New page of Heaven and the Dead City
by Raine Szramski, now available.
Click here to read this comic NOW!
Sometimes you come across some amazing stuff on facebook like this photo that popped up and blew me away .
The photo of a man-child smoking a cigarette at the ripe-old-age of four and reading a Mickey Mouse comic book conjured thoughts of poster children for Dr. Fredrick Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent. A chuckle or two later I was envisioning future Marvel and DC editors ensuring that the medium would grow and mature with their personal tastes leaving behind the more innocent subject matter that they enjoyed as children along with the audience it catered to.
This little kid would grow up to be one of the Comic Book Men from Kevin Smith’s new television venture on AMC, completely immersed in the medium, trapped in a twilight zone that only those of us who grew up with similar experiences could appreciate. I mean, there were girls that read comics when we were kids but 99.99% of them were able to shake off their passion for Archie and Lil’ Lulu. Something about comics always seemed to be a guy-thing and a certain kind of guy, derogatorily identified as geeks.
Of course we know that the stereotype, epitomized by The Forty Year Old Virgin and The Big Bang Theory is not really true. Guys that like comics just know something that people who don’t read comics do not. The comic medium is very special. It is a door to visual fantasy that has only recently been able to be matched by animation and live action film enhanced by CGI at a tremendous cost to the producers.
Thanks to Manga and more specifically Shojo, more women than ever have been bitten by the comics bug and it is this influx of the feminine touch that is beginning to blow the medium wide open. Web Comics, Indy Comics and even some of the mainstream comics are developing a sensitivity to all audiences. The idea of comics being limited to a narrow scope of genres is quickly becoming past history. We like to think that this broader scope is reflected here at CO2 Comics and we wany our readers take the time to explore our share of all that variety.
I hope that a show like Comic Book Men will make the effort to include more women into the club. The X-Men have women why can’t the Comic Book Men. Team Unicorn in their Katy Perry “Califoria Girls” parody entitled “Geek and Gamer Girls” sure had a lot of fun with the concept of women being included in this new world order of comics for everyone. Who knows, maybe some day there will be more comics for kids too, which will be fine by me so long as the little ones don’t light up while they read.
Just ask Dr. Wertham.
Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!
The legal forrest that the Yellow Brick Road travels through on the way to success as an independent comic creator or publisher just became a scarier place.
It is probably fitting that the demonized Ghost Rider character has lit the torch with his blazing skull.
Regardless of your opinion as to wether Gary Friedrich should be compensated for his contribution to the creation of the character of Ghost Rider and the unfairness of the court’s ruling against him, it is Marvel’s victory in a countersuit against him that has turned the hourglass on end and the sand is running out.
In a brilliant facebook entry written by the esteemed Stephen Bissette he raises the alarm for artists in artist alley that sell sketches of trademarked characters without consent. In the blog he explains the legal necessity of Marvel’s enforcement. They have a responsibility to actively protect their trademarks or risk losing them.
This practice of due diligence is nothing new. When we had just published our second issue of Comico Primer back in 1982 we received a Cease and Desist letter from Will Eisner referring to a character featured in the comic whose name was Spirit. Spirit was a female robot that had absolutely no similarities whatsoever to Eisner’s character The Spirit. We had never even considered that there would or could be a conflict.
Will Eisner appreciated that we were young and naive and explained that he paid lawyers to protect his properties. Their job was to seek out potential conflicts and he had a responsibility to follow through on their findings to protect his interests. Needless to say we were embarrassed and humbled by the graciousness of this man that we already had great respect and admiration for. We were sure to honor his simple request that we not use the name Spirit especially not on a cover of one of our comic books.
It strikes me that it was a lot easier for a comic artist like Will Eisner to police the comic industry for copyright and trademark infringement in 1982 than it would be today. Thirty years ago there were just a few publishers in the market and a handful of fanzines. There was no internet with a seemingly endless selection of web comics and there were surely not the tremendous number of comic creators that exist today.
The Friedrich vs. Marvel case has magnified the necessity of protecting one’s trademark. If a huge corporation like Marvel/Disney finds it necessary to hassle Gary Friedrich over $17,000 because those sales of prints he sold in artist alley at comic book conventions could jeopardize their claim to trademark, how safe can the trademarks of smaller companies be?
Should every small publisher, self publisher and comic artist be canvasing comic conventions and the internet, prepared to rifle out a C&D letter to every potential infringer? How can small publishers and creators afford to do it without the funds or the time to execute such an endeavor? How vulnerable are our intellectual properties?
Imagine if some guy is a big fan of your character and goes to every convention getting every artist he finds to draw a picture of your character. Proud of his collection he displays it all over facebook, and his website. Another company likes your character and discovers all these images that were created by unlicensed vendors, in this case artists in artist alley, and feel that they have deep enough pockets to argue that the trademark has been left exposed.
Marvel’s victory over their assertion that Friedrich’s sales in artist alley were a credible threat to their trademark establishes a precedent that will influence future rulings. Make no mistake, the big boys will go after the competition and will do whatever it takes to win.
Marvel took a shot at the insanely popular Rocketeer back in the 80′s claiming it infringed on characters that they had that were also called Rocketeers. Their characters were minor characters buried in a forgettable story. Dave Steven’s had to fight for years to defend his property tying up capital that could have been used more productively.
This may all seem like paranoia until it actually happens but who wants to be the first victim. The industry has been buzzing over piracy now for some time. The threat of piracy is nothing compared to the threat of trademarked properties being totally hijacked by unscrupulous competitors.
Comic creators, please get educated on copyright and trademark laws. They can be your friends or your enemies. Don’t let your ignorance on the subject make your property a hostage as you travel that long, arduous Yellow Brick Road to success.
Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!
Happy Valentines Day!
If you are a big fan of comic art it is probably fair to say that you “love” comics. We all have favorite characters, stories, creators, publishers and comic shops that we may have proclaimed affection for at some time. Some of us love the medium and the nuances that make it unique as an art form. Some of us love to make comics because is the most comfortable way we have of expressing ourselves creatively.
Don’t expect to find that quote printed on little candy hearts anytime soon.
People that are passionate about comics know that there is something special that attracts us to the medium that is not always easy to explain and is often quite different for each of us. Sometimes our passion for the medium blinds our judgement and poor decisions are made.
A lot of bad decisions have been made for the love of comics. Many creators have been so happy to be working professionally in a field they love that they threw caution to the wind and signed their soul over to you-know-who. The trail of casualties never ceases to amaze me and continues to grow. Most surprising is that some of the biggest names in comics have been taken advantage of the most. Siegel, Schuster, Kirby, Simon, Finger, Barks, Ditko, Gerber, Colan, Wolfman, Moore, and now Friedrich top off an endless list of exploited victims.
If you are a fan of comics and are someone aspiring to work in the field it is hard not to know that the industry was built on the exploitation of creators. Work-for-hire was the norm and many creators literally gave away priceless creations to the major comic book publishing houses for the hope of a meager, steady income.
Most of those same talented comic purveyors, whose characters made scads of millions of dollars for their publishers, struggled financially later in life and had little or no health benefits. Some have gone or are going to the grave penniless. A number of creators managed to get out of the industry while the going was good and found success elsewhere while never looking back on the field that scorned them. Sad.
Fortunately, today, there are other options in the industry and, more importantly, creators have the best opportunity to take control of their creations than ever before. If you are a creator, don’t let your love for comics blind you. Seek out those options. Learn and understand the laws about copyright and trademark. Have council when you enter into agreements with publishers, know what you are signing. Avoid work-for-hire agreements like the plague and if you do work in that kind of situation don’t create new characters. Use the multitude of characters that those publishers swindled from past creators and remember that anyone of them could have been your next, brilliant creation.
This Valentines Day, as we read about Gary Friedrich’s current, obscene battle with Marvel/Disney over Ghostrider, be resolute that this kind of history does not repeat itself. Don’t allow your self to be hurt by the ones you love, especially not comics. If you are a fan of comics, don’t watch the creators you love suffer. Support the independent projects and the web comics as much as you can. We at CO2 Comics greatly appreciate that you are here right now reading this blog and enjoying our comics. We hope you continue to return. We also hope that you let those exploiters of comic creators know, with your well earned dollars, that you will no longer support their abuses. Do it for the love of comics!
If you loved Gary Friedrich’s GHOST RIDER, send Gary a donation.
Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!
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