Remarks on accepting the Bill Finger Award
Remarks on accepting the Bill Finger Award
San Diego, July 22 2016
Thu July 28, 2016
What I plan to do about it - Intellectual Property (3 of 3)
Hi. And thanks.
Bill Finger spent his life creating and not getting credit for doing it. There are lots of bad guys in the story of Bill the Boy Wonder and we all know some of their names. But the name that stands above all the others is the name “Work-Made-For-Hire.” It’s been thrown at all of us and it’s always been clear that the work-for-hire protocol is misapplied with regard to comics. We’ve only put up with it all these years because the work is just too damn much fun.
An award derives its credibility from the people to whom it is awarded. When Mark told me the committee had decided that I should be a recipient this year I said no, you don’t mean that. So I looked down the list of people who’ve gotten it before, many of them friends of mine, and I’m still not convinced they mean it – or else I’m a lot more impressed with myself than I used to be.
I’ve had a long and diverse career. I’ve skated around a bit, done a lot of things. Designed and written software. Run for office. Raised horses and bees and kids. Traveled a bit. Taught every grade level from kindergarten to adults. Written film, television, journalism, a handful of books. In my fifties I discovered the day job and now I teach doctors and nurses how to use their software.
But all through it, when people ask who I am, I always say I’m a writer. I make stuff up. I wrote Superman and a couple dozen other titles when your forebears were reading comic books. Always, for better or worse, I identify with you guys.
This is an award that you normally get when you’re about done. Evidently I’m not done, so I’ve decided the thing to do is measure up to the award. What I do next is undermine, upend and wipe out the work-for-hire protocol. This will accrue to the benefit of every creative person in this room and ultimately to the benefit of virtually everyone who populates this floating city we drop on this sleepy little border town for a weekend every summer.
We’re going to do this not because work-for-hire is an artificial construct designed to exploit creators – although it is.
We do it not because it deprives people of both the benefits due employees as well as the advantages that come to business owners – although it does.
We do it not because it takes away what we create and which properly belong to us – though it does that too.
We do it because it is illegal – both with regard to the copyright law of 1978, as well as predating it. Ample legal doctrine supports the condition that a contract saying that something is work-for-hire when that isn’t supported by statutorily defined circumstances, doesn’t make it so. And so we will abolish it retroactively.
I know how to do it. And significantly, the first thing I’m doing is exercising my contractual right to reissue my novel Miracle Monday.
No matter what I’ve done and where I’ve gone, this has been my community. My village. My geekdom. So thank you for this award. And thank you as well – over all these years – for giving me a home.
Thu Jul 28 2016
|A wonderful piece. I applaud your decision to end the "Work-For-Hire" business. It is, simply put, wrong. I also look forward to your re-issuing "Miracle Monday", and I look forward to buying many copies and forcing friends to read it. Thank you for all your work.|
Fri Jul 29 2016
Dear Elliot S! Maggin,
Thank you for all the wonderful stories you wrote for Superman. I glad you received this award, well deserved and true to your importance on super-hero comics history. For me, "Must there be a Superman" from Superman #247 is still one of the top ten Superman stories ever written in comics form. Also what you came up on "What Can One Man Do?" from Green Lantern #87 deserves recognition beyond what had already being said about it. Both stories was inspirational to me when I was in college, and had to learn how to stand by myself.
So again congratulations and thanks for all you did in Superman comics. If you ever came to Brazil, please let me know, I will be glad to help you around.
Fabio Marques. http://www.super-homem.com/