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Match to Flame 112

posted on November 20, 2019


And lo, there came a day when the prophecy of the attorney in the beginning times came to pass. 

It’s been said that the past is a knife (as an acolyte of Sigmund Freud, I’m all in on that one), and at the beginning of 1990 I was definitely feeling its point in my back. After three years of unsuccessfully trying to charm my syndicator into re?negotiating my contract, things were finally going to hit the windmill when I filed a lawsuit to see if I could extricate myself from it. I had known this day was coming from the time I had initially set pen to the misbegotten document. Although I briefly described that moment in the introduction to Volume 1 of this collection, I think it would behoove us to drill down a bit deeper into that story at this point.

As I stated in that inaugural intro, I took the contract to a local lawyer in Elyria where I was living at the time. He had complimented me on my reading of the contract and assured me that my interpretation of it was pretty much on the money. Nowhere to be found within its six pages were the blandishments I had received assuring me that I could exit the contract on the same terms as my syndicator should I one day choose to do so. Nor was there anything in there (and this was the part that really rankled) saying that the characters, who were drawn from my life experience and mine alone, belonged to me. Quite the opposite, in fact; there was no way out of the contract for me at all, and, even if I could somehow make that happen, my creations would stay behind to live on in the hands of others. The meeting was an exercise in the attorney stating the obvious, and me sitting there nodding my head. He characterized the document as a slave contract (ironically, in early conversations with my eventual litigating attorneys, the idea of citing the contract as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment in one of my claims was briefly spitballed around the room but eventually dispatched, along with my suggestion that I plead insanity, to the abattoir of cute-but-not-necessarily-legally-sound ideas). The first time you hear the word “slave” dropped into a conversation concerning you, it tends to make your nether region draw up and pull the hatch shut behind it. I then received the best advice that I was probably going to get that day. I was told that if I wanted to play badly enough, that contract, as draconian as it was, was my ticket to the only game in town. So the decision was made to sign it (with everything gritted) and to kick my problems with the contract down the road to some future point.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 7