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Last week when I said that I wouldn't be doing con sketches of copyrighted characters, I had no idea that the news would get the coverage that it did.  But seeing as how I helped poke the hornet's nest--and having taken the time to read the opinions of readers and other artists--I feel like it would be helpful if I responded to help clarify what's been happening.

First off, I think that what happened regarding this issue highlighted the BEST of our industry.  I'm thrilled with the results, although I don't find Marvel's statement reassuring (more on that later).  When we learned that Marvel was pursuing the $17,000 from Friedrich, we came together as concerned professionals and fans and managed to affect the situation.  Even though we disagreed, at least we weighed out the options.  And we even came together to set up funding to help out Friedrich.  With the use of Twitter, blogging, and proper action from the media outlets, we all handled this very well.  We showed such clamor for the situation, we even prompted  Marvel to address the situation publicly.

Again, I think it was a good week for our industry.  And I think we should stand tall.

When I made my statement, it wasn't meant to spread fear.  It was mostly meant to pass along the possible legal ramifications of doing con sketches. I hate to bring down the party, but clearly the issue is in a legal "gray" area.  Read the fine print of copyright law: even if you're not making money, you could still get into trouble.  So everyone reading this has to make their own choice on what to do.  If you decide to continue making sketches/prints/sketchbooks of characters owned by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Lucasfilm, Capcom, or any other corporation, then you'd better memorize the following statement, because this is essentially what you're saying:

I call it the Artist Alley Accession...

"I understand that sketches/prints/sketch books are in a legal gray area, but I'm going to continue doing them in hopes that the rightful owners of the characters decide to continue looking the other way.  The long-standing tradition of convention drawings, and the fact that almost everyone in comics is doing this, IN NO WAY protects me from legal action that a corporation might one day take.  If that day comes, I'll pay the price.  But for now I'm hoping I'll get away with it because I feel it would be silly for a corporation to ruin the fun of convention sketching."

While I was thrilled that Marvel addressed this issue, it doesn't change anything for me.  The CBR question addressed the drawing of Spider-Man--it would have been easy for Marvel to say, "We won't come after anyone for making a con sketch of Spider-Man," but they didn't exactly say that.  They said that they weren't making any new policy announcements, and that they were glad that people could get sketches from their favorite Marvel artists.  To me, that statement is purposefully vague.  You might think I'm splitting hairs, but I think there was a reason why Marvel didn't say that the sketches could be SPECIFICALLY of Marvel characters.  If they gave the green light like that, then they'd lose ground in the future if there ever was another lawsuit.

Last year I drew the Wolverine ABCs.  When it was done, I printed out around 200 sketchbooks of them to hand out to industry friends.  I knew enough about copyright law to know that I was in the gray area, even though they were only meant to be given away as gifts.  I also gave them to people and editors who worked at Marvel--clearly I wasn't trying to hide what I'd created.  Because I was a pro and because I wasn't selling them, I figured I'd be fine.  After three conventions of EVERYONE telling me I should sell them, I broke down and sold some.  At the last show that season, I sold the remaining 40 copies or so.

Then Marvel called.  I explained that I didn't have a warehouse of sketchbooks, I only made around 200 (or close to that) and mostly I gave them away.  I explained how none of the Marvel editors complained when I handed them one, and my lack of hiding the ABCs should show the innocent nature of my endeavor.  I even offered to sign a Cease and Desist, and pay them the money I made selling the last 40.  But Marvel wanted the rights to the ABCs--they wanted to own them and pay me nothing.  I wasn't willing to do that, so I got a lawyer.  And we eventually came together and agreed to drop the subject if I simply removed them from my site and promised not to make any more sketchbooks.

I was in the wrong. I really can't be angry at Marvel for their actions.  They were in the right, even though some things at conventions are tolerated, it's still technically wrong.  My mistake was being a higher-profile artist and making a themed book out of Marvel characters.  I was surprised that it led to the threat of legal action, but it's not my call to make.  I apologized to Marvel up and down, and I still feel incredibly stupid for what I did.

To be clear, I support Marvel's decision and I'm happy we worked out an arrangement.  I bear them no ill will, and am only telling this story to outline the rights of both the creator and the corporation.  I'm not trying to be provocative, only trying to help illustrate what creators need to do to protect themselves.  Because I honestly believe that corporations don't want to go after creators, because it makes them the bad guy.  Which they're often not.

My mistake was thinking that it was no big deal ... because most people in comics don't think it's a big deal.  But most people haven't dealt with Marvel like I have, and that's what fueled my involvement in this entire issue.

I know people think I'm overreacting--I don't care.  And I don't care if the industry standard is to keep making sketches/prints/sketchbooks, and I don't care if people keep getting away with it.  I don't follow the "wink-wink industry rules" that exist in artists alley.  I follow my own rules, and in this case I'm siding with copyright law.  I'm siding with Marvel, DC, or any corporation who was the right to protect its interests.  Marvel and DC should love that someone is making this statement, and out of his own free will.

I'm changing my sketch policy because I'm imagining the worst-case scenario, I know.  In my mind, even DC could trace my sketch history of Batman drawings (a lawyer taking a quick look at Comic Art Fans would reveal the evidence), figure out what I might have charged, and take me to court.  Or simply show me the information, threaten a lawsuit, and then get me to agree to lessen my DC page rate in exchange for not getting into trouble.  Silly, I know.  Unlikely, I know.  I make the joke because I know the people at DC who will be reading this, and I know they have senses of humor and would never do that.  But what if in 10 years their replacements read this and say, "Murphy's onto something, we should TOTALLY do that!"  Then I'll be more protected for only drawing my own characters.

Obviously, sketching isn't going to stop.  I know my stance is extreme, and I'm likely standing in a crowd of one.  And I'm not judging people who continue their sketch behavior--some of my friends don't agree with on this as well.  The income generated from commissions helps pay the bills, especially for younger guys just starting out, so keep doing them.  And art blogs like the Twart should keep doing them as well; the stuff always helps generate interest in comics.  I don't want to imagine a convention without Spider-Man sketches, so I hope it doesn't stop.  I just can't bring myself to participate anymore.

I'm going to investigate getting a waiver from DC--maybe I'll find a legal solution to all this.  I'm going into DC next week so maybe I'll find a way to bring it up.
  • Listening to: Charlie Rose
  • Reading: Trotsky
  • Watching: Top Gear UK
Add a Comment:
SlayKatArt Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2014  Student Filmographer
I know this is an older journal entry, but thank you for writing this. What is the situation with selling prints at conventions like nowadays? A friend of mine said at one time you could get a limited license from DC, but not Disney/Marvel. Has that changed?
HeroGear Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012
Good read - makes me think about the practice a lot differently.

As having fan art that's not sold, and usually as a form of storytelling of the culture itself, I wonder what else I could do to limit encroachment, but still talk about my love for those things. It's good to read something like this though, before being involved in conventions or artist alleys, so that I have a new perspective on what I could/should be working on at those events.

Salvador-Raga Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2012  Professional General Artist
Translation in spanish [link] (sorry for the delay)
seangordonmurphy Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2012
Thanks! I'll tweet it.
stevegoad Featured By Owner May 7, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks for posting this, people need to hear this more. I enjoy the Marvel and DC characters and would love to create art prints of them but I always stick to just fan art because I know it isn't a good idea. I constantly see artists and I mean a TON of artists with full galleries selling prints of these characters and I always struggle with the idea "Well they're doing it, why can't I?" But the thing that stops me is what if I had made these characters or came up with an original idea and a ton of people were basically taking what I had created and profiting from it. I don't care how you sugar coat it, stealing is stealing. If I was to do nothing but Marvel and DC characters as art prints, then I can't really complain when people steal my work or if I'm brought to court can I? :)

I sold some shirts of a North Texas University one time, I called them to make sure this was OK and they responded all you need to do is purchase a license from us and you should be fine. The fee was 20 dollars. I often wonder why these main stream companies don't offer something like this to their fans, sure you can sell prints of our product but we require a license fee and maybe a percentage of your sales. Just a thought..
jdoem Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012   Traditional Artist
I asked an artist this question a few months ago but never got an answer; now I know. This really needs to be a more widespread journal so people can see it's not some little thing.

Thanks for sharing your experience/pain.
marceloperalta Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012  Professional General Artist
I wish people at conventions started asking for drawings with no licensed caracthers, just ask the artist to go for it, and make then something new and fresh because they want to apreciate the artist work and not just some caracther. The focus on comission work IMO is supossed to be on the artist craft and not in the subject. In the long run we would all benefit from that point of view and maybe independent books would gain more ground.
AstromChang Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2012   Digital Artist
makes me mad makes me sad, listen its only ever a good thing, write your own characters and sketch them, to think if I ever break in as a"PRO" n I cant sketch spidey or Batman at a convention for fun n a sum, its a dark day. But YO I got a bunch o characters that I wrote n love just as much as the ones Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby n Stan Lee wrote, maybe they wont have the same commercial pull, but imma still sketch the heck out of em! love Marvel Love DC, but do the people in the leather chairs at those mega corps love em? actions speak.
PENICKart Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2012  Professional General Artist
I haven't read all the other comments but I'll say this: this has always been the law. Nothing has changed. The reason this all got stirred up is because an artist tried to go after Marvel for ownership of a character. HE'S the one that stirred the hornet's nest and he got stung. It makes sense for Marvel to go after the guy aggressively; it's a way of saying "nobody else get any funny ideas" regarding ownership. Work For Hire, which is how all freelancers work at the big two, means that they own everything they hire you to do. Period. Creating a character for them under those terms has never given the hired freelancer any rights over them.

The big two have turned the other cheek regarding sketches and the like for so many years that it's become a part of the landscape. Yes, it could change at any moment, but it has become sort of an unwritten form of compensation. Comic book artists work as hard if not harder than just about any other commercial artist and (usually) for considerably less pay. Con sketches promote the big two's characters and fuels the love of them. Letting fans get copyrighted art from artists they love is a sort of a win/win for fans and artists, but getting away with doing it has ALWAYS been at the big two's discretion. We have no right to produce work of copyrighted characters. The big two LETS us. And I say big two because that's what everyone worries about, but it's really all the publishers and/or copyright owners, unless it's a creator-owned thing that belongs to you in the first place.

What makes it difficult for the publishers is that it's been allowed to go on for so long. If they were to put a full stop to it they would anger the talent and the fans to a great degree. That might not be a wise thing for them to do. It would certainly put a HUGE damper on conventions, where so much promotion is done. The fans meeting the creators is a big source of fuel for the industry; there are so many other industries where this never really happens so it's a special part of ours.

That being said, I think the companies will allow original art sketches to continue. I think they would, in most cases, allow sketchbooks to continue as well, but it is something that has to be done with a sense of appreciation and thanks to the companies, not with a sense of entitlement.

And one more aspect of this, that really complicates things, is that the more you make a name for yourself the more the big two will notice. And since this is all being allowed to happen by their own graces, the big two can change the rules or act on something whenever they feel it appropriate. That's why it can be so confusing. It's ALL illegal, so they have the right to tighten up or loosen up whenever they want. Joe Blow can get away with doing all sorts of copyrighted material because no one knows who he is and no one really cares, but you, or Adam Hughes, or J. Scott Campbell? When a guy like Campbell purportedly made 80K one year at San Diego ALONE (selling books, sketchbooks, prints and original art of trademarked characters), there's no way the big two aren't going to stand up and take notice. Why do you think he's selling Fairy Tale characters now?

So, yeah, it's a big fat mess but we get away with breaking the law by the copyright holder's graces and nothing else. Can't wait to see how the rest of the conventions this year works out.
Wolvtrune Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thank You very much for sharing this
MisforMadness Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2012  Student
I don't know much about this issue except for having been to a few conventions and seeing the culture there. That said, I want to say this is really interesting and thought provoking, and that I really enjoyed reading it.
matador09 Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012  Professional
I believe what this is called is being a 'company-man'.
Robsaggers Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
With this issue a hot topic right now - one solution for a publisher such as marvel might be to draw up an agreement, where an artist could be given permission to create one off pieces of artwork at conventions or similar. Then that runs for a set period. It needn't cost the artist money as I'm sure the company would see it as a great advert for their characters, but at the same time keeping control of that grey area.

I understand this would be complicated especially exploring deeper to creator owned characters, etc, but I'd rather look for solutions.
liliesformary Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2012
I totally agree with this, actually.
ZEROMaximusAurelius Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Gray area indeed! Artist alley would be less populated if people would not have the "luxury" of seeing an artist that puts their own spin on already existing characters. Some of us starting do it for love of the industry but also to get noticed in those conventions. I'm not going against this statement at all, I agree with the fact that a company has the right to protect their interest, interest backed by reputation, but personally I like to enter Artist alley and seeing people who take for example a character like Spiderman or Joker and ad their own style and flavor. Yes it's not their character, they don't have rights to it, but would you give a second look at them if they didn't have something you could recognize quickly and relate to? Is that not the reason why we go to comic book conventions or is that in fact what it evolved into? The fact is proven by those who pay their light bill and every other expense with the income generated by commissions. So how do we take this issue forward? The other thing that concerns me is that Marvel and DC prints and sells a series of books that illustrates how to draw their characters encouraging upcoming artist to enter the world of their favorite illustrated comics.

I have 2 quotes to share from the "You can draw Marvel Characters" book by Dan Jurgens. In the introduction, last sentence: "You might just become the next guy to draw Spider-Man clinging to the top of the Empire State Building!" (Dan Jurgens.)

Second one found in page 93 under Resources (Comics): "You will probably find that there are artists that you really like. Now that you have studied the techniques of drawing, you will have a better understanding of how your favorite artists achieve their effects and will be able to copy some of them your self." (Dan Jurgens)

So the desire to go and create because you love the world is also backed up by excerpts building confidence and fueled by artists, like those in conventions, who are extremely talented and keep the legacy of our favorite heroes alive while trying to pay their bills in this and any other economy.
It may sound contradicting, I know, but how do we present how we can not only create original stuff but are able to modify existing material to create an individual artistic entity?
BloodAgent Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm a little behind on the conversation but...I am glad you are doing what you're doing and educating many people by doing so.
When I started attending conventions, not that long ago, I wondered how artist were "getting away" (for lack of better terms) with drawing & selling copyrighted material. I'm a fan of comic art and have several characters that I keep up with from time to time but I'm not a "geek." (I say that with respect and admiration, read my profile.)
I could recognize big names and even some faces but for the most part, at the first con I attended, Joe Blow could have sold me $100 sketch of Superman and I would have paid it and walked away thinking "Wow!" I get a Superman Joe Blow sketch. Should I have known better? Sure, but in that case, so should the artist. Luckily I never dropped more than $60 and it was for a pro sketch of MY character. My point is that I believe corps should protect themselves from the risk of possibly being misrepresented and for cheap products made of their characters.
I think a happy middle ground would be if the artist could do sketches and make money from the characters they are bringing to life WHILE they are bringing them to life. After they are no longer working on the character then their free pass ends there. Think about it...can a writer write and sell a Superman short story without permission?
MaximoVLorenzo Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2012  Professional General Artist
Christ now that I think about it "ABC's of Marvel" might fall under parody even. Which would be 100% protected for you.
sethstephenson Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2012  Student General Artist
Just wanted to point out that Comics Alliance has weighed in on the topic. [link]

This is an important conversation and I just have to commend you for the manner in which you have undertaken it. Thanks for giving me, an artist just trying to enter the field, something to think about.
tavo2 Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012
oh my comics world is scary
Sequential-Ninja Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012
So, I should feel really lucky to have my John Constantine sketch from several years ago.
theRealJohnnyCanuck Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012
I can all of a sudden see marvel dc all the rest selling individual artists a convention waiver so that they are getting a little slice of the pie (token sliver I'd hope) and the artist has an amount of protection. Can we see artists basically buying a sketchbook directly from Marvel, that has San Diego Con 2012 printed at the bottom of each page, as a license to do Marvel artwork at that convention? Or a Marvel (or whomever) selling a 50 page sketchbook indicating on each page that it is an official Marvel Convention sketchbook as a license to do 50 con sketches. Then you'd have to purchase another book to do be allowed to do 50 more. Although this is mostly tongue in cheek rambling on my part it does almost make some sense. Everyone is protected for doing their drawing and marvel makes a little slice of cash per sketch.
Spacefriend-KRUNK Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Professional Artist
lick and stick it in sand.
MaximoVLorenzo Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
Dunno man, I don't see any other reason to support Marvel and DC when it comes to copyright law other than to make sure you keep work and get food on the table ( don't blame you ) ...But these huge companies have been reaping creators for decades from using courts to steal off other characters from companies ( Shazam ), to weaseling rights away from creators ( Watchmen ), to Disney extending copyright so it can keep Mickey Mouse out of public domain at the cost of making tons of books fade away from being re-published ( [link] ) ...I feel like this big publishers abuse the shit out of creators. In the music industry at least you can obtain licenses to cover songs ( essentially fanart ), and yet publishers have made sure to not set up anything like that for creators when they had the chance ( like the ghost rider thing ).

I don't expect you to fight them or anything, but "I'm siding with Marvel, DC, or any corporation who was the right to protect its interests. Marvel and DC should love that someone is making this statement, and out of his own free will" kind of makes me sick, because "right to protect its interests"? What right? You mean the rights you buy with money? The rights you get in court because you have the money to beat any creator who wants some kind of change? They don't give two shits about you, they didn't care when you tried to make things right, and they sure as hell don't care you're making some DA post about how they are 100% in the right.

But all in all this is a small set back to progress. If you look at videogames ( [link] ) and digital distribution in music, comics, and games, it shows that there will be a future where we can out power publishers and start calling the shots for once.
seangordonmurphy Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012
I meant that copyright law protects anyone who owns a property. It protects my creator owned characters from Disney, just as it protects Disney from people ripping off Mickey Mouse.
MaximoVLorenzo Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
Law protects people who have the money, time, manpower, and resources to fight in court. I garuntee you if Disney wanted your characters and thought it was worth the trouble they'd just beat you in court and take your characters. Not saying anyone should worry about this, but the law affects a small time creator and a big buisness very differently.

I am saying generally publishers and especcially big buisnesses, out muscle creators easily and I look forward to the future where the power difference isn't so overwhelming.
duss005 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012
you do realize this just made your ABC book as hot as any banned variant copy the big 2 has ever put out right? see you on ebay... :D
JerkDouglas Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012
If they want to piss and moan about this, they can just kiss their free advertising goodbye. The only reason they hassled YOU and demanded the rights to YOUR work, is because they could probably make money by ripping you off. If my little brother did the same thing they wouldn't give a handy fuck.
fermentedmind Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
I'm surprised Marvel actually went with the decision to try to own your ABCs. To me, even though it is their right, that is a low blow. They should have stopped at the Cease and Desist part.
crossbonestyle Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional General Artist
I deleted my account for similar reasons. I tore down ALL of my old artwork from blogs that may be in 'grey' areas.. I will continue on drawing stuff that is only owned by me. I apologized for many this may complicate but I know that I won't ever have to worry about it later and I also feel it helps support the rights of the original copyright owners. It gets me going in the direction I need to be going creatively and it does not harm anyone for needing to do what they needed to do from other artists to big names companies.

I am not a big name and I do not make any money doing what I am doing and I called off all of my conventions for the time being.

When I return to the conventions I will have a creator comic book in hand and a sketchbook filled with my stuff that I solely own, and this gallery in my new account will be filled with all of MY new stuff.

I am comfortable with this despite all who have told me I am taking extreme and unnecessary action or response.. it doesn't matter. I no longer have to even consider or worry about it, no matter what happens. I can be comfortable with that.

Good luck man. And kudos to all of you who have begun to pave your own journeys. I wish you the best.
zane-degaine Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional General Artist
Get down off your digital soapbox, you pretentious prick. "Ohhhh, I'm Sean Murphy, I'm too good to draw characters that aren't mine because I don't have the balls to take the risk. You want me to bend over? Sure ok let me drop my pants.

Hahahaha. Just kidding dude. I totally 100% agree with your decision. I love how this has blown up like this. We NEED to have these sorts of discussions in this industry. We need more people to speak up on what they believe and what they think should change. I respect you for your talents, but so much more because you are willing to say things that others are too scared to.

Things definitely need to change, things MUST change in this industry. The only way to do that is for those in your position to speak out against what they feel is wrong. I believe Marvel had every right to do what they did. However, creators need to cover their own asses when negotiating contracts. If you're going to be creating characters, you need to make sure you have everything in line before your start to keep whatever rights you want, if possible. Even with the whole thing with Kirby's family, its like, "hey, he should've take care of this himself... when he took the job.

It's kind of like a surrogate parent suing the parents of the child after the child has become a huge success and made a ton of money.

See you in San Diego?
Artist-KGH Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't think you're overreacting at all. I'm going to overreact by boycotting everything Marvel/Disney until they fix it. Although I was already boycotting Marvel/Disney for supporting the SOPA idiocy.
RobPaolucci Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
3 point shot - ITS GOOD!
seangordonmurphy Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Thanks for hanging out today dude. Those were some awesome trees, huh?
edi-ills Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks for the info Sean, very enlightening.

I was thinking and one way to sidestep the issue would be to draw original characters based on the copyrighted ones. I do not know what the exact "percentage of difference" is that it needs to be but comic companies do it all the time to each other, and profit from it. How many times have we've seen a Batman like character in a non DC book. Maybe they are not getting caught, or maybe the action cannot be pursued.

This way the drawing will be exactly what the fan wants, your interpretation of an iconic character.
MysticNitekatt Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
I've seen the Wolverine ABC's - it seem to me it could be classifed as parody (ABC with Characters - if that is not parody - I don't know what is) and protected under "Fair Use".
RoCueto Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
You made an incredibly good point, no matter how good willing the head of a company may be today, tomorrow we could be dealing with the most rotten bastard ever and it's best to give bad people the least tools one can :ahoy:
animatrix1490 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Again, I'm glad you're a high profile artist who is actually setting your stance this way. You've just impressed me no end.
voya Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional General Artist
I find your opinion a breath of fresh air. It's exhausting reading some of the recent legal battles that large corporations have gotten into with the seemingly innocent "little guy." Everyone always assumes that the large company is the bad guy with their barrel full of lawyers leaching off of "the system."

While I won't say that this doesn't indeed happen on occasion, I'm also an outside spectator reading the editorial ramblings of whoever happens to be writing a particular article at the time. I don't know the whole story. Maybe that big bad corporation has a legitimate ax to grind. I'm certainly not in a position to determine who's right or wrong.

Whether I agree with your position or not doesn't matter. It's nice to see someone with some common sense taking a reasonable stance for a change.
Chat-Field-Pirate Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Just curious, thought about this the other day. Would you sketch creator own characters? That would be 100% legal and protected by the law. I know a lot of pros won't do it for a couple and good reasons. However since you are trying to do things by the law, wouldn't that be another way of getting business while protecting yourself?
mdavidct Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
is ironic, the Original Ghost Rider (the white mask cowboy) is public Domain
patbollin Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Forgive me if anyone else has already asked this question, but what if you do con sketches for FREE, but with a sign that says "tips (or donations) are appreciated"? That gets around the tax man when you are doing portraits in the park. I wonder if it would legally work with this.
Attn2DTale Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Every day, every person in the world takes risks that flirt with the boundaries of what is legal. The person who drives even just a little faster than the posted speed limit or squeaks her way through an red light. The person who uses company property (an email system, internet connection, office supplies) for their personal use. We could be here all day listing further examples. But it boils down to the stance you've [very reasonably] adopted: If you're gonna play, be prepared to pay. And considering the environment that's brewing between corporations who need content to survive and content creators who deserve fair pay and recognition for their work, the legal terrain is going to be in flux for a long time. Thanks for raising everyone's awareness of the issue, and good luck!
BigPoppaPaul Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012
Sean, how do you feel about "American Vampire"? I would like to one day commission you to do a Felicia piece.
loadasano Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012
Hi, don't look at my profile here because it's very very old. I just wanted to reply because your story was linked to me. I think that you're mostly right, but you don't have to give up so easily. Law isn't cut and dried, it's argumentative. Additionally, it's often set on precedent, even if that's societal instead of judicial precedent. With modern technology there's a lot of legal grey areas, and that can be a good thing. Rather than EXPLICITLY waving any rights you may have you should probubly hire a lawyer to write up a disclaimer on the work. You're right to commend the community for standing up for itself, but then don't just give away the farm.

Much love, and awesome work dude. You're one of the most interesting comic-illustrators in the game right now. Good luck with this, artists need to take of themselves legally. The free market is a bitch.

Ed Foster
DeThDfYeD Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012
Hey tell me how the request for a waiver goes. I too would like to respect their copyright laws and if I could pursue a waiver I would do so as well.
thousandfoldart Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
How is all this affecting your approach to Punk Rock Jesus?
Is PRJ somehow a response to everything thats going on?
seangordonmurphy Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012
Tackling religious stuff is easy compared to the fight over commissions.
JeffStokely Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Professional
Im curious to know what your thoughts are on a doing a piece with a copyright character, then auctioning it but giving all the proceeds to charity. Is that also in the gray area? Because I can't see how Marvel is going to get upset about Spiderman fetching $500 for the Red Cross.

Maybe Im totally wrong though. Just curious to see if you have an opinion on that
phildunne Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Huge respect for your decision Sean...maybe if artists started drawing their own original characters, then it could be the start of a great new creative time? I wish more professionals would take a stand like yourself! Copyright will divide the world.
jtchan Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
Great post Sean.

Was talking with friends about this the other day. Was hoping that some sort of middle ground could be reached at least with company's artists, even if it's only the exclusive ones. Soemthing like the company would allow them 3 approved prints to sell for the year. Once the year is done, they can't be sold anymore and the following year, the counter resets and the artist can get 3 more approved prints to sell. Or the company approves a set number of prints, like 200, for the artist to sell and once they're sold out, they can't be reprinted. Something like that.

I think it would be great if companies would do this to support the cost of creators going to shows and "providing publicity". Also, this way companies could retain their right/ability to go after unauthorized prints/illegal usage, but still support their own creators and endorse their characters.
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February 18, 2012
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