Joe Quesada explains Marvel's digital-royalties plan

DC announced their digital publishing plan last Wednesday, but since then the conversation has focused nearly as much on what Marvel is or isn't doing with regards to compensating creators for digital downloads of their work. DC announced incentive payments right there in the PR for their iPad app -- did Marvel's failure to do so mean they weren't doing this, or (as stated or implied by various Marvel personnel) had they already done it on the down low?

In his latest Cup o' Joe interview column, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada spoke to CBR's Kiel Phegley all about this. According to Quesada, Marvel does have an "incentive program" in place, the first checks will go out after the San Diego Comic-Con, the plan applies to all creators (not just exclusive ones, as was rumored), and the reason Marvel didn't announce it is because they figured they didn't need to...

[Joe Quesada]: Going pretty far back, in discussions about electronically/digitally distributed comics, our publisher Dan Buckley stated at several convention panels and in interviews that we would be paying incentives for creators of these books. We just didn't put out a press release about it, and I guess some folks just didn't catch it when he said these things. But there you go, welcome to the world of the Internet.

Kiel Phegley: To clarify the specifics of Marvel's plan a bit more, why did the royalty program take longer to get in place than the digital comics sales platforms?

Joe Quesada: Well, that's just the thing; it hasn't. Like all incentive programs, whether paper or electronic, sales are tabulated, math is done and then, eventually, checks go out. If you want specifics, okay I'll give you one: our first incentive checks for e-comics will be going out sometime right after San Diego Comic-Con. Announcing this, now maybe DC can put out a press release saying that they’re going to pay their incentives the week before San Diego. Cool, if they do that, then they’ll manage to be the first at something in the digital arena. [Laughs]


Kiel Phegley: The talk has been that Marvel's royalties will only apply to exclusive creators. If true, what's the reasoning behind this, and will that plan expand out to all creators whose work is sold through Marvel's digital platforms?

Joe Quesada: Wow, the Internet strikes again. I don't know where you've heard this, but it's not true. Incentives will be paid on the sale of e-comics regardless of whether a creator is exclusive or not.

Kiel Phegley: I think, really, the question people have been asking most about in terms of this is why Marvel hasn't been publicizing their plans for royalties in the same way DC did? Is there some specific reason why these issues aren't made public knowledge?

Joe Quesada: We just didn't think it was an issue. When we made our announcements that we would have electronic comics on the iPad, iPhone and PSP, that, to me, was the only real announcement that was important for the public to know. Internally what creators make, whether it be their page rate or incentives, wasn't really an announcement for the general public. The only time I guess an announcement like that would be important to make publicly would have to be if you're trying to win some sort of public relations war, which I kind of get in some ways.

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