Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Amazing! Fantastic! Incredible! - The Biography of Stan Lee Is Out!

Amazing! Fantastic! Incredible! - The biography of Stan Lee is out! Titled "A Marvelous Memoir" (Geddit?), this new book chronicles the extraordinary career of comics legend Stan Lee.

In fact, Lee was on Radio 4 this morning, talking about his career, and telling great stories (clearly much told, but with no loss of enthusiasm) about turning points in his life like the birth of Spiderman.

Spidey and the other Marvel characters have since gone on to found what is apparently the most successful film franchise in history, bigger even than Harry Potter or James Bond.

So what about the royalties? Mr Lee must be rolling in gold, right? After all, he created the characters. Well, apparently not. Stan Lee was, as he put it: "a writer for hire". It was the company he worked for that got rich on the royalties, not him. And this is an important lesson for all our students:

Don't sign away the rights to your creations, unless you absolutely have to. 

The original SpiderMan
Copyright law sounds complex, but its core fundamental principles are really quite simple. Basically, copyright law boils down to this: if you create it, you own it. Unless someone else is paying for it, in which case they own it.

Of course, there is a little more to it than that (else why pay lawyers?), but Stan's story on the radio this morning is a reminder of the importance of understanding how business works.  And one of the many skills we teach here at Escape is the business of being a creative artist.

We want our students to understand how the nuts and bolts of the industry works, so they can go out and create their own characters - and also profit from them.  Just like, for example, the animators who created Peppa Pig, hung on to the rights, and recently sold Peppa for a stunning £140 million.

Now we shouldn't worry too much about Stan Lee - he isn't doing too badly. In fact, he has clearly made a great living from his characters over the years.

But imagine what the rights to Spiderman are worth today.  Remember: Don't sign away the rights to your creations, unless you absolutely have to.


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