Alejandro Arbona, a former Marvel editorial staffer, appears to have the perfect job. “People were always really excited when they asked me what I did and I told them I worked at Marvel, but I always said, ‘You have no idea how difficult and frustrating it is,” Arbona remembers. “The hours are long, the work is stressful, the pay is low.”
In the decade since Arbona left Marvel to work as a freelance writer and editor, workplaces in the industry’s publishing sector have arguably not changed significantly. But on November 1, staff from Image Comics – home to spawnAnd the walking Dead And wild dragon Perks – formed a union called Comic Book Workers United (CBWU), where 10 of 12 eligible employees voted to organize and publicize. The employees were aided by organizers of Communications Workers of America, the giant of organizing workers in many industries.
“Work organization is something that employees at Image Comics have been discussing for a few years now,” says Image employees. The Hollywood Reporter By email. (The group responded to questions en masse.) “Many of us have backgrounds in or near unions, including many of the founders, whose work has been successfully adapted to the big and small screen means working with, or in some cases, actually represented by unions”.
While syndications are a long-standing reality for the parent companies of filmmaking for publishers like DC and Marvel, the comic book industry has historically been resistant, with publishers expelling creators who discussed the possibility in the past. There is no creative guild just for independent comic book users; The Writers Guild of America’s Basic Agreement is based on work developed for broadcast rather than print, and American science fiction and fantasy writers have only recently voted to accept comic writers and graphic novelists. “We are formulating membership requirements for this new group of innovators,” SFWA President Jeff Kennedy says of the organization’s current position.
Among the nine goals of the FIFA menus On its website, there is a clear line online, which can be seen via repeated requests for transparency in terms of workload and employer expectations; The group requests the opportunity to provide “the white glove’s attention to all the books we publish… at a reasonable rate to the actual amount of production we produce.”
The CWA was “effective” in the organizing process, according to the CBWU members. They explain: “From the beginning, this has been an open process for identifying people’s needs, goals, and interests and using that information to draw up an action plan to improve the company overall.” “Once we had a solid foundation of achievable goals and felt that sufficient information and education had been accessed about the process, we gave each eligible person the option to appear in public and seek voluntary recognition.”
Image Comics has so far failed to acknowledge the voluntary recognition request, something the World Business Federation says is “disappointing”. The November 5 deadline passed without an official response from the company, though the company released a statement earlier that day that the National Labor Relations Board was reviewing a petition by CWA to allow eligible members of Image employees to vote for CWA representation. The statement concluded, “Everyone in the photo is committed to working through this process, and we are confident that the decision of these efforts will have positive long-term benefits.”
Undeterred by Image’s lack of recognition, the Construction Workers and Survival Union ask supporters to pressure the company directly to voluntarily recognize the union, and see the potential of their game-changing efforts in the industry as a whole. Although CBWU is only open to employees of Image Comics, the group believes that hunger exists among employees of other publishers.
“we he wishes We can share the huge volume of responses we’ve received from people working at other publishers, and ask for advice on how to start the process themselves,” says the group. They begin their own journey, and we promise to defend them when they decide to announce to the public, as they stood even for us.”
Sources within Marvel and DC say that, for now, there has been no increased discussion about forming guilds, but it may only be a matter of time. “I can’t even remember the number of times my former Marvel colleagues and I brought up the idea of a guild,” Arbona says of his time at the company. “For us, it was just idle speculation and wishful thinking. Unfortunately, we have always come to the same self-destructive conclusions about who will join us, who will not, and how the company will respond.”
For its part, the CWA is willing to help any comedy workers ready to regulate — and doesn’t see the industry’s historical lack of regulation as a problem. A CWA representative says in a statement to THR. “What is different is that the workers are tired and ready to use the power they have when they join together to make real changes. When the workers are ready to organize, we are ready to help them.”
A version of this story first appeared in the November 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.