Tuesday, May 1, 2007

All Things Must Pass...Legal


The past two weeks have been spent obtaining permission rights to the over twenty quotes used in my book (The History of the Snowman). I've heard from alot of interesting people like the renown P. K. Page, who graciously helped and granted me permission to use her snowman poem. "The book sounds fascinating," the 91 yr-old Canadian poet wrote me in an e-mail, a common sentiment I got from people...unless they were dead. That includes the following group, made up of some of the world's most important writers: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dylan Thomas, Kenneth Koch, Wallace Stevens, George Santayana, and Michael Gold. I didn't receive any e-mails from them but I have already received clearance through their family and/or publisher.

The costs? One publisher wanted $50 for a two-line excerpt from their book. Everyone wanted free copies. One family estate wanted a trade; a quote for an original drawing of mine of their famous relative.

I'm awaiting response from Jack Handey (Deep Thoughts, Saturday Night Live) and George Harrison's widow and estate. Even to use one lyric from Harrison's Here Comes the Sun requires a contract. All things must pass legal.

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2 comments:

Mike Lynch said...

What's wretched about all this is that the onus to get legal clearance is on the author, not on the rights clearance pros at the publishing house. That seems wrong, unless I misunderstand the situation.

Changing topics:

Scroll down for a Will Eisner snowman here:

http://mikelynchcartoons.blogspot.com/2007/05/will-eisner-preventive-service-monthly.html

Freelancer said...

That's exactly right. The expenses are mine to pay for, which have amounted to about $8,000 if you include photo rights. My publisher has a legal department that's even hard to reach by phone nevermind addressing some of the problems I faced (for a newcomer, no less)

Thank you for sending me your link to Will Eisner. Of course your blog I visit regularly as I continue to learn how to be a gag cartoonist (a new development in my life and career this past month. Your post http://mikelynchcartoons.blogspot.com/2007/04/nyc-ncs-get-together-42507.htmlwas especially interesting because I recognized some of the faces from the New Yorker cartoonist lunches and I was finally able to place the faces with the names (eg. Anne Gibbons).

I have been working on another book in secret on the side, a graphic novel called the Sea Below Us, a comedy about the horrors of Arctic exploration in the 18th century which at the same time tells the story of global warming today. When I started that project 6 years ago I referred to the books by Will Eisner as a standard and tried to digest his ways and learn from it.