A candid and personal examination of the Philippine comics scene from a social, cultural, economic and business point of view.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Reply to Tony De Zuniga

"Hi,I'm Tony de Zuniga and I would like to clear all of these allegations. Me and my wife just wanted to help Filipino artists that time because I believe that it would be good to help my fellow filipinos snd that time DC was reprinting the comics and I asked them how much would it cost for the reprints and I told them that I can get it done with snew artworks for $15.00 a page and they were so happy that's why Carmine even went with me to the Phils. I have proof that we were only getting $15 from DC and $12.00 goes to the artists and the $3.00 is for cleaning,shipping and handling of the artwork.Carmine Infantino was fired by DC and I don't know why he was saying all these lies. And for you guys to put this on your site without consulting me, I think this is very unfair."

That was the reply from an earlier blog post: "Tony De Zuniga's Agency Fee" dated, November 3, 2005, and I am assuming that its really from Tony De Zuniga.

My reply:

Sir, I believe the proper party who should give any apology is Carmine Infantino, assuming of course we could prove him wrong. After all, the Agency Fee fiasco came from Carmine's book and personal recollection which was liberally quoted in the blog article.

Much as this blogger would have wanted to put your side of the story, there was no way of contacting you, Sir. Maybe if you had also previously published a book/memoir like Carmine and given your version of the story, public perception would have been different and the matter given equal space. As it is, we have nothing to go on except Carmine's who is, you must admit, a primary source on the matter as former Publisher of National/DC Comics at the time. Rarely has there been (to this blogger's mind) a comment on this fiasco that came directly from you, Sir. So far, only Carmine made the first pitch in his book.

But be that as it may, your reply Sir, on this blog disclosing your version of the story is most welcome. It opens things up, for you sir, are also a primary source having been directly involved in the matter.

With your statement that you were only receiving $15 from DC at the time, this certainly contradicts Carmine's claim that DC was paying $45 to $50 plus 20% agency fee as stated in his book, which is again quoted thus:

"So, Joe Orlando, Tony DeZuniga and I all went to the Philippines. DeZuniga was the brother-in-law of somebody connected with Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator in power, which helped us cut a little red tape. We went to Manila and met all these wonderful artists. Some of them came shoeless to show their work. It was a remarkable scene! I selected a dozen or so and said, "These are the artists we'll work with." And then Tony DeZuniga said he would stay there and set up shop. Now, we had heard that these guys out in the Philippines worked for $2 or $3 a page. But I said, "No. We have to pay fair wage." So I think we paid something like $45 or $50 a page, plus 20% for the DeZunigas who were running the shop in the Philippines.

We would send them scripts and they would get the artwork done and send it to the States. Things were running very smoothly for a while, but then every once in a while I'd ask for the top talents like Alex Nino and Nestor Redondo. (I love everything Alex Nino does; his work is genius! He's one of the guys that I brought over from the Philippines). Those two were the best. But I wouldn't get any work from them. I'm wondering, "What the hell is going on over there?"

A young Filipino came up to me at a convention in San Diego and said, "We are very upset with you in the Philippines. You're paying us $5 a page." I had no idea what he was talking about. I told him we had a contract and were paying $50 a page.

What happened was, the people running the shop were keeping almost all the money. They were ripping their own people off and living like kings! As soon as I got back to the office, I wrote them a letter and told them I could not tolerate this and it's got to change. They responded with a scathing letter saying, "How dare you!" They wrote that I couldn't tell them what to do, and why don't I mind my own business! They were ripping each other off terribly.

So I contacted Nestor Redondo and I said, "Nestor, can you organize getting scripts and art back and forth with the artists there? Because I won't deal with these crooks anymore." He agreed and handled the thing for a while. But gradually it was phased out." (Source: "The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino" (An Autobiography) by Carmine Infantino and J. David Spurlock, Vanguard Productions, 2001 ed.)

There being two contradictory statements, only one has to be the truth. Its your word against Carmine's. Were you really getting only $15.00 from DC and not $45 to $50 plus 20% agency fee as claimed by Carmine Infantino?

We will never know if we only rely on mere statements unless you are able to show to us (and to Carmine) the actual, original receipts to prove and support your claim.

Do these receipts contain the original signatures of Carmine Infantino or any duly authorized representative of National/DC?

Carmine has been interviewed before and he says that he has kept files and records during his tenure as DC Publisher in the 1970s so we can safely assume that when he says DC was paying $45 to $50 a page to Filipino comics artists plus 20% agency fee, you can be sure that he can support this by official company record. That is unless, YOUR receipts state otherwise.

That is why we would very much like to see them. Maybe you could arrange for a written interview and have a faithful reproduction of these receipts in the same interview?

Also, who and how many Filipino artists did you deal with at the time and are still alive today, who can support your claim that Filipino comics artists were indeed only receiving $12 a page and not $5 a page from National/DC? Also, how can these Filipino comics artists be contacted so we can get a confirmation?

If the Filipino comics artists at the time were actually getting $12 a page and were content with that rate, why then did National/DC stop dealing with you as their agent in the Philippines if nothing was going wrong?

Why were these Filipino comics artists complaining in the first place about the low page rate from National/DC if nothing was going wrong?

Why did National/DC subsequently let Nestor Redondo take over and continue in your stead as agent for these comics artists if nothing was going wrong?

Why did most of these artists leave the country and go direct in their dealings with National/DC, Marvel, Warren if nothing was going wrong?

Help us clarify the above matters and everything (we hope) will be brought to light. Now don't you think that's giving everybody his due? Don't you think that's fair?



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