From here:

“I worked for them as a letterer at an embarrassingly low page rate. I took it to get some more superhero style stuff under my belt, hoping that I could at least use them as a springboard to get better work down the line.

For the first two books, things went ok. However, on the next four, I had to send invoices up to six times with constant reminders in order to get paid. It was crazy how often someone could “lose” invoices or have them “caught by the spam filter”. After having waited about 6 months to get paid, I walked and stopped doing any work for them. They did eventually pay up, but it took a lot of effort to get them to do so.

During the above situation, someone who’d worked on one of the books that I worked on contacted me to see if I’d been paid. He’d taken a back-end deal and was told that the book hadn’t made any money. I wasn’t surprised, to be honest — It didn’t seem like it was going to be a big seller. The person didn’t know much about how distribution worked and thought that it was a lie that Diamond was only giving about 40% of cover price, so I kind of dismissed his claims at first. Then he sent me a spreadsheet of expenses and income that he’d been sent from Bluewater and asked me to look over to see if it made sense. I was shocked to find that the cost of lettering was listed at TWICE what I was paid.

Maybe there’s a logical explanation as to why the lettering cost was listed at twice what I was paid, but I can’t think of what it would be. What it looks like, to me, is number fudging.

- Ed Brisson, comics creator and small-press publisher

So to reitterate: Most creatives working with Bluewater only get paid royalties once a book is profitable. But the accounting to determine whether or not a book is profitable is done by the publisher, and has allegedly been rigged in the publisher’s favour at least once. So to those last, few, desperate people defending the business practices of this company, it’s not just that you’re working for free to ‘get your name out there’ which in this age of social media and webcomics is frankly ridiculous, but this publisher may actually be deliberately cheating you out of money that you would be owed. I would recommend, again, to any creator looking to ‘break into’ comics, to find other routes than through the gutter.

In a completely unrelated matter, in no way tied to the previous statement (particularly in a way that could get folks like Mr. Brisson in trouble vis a vis Bluewater’s constant legal threats), after consulting with my employer we’ve decided at The Beguiling to no longer carry Bluewater’s product. If a customer would like to pre-order Bluewater’s material with payment, we’ll honour that request, because we’re a full-service comic store. But frankly the idea of supporting this publisher with shelf copies (or making money ourselves off of these books) has become incredibly unappealing to us for a variety of reasons.

For more on Bluewater Comics, check out Simon Jones, Tom Spurgeon, Johanna Draper Carlson (2), and Heidi MacDonald.

- Christopher, “every bit helps,” said the old woman as she pissed into the sea.

2 Comments on “Bluewater Follow-Up”

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  1. Jeff Zugale says:

    The next company you should do this sort of investigation/reveal on is Boom Studios. I hear from many little birdies that their page rates for finished art – inked pages – are running quite a ways below minimum wage, if you assume the “normal” amount of hours per. Also, no royalties offered on the trade paperback collections, which are the items that make them the most money! Great business model.

    Or so I hear, via little birdie hearsay, which is of course not actionable. ;)

  2. THE BEAT » Blog Archive » Kibbles ‘n’ Bits — 2/2/10 says:

    [...] § Chris Butcher says the Beguiling, one of Toronto’s most prominent comics stores, will no longer be carrying Bluewater comics. [...]

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