Action Lab Issues Statement Against Princeless Comic Creators – Bleeding Cool News

Earlier this week, Bleeding Cool reported on the creators of the Princeless comic book, Jeremy Whitely and Emily Martin and their issues with comic book publisher Action Lab soliciting a new Princeless comic book for next year’s Free Comic Book Day, featuring unpublished comics, despite impending litigation.
We initially reached out to Bryan Seaton, publisher of Action Lab pbut didn’t hear anything back. That has now changed, and today Bryan has issued us with the following statement.
“Action Lab will not directly address the false and misleading statements that Jeremy and Emily make here. Your readers should know that Jeremy and Emily signed a contract that gave Action Lab control over and ownership of the Princeless finished product. Jeremy and Emily gave these rights to Action Lab subject only to a limited right of approval during the creative process, receipt of royalties, and an opportunity to work on the books on a work-for-hire basis, all of which have been fulfilled. Because of this arrangement, Action Lab has chosen to try to grow the audience of the many volumes of Princeless, and the spinoff series Raven the Pirate Princess, by distributing it as our offering in the largest comic promotion of the year, Free Comic Book Day. We informed Jeremy and Emily of our plan in early October.”
The contract is one that is at issue in the previously reported class action lawsuit from a number of creators. Here is the FCBD listing being contested;
(W) Jeremy Whitley (A/CA) Emily Martin
Princeless Is Back! And to kick off the tenth volume, Action Lab is giving you the first issue for free! Join Adrienne as she kicks off a new adventure where it all began-her homeland!
Exclusive Original Material Rating: All-Ages
This was the statement, made earlier in the week by the creators of the comic.
It has come to our attention through the excitement of our fans that there is “brand new” Princeless material being offered by Action Lab Comics for Free Comic Book Day. To say that this is a surprise to us is perhaps an understatement.
The creators of Princeless (Jeremy and Emily) are currently in a protracted legal battle with Action Lab regarding a number of issues that we feel should have voided our publishing contract with Action Lab. As detailed in the original complaint, these issues range from non-payment of royalties, late payment of artists, late delivery of books to the distributor, and Action Lab completely shutting down business and payments for a large chunk of 2020 without informing us or other creators. Jeremy and Emily have currently stopped working on Princeless and have not received any request to approve or finalize comics pages for a Free Comic Book Day release, nor have they approved any new work to be published in a format such as this which would not offer royalties or recompense to the creative team.
This is the latest in Action Lab’s continued policy of putting their personal profits before creators and we strongly disapprove.
Perhaps even more worrying is Action Lab’s claim in their Previews solicitation that this is meant to “kick off the tenth volume.” Not only was this done without our approval, but the team has only finished the first issue of the volume and the implication that the rest of this volume is coming soon is misleading to retailers, consumers, and the distributor. Those books have not been drawn and Action Lab has not attempted to settle our current legal issues in any meaningful way. The only possible explanations are that either Action Lab is trying to force the creative team into feeling pressured by the expectations of our fans and community or that Action Lab means to continue the book without us. We are not okay with either of these instances and we do not think the fans of Princeless will be either.
Princeless was never a cash cow, but that was never what it was about. It was about creating an important comic with a message that we could be proud of and the stories we wanted young comic fans to read. It is also important to create the book under ethical work practices where freelancers can expect the pay they are promised in a timely and uncomplicated fashion. Until this legal issue is settled, we would ask that Princeless fans not support this Free Comic Book Day book and that they make their voices heard to Action Lab, their retailers, and their distributors.
Thank you and we look forward to bringing this book to you in the future under better circumstances,
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