Intellectual Property Minus Business Acumen Equals Doubt for Terrific Productions LLC's Publishing Future

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Youngblood Terrific LLC

Anyone collecting comics in the 1990s will remember Youngblood as being one of the tentpoles of the Image Comics revolution, vaulting creator Rob Liefeld from stardom to super-stardom in the industry. With the entire philosophy of Image being one of creator ownership, it came as something of a surprise a few years ago when it was discovered Rob Liefeld no longer owned the team that had become so popular. That property, as well as another Liefeld property, Supreme, now belong to one Andrew Rev, a name once known in the comics industry for taken over the yoke of Comico and sending the comics publisher that had, once upon a time, rivalled Marvel in terms of units, into a nosedive.

Comico may be gone, but Andrew Rev is back in the comic book scene, and is the hype master behind his new venture, Terrific Productions LLC. Through his Twitter account, Rev regularly pumps up the Liefeld creations he now owns, promising the deliver "the next revolution in comics."

But the would-be publisher has left behind a wake of artists who have come aboard and, shortly thereafter, jumped ship, claiming that a bait-and-switch tactic had occured with the contracts they signed for the work they began -- contracts promising one page rate that would later be superseded by contracts fraught with language that was technically hinky.

One such artist is Gabriel Santos. who was contracted to draw six issues of SUPREME. After turning in the fully inked version of the first issue, however, Santos received notification that his original contract was invalid, despite it having been signed by himself as well as Terrific Productions LLC representatives Robert Shepard and Andrew Rev.

"I believe I was of the first wave of artists who had enough," says Santos in a statement to Critical Blast. "They encountered me through a friend back in late 2019. Robert Shepard set up a group chat on Viber and started us up. I met my writer, Leon, and we started working on SUPREME. We finished the book near February, and i was told I needed to redraw three pages. So I did."

"I asked when payment was going to come in and was told 'next week.' The week came by, so I asked again. And again. And again. until finally, I was asked, 'How many pages of issue two are you in?' That's when I had enough, and said i would not be doing any work until I was paid for the first issue." This was taken by Rev as a violation of the contract, in a text exchange.

After having turned in both the cover and the interior pencils for what would be SUPREME #1, payment became a real issue. Ultimately Santos did get paid for the cover he provided, but not for the twenty-two pages of interior art, for which he charged a page rate of $80 -- $1,760 worth of work which will not see print.

The penciled pages that would have been SUPREME #1, and for which Santos was not paid, appear below.

Emiliano Urdinola's story isn't much different. Having contacted Robert Shepard in April 2020, Unrdinola received a contract that next month to begin work on the cover and 22 pages of the first issue of PARLIAMENT, a contract that included the page rate put forward by Urdinola.

"After three months of work, particularly because the writer sent me two or three pages per week, I finished the first issue and asked [Shepard] if anyone else had to approve the finished pages," says Urdinola. "Again he told me he was the one who approved all for this project."

"When I talked to [Shepard] about my contract, we agreed that i would be paid 50% after sending all the pages for review, and 50% after I deliver the hi-res files," Urdinola tells Critical Blast. "My pages were approved, so on August 5 [,2020] I sent, along with the hi-res files, the invoice to get paid for the first issue. Here is when Andrew Rev appears and evertyhing becomes weird and twisted."

Urdinola states that Shepard asked him to download the Viber app to his phone, a VOIP communications application that Rev had utilized to have voice communications, rather than emails, with Casas and Santos. This was Urdinola's first contact with Terrific Productions LLC's president, Andrew Rev. "This conversation lasted about four hours," says Urdinola. "He said a lot of things, and one of them was that he was hiring artists from outside the United States because he can pay a lower rate to the foreign artist--" [Urdinola resides in Argentina] "--and with that money they can live, pay bills, and the artist will become rich when the company starts to collect the sales money. At that moment, I didn't realize he was saying that he was paying artists, not because of their talent, but for the counry where they lived."

Somewhere into the conversation on Viber, Urdinola was told his work was not approved, because Rev had never seen, nor signed, the contract. "He suggested that if I had started work without having received back the contract signed by him, it was my fault."

"I told [Rev] that I had agreements made with Robert Shepard about the art, the work approval, etc. But here Rev said that these people don't have the power to make that kind of decision," said Urdinola. "He also said I had been working all this time with an unapproved script. So after three months of work

, all  the arrangements made with his employees did not exist anymore. And with my pages not approved, he was not going to pay me for the work done."

A week later, after Urdinola insisted all further communication be done by email, Rev sent different contracts, with payment contingent upon Urdinola signing the new documents. "In these proposals, none of the previous arrangements I had made with his employees were taken," says Urdinola. "My rate was lowered, and they had put strange conditions for paying the total of the works."

"At this point I know I am not going to gain one penny and that he scammed me," Urdinola states to Critical Blast. "The only important thing now is that all these manipulations are exposed, because apparently he has already scammed several more artists."

Which brings us to Daniel Maine, an artist out of Spain who has been published by Dynamite, Zenescope, and Action Lab. Maine had been contacted in a similar fashion as the other artists, and had been contracted to work on HEXIUM.

"Exactly after I sent the last pages of issue one, I was working on the layouts of issue two when I started to notice weird things and delays," Maine says. "Robert [Shepard] emailed me and told me Andrew [Rev] wanted me to install Viber and talk with me." The premise of the conversation was that a mistake had been made with Maine's contract. "I didn't understand what they meant till the second [contract] arrived and I noticed the point 'if you sign this, every previous agreement is extinct.' Which means 'we want you to accept the new terms, because they are awesome,' but they were not. This new contract had the "COVID problem," payments in percents instead of the full payment, and a way lower rate. It also carried the obligation to deliver some traditional art pages so they could sell them."

"I did what the agreements said and worked with my deadline and sent the pages so they could be approved," Maine tells Critical Blast. "Anytime I finished the art, I sent them an invoice. And then things started to get weird."

The weirdness began first with the alteration of the payout schedule structure. "At first the payments had to be done at the end of each issue, not more than 48 hours," says Maine. "Then they changed to 50% in 40 hours, and the other half in another two weeks. It was weird, but it seemed acceptable because they neeed to check for corrections. But then Andrew and Robert sent me a document and they refused to pay me a dollar unless I signed this second NDA and contract. Andrew claimed the first contract was a fake done by me, but I have this contract signed by him twice."

The new contract included terms that would obviate the previously signed agreement, and included pyaments in percentages, a lower rate, and the obligation to deliver penciled pages to Terrific Productions LLC so they could resell the original artwork. And then there was the "Special COVID 19 Terms" built into the new contract, which read: "The RECIPIENT will continue to get fifty (50%) of the page rate until Covid 19 has a ninety (90%) percent vaccination for the general population of the United states and Canada or 2,500 direct comic retailer stores in the United states and Canada are open full time for business." [Diamond Comic Distributors notes they fulfill for 3500 accounts, world-wide.]

Maine's contract situation devolved into a game of one partner pointing fingers at the other. "Robert promised me the rates and sent me the contract," states Santos. "I signed it and Andrew signed it. I insisted on receiving the contract back, signed, or I would not start with the pages. Then when all this happened, Andrew said the contract did not exist. But it existed, so he changed the version to 'I just received the last page, so it is not valid.' But I had it signed on two different pages.

A similar story played out with artist Fritz Casas, an artist in the Philippines also contracted to do the interior artwork for SUPREME.

"Robert Shepard reached out to me last March and offered work," says Casas. "I did not know who Andrew Rev or Terrific productions was. I did a little research and only found a few articles about how he got the rights to Rob Liefeld's characters. So I started working in late May / early June and finished the SUPREME book aroun July 16. I sent them the hi-res files and invoice on July 17."

"I reached out to Robert and Andrew about the payment several times," Casas continues. "But the replies were excuses until Andrew sent me the second contract dated August 13, 2020. I refused to sign the contract and asked Andrew to honor the first agreement. But he refused and blamed Robert for sending [the first contract] and having me work without his knowledge. He also blamed me for working on the pages without talking to him first. I posted the unpaid SUPREME cover August 30, 2020. He got mad and tried to intimidate me. He sent me another proposal dated August 25, 2020, telling me that he accepted my signed NDA, but I believe he only wanted to prevent me from posting more SUPREME pages. I posted seven SUPREME pages of interior art with characters I designed so they can't reuse and claim them as their own. He messaged me many times in Viber, trying to convince me to sign the contract, and I have refuseed up until this day."

Rev did follow up with a third contract to Casas, which was much like the second only without the COVID restriction clause. In this document, Critical Blast learned that the budgeted page rate for the Terrific Productions LLC graphic novels is $50, with the offer to Casas being a promise of 50% up front and the rest paid "after the books paid from the 20% net profit we can make payment of $500 dollars immediately and $500 upon receipt of them original pages." [sic] It is worth noting that Casas's page rate is $120, but Rev's proposal states that "because all of our artist including you from countries where even 50% is a very good compensation." [sic]

Insiders close to Rev, speaking on anonymity, have expressed doubts that any of the Liefeld properties will ever see print from Terrific Productions LLC. However, that doubt comes with a caveat. There are rumors that Terrific Productions is courting a deal with Netflix. If that is true, and comes to fruition, it could lead to an influx of cash that might just make it possible for Terrific to put out their books.

And pay their artists.