Agreement - Hollywood Comics Collaboration Agreements Sample-provided - Underdog Forums Sample Comic Artist’s Contract - Comic Makers Club

It’s important to note that long-distance contracts, especially international ones, are hard to enforce. If your artist in Madagascar decides take your art and run… there isn’t a whole lot you can do. Ultimately it’s important to remember that a contract is only as good as the people signing it. As long as you have a reliable, trustworthy team (Check up on their previous projects!) then odds are you won’t have a problem.