AfterShock Comics LLC has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with the District of Central California. The paperwork lists their assets and liabilities between $10 million and $50 million, which means they owe as much as they are currently worth. Rive Gauche Television, parent company to AfterShock’s film and television development branch, has also filed for bankruptcy protection. This comes less than two weeks after they were called out publicly for not paying creators royalties.
AfterShock’s filing paperwork lists dozens of creators, some of whom are owed as much as $20,000 in unpaid royalties. They also list hundreds of creditors including nearly $400,000 owed to the Canada-based printer Imprimerie JS Printing.
“the company is addressing late payments as outstanding funds owed to the company come in. There are no non-payments,” a spokesperson for AfterShock said in a statement. “Everyone who is owed money will be paid. We recognize our obligations and consider creator compensation our number one priority. We apologize for this situation and are making our best efforts to rectify it as quickly as possible.”
This situation was first brought to light on December 9th thanks to a string of Tweets from artist Will Robson. In these posts, he rhetorically asked “Has it become industry standard to pay creators ridiculously late for their work?” While he didn’t name any names, he did claim he struggled with the large companies he worked for to get paid in a timely fashion. Robson said he was seeing some payments coming months after they were due. While he feared speaking up due to being blacklisted, he also realized the importance of drawing attention to the issue. This becomes even more important when you consider the comic book industry’s long history of not even so much as crediting their artists.
While Robson didn’t initially name, names fellow creator Alex de Campi didn’t hesitate to out AfterShock. Campi claims they owe friends of his tens of thousands of dollars. To combat the issue he has been handing out contact details for California Lawyers for the Arts like “Xmas candy.” Tis the season, for workers rights!
Campi even went so far as to screenshot Robson’s and another creator’s tweets instead of sharing them directly. This is so he could obscure their identities, further underscoring the fear of retaliation. Though Robson did later confirm it was AfterShock and even retweeted Campi’s post calling them out.