Rick & Barbara Olney
James Tournas is an artist, primarily an inker. On May 14, 2007 he won a judgement in a Massachusetts Small Claims Court against Rick Olney, for the amount of $1120.56. He won by default, just like in the Scott Reed case, Olney never responded to the court summons to present his side of the case. Here is Tournas’ story, in his own words, as he related shortly thereafter
THIS is a true story. It is meant for those who want to do work for small press and independent comic book publishers to take as a warning — especially those working for people that are publishing comics without a lot of references.
This is what happened to me. I was asked to ink a story over a friends pencils, for a book called “Monster Squad”, by Rick Olney of Tightlip Entertainment, out of Mowhawk, NY. We were told we would get paid every ten pages, plus bonuses and percentages. We had some people on board with a lot of talent, including some who had been published by Marvel Comics and DC Comics, as well as other publishers.
It looked like a good thing. Because the penciler was also a friend, we agreed to work on the Monster Squad. Once contracts were signed, we went to work. This is where things started to get strange. Everything was delays and more delays. Scripts were not finished on schedule. Other essential parts to the comic were also not done in a timely fashion. We were concerned, but promises were made to us about “making it up,” excuses were given to us, so we plodded on.
I still didn’t think or see too many red flags. I saw that 0lney was getting promo clocks and talking about having sculptures made of the characters. He showed us photos of the products in our private forum, so I thought “Good! Right! If he has the money for that stuff, we should be OK.”
However, that wasn’t the case. Just because he was having work done, does not mean he was paying for the work. I saw, on our forums, the fellow who made the clocks ask for payment. 0lney gave him a hard time about asking to be paid. The man responded politely that he needed the money for the clocks, because he paid for them out of his pocket. 0lney gave some lame responses on the boards. Then, after a while, since we didn’t hear anything about it, we assumed the clockmaker was promptly paid. But, a short time later, we saw a few more follow up posts asking about payment from him. 0lney again verbally abused him, so we learned he hadn’t been paid.
More problems arose when another creator who worked on the Tightlip Christmas Cards and some other promotional materials asked about getting paid for the work he completed. More and more excuses were laid out before us after that. This — someone asking for payment and getting only excuses in response – continued for a while. All the time, though, 0lney would e-mail us, saying they (those asking about compensation) were getting paid, to keep working on Monster Squad and that the work we’d done already was wonderful.
Not knowing exactly what was going on, my penciler and I decided to continue working on the Monster Squad.
A while later, 0lney was going to pay everyone to go down to Pittsburgh for their annual show. He wanted us all to meet in person. Well, when show date came, he denied it, but told me in an e-mail that he would “reimburse me if I paid out of my pocket to go to the show,” but not to “spread that information around.” I declined attending.
By this time, my penciler and I talked it over, as we had 10 pages done, and invoiced him.
The response was that covers did not count as pages, and they would be paid for at the completion of each book. I told him, “I don’t think so!” He said, “Just finish three more pages, and I will get you a check out post haste.”
We further discussed it and said, well we are committed this far to the book, lets see what happens. In the meantime, the Freedom Three comic, another one from TightLip Entertainment, was being done at the same time, and we all shared a forum together. Those comic creators were being berated every time someone mentioned getting any kind of payment. Excuses flew left and right from 0lney, like a crack head talking to a counselor.
0lney ranted and started to sound delusional in a lot of his posts and e-mails. Still, we were polite,
and stayed quiet, until our invoices were sent. We were told checks would be forthcoming (that was over a year ago).
Anyway, 0lney then started asking why pages were slow, and started saying some things about the pages not getting done. “Hello, McFly!” We were not paid for the first set of pages, and he thinks we are going to continue cranking out even more?!
After my third invoice, I received an e-mail from 0lney stating I was talking about him in a forum, I never heard of, with some people, I never heard of, and we had a non-disclosure agreement, and I was now in big trouble. So, I basically told him, “I never signed a non-disclosure agreement, just the contract.” I did use strong language.
He then apologized, and asked if we would rather do another book for him. (He appears to be very much in a world of his own).
Remember, by this point, I looked up the Unscrewed link and now saw how many people this weasel had screwed — and the list was still growing.
Then 0lney has asked if we could meet in person for payment. I told him anytime, anyplace. At this point, I never hear from him again.
Next I was on my ComicSpace page, minding my own business, and his name pops up in Tony Isabella‘s public messages. Being curious I read the message: A Warning not to do business with Rick 0lney and a link to , a link to the Comic Book Resources forum, You’ll All Be Sorry where a post inspired by Rick 0lney’s rants have inspired over 1,820 pages of responses! Anyone doubting the truth to what I or anyone else has said about 0lney should check out some of those posts. It makes for good reading to really see what 0lney is like.
He constantly threatens people he owes with lawsuits for violating his non-disclosure agreement. Sadly some think it is something he actually can do, so they stay quiet.
All I know is, there is no defense for non-payment of wages. He violated his obligation to the creators working for him in good faith. I feel all bets are off, and penalties should be lodged against him for his actions.
If you are owed money for work done, file in a small claims or criminal court, and seek satisfaction. You have that right. His non-disclosure agreement does not cover his violation of contractual obligations.
So now to the present … TA DA … I beat him in court this week and will file in New York to see if I can enforce judgment, as I have been a Constable for over 30 years, and can do it in my sleep. Otherwise, I will sell it to someone their to make his life miserable. It stopped being about the money early on and became principle.
So heed this warning if Rick 0lney asks you to do anything for him. And if you know him and see me and him at the same show point him out, so I can say Hi.
As of Dec. 2011, Rick Olney has still not paid his legally obligated debt to James Tournas
UPDATE: ON DEC. 28TH 2012, RICK OLNEY DIED