My Feelings on Modern Business Law

Making Of / 21 October 2020

I hold what some consider some pretty “extreme” views when it comes to business law, especially in the subjects of corporate and intellectual property laws.

I’m going to do my best to make this a basic over view of the most destructive issues of modern business law, and if this entry generates some response or questions, I’ll consider doing some more in-depth entries on specific subjects. 

In a nutshell, I truly believe that corporate law is a monster that’s gone out of control, and in large part is dragging copyright law along with it due to heavy lobbying the pressures for changes to copyright law that protects the interests of large corporations and little to nothing to help the actual creators.

From the research I’ve done, my understanding is that when corporations first came i to being, they were meant to be limited, temporary ventures among multiple partners in a large project, such as building a bridge. Once all business relating to the project had been completed, including finance reports and clearance of debt, the corporation, as a legal entity would be dissolved.

Thanks to the industrial revolution and continued later with the tech revolution, corporations continued to grow into massive entities controlling vast amounts of money and resources. This boost in finances gave corporations the power and influence to pressure for changes until today, when we have corporate entities that are mega-corporations, allowed to run with no time limit into perpetuity, and in many regions corporations are recognized legally as a person, with the same rights and ability to vote in elections.

At the same time, as these drastic changes occurred with pressure over decades, internally, the business structure and culture of these corporations changed. 

I’ll take a moment now to point out that just because something is right, doesn’t mean it’s ethical, and just because something is ethical, doesn’t mean it’s right. This will come up again shortly.

Anyway, as corporations became more powerful, business operations and corporate law codified rules that put the financial interests of the share holders, the partners in the corporation, above all other business, moral, or ethical concerns. It became law that management at the CEO level could not make decisions that would harm the value of the company and lose shareholder money. In fact, it goes beyond that to not just avoiding losing money, but continuing to make choices that will not just increase the value, but earn the maximum possible value consistently over time.

Today, a CEO that makes choices that fail to maximize shareholder profits doesn’t just face job loss, but possible criminal charges as well, again, depending on where in the world you live.

Forget A.I., Corporate Law is the monster that we’ve created that will destroy us all.

We’ve created a legal entity, a business and cultural system that we know, by design, is meant to put money over any other concern, including the well-being of users, employees, customers or society in general.

We’ve created a business system designed not to care about people in the least. When push comes to shove, decision makers are pressured and legally bound to see people as an expendable sacrifice made for increased profits.

It’s a system that doesn’t care if the average person lives or dies and we’ve allowed this system to drive the majority of our economy.

If we don’t turn this car around, we’re going to hit a brick wall, and thanks to the system we live under, we each have to pay the full expense for any damages, whether we survive the crash or not.

This distorted favoritism toward percieved finance and influence that has led to changes in copyright law that keep characters out of public domain and allows mega-corporations to continue milking properties whose creators are long dead and whose descendants get little to no benefit from the extension of copyright protection. That’s a subject I’ll have to cover more in-depth in another blog entry.

Corporate interests seem to have become so corrupt, I get doubts and hesitation when I think about registering my studio as a non-profit. On one hand, I want to use my work to help people and support worthwhile causes. On the other hand, I fear my own viewpoint will become distorted by culture and operating procedures of the corporate structure.

The crux of this is that when we put profit before people, it will always decline. We have all these problems we worry about: climate change, political corruption, racial strife, can all be traced back to the conditions that we force ourselves to live under by condoning a system that has no concern or regard for the welfare of any individual person.

There needs to be an absolute reform of legal systems that clearly and always put the rights of people and the good of society over corporate profits. Human rights should always trump corporate rights.

Unless of course, you look forward to a future where your studio apartment is provided as a courtesy from your employer, Subway Sandwiches.

Well, that’s all for today!

Check out some art:


Thanks for reading,

Mike

Not everyone will like your work, some won’t like you, especially if you are working professionally

Making Of / 17 September 2020

A big caveat for anyone aspiring to turn their passion for art into a career. You're going to meet horrible people. You'll also meet great people who, in my opinion, help balance things out, but you should be mentally prepared for the negative colleagues that you will encounter.

When I first started getting involved with the “comic convention scene” in the late 90’s, things were very different. Conventions were big if they filled one auditorium at a convention centre. An artist could get a table and sell thier work for less than $50. And overall, there seemed to be a lot more positivity and cooperation among peers.

It felt like comic book folks could just hang out and share ideas and just have fun drawing and making comics together. It seems now like a golden age where you could approach a peer with a collaberative idea and they’d say “yeah, that sounds awesome, let’s do it.”

Let’s assume that my memories are at least a little coloured by the naivety of youth, as I was not quite in my 20s at the time.

In my 20ish years in comics and entertainment, I’ve had the privilege of meeting some hilarious, personable and supportive colleagues and professionals. I’ve become friendly acquaintances with a number of known figures whose work I enjoyed when I was growing up, never expecting I’d get to meet, even work with them some day. Some truly wonderful experiences.

I also have met some people who were absolutely horrid.

One person I met at my first convention, who now works for a major publisher, eventually became my cyber bully for a period. To this day he’ll still show up out of the blue to bully and berate some of the same crew that we were part of (Toronto area comic creators riding artist’s alley) for their opinions on  Facebook. This guy really hated me. To this day I don’t know why or how I managed to get his attention or set him off.

Considering I was 17 when I started working professionally and doing cons, I made a lot of mistakes. In my career I’ve made a lot of dumb, immature, misguided mistakes and had a lot of expensive lessons. If fulling will g to own thosethings and the repercussions, which I fully intend to blog about n the future. Maybe I could have avoided some of these things if I’d had an industry mentor, but growing up in rural Canada sort of limits your access to professional comics mentors.

Anyway, this guy got involved in online hate threads (based on false claims) about a business I owned at the time. He essentially led a charge to virtually lynch me. He even recruited his friends and followers, random message board people and, most painfully, some of my own friends who believed the claims made about me without ever thinking to ask me about it.

Though I’m essentially fine with it now, it was very upsetting at the time at has left me with some PTSD-type symptoms, some of which I still struggle with to this day.

I sincerely hope that you never have to deal with this kind of situation and I like to think most comic artists never will. One of the reasons I got into teaching was to use my experiences to help other new artists avoid making the same mistakes and having to learn the same expensive lessons that I did.

Just like any other industry, comics is full of a wide variety of extreme personalities and off-the-wall opinions.

It’s innevitable, no matter what you do, no matter what your job, you’ll have peers that don’t like you, for whatever reason. Don’t let it get to you, but don’t be afraid to seek help if you feel harassed orthreatened.

It’s unfortunate that we even need this disclaimer, but that’s the world we live in.

Why do some people behave this way? Do they see other artists as a threat? I don’t know and I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t answer that question.

What I can say is that you don’t have to let the flaws of others affect your happiness. Keep your head down keep working. Don’t worry about trying to please the haters, focus on family, friends, fans and other supporters of what you do.

Also I made some art:


Thanks for reading,

Mike

A quick update - I can't make the donuts if I don't have time to make the donuts.

Making Of / 27 July 2020

Hey guys, quick update. I've shifted my streaming schedule to Fridays and occasional weekends, which is also when I'll be doing promotion, videos, AMA's etc. Just can't maintain all the social media and promo presence and still have time to do what I do. I can't make comics and games for people to enjoy if I'm spending time every day doing social media and videos etc. And not making time for creative work. Just gotta set my priorities this way for now. I'll stream my live creation and behind the scenes publishing process as much as possible on Fridays, but the last couple of weeks have shown me that I'm trying to do too much for one person and I need to scale back and refocus on the creative process first or my creative output will suffer. Love doing these live streams and interacting on social media, just have to be more organized about it. Looking forward to continuing talking and interacting with all my peeps as usual, just saving the video content etc. for Fridays. 



Non-Profit Corporations were made for Publishing A.K.A. Just trying to change the system as we know it.

Making Of / 17 June 2020


So, for those not familiar with my posts, I've been mulling over the idea of going non-profit, public domain with my solo dev game and comics studio.

I know I just lost a ton of people with that sentence. That's fine.

Don't think I haven't heard it from plenty of people already. "But what if it's successful? Won't you be giving up a ton of royalty money? Won't you be mad if someone uses your characters and makes a million dollars and gives you nothing?"

There are both short and long answers to these questions.

SHORT: Great. Yes and No.

LONG:

But what if it's successful? - Great, I hope that the ideas and themes I've created spread and inspire others to do the same.

Won't you be giving up a ton of royalty money? - Yes, and I'm fine with it. Because if someone can do a better job or crate a more inspiring idea with my pre-existing characters, than so be it. All the power to them. As a solo dev it is beyond exhausting and time consuming to defend and enforce traditional copyrights. Besides I'd still own the copyright to my work and stories and I don't need to acknowledge or consider work by others as cannon to my storytelling universe. Anyone can make a story with any character, but not from my approach or perspective. No one can recreate your perspective but you. With all the corruption that is apparent in all levels of our institutions and legal system, I don't want to feed that toxic legal system by giving my money to government bodies in registration fees or lawyers with legal fees. 

Won't you be mad if someone uses your characters and makes a million dollars and gives you nothing? - Nope, and the current system in the mainstream already does that to creators anyway. Look at Garry Friedrich and Mike Ploog. They created Ghost Rider. When Marvel made the first Ghost Rider movie, the creators asked for royalties. In response, Marvel sued them into oblivion for daring to presume that they should stand up for themselves. Their only "crime" was selling original Ghost Rider art at conventions, the character they created. Marvel was happy to let them do that even though they contractually owned the character, that is until they spoke up and Marvel used the legal system to ruin and silence them. If you want to be successful and work with a big company you have to give ownership of your characters away anyway, with no promise of a share of what that character may make in the future. So how is it really that different? It's not just an issue in the comics or entertainment world, but in the business and work world in general. Employees are expected to sacrifice their own ideas, health, well-being and anything else for the good of an employer that is totally indifferent toward their existence, if not outright contemptful of anyone who suggests things should be done differently. If I create a character under public domain/creative commons and someone is inspired by that character to make a movie, cartoon, comic, game, anything else, I'm no worse off than if I worked with a large publisher and more likely to be able to enforce the most minimum of recognition, a simple credit that says that I created that character. And if someone can take my idea and build on it, make it better and use it to inspire more people then they have my utmost respect. And if they make a piece of crap, they make a piece of crap. It doesn't reflect on me. I can always make something with the character myself that I feel is of quality.


I'm tired of my hard work and money going to support a system that disrespects and screws the average working class person. I'm also tired of hearing people complain about that system, but not willing to do anything to fix or change it, if it means that they have to lift a finger or speak up for themselves. There are a lot of people who bellyache about our society, but consistently have to come up with a problem for every solution suggested. I don't want to be that person either.

So in the spirit of setting an example I've really been doing some hard thinking and research. I feel like the best possible way to make change is to make my publishing efforts public domain, low cost and non-profit. It would remove a lot of the constraints and bullshit that has to be dealt with in the traditional system. The more I think about it the more I think any publishing venture, especially news media, should be non-profit, removing advertising and sponsor bias and allowing an organization to provide an affordable product that respects the customer and creator. With such a system it is also realistically viable to properly reimburse the creator for their work instead of looking for every opportunity to snatch money and credit from them.

I truly feel that the only way that we will ever have honest, unbiased media coverage and world news is under such a non-profit system.

The real question is; will people support it? A lot of skeptics will say "no". I'm willing to try anyway because I 'm willing to take the risk if it gives me a chance to not be bent over by larger companies all the time. These mega-corporations can fight larger legal battles with the resources that they amass off of other people's backs. Will the public support it? Should it be a grass roots campaign? Should I run a kickstarter to raise the funds for registration, along with raising awareness and support?

Would you support a non-profit/not-for-profit publisher of games and comics? One that made their characters available for you to use in your own games and comics?

Let me know and share thoughts and opinions at https://mgagnon81.artstation.com/contact I may share some of the responses, so please state in your message if it is okay to read in a video or post in an article, etc. 

Looking forward to hearing people's thoughts. 

Regards,

Mike Gagnon

All Day Breakfast Productions

Even Pros Make Mistakes (Yes, I'm the guy who almost released a game with no exit button)

Making Of / 25 March 2020

In this ramped up age of corona virus gloom, I want to talk about something that too many professionals avoid talking about, for fear that some grungy online troll will rise from the magical tarpits of the internets and proclaim them a fraud. In this scenario, the author always assumes that the masses within earshot will suddenly agree and hoist said creative person on their own petard, roasting them as a fraud, feeding the deeply hidden imposter syndrome that nearly all creative people have. And so, professionals who make mistakes hide them, cover them up or willfully forget them. 

A dreary existence of anxiety if we're being honest. Especially when you consider the reality that most of those online bystanders that the author thinks will side with the aforementioned tar troll, are actually not going to tear themselves away from their own facebook, Instagram or tiktok accounts to care or even register that they took any notice.

Real people make mistakes, and creative professionals are no exception. 

No matter how hard you try to seem superhuman and invulnerable, you are human, and that public judgement monster only lives and breaths an existence in your own head. 

That's right. You've been fearing a figment of your own imagination.

We all have this deep seated insecurity that to admit our errors is to expose our fraud to the world. It's not. We think if we point out a mistake, everyone will gossip and talk online and that soon the negative publicity on social media will shut our business down. 

It won't. Telling people that you made a mistake will not ruin your brand or professional image.

Getting caught hiding a mistake or denying it when you know it to be true, that is what will ruin your image. 

Admitting a mistake though? Being the first to tell the world you made it? It won't make your business any less profitable or legitimate. It won't lose you any customers. In fact, owning your mistakes, being up front about them or telling people about them can build a more solid and trustworthy reputation and even earn new customers and followers. 

Admitting mistakes and talking about them has created some of my best articles and advice threads.

Take this article for example. I told you right up front what my mistake was and it got your attention. There's a good chance that most people who read this are going to be new to my work, because I don't have a huge fan base following my work. Just being honest. And that's okay. I'm still a professional making my living in the entertainment industry. I confess that, yeah I could have more fans and that irks me, but I also value my creative output and would rather write this article and then move on to the next instead of traveling the internet like some kind of content vagabond, begging for people to read my content in the hopes of a measly fraction of a cent form a content host or the less than 10% of readers who might one day buy something from me online. 

Yes, in confess I hate having to get people to pay attention to me. But I'm also creative. 

That's why the title of this article is 100% honest and is totally clickbait free.

Yes, I am the guy who almost released a video game with no exit button. 

As I mentioned, I work in entertainment, part of which is creating video games. 

I've been working on my own personal project called Gassy Man, and was ready to launch a free demo edition on my website this week. 

As you may, or may not, have guessed, Gassy Man is the tale of a man who greatly resembles me and flies through the air under the power of his own farts as he saves humanity from alien invaders. Obvs.

Anywho, I was all set to upload the demo this week and let people test it themselves online when I noticed an embarrassing and glaring error. There were no exit buttons, anywhere. None of the menus, none of the game over screens. nothing. Once you started playing the game you could never leave. Even if you hit the "esc" key. The only thing you could do was re-try over and over. 

Super embarrassing and completely dashed my hope of release this week. Though it's only Wednesday, and the problem has been corrected. The build for Windows 10 has been exported and tested, but the browser version to play online still has a bug. When you beat the game the screen turns black and freezes instead of re-loading the main menu and even if you clear the cashe. The browser version of the file never reloads or replays from the beginning once you've beaten the game. 

Looks like I'm going to have to crush some updated books and forums on Unity before I can release this, as I have at least one more mistake to fix. 

As ever and always,

Mike

Where am I going with this?

Making Of / 12 March 2020

In case you are curious, I'm ultimately hoping to use my ideas to create a non-profit or not-for-profit entertainment publisher. I want to use my ideas to create low and no cost entertainment for people without the sleazy business profiteering part that often comes with entertainment. Along the way I'd like to put a few bucks in the pockets of friends and colleagues who I feel haven't been shown the respect that they deserve from the industry by hiring them to do covers, game art pinups etc. I'd also like to support comics veterans served by groups such as the Hero Initiative. I want to produce fun, uncensored work that people can enjoy and sometimes raise awareness of important issues. 



Trudging ON

Making Of / 13 July 2019

Set back more than expected with being sick this week, but still happy I managed to get some awesome work done on Trumpocalypse Now. Managed to get some rest, but also complete a few key scenes for the first three chapters (levels). There is some beautiful stuff going on and the art production is really getting me excited. I'll leave you guys with a titillating ROUGH render from Chapter 3. 

And so...I trudge on...(No really I am having fun just tired of being sick)