Ben 10 Co-Creator Steven T. Seagle believes that Hollywood’s current method of offering comic book creators a mere ‘thanks’ for their creations is a “patronizing trend” that must come to an end.
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In a column written for Bleeding Cool, aptly titled “Thank You Is Not Enough – What Do I Know,” Seagle asserted that “No… “Thank You” is not enough,” describing how he had “grown weary of watching superhero, and other comic book originated genre blockbuster films and TV shows and seeing the very last credit be a swath of inspirational comic book creators lumped together for the non-credit “credit” of “thanks” while others take credit for concrete, tangible aspects of that film or TV show that was whole-cloth cut from the work of the people left holding the “thanks.”
“And then the inevitable list of people the production forgot to give even a “Thanks” to while fully remembering to make use of their ideas,” he added.
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Seagle then declared that “the patronizing trend of offering comic book creators “thanks” at the end of films or TV shows for specific characters, settings, scenarios, storylines, visual designs – any of the intellectual property creations comic book creators generate – needs to stop,” asserting that “it should be replaced by actual, appropriate credits and meaningful compensation.”
“The fact is, those original ideas are in the very DNA of these big productions,” contended Seagal. “They’re not the inspirational afterthought; they are the thought itself. The film or TV series would not hold the shape it does without those original creators’ ideas.”
“The actors would often not play the characters the way they do without the original conception,” he continued. “The fan base gravitating to those original elements in the film or TV show out of a sense of nostalgia is specifically geeking out over the preceding work’s presence. The new fans responding to the film or TV show are often responding to story beats, character tropes, plots, and visual designs that worked in the original telling of the stories and are working the same way again.”
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Aside from his wish that creators receive proper credit for their contributions to the Hollywood adaptations of their work, Seagle also believes that “compensation is the other practice that needs to be brought to light,” as “the proper compensation for these original ideas is not nothing.”
“Nor is it a ‘thanks’,” he argued. “Nor is it a random low-dollar payment a production will not miss. […]The original creators of elements used should be paid at least at the rates of others working on the production for bringing the thing the production doesn’t have to create from the ground up.”
He added, “And then the creator should be paid for making the original thing that is going to make someone else very, very wealthy. A meaningful premium is not going to bankrupt a massive production.”
“When it comes to saying “thanks” for the previous labors of comic book creators in massive franchises, “thanks” is the least a mega-productions can do. But “the least” should not be the standard,” wrote Seagal in conclusion to his column. “Let’s stop with all the “we don’t know how to credit and pay people” nonsense.”
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