Rich Johnston has been the premier chronicler of Rick Olney’s (alleged) misdeeds for several years now, I thought I’d take a look back @ how all of this started. Johnston used to write a gossip column for Comic Book Resources titled Lying In The Gutters. Apparently he first reported on Olney in a column in late Oct. of 2006, but he then removed the content in order to check out some sources, and then he posted some new info the following week. So here are the sections on Olney from the selected columns that appeared in late 2006:
Last week I wrote about creators alleging a lack of, or delayed payments from TightLip Entertainment. I emailed the TightLip’s editor-in-chief Rick Olney for a week or so about this, without response. After running the article last week, Olney did make contact and I pulled the piece, pending a fuller response to the allegations made.
Naturally Olney asked who was making these allegations. Suffice it to say that it is certain creators who have worked for TightLip, who feel they are owed money without likelihood of recompense. They feel constrained by TightLip’s non-disclosure agreements to go public, and don’t want to get involved with lawyers.
Olney tells me that there are no payment issues that haven’t “been worked out to the mutual satisfaction of both parties.” Olney cited production delays due to business and personal reasons, but that no one contacted about this has expressed problems. And that Olney would rather they contact him than me.
We’ve received several emails since the initial article last week, from known members of the comics industry who wish to remain anonymous. Each of these new messages appear to be independently sent, and each seems to reinforce the same impression as our earlier article. Olney states that he has received many problems from “trolls” and mischief makers and considers these allegations may be part of that. The number of complaints that resemble each other from seemingly unconnected creators might lead one to think it’s either an incredibly coincidental series of miscommunications Rick’s had with unrelated creators, or a conspiracy of trolls and mischief makers who have it in for Rick, or that where there is smoke there might just be fire. We’ll let our readers decide if it’s one of those possibilities, or something else.
From the TightLip website: “In a world where mankind has placed self greed and material worth over morality and justice — The entertaining values of TightLip exist to point and guide your imagination to reality.”
After last week’s article on Rick Olney’s TightLip Entertainment publisher allegedly not paying certain creators, I received a number of messages reporting similar problems.
While most did not wish to speak on the record, Chuck Dixon, famed for his Batman and Punisher work, but also writer for “Tales Of The Spooky” from TightLip, decided to do just that. He wrote:
“I never signed a non-disclosure agreement and I can attest that I haven’t been paid for my work for Tightlip and know of more than a half dozen others who haven’t received Dime One. Rick has offered excuses in lieu of payment going on to five months now. I wouldn’t be saying anything to you but his new round of defences are demonstrably false
“No payment issues that haven’t ‘been worked out to the mutual satisfaction of both parties’ – this is simply not the case. We were told we’d be paid and we haven’t been. About as mutually satisfying as a cannibal buffet.
“Olney cited production delays due to business and personal reasons, but that no one contacted about this has expressed problems – no problems expressed beyond, ‘Where the hell’s my money?’ No response to this beyond a kind of ‘You’re harshin’ my buzz’ reply.”
This column contacted Rick Olney for further comment. Olney told me that he maintained his earlier assertions and added, “TightLip Entertainment never enters into a contractual agreement without a non-disclosure agreement with its freelance talent. Thusly, and taking in to consideration that Dave Lanphear, TLE’s creative director assures me that he has (in TLE’s interest) Mr. Dixon’s NDA on file, it would appear to me, from TLE’s position that Mr. Dixon has always had certain rights. And that the initial step was contacting either myself or Mr. Lanphear is expressing his concerns. Why he chose to possibly break his NDA remains to be known.
“‘Tales of The Spooky’ #1 is beyond its deadline for 2006 and will be published in 2007, but not before any/all creators left awaiting compensation have been duly compensated.
“Also, TLE has conducted its business practices with just as much care and concern, using professional guidelines and considerations as the larger publishers of comic books and other sequentially art driven periodical publishers. Why should Mr. Dixon treat us with any less regard?”
Any more for any more?
In the light of previous LITG columns, Rick Olney has been emailing a number of TightLip creators, firstly to check that they have all signed non-disclosure agreements and contracts, stating that they’ll only be paid what they’re owed when they’ve been signed.
Gail Simone has commented regarding Chuck Dixon’s comments about TightLip Entertainment and Rick Olney last week, and Onley’s retort, saying, “Rick blaming Chuck for everything is classic Olney, and more than I can stomach. I’ve kept quiet about this, but my experience with Rick was also horrid, and the exact reason why I stopped doing cons for a good while.
“Everyone knows Chuck pretty much created the word, ‘professional,’ and I take serious offense at him being blamed for any of this.”
With Tony Isabella joining in, it was a matter of time before Rick Olney himself would join the fray. Here are some highlighted extracts:
Chuck Dixon: “Instead of typing up all this intense blather why not give that ol’ check writin’ hand a workout? I know a dozen or so people that would appreciate it.”
Rick Olney: “TLE’s Creative Director, Dave Lanphear does adhere to his belief that Mr. Dixon broke his confidentiality with TLE. So this will go to litigation and/or be worked out by the legal firms representing each party.”
Tony Isabella: “If you told me the world was round, I’d start worrying about falling off the edges.”
Gail Simone: “Well, our experience in comics publishing is practical, yours is imaginary”
Chuck Dixon: “I didn’t sign your NDA because it wasn’t necessary after you told me all about the project via email. And I was never work-for-hire on this. I have a contract signed by you guaranteeing me partial ownership of everything I came up. Ownership that becomes total, BTW, if you don’t pay me, and the artists I worked with, what we are owed.”
Rick Olney: “I am not interested in dragging our combined laundry into Rich Johnston’s column. That doesn’t, however, mean that I am going to let you bully me by making untruthful assertions. In fact, as we’ve agreed, the better place for this is between our lawyers. So I wish you well.”
Gail Simone: “The fact is, this person is not worth it. He’ll never get it, he’ll never face up to it.”
Chuck Dixon: “What is your experience in the comics industry that you think you can lecture me on professionalism and practices of the business I’ve worked in for over twenty years?”
Rick Olney: “I’m not all that keen on the frosted varieties though. I like the plain strawberry and blueberry.”
Gail Simone: “And you’re about as scary as a dead rutabaga. With a dress on.”
Rick Olney: “I’ve always wondered how you each keep from getting sore arms or carpal tunnel syndrome from all that self ingratiating of each other”
The latest TightLip creator to publicly speak out about payment is Val Staples. Val, who used to run the MVC Studios is no stranger to non-payment – the collapse of CrossGen left him owed thousands and with many other creators to pay. Nevertheless, Val’s openness and honesty with people he owed money saw them repay him with understanding and Staples took up considerable personal projects to earn enough to pay back everyone. As a result, I’ve never heard anyone badmouthing Staples, for this or for anything else.
Staples seems to have has less of a positive experience with Rick Olney of TightLip Entertainment. He e-mailed me to tell me “Rick Olney of TightLip Entertainment is now 90 days past due in his payment to me. Most recently, he told me that I would be paid by the end of November. Unfortunately, that never happened and he is no longer responding to my e-mails. As a result, he has broken contractual and personal agreements, and I no longer feel bound by his Non Disclosure Agreement. It’s such a shame, as I honestly believe that he means what he keeps promising, but it never comes to pass. When I found myself in a similar situation after CrossGen went bankrupt, I kept artists that my studio owed informed continuously. I then went out of my way, with the help of fans and retailers, to earn enough to pay back the artists despite still being owed that money from CrossGen. By comparison, all I’ve received from Rick are empty promises and reminders about my non disclosure contract. It’s not enough. I hope Rick will do the right thing and work to redeem himself by paying artists in full in the very near future rather than threatening hard-working creators with legal action.”
Val joins Chuck Dixon and a number of unnamed creators in similar accusations against both Olney and TightLip Entertainment.
When asked for comment, Rick told me “no comments at this time. I’ve been instructed to wait out this matter to see who else steps forward to face litigation.”
The last few weeks have seen LITG report on the claims of creators, including Chuck Dixon and Val Staples, over non payment from Rick Olney and TightLip Entertainment, with Rick fighting every comment.
Ronee Bourgeois was a controversial online reporter, whose breaking of the Taki Soma/Charles Brownstein/CBLDF story received much criticism. Sometime afterwards, she was hired as TightLip Entertainment’s PR and Marketing Manager.
Today, she resigned, in an email to Rick Olney, which I have just received. She stated, “I can no longer work for a company and man on self-destruct mode. I also cannot defend a company against non-payment to creators when I have not been paid myself since starting with TightLip Entertainment over seven months ago. The amount currently owed to me well exceeds 1,000 dollars and I can no longer work off faith when I have children to feed.
“I understand this year has been rough for you personally, but from a business standpoint I can no longer be linked to TLE and as ChrisCross’s agent and with his permission I am pulling him from any current or future work with your company in order to save my client from a similar fate.
“You already have my invoice totaling $800 and have decided not to charge you for the DSL connection you promised to pay for as I am ready to cut my losses and go at this point. I will also remind you that you neglected to get an NDA from me… I never signed one so any threat of lawsuit will be in vain.
“I hope that you get all of your problems worked out and everyone gets paid in a timely fashion. I look forward to my compensation for services rendered.”
Earlier, Martin Oakley of Bloodstained Productions had also written to LITG, stating he’s still owed money from work on his websites “a year or two ago,” citing Ian Shires of DimeStore Productions as having a similar experience. And Scott Reed of Web’s Best Designs wrote claiming he’d inked and coloured several pages, work that was approved, and created a preliminary website construction, with payment overdue for five months.
Rick has made a number of replies to criticism and this situation on his blog here, here, here, here and here.
When asked for comment on the earlier people to go public, Rick told me, “I am sitting here laughing my ass off at the phony attention seekers crawling out of the wood work, as they say, in getting on this imaginary hayride of yours. THESE are the people you claimed you had. I suggest that you ask each of them to provide you with signed copies of contracts and non disclosure agreement from my company before you place Jonah [Weiland, owner of comicbookresources.com] and his company in possible legal harms way.
“I seriously suggest that you investigate your sources. Of the people you mention, Scott Reed is the only person that worked on the ‘Tales of The Spooky’ #1. And he’s recently been rebuked for fraud regarding his attempts to swindle TightLip Entertainment on a separate matter involving an upgrade to the http://www.mightyminicon.com website.
“Far as Martin Oakley and Ian Shires, I’d suggest that you investigate further. Neither of these people have credibility and Chuck Dixon wasn’t involved with the very short period of time in late 2004 that Martin Oakley tried to nuzzle up under my arse to free ride. Oakley is known to be two quarts shy of full crank case. And Shires and my back association with his small press group as a co-administrator is well known to people like Tim Tobolski, aka Doc_Absurd on the CBR message boards. You should seek Tim out and get his input. Or not. Again, you don’t appear to be on anything but a witch hunt, adding to the bully pile. Sad for you and your readers actually, far as I’m concerned.
“When this matter gets introduced via the court system after the holidays, it won’t take long to clear the lies. I’m surprised that such a non story has lasted in your columns coverage since October 21st, when you first contacted me.
“And while you are digging into my life with all these wacko lying son’s-a-bitches, be sure to go back to the TRUTH about why Comicon.com doesn’t allow my last name to be displayed when my name is brought up in either bonfide legitimate news coverage or via their troll contingent.
“Beyond all that, enjoy!”
UPDATE: Martin Oakley responds: “Okay, first of all I was not associated with Mr. Olney back in 2004 as his claim states. It was in mid to late 2005, and early in 2006 that I had any association with Mr Olney. I remember this clearly because said association coincided with my move from one city to another, and it bulloxed up the promises of some web work that I had made him, and I had to readjust a deadline with his permission. It was shortly after this that Mr. Olney accused me of hacking into his computer, being a “spy for Ian Shires,” and conspiring to cause him untolds amounts of pain. I left his boards and his employ at this point.
“Later on, we communicated via e-mail and phone calls, which is when I learned of Mr. Dixon joining up with TightLip Entertainment.
“As for my mental status, I am completely honest that I am bipolar and take great offense at Mr. Olney placing this personal attack on such a public board.”
UPDATE 12/12/2006: Rick has removed almost all commentary and discussion on this matter from his blog.
By this point, most of the discussion regarding Rick Olney had moved to the now-defunct You’ll All Be Sorry forum on CBR, when Gail Simone started a thread detailing her experiences with Rick Olney in a thread titled Rick Olney–Fibber or Mega-Giganta-Fibber? which, by Jan. 1 2010 had grown so large that it had to be split into a 2nd thread HERE, and currently continues on Gail Simone’s new forum HERE
Olney always likes to claim “slander” and “libel” for things said about him in those threads, but I urge people to simply look @ his own words, and make your own judgment about who sounds more reliable. Olney shows up in the first thread on Dec. 28 2006, posting under the name “Orcafresh”. You can click on the name and see the rests of his posts, although that account was eventually banned because he started going through his older posts and deleting them (presumably so people wouldn’t see the stream of racist, sexist, and homophobic insults he’d been posting, in addition to various threats of violence), although many people had already quoted many of his posts, so they can still be seen. He was allowed to register a new account, this time as RICK OLNEY, and if you have the stomach for it, you can peruse many of his comments by starting HERE. But he was eventually banned permanently, as his comments became increasingly insulting and offensive. His last post was on March 6, 2007 where he said:
You people are all soooooooooo easily played. 😀 And, its night night time for me. Here’s hoping you all die in your sleep! 😉
As stated @ the beginning, Rich Johnston continues to report on Olney’s deeds, you can see more of his articles from Bleeding Cool in my version of A WARNING TO COMICS PROFESSIONALS ABOUT RICK OLNEY
UPDATE: ON DEC. 28TH 2012, RICK OLNEY DIED