Marvel's Artwork Release agreement for Epic Comics

Marvel is no longer accepting submissions for Epic Comics. See here for more information.

DISCLAIMER: Although I'm excessively proud to have scored better on the LSAT (163, or 90th percentile) than most law school graduates, I am not a lawyer and this is NOT a professional legal analysis. Law is just a dirty little hobby of mine. You should have someone who actually went to law school (and preferably passed the Bar exam) review any contracts and advise you before signing them. Corrections and clarifications from those better qualified or better informed than I are welcome.

OVERVIEW: This document is a "release" form for the artist to sign before submitting your work to Marvel for consideration. They need this to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits over the material you're sending them.

a. They're not sending your stuff back to you. Always send copies, never originals.

b. They'll let you know if they like it. Don't call.

c. This gives them permission to "publish" your samples for writers to look over. Without this clause, they wouldn't be allowed to do this, because you still own the art.

d. You're giving Marvel the right to use your name and give out your contact info along with the samples, but not for anything else. A no-brainer clause for you, but if you were, say, Norman Rockwell or Bill Gates or anyone else with a professional reputation or privacy to protect, you might not want to agree to this.

e. You can't submit anything that's not yours, including art you've done but already sold the rights to. If there's a problem with any this, it's your fault.

f. You still own the art! That's the cool thing about being an artist instead of a writer: you get to keep something when you do Work Made For Hire. (Of course, if you do art for a WMFH series that Marvel buys, you'll only own the pieces of paper with marks on them; Marvel will own the images.)


This document is purely a formality, and I can't think of any reason not to sign it. You're not giving up any signficant rights at all, and it's a potentially great opportunity. But between you and me, don't get your hopes up. Even if Marvel approves your work, you're still at the mercy of those fanboy writers to pick you, and this is going to hurt just as much as not being picked for teams in gym class. And then even if you get picked, the story might actually suck, or it may be something you're really not interested in drawing, or the series might get cancelled faster than you can say "Meanwhile..." Submitting your work is the safe and easy part.... God help you if you wind up working for a writer who expects you to draw 22 pages of Louvre-ready crowd-scenes using the likenesses of his friends every month, or keeps sending you rewrites, or is "unprofessional" in any of a thousand other possible ways; Marvel isn't going to play "mommy" and step in to settle fights between the kids. For better or worse, your writer is your boss, so you can't appeal to the boss for help. You're also somewhat at the mercy of your fellow artists on the project; if the work doesn't get finished - and get finished well - you don't get paid. If you're uneasy about starting a project, remember you can always say "no" before you sign anything more than this document. Don't say "yes" just because you've been waiting so long for someone to say he likes you and ask you out. See my commentary about the Packaging contract for more about what to expect - and watch out for - when/if a writer approaches you about working for him.

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© copyright 2003, Todd VerBeek
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