Don’t be surprised when a comic book commission artist rips you off

I read an interesting article on Bleeding Cool about the troubles people are having with comic book artist Jason Craig, currently the penciller for Dynamite’s Evil Ernie. Evidently quite a few people commissioned him last year to do comic book character sketches. He was paid upfront and because of a whole host of very personal problems including a divorce, a broken neck, high blood pressure, a foster child with Cerebral Palsy, and a bunch of other awful things, Craig spent all the money and never did the sketches.

I know all about this because Craig posted about it on a public message board.

Craig detailed all his personal problems on a public Internet message board because many of the folks who paid him for sketches he never did have taken their problems public on the same message board. Evidently that’s one of the problems with ripping people off over the Internet, they tend to make a stink about it on the Internet. Go figure.

The person Craig seems to have the biggest problem with is a ripped-off customer by the name of “Kyle.”

Personally, I don’t have much sympathy for anyone who sends money to an artist in exchange for a commissioned sketch of a trademarked comic book character. The artist, in most cases, doesn’t have a legal right to create commercial art based on the trademarked character. You’re essentially paying them to do something outside the law, to create something that is technically illegal.

If an artist is willing to accept hundreds of dollars to create something they are not legally entitled to create, should it really be that big of a surprise when they fail to do what they were paid to do?

I don’t think so.

Comments

  1. CK says

    wow, not sure who you are but found this in response to the Jason Craig story on bleeding cool. I guess you did not relize that the major comic book companies know this type of thing exists and have not issued and C&D’s to the multitude of artists. Most of them are the ones currently working on the comic books that come out every week by the way.

    so are you trying to condone this theft of money with your statement or just trying to stir the pot so to speak?

    • says

      No, I’m not condoning what Mr.Craig did. Far from it. Anyone who was ripped off by him needs to contact Mr. Craig’s state attorney general’s office and file a fraud complaint against him.

      To read more about the legality of comic book commission’s, read this article at Comic Book Resources.

      • Will Lamply says

        Good luck getting an attorney general looking into something like this. Considering that most comic book commissioned sketches are technically bootlegs, I doubt anyone in law enforcement will burn any calories on something like this.

  2. James M says

    The thing about the Friedrich case, is that he sued Marvel first. That is, most likely, what had them go after him for a C&D on making money from their copyrighted characters. Actually, CK pretty much called it, than the major companies look the other way regarding this, mostly because of the free publicity it gets their IPs, as well as the cost in going after every fan and creator who does so. It’s only when a creator steps over the line, like suing the company, that they will pull this out on them. It’s sort of like how your boss never fires you over the little things you do, but when you do something they won’t tolerate, they’ll tell you your being terminated over every little thing you did. They always give you enough rope to hang yourself, should they ever need to be rid of you. It’s no different here. Creators don’t need to worry about getting sued over private commission of characters they don’t own, unless they do something to majorly “hack off” the company that owns the IP.

    And you might not be condoning what Jason Craig has done, but you sure do seem to be suggesting that those who were ripped off got what they deserved. Guess CK called that one, too, when he asked if you were just trying to stir the pot.

    • says

      Where did I suggest that those who were ripped off got what they deserved? I never said that, nor did I imply that.

      With that said, I think it’s a bad idea to pay hundreds of dollars to artists for commission sketches of copyrighted subjects they don’t own. Too many times, the people who do it get ripped off.

    • James M says

      “Where did I suggest that those who were ripped off got what they deserved?”

      Right here, with comments like this:

      “Personally, I don’t have much sympathy for anyone who sends money to an artist in exchange for a commissioned sketch of a trademarked comic book character… You’re essentially paying them to do something outside the law, to create something that is technically illegal.”

      Sure seems to me you are inferring that anyone who’d engage in a “technically illegal” activity with someone else, is going to get what they deserve. That’s why you have “little sympathy” for the folks who were ripped-off here. There’s no other context to take such comments in.

      “I think it’s a bad idea to pay hundreds of dollars to artists for commission sketches of copyrighted subjects they don’t own. Too many times, the people who do it get ripped off.”

      Actually, the rip-offs are not that common. Most artists who do private commissions (of characters they own or not) do fulfill the obligations of doing so. And when problems arise, they keep communications open with the buyers. They also keep them up on the status of their piece, sometimes even giving them progress images. You are taking what this one guy did and suggesting that it’s nothing but a vast “criminal scheme” where those who get involved in such have little reason to comlain, because they should know what they are doing it “technically illegal” and should have expected anyone who’d do it to be nothing but a criminal, anyhow.

      That, of course, isn’t true and throws a lot of fine artists under the bus for the failures of a small minority. Commissions are something that can be an annoyance, especially if the artists life takes some hard turns. But that merely says that it is up to the artists to determine what they can do and where their limitations are. Some probably should never consider taking commissions, while others can fit them in with no issue. Certainly the buyer should beware to some degree, but that just makes it all the more important to expose artists who do fail, like Jason Craig has here, and who might be true criminals. Whatever issues you personally have with people hiring artists to do commissions of characters they don’t own, doesn’t absolve Jason Craig of the wrongness he’s done to people who paid him to do a job. Nor does it mean the whole of commissioning artists is nothing but a scam, where buyers end up getting what they deserve. Maybe you might have a bit more sympathy, if you were a victim of something like this.

  3. Rick Rottman says

    James, sorry that I’ve given you the impression that I think the people ripped off by Jason Craig somehow deserved what they got. I assure you I do not think that, nor did I intend to make it appear that way. If I made you think that, then I apologize.

    • Jason Craig says

      Most people wouldn’t walk in my shoes for a second. I have been paying people back and completing commissions. The problem is when one person starts an internet linch mob everyone follows behind. I have really awful mean , cruel emails sent to me, back when i was homeless last year, lost everything and I had people calling me out only making me feel worse….you think my family knowing what i have been through likes to see my picture up here and all you people whom I don’t know jumping on the band wagon?

      I got Kyle Roy paid back in June(and I have been going down the list) and asked if we could bury the hatchet so to speak, but in the mean time this wild fire of hatred has blazed and all you people stand judge jury and executioner…..you don’t know me…..yet you judge me, why? What give you the right when none of you have all the facts….you only have what i have made public…the rest I Have asked each board member to contact me privately but some chose to light torches instead.

      I lost my family and my home, me and my son were on the streets last year, yet that message board went out of its way to make sure I wouldn’t get work when I needed it most….what did that mean…I couldn’t pay people back, I had no work….couldn’t take work….I was homeless….my fate was sealed…..
      Now that I am back trying to get on my feet, people still throw stones when no one has the right, even the ones so called ‘ripped off”

      How can you be ripped off if i have been either paying back when I can, or completing the commission order that had no actual due date and the money was accepted with , you will get it as soon as I can, etc……
      Even further…if I wanted to rip a board off….why would I stay in communication with them? They have my email….they should ask how I am….not send me threatening emails, or hacking my boards, or anything else…which is illegal by the way…but that doesn’t count….

      Fact is I took commissions WAY under scale, peanuts on the dollar, and the moment they had to wait a min longer then they planned they started a full scale lynch mob.
      Its things like this that sadden me, and depress me… you might as well go beat up a homeless person, or kill your nephews favorite puppy….people seem to take pleasure in hurting people when there hurting most, and doing it with a smile never once thinking to ask whats really going on

      I will get everything settled….and i plan to do work in the industry, but before this started, when things were good I said “the fans are killing the comic book industry” this has only proved further my point…..and its made me ashamed to be associated with it if this is how we treat each other

      Jason Craig

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