Monkeybrain “Giving Back” through the Hero Initiative
An open letter from Chris Roberson, co-founder of Monkeybrain Comics
For most of the history of American comic books, the only income that creators received were the page rates for the work they did. Writers, artists, letterers, and colorists would be paid a flat rate for the pages they turned in, without any royalties for sales or equity for their creations. If a comic was to be reprinted, the creators would not receive any additional payment, nor would they be compensated if characters and concepts from their work were used elsewhere, whether in other comics, in other media, or in merchandising. And since the overwhelming majority of comic creators were freelance employees, there were no pensions or retirement funds for them to look forward to.
In more recent decades, comic book publishers have instituted new policies for comic creators. Some began to offer royalties and bonus incentives for creators, so that if their work sold well or was reprinted, they would participate in those profits. Some publishers instituted creator equity deals, so that if a creator’s concepts and characters were to generate profits in other media, the creator would reap some of the benefit. But few if any of these policies have been made retroactive, and as much as later generations of creators have benefited from the improved financial arrangements, generations of creators who came before them have not.
There are far too many stories of well-respected, talented writers and artists who created successful and beloved comics in previous decades, and who now are living in reduced means—unable to afford health care, unable to find paying work, some even homeless. At the same time, characters created and co-created by many of these same creators have gone on to appear in major motion pictures, on television, and in toy aisles.
The American comic book industry was built on selling morality tales to young readers, stories of men and women who fought for justice and stood up for what was right. And the writers, artists, and others who created those stories deserve better than they have received.
Thankfully, they have the Hero Initiative in their corner.
For more than a decade, the Hero Initiative has provided a safety net for comic book veterans who need assistance, whether in the form of financial support, emergency medical aid, or an avenue back to paying work. In that time, the Hero Initiative has granted more than $500,000 to over 50 comic book veterans. But as a not-for-profit corporation, the Hero Initiative relies on donations and contributions to continue its work.
Throughout the month of November, Monkeybrain Comics will be donating all of its income to the Hero Initiative. Our creators will still receive their cut of the profits, but the portion of each sale that we retain as publisher’s profits will be donated in its entirety to the Hero Initiative. http://www.monkeybraincomics.
About The Hero Initiative
The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterday’s creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It’s a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.
Since its inception, The Hero Initiative has had the good fortune to grant over $500,000 to the comic book veterans who have paved the way for those in the industry today. For more information, visit www.heroinitiative.org or call 626-676-6354.
For more information, please visit us at www.heroinitiative.org.
As we in the United States prepare to celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving, please consider giving thanks to the veteran creators who have given us so much over the years by donating to the Hero Initiative. And we encourage other publishers to join us in supporting the Hero Initiative through direct donations. Unless and until creator royalties and equity participation policies are made retroactive, charities like the Hero Initiative are the only support many veteran creators have available to them.
About Monkeybrain Books and Comics
Owned and operated by Chris Roberson and Allison Baker since 2001, Monkeybrain Books was originally founded as an independent press specializing in science fiction & fantasy and nonfiction genre studies. Print titles from Monkeybrain Books are distributed to the book trade by National Book Network, and are available from wholesalers like Diamond Comic Distributors, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram, and from finer booksellers everywhere. In 2012, Monkeybrain launched a new creator-owned digital comics line, Monkeybrain Comics, which is distributed by comiXology.
About Chris Roberson and Allison Baker
New York Times Bestselling writer Chris Roberson is best known for his Eisner-nominated ongoing comic book series iZombie (co-created with artist Mike Allred), his modern fantasy series Memorial (co-created with artist Rich Ellis), the Fables spinoff Cinderella mini-series, and his work on Superman, Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes, and Elric: The Balance Lost, all of which are available for digital download at http://cmxl.gy/CRoberson. His favorite food is meat, he’s allergic to wheat, and his favorite cocktail is a caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil.
Allison Baker has worked in feature film and political media production for over 13 years, while also managing the day to day operations of Chris Roberson and Monkeybrain Books. She likes the color pink, enjoys a challenge, fixing things, mixes a tasty cocktail and is allergic to being bored.
Chris and Allison met at a Ben Folds Five show in 1997, got married in 2000, started their own business in 2001 and had a baby girl in 2004. All three currently live in Portland, Oregon with a lot of books and their two cats, Bubbles and Blue.