Archive for the ‘CO2 Comics’ Category

Trademark Deadmau5 Trap

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Joel Thomas Zimmerman, the EDM DJ/musician best known as Deadmau5,  has just encountered the world’s best mouse trap: U.S. Trademark Law.

Nobody keeps the mice away better than the Disney corporation when it comes to protecting their trademarks especially when it comes to defending Mickey Mouse and that famous pair of ears.

Canadian born Zimmerman, whose stage schtick includes performing in an oversized, robotic looking mouse head,  has flown under Disney’s litigious radar for the last decade, successfully trademarking a graphic of his mouse head in countries throughout the world. Now that he is attempting to register his trademark in America, Disney is challenging the mark claiming that it is too similar to their iconic symbol and may cause them harm by confusing consumers.

The trap is triggered, but does Zimmerman get out a Deadmau5 or a live one?

Some will argue that Disney has no basis in their contention. Deadmau5 poses no competition for Disney big focused on different markets. Deadmau5 can be interpreted as a parody and protected by fair use laws. The Deadmau5 logo is different enough. A nice piece in the Daily Trojan titled “Disney’s legal battle with Deadmau5 has no basis” does a good job defending the argument.

But when it comes to copyright or trademark issues, the solution is never that simple.

The problem with U.S. Trademark law is that the advantage is almost always on the side of the big guy. Why? Because it requires a trademark to be continuously defended or risk losing it. Unless you have deep pockets like Disney, who can aggressively afford to go after  every potential infringer?

Should a trademark be challenged for any trivial reason by a giant corporation like Disney who can drag you through the courts endlessly in a legal battle that will exhaust all of your financial resources. Your attempt to trademark is doomed because you will be bankrupt before a judge ever tries your case. Most settle or give up. Those that don’t usually end up as a bloodied “example.”

This system assumes that the public is too ignorant to recognize distinguishable differences in any graphic or other form of trademark. It is compounded by companies that manipulate their trademark constantly to intentionally blur the line. This is why a simple graphic like Disney’s Mouse Silhouette or DC’s Batman logo, #6 is presented in so many different ways including shapes and colors. It is now impossible to to create a simple mouse or bat logo without incurring retribution.

This has cost pop culture some great works over the years. Among the many casualties, Captain Marvel was crushed for his supposed similarities to Superman, and Howard the Duck was never the same after Disney challenged him compared to Donald Duck. These were innovative and dynamic characters that had their feet swept out from under them in their prime because of the trademark trap.

Imagine what the world would be like if Pat Sullivan, the producer of Felix the Cat, would have challenged Disney’s trademark, siting that Mickey Mouse was so similar and heavily influenced by the famous feline who had predated Mickey on film by nine years and was, at the time, the first and most successful cartoon character of the era. It was an image of Felix, after all, that was the first cartoon character star of television.

Imagine a world with no Mickey Mouse and possibly no Disney. Mickey Mouse  managed to escape the trademark trap and, in doing so, ensured that nobody else would get out alive.

Deadmaus, however, may have a leg to stand on because Disney has not been a good little mouse either. Zimmerman has countered with a copyright infringement allegation, claiming that Disney used his 2009 hit “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” without his permission and payed no fee for the use of it. Disney claims otherwise but has yet to prove it.

This could be a life or death struggle for the career of Zimmerman. According to Billboard,  the battle has already “cost him dearly”
A victory for Deadmau5 would give a lot of little guys hope, but not everyone is ready to chew off a leg to get out of a trap.

Good luck Deadmou5, I hope your stage name is not your prophecy but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Gerry Giovinco



Thursday Weekly Update | Bughouse

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

New page of BUGHOUSE by Steve Lafler now available.

BUGHOUSE Update

Click Here to read this comic NOW!

Read the 3 Part STEVE LAFLER INTERVIEW
posted on The Comics Journal


NOW AVAILABLE,

Purchase a copy of the EL VOCHO

graphic novel, now on sale

At LULU Here.


Super Hero September is Great for Comic Books

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

I have been waiting for decades for Marvel and DC to step up to the plate and aggressively promote comic books.  Not just movies, toys and merchandise featuring their characters, but comic books. That is, after all, what they do right? Make comic books?

In 2011 DC surprised me with their promotion of the New 52. It was a huge promotional campaign across all media but was unfortunately  more focused on the derailment of their iconic characters’ established identity in popular culture as they redefined them for a changing market. Ever since, DC has made one marketing blunder after another to the point where there is even a site that tracks the number of days since DC did something stupid.

Their efforts, no matter how misguided, did generate interest and drive new people into comic book shops though I believe it frustrated long time fans by bastardizing the characters that they had loved for decades.

One thing DC did, according to the Hollywood Reporter, was establish September as a promotional battleground that has now instigated a devastating counterattack of heroic proportions by Marvel/Disney.

September is now Marvel Super Hero September  encouraging fans to “Power up like a Marvel Super Hero!”

Lately, after a very respective run of hugely successful films that have ecstatically (unlike DC) maintained the integrity of their long standing source material, Marvel can do no wrong. Combined with the added resource of the Disney Marketing Machine, Marvel is now a pop culture juggernaut. (FOX pun intended).

A visit to the Super Hero September web page is evidence of the things that Marvel is currently doing right in this marketing campaign.

1. Masthead includes mega blockbuster characters from all of their hit films, carefully spotlighting a couple of female characters and their new successful franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy. (Note: no X-Men!)

2. They offer a contest that promotes their brand, establishes the good morals that we all expect from our favorite superheroes, builds a mailing list and offers a great prize: a trip on a Disney Cruise ship. (How many times can you promote a corporate product in one sentence?)

3. Impressive list of retail partners that includes: Hasbro, Kmart, Party City, Payless, Target, Walmart, Hallmark,Disney Store and their own on line Marvel Shop.

4. Comic books! My initial, jaded scan of the site seemed to confirm my suspicion that, once again comic books, would be overlooked by an eager attempt to sell toys and movies but to my surprise I easily found several links to available comic books throughout!

5. Comics for Kids! This has been a peeve of many that comics have matured leaving little for the youth market. Marvel tackles this head on with a line for young readers with comics available digitally and it print.

6. Links to comic shops!  Again I suspected that comic shops would play no fiddle to the big chains but in most places on the site where comics are presented in print there is a big fat link to the Comic Shop Locator Service!

7. Sharing. There is a relatively subtle button that seems redundant to the marvelkids.com button in that it sells young reader books, but on the surface it brilliantly commands, “Share Your Universe.”  This statement does two wonderful things that every brand craves for. It hands “ownership” of the brand to the fan and it tells them it is worth sharing, “you do not need to be alone in your enjoyment of this brand.”

There is so much more that is positive about what Marvel is doing with this campaign including promoting it on Disney owned ESPN in the height of football season that a book could probably be written on the marketing strategies involved.

This is obviously a big win for Marvel but it could be a huge win for the comic book industry in general.  Comic books are being promoted on a global scale in a positive light for the first time ever. This is not an event like the death of a character, this is a brand-wide promotion. It is time to ride the wave and make sure that everyone in comics benefits from the traffic that Marvel will continue generate.

Comic shops have shown their ability to grow where traditional bookshops have been failing. They need to prepare to further capitalize on the success that Marvel is generating by directing the broadening audience to the wide selection of subject matter made available by indy publishers. The consumers may be coming in for Marvel superheroes but they can discover a much broader world than they expected, the world of comic books if those in the industry choose to show them the way.

When it comes to comic books, let September be for super heroes just leave the rest of the year for everyone else. Thanks, Marvel!  Maybe DC will learn something.

Gerry Giovinco



Monday Weekly Update | ROMA

Monday, September 8th, 2014

New page of The Adventures of ROMA
by John Workman, now available.

ROMA Update

Click here to read this comic NOW!

Saturday Weekly Update | Dog Boy

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

New page of DOG BOY by Steve Lafler now available.

DOG BOY Update

Click Here to read this comic NOW!

Read the 3 Part STEVE LAFLER INTERVIEW
posted on The Comics Journal


NOW AVAILABLE,

Purchase a copy of the EL VOCHO

graphic novel, now on sale

At LULU Here.


Thursday Weekly Update | Bughouse

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

New page of BUGHOUSE by Steve Lafler now available.

BUGHOUSE Update

Click Here to read this comic NOW!

Read the 3 Part STEVE LAFLER INTERVIEW
posted on The Comics Journal


NOW AVAILABLE,

Purchase a copy of the EL VOCHO

graphic novel, now on sale

At LULU Here.


Should Artists Boycott the NFL?

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Why do people feel that creative professionals should provide their services for free?

It is a common discussion in almost every field of the arts.  There seems to be a general misconception that doing what you love should be reward enough and if it isn’t then surely “exposure” will seal the deal. People working in creative fields fight an uphill battle every day to justify their worth and to be paid fairly for the work that they do.

Most creative professionals are specialists in their field and some are so uniquely talented and widely respected that they actually command tremendous incomes for their services. It is a matter of supply and demand. Simple economics.

Apparently, none of that matters to the National Football League who, though they have no problem signing players to multimillion dollar contracts, they notoriously pay cheerleaders less than minimum wage according to several law suits brought against them.

This year NFL bean counters have decided that the Superbowl Halftime Show garners such tremendous exposure that, for the first time, the acts are being requested to pay for the right to perform!

Yes, the NFL wants to now charge a fee for the performers to work, citing the fact that in recent years those that have performed have seen a significant spike in revenue on record sales and concert ticket sales. That supposedly is too much reward for the high profile halftime performers that had previously played for free.

The Superbowl Halftime performance is no longer a lavish show intended to help attract and maintain the largest global viewing audience possible to justify thirty second ad fees of four million dollars. The NFL considers the performance an advertisement for the entertainer and wants them to pay up.

Consider the list of superstars that have performed at the Superbowl since 1991 when arena acts began providing the entertainment and try to imagine any of them needing additional exposure to promote themselves.

1991 – New Kids on the Block

1992 -  Gloria Estefan

1993 – Michael Jackson

1994 – Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, The Judds

1995 – Patti Labelle, Indiana Jones & Marion Ravenwood, Teddy Pendergrass, Tony Bennett, Arturo Sandoval, Miami Sound Machine

1996 – Diana Ross

1997 – The Blues Brothers (Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman and James Belushi), ZZ Top, James Brown

1998 – Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, The Temptations, Queen Latifah

1999 – Chaka Khan, Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Savion Glover

2000 – Tina Turner, Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton,

2001 – Aerosmith, ‘N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Nelly

2002 – U2

2003 – Shania Twain, No Doubt, Sting

2004 – Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock, and Justin Timberlake

2005 – Paul McCartney

2006 – The Rolling Stones

2007- Prince

2008 – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

2009 – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

2010 – The Who

2011 – The Black Eyed Peas, Usher, Slash,

2012 – Madonna, LMFAO, Cirque du Soleil, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., Cee Lo Green, Andy Lewis

2013 – Beyoncé, Destiny’s Child

2014 – Bruno Mars, Red Hot Chili Peppers

That’s a pretty impressive list of the top entertainers in the world that have performed for free though all of their expenses including production, entourage of stagehands family and friends were covered, presumably by fees paid from a sponsor.

But now that Bruno Mars saw a 164% spike in record sales the week after his performance last year, the NFL wants a cut.

Imagine the balls needed to ask Katy Perry, Rihanna and Coldplay to participate in the new Payola plan? What are they, chopped liver?
Of course not! They are the NFL’s three top choices for this year’s performance and they now have an opportunity to set a standard.

Caving in to the greedy requests of the NFL would be a setback for anyone in a creative field where it will become more acceptable for artists to be expected to pay people for the opportunity to enjoy their work. It is bad enough that too much content is already made available for free in an effort to build an audience.  It’s time to stop the bleeding.

The Music Industry and more importantly the performers have a responsibility to tell the NFL where to go. The entertainers helped to build the Superbowl into the sensation that it is. They are an integral part of the attraction that draws more viewers than the game itself.

Let the halftime show go back to college marching bands and watch the channel surfing extravaganza begin. Then next year schedule the VMA’s or the GRAMMY’s opposite the Superbowl and put on a show that no one will want to miss just to prove the point.

Apparently this idea is gaining steam according to this plan outlined in a Forbes piece by Will Burns:

“So here’s the plan. First, say “No” to the NFL. Then start immediately planning a free combined concert on February 1, 2015 at the exact same time as the Super Bowl halftime. Sell the broadcast rights to the concert to ABC or CBS (the Super Bowl is on NBC). Invite advertisers to forego the Super Bowl Halftime show and, instead, advertise during this free combined concert for half the price of the Super Bowl.”

All artists have a responsibility to show solidarity and boycott the NFL on this matter before they start asking designers and filmmakers to pay for the opportunity to make commercials and game day graphics because, “Hey, we don’t want you to brag that you produced an award winning ad that the people liked. You might make some money.”

If the NFL manages to get away with this it is guaranteed that other corporations will also consider the practice, especially media giants that will claim they will build a star studded career for a fee or a cut of all future revenue.

Tell the NFL to “NFU” before it is too late.

Gerry Giovinco



Saturday Weekly Update | Dog Boy

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

New page of DOG BOY by Steve Lafler now available.

DOG BOY Update

Click Here to read this comic NOW!

Read the 3 Part STEVE LAFLER INTERVIEW
posted on The Comics Journal


NOW AVAILABLE,

Purchase a copy of the EL VOCHO

graphic novel, now on sale

At LULU Here.


It’s a Story about Jack and Jillian

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

The story is pretty simple, really.

A young girl grows up knowing that her grandfather is one of the most talented and prolific comic book creators of all time. Unfortunately, he passes away before she was born and she never has a chance to meet him and to share a granddaughter’s love personally. Her entire life she hears stories about his generosity and accomplishments. As she grows into a young adult, she is surrounded by characters he created or co-created as they have become icons in popular culture. This all instills in her a great sense of pride and a strong attachment to maintaining her grandfather’s legacy. She creates and manages a successful, annual campaign intended to celebrate his birthday by raising money in his name and generates tens of thousands of dollars for a worthy charitable organization.

Nobody goes up a hill and dumps a pail of water on their head.

This Jack and Jill tale is a love story that continually gives back.

This is a story about Jack Kirby and his granddaughter, Jillian Kirby who, once again, is asking for our support for her Kirby4Heroes Kirby4Heroes.com campaign that this year celebrates what would have been Jack Kirby’s 97th birthday.  Jillian’s goal this year  is to raise $15,000 for The Hero Initiative, an organization that provides much needed support to comic creators that have fallen on severe hard-times due to health issues, age, and lack of income.

This charity is important to Jillian because she understands that some of the practices of the comic industry were not always fair to the people that created the comics we all enjoyed, leaving many of them destitute while characters they created continue to generate large revenue for the publishing houses.  Her grandfather was as much a victim of these practices as anyone but was always able to support his family and maintain a respectable lifestyle until his death. This is what she hopes for other comic creators who were not as lucky.

She has  gone “up the hill” merely to take the high road with no intention of “tumbling after.”

Jillian has chosen not to dwell on the widely publicized legal disputes involving her grandfather, family and Marvel. Her campaign is not intended to to support her or her family in any way other than maintaining the goodwill and legacy of her grandfather’s name by helping others in need and insuring that the contribution of Jack Kirby to the comics industry and popular culture is never forgotten.

Her efforts are noble and selfless and provides the comic industry with yet another positive female role model to be applauded.

She can’t do it alone and she needs all of our help.

August 28th is Jack’s birthday and comic shops across the country have joined Jillian’s campaign to donate a percentage of their sales that day to The Hero Initiative. Do your part by endorsing them with your patronage!

Of course there are other ways that you can become involved!

To find out visit Kirby4Heroes.com or HeroInitiative.org You can also join the Kirby4Heroes Facebook page where Jillian and her family post wonderful memories and art from Jack Kirby for everyone’s enjoyment.

What better way can you think of to wish the King of Comics a happy birthday than to help others in his name. With your continued support this Jack and Jill story can be “happily, never ending!”

Gerry Giovinco



The Secret Identity of Robin Williams

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

There was no mistake that Robin Williams came into public awareness like most of our favorite superheroes do, in a garish costume that hid his identity. His was bright red with silver trim, his faced masked by the dark visor of a ridiculously huge space helmet. His character’s name was Mork from the planet Ork.

Rather than hide the identity of Robin Williams, Mork propelled him into public stardom, revealing his super powers. Where Mork could point his finger and make amazing things happen, Robin could do something greater. He could make the whole world laugh.

What an amazing ability he had to bring joy to a world that so needed it. His humor was spontaneous, infectious and, seemingly, never ending.

But Robin had another identity and power that he hid from us his entire life. One that we wish he had never shared. He had the ability to make the world weep.

Sure, we saw glimpses of this ability in his many brilliant dramatic roles. He knew how to reach into our hearts and stir up those feelings that moved us.

We were positive that was simply great “acting.”

The “real” Robin made us laugh!

This is what most of us wanted to believe, until his final “act” when Robin succumbed to his hidden self and demonstrated his other, more nefarious power, crushing the world with sadness.

Fortunately, he could only use that power once. Though his secret identity has been revealed, the shock and the sorrow brought by it will soon ebb,  overshadowed by the lasting  power of his laughter and talent that  the world will forever recognize him by.

Most of us can never say we actually knew the man. Those that were fortunate enough to call him friend or family wish they could have known better what only he knew about himself. He took his true identity, with all its pain, to his grave.

We can only know what the existence of Robin Williams continues to mean to us each, individually. His loss has taught us all to look deeper into ourselves and each other, to see beyond the surface, no matter how brilliant or dull, how perfect or damaged. To realize that we all have our own secret identities.

We all wear a faux self  that masks our true identities.  It is our secret defense mechanism that helps us to survive our greatest fears of the world and ourselves.  Call a it a facade, personality, likeness or attitude, it gets most of us through each day and through our lives.

Through this personal filter, most of us will chose to remember the Robin Williams that brought us so much joy. I can’t speak for him, but I will choose to believe that this is how he would like to be remembered.

Thanks for the happiness, Robin, whoever you are.

Signing out, Nanu Nanu…

Gerry Giovinco




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