Discover more from BROKEN ENGLISH Victor Santos’ Newsletter
The Kaiser's revenge and Mr. Scrooge's vault of rights
An edition about that forbidden word (money) and some thoughts about #ComicsBrokeMe
WELCOME TO A NEW EDITION OF MY NEWSLETTER
Busy June! This week I will attend the Toledo Conecta Festival as part of the Going European program, an initiative to educate and advise professionals from all Europe (we are five selected pair of creators with audiovisual projects in development), working together with prestigious writers, producers, distributors, F/X experts, lawyers, composers… As part of this program, I attended the SeriesMania Lille Festival last March and will be at the Sarajevo Festival next August.
PLANNING THE KAISER
We got news from the Cannes festival about The Black Kaiser movie! Vanessa Hudgens joins the production. Mads is co-writing the script with Jayson Rothwell, and like in the first movie, he executive produces it. So I couldn’t be more happy with his commitment with the character. Speaking of the script, I haven't read it yet, and I feel a real curiosity because it’s not supposed to be exactly a sequel (but Vanesssa Hidgens’s story at the end of Polar opens a door for a direct continuation). So I hope to have the chance to read it soon.
Here is the VARIETY ARTICLE with the news.
Variety also announced that the production is set to shoot this fall. Let’s cross fingers about it. I’m pretty excited about this new take of my books, but if something the Covid-19 taught me was “expect the unexpected”. Everything can happen. We have the WGA strike and it seems that an actors strike will support it, and this will affect the business undoubtedly. So I prefer to keep my enthusiasm at a reasonable level, and wait for what happens.
Anyway, I can use this new adventure to speak about how important these adaptations can be for an author, and I’m not talking about how a movie can “legitimate” a comic/graphic novel work. This is nonsense. A book still being the same, as bad or good as it was the first time it was published. And being published was a triumph.
But the MONEY, this awful word a true artist can’t mention, is an important thing. I could mention the visibility of your book thanks to a movie release. But this is temporary, and also people have gotten used to seeing comic-books adapted to movies or TV-shows. It’s not as shocking as in previous decades.
The point is that for an artist, money is freedom. Like we are not Impressionist artists with the heritage of our old auntie Margueritte to spend on canvas, absinthe and prostitutes from the Moulin Rouge, we need to make a living. And right now comic-books seem to be one of the few artistic fields where you can still find artists from the working class.
So money gives us the power to choose assignments, you can refuse things you would do for money in other circumstances and focus on more personal projects. Some of my future elections for the next year can depend on that potential movie deal (there will be more factors, but this is a decisive one).
We live in a world where these movie options and deals can generate better works because they have influence on creators’ lives (I’m speaking about creator-owned works where the creator receives money for these adaptations, of course). So, even if the final result of a movie deal is a bad movie, the impact on the creator’s future works is positive.
Maybe you could think that it’s ironic that I write about the #comicsbrokeme after bragging about my wonderful movie project. But like I was talking about money, this subject was relevant and timely.
Somebody (I invented him) could say: “Hey Victor, you can’t complain about your laboral situation, Hollywood made you a movie and paid you with these fabulous Hollywood dollars.”
Well, you were right about one thing: I can’t complain about it. But I must say that those Hollywood dollars (still speaking to my imaginary fellow guest) saved me in bad years, in the form of movie rights payments of Polar or with options I got from other of my comics. But Polar was my debut as a complete artist in the USA (even though I had a long career in Spain and France writing my own stuff) and received only an advance of $3k per book. This is a very low advance (I couldn’t believe that coming from Spain where the standard of living was lower, an US publisher was paying me at a similar level). And I received the same for the following Polar books even with the movie project on track.
And yeah, the movie options came and the movie deal was fixed at the right time, and this humble book series became by far my most economical successful project. The gamble worked really well… But perfectly could have gone wrong. I had received similar low payments for other books and they didn’t become successful movies. Sometimes I receive more money later for reprints or foreign editions, and of course I balance this personal creator-owner stuff with work-for-hire where I didn’t own the rights, or sometimes I can work on other creator-owned books with a better budget. Honestly, I consider myself lucky right now because in some way I escaped from the stressful month-to-month dynamics of the beginning of my career in the USA. Doing graphic novels instead of comic-books is completely healthier.
But it is still an economically risky way of life.
And right now I’m involved in production and writing of TV show projects, trying to learn all I can about it, because I think it’s interesting to have an alternative career, just in case things go wrong in my comics career.
I’m very conscious that I can play this graphic novel game, investing in my own characters, properties or IPs (name it as you want) because I live where I live. And where I live I have two things that allowed me to do it: Cheap Public Education and Universal Care.
My parents are from the working class, so I am. But I attended college and studied Art for five years. The only economical burden my parents had that time was that I was not full-time working like my two brothers (they didn't want to attend college but they always had that choice). I had free enrollment due to my good marks and because the Government helped families with more than two children. But even without subsidy, it's money a family can usually afford. So when I finished college, it was a fresh start. No student loan debts, no commitments. Just look for my first job.
And second, even if things go bad, I know I’m not going to die at the gates of a hospital because I don't have an expensive private insurance (and we still have a Health Care good enough as the private companies refer the serious cases to Public Care). And I vote in consequence of this, I must say. To protect this universal right.
I just wrote about how comic-books seem to be one of the few artistic fields where you can still find artists from the working class but I can't understand how somebody can have an artistic profession in the USA coming from this working class background. They are heroes for me, they make an impossible work. But honestly, I think it’s a path to extinction if things don’t change.
This is why I think as consumers of fiction we must support artists and writers instead of franchises and characters. And the same corporation should support artists, not for solidarity reasons (this is to ask too much) but for egotistical reasons. Because companies like Marvel can’t be drinking eternally from the well of their Past History. They will need more stories to exploit, and then they will need the creators. And exploitation policies are killing them. Literally sometimes.
Maybe this is long term planning and again, I am asking too much of those behemoths. But I just dropped the idea, company bosses.
And that’s all! I consumed a lot of space and had no time for my usual recommendations, so I will leave them for the next newsletter.
I don’t use to remind you of it, but if you have questions, want to suggest a subject or whatever you want I write about in this humble newsletter, you have the comments section and the mail at your disposal. And don’t forget to share your favorite posts with your selected friends, colleagues and partners.
See you soon! In a couple of weeks, you will receive your monthly dosis of Ginger revenges in your inbox!
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