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Shocker Toys Makes The Shit List

Here's the problem with being in the trenches -- you are seen as exploitable.  Companies see you want to work your ass off to prove your worth and will offer you a paying gig.  You'll be thrilled you can finally call yourself a professional, but you won't get paid.  And they will threaten to ruin your reputation if you rock the boat, meaning you'll never get ahead.  Actually pursuing funds owed instead of just writing it off as volunteer work takes a lot more courage than people realize.

This is also why it's tough to find collaborators in the comic industry.  So many people jump in thinking they're going to be pulling down triple figure page rates right out of the gate (a problem I ran into years ago when trying to launch PK Hunter).  When I approached them, I told them straight it was a shoestring production, they'd get exposure, but not much pay.  In the indie field, getting $5 a page is considered amazing -- you will literally have people looking at you like a god if you score that (I should know.  I had gotten a $5 page rate before the publisher went under, and other indies were like, "Ooooooooo").  But no one wants to hear that.  So they skip you and go for someone promising contacts in Hollywood with movie deals ready to go and profit participation on deals in the six figure range and such.  And then they either get ripped off or the company goes under because they never had that stuff in place, they were just hyping the project, and all those months of work just went down the drain.

This is partly the reason I admire Tom Stillwell so much.  Stillwell is not only the publisher of Spinner Rack Comics (I don't usually groove to superheroes, but his are actually quite cool), but also one of the founders of the web site Unscrewed.  They help expose companies that shaft people they hire.  They also provide legal council, going over publisher contracts for free and alerting you if you need professional legal help to handle something.  They tell you how to use small claims to get what you are owed, what evidence will stand up in court and what won't, everything.  They are the guardian angels of the trenches.

Shocker Toys is one company that has found itself in the rumor mill for being rotten to the talent.  And recently, another guy who involuntarily did volunteer work for them got fed up.  He contacted Unscrewed, and they put his straight.  He's now moving forward and it's looking like almost a sure thing that he'll get what Shocker Toys owes him.

The rest of you?  If Shocker Toys approaches you for work, run for the hills.

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