Archive for the ‘Creationism’ Category

Remember When Comics Smelled Like…Pot?!

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Remember when comics smelled like newsprint?

Not anymore!

If you haven’t heard, DC Comics plans to publish a Harley Quinn comic book that smells like cannabis. It’s true! You can read the story here.

What the hell are they thinking?!

I will never understand the marketing geniuses at DC Comics and their complete disregard for the respected value of their intellectual property.  When is their parent company, Warner Bros. Entertainment, going to reign those idiots in?

Without getting into a deep discussion about comics now appealing to a more mature audience than those that many of us grew up with, let me remind everyone that DC Comics and all of their characters represent a significant brand that is largely responsible for Warner Brothers Consumer Products being the fifth largest global licensor. They lag not far behind number one, Disney, who has been bolstered greatly by their  acquisition of Marvel and Star Wars and who will probably remain top dog forever.

When will DC understand that the strength and value of a company’s intellectual property is based solely on the public’s perceived value of that brand.

Forbes describes it this way{

“Put simply, your “brand” is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name.  It’s everything the public thinks it knows about your name brand offering—both factual (e.g. It comes in a robin’s-egg-blue box), and emotional (e.g. It’s romantic).  Your brand name exists objectively; people can see it.  It’s fixed.  But your brand exists only in someone’s mind.”

Entrepreneur says:

“Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.”

Both of these well informed marketing resources feel that the concept of branding can be “simply” defined, yet DC and Warner Bros. apparently have no clue or they wouldn’t be intentionally making and promoting comic books that smell like pot!

DC’s characters have achieved their brand value over their seventy plus year history based on a universal appeal of what the general population considers wholesome, heroic characters. This is why their images are available on everything from baby toys to shot glasses, They are safe (socially innocent) and have wide appeal.

What is the theory behind potentially damaging that brand by associating it with cannabis,  an illegal  Schedule 1 substance under US federal law?  Are they just daring a Dr. Wertham wannabe to stir up another witch-hunt on comics or the superhero genre all for the sake of a publicity gimmick?

Could you imagine Disney making or licensing any product  that intentionally smelled like pot?

“Get your Pocahontas Peace Pipe with realistic cannabis smell!”

Just wrong on so many levels!

Disney famously and aggressively brought down The Air Pirates for publishing an underground  parody comic where their characters imbibed in the weed and other nefarious deeds! They go after everyone, big and small mercilessly to protect their brand under all circumstances.

Just ask Deadmau5.

Only porn companies seem to be immune from big entertainment companies like Disney and Warner Bros., but there has to be more to that story.

Protecting a brand and its public perception is paramount to most large corporations. This is why we often hear of sports stars and actors losing endorsement deals because they did something stupid or illegal.

Even NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodel, one of the most powerful men in professional sports, has come under fire for his mishandling of the recent Ray Rice domestic violence case.

Companies are pulling endorsements left and right from NFL teams for public backlash stemming from ongoing disclosure of similar instances and many are asking for Goodel’s resignation.

By those standards some jackass at DC should be out of a job already.

DC has been treading on thin ice for years now, slowly chipping away at the shiny veneer of beloved characters like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman,  trading them in for a darker, grittier, more sinister fare.

Will the cannabis scented comic book finally be the tipping point? I doubt it, but they are seriously pressing their luck.

What’s next? Micro dot variants?

Don’t be surprised if the Comic Code Authority gets reinstated over this one.

We will all have DC to thank.

Gerry Giovinco



Kirby v. Marvel – The Final Countdown

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

The suspense is killing me!

On Sept.  29, 2014 The Supreme Court of the United States will decide if it is going to hear the long embattled case of Kirby v. Marvel Characters, Inc.

If SCOTUS chooses not to hear the case it’s all over and Marvel retains complete ownership of everything that the late Jack Kirby had ever created to be published by them. His heirs will never benefit directly from the billions of dollars that his creations have generated for the industry giant. It will be a sad day, not just for the Kirby family and his fans, but for countless other creatives that had worked freelance as contractors in any field prior to 1976 whose creations will now be officially deemed “work for hire” with no hope of the rights ever being returned to the creator.

This would all seem to fly in the face of the intent of copyright law which, from inception attempted to protect the rights of creators and allow opportunity for revision of those rights even in the instance of commissioned work, with the sole exemption of “Work for Hire” which was not clearly defined until the Copyright Act of 1976.

Hey, this stuff is all very confusing or it would not require the brain trust of the Supreme Court to figure it out. If you don’t believe me just check out this well informed link.

The final brief offered to the Supreme Court on behalf of the Kirby side of the argument can be read here.  It is an eighteen page document full of legal jargon as one would expect but it poses several basic issues that in my mind stand out as pivotal.

If authorship copyright begins at creation and the creator only receives payment if the work is accepted, how is that creator considered an employee in a work for hire situation? What would be the status of works not accepted?

How could Kirby or Marvel have determined the work be “work for hire” if the term was not yet clearly defined by the court prior to 1976?

It is important to remember that the characters in question were created specifically between the years 1958 and 1963 when Kirby helped a then, failing company avoid  closure with a rash of successful characters that he co-created with Stan Lee, though there has been a long contention as to how much Lee contributed considering that the “Marvel Method” required the artist to plot and draw the story which would be scripted later by Lee.

Both men were happy to be getting any check at the time and were just trying to keep the ship afloat. Nobody could have expected the characters to be worth what they are today.

According to this timeline, Kirby had a productive and often tumultuous relationship with Marvel. Publisher, Martin Goodman seemed quite successful in his ability to manipulate Kirby, hashing out deals that were not always sincerely in Jack’s favor.

Kirby did eventually sign a three-year contract with  Marvel in 1975 as shown here where he committed  to do a nearly implausible 13 pages a week for $1100.  That is full script and pencils for two entire issues a month for less than $85 per page at the height of his career. If Kirby was working a normal, forty-hour work week he would have had to have churned out a complete page every three hours just to punch out on time. To consider him an employee is a disgrace.

So, it is up to the Supreme Court, but first they have to decide to hear the case. If they do it will be all fingers and toes crossed for anyone that wishes that Jack Kirby’s family will see a fair decision that will have an impact far greater than just Kirby v. Marvel

As we all gear up for the final countdown, realists know that he chances are slim in this day-and-age where a giant corporation like Marvel/Disney holds all the cards but the idealists can hope that the good guy will win, just like in the comic books.

Either way the decision will be historic and have far-reaching implications.

I know whose side I’m on. How about you?

Gerry Giovinco



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



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



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



When Diversity is a Gimmick

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Last week’s blog was focused on respecting diversity in comics. Diversity does plenty of good for the medium and the market as it creates an opportunity to broaden the audience and explore the boundaries of material offered.

But too often what is masked as an attempt at diversity is actually just a marketing gimmick, dependent on the buzz created by knee jerk reactions to  dramatic changes in major characters that have long been ingrained in our popular culture.

It has become a disappointing  and predictable common practice by publishers to boost sales figures by implementing any of the following strategies:

Kill the character.

Have the character get married.

Expose the character as gay.

Change the gender of the character.

Change the race of the character.

Any one of these options is a guarantee that airtime on The View will follow!

It won’t be long before Whoopi Goldberg will be waving a comic book featuring a traditional white male character that has returned from the dead as an, African- American lesbian about to get married to her same-sex partner!

This is not really a respectful implementation of diversity. This is merely pathetic evidence that the character has become so old and stale that the editors are willing to try anything to spice it up to get attention. It also broadens the corporations ability to protect the trademark, like when Stan Lee quickly generated a She-Hulk and a Spider-Woman after the suggestion that anyone could otherwise easily swipe the characters from Marvel.

Creating diversity in a product line in this manner is like mass producing Santa or plastic Jesus figures of all ethnicity just to appeal to all common denominators possible. It is a confirmation that the character in question is so ingrained in the public consciousness based on its most rudimentary properties that nothing else really matters other than the costume and the powers of that character.

So why change it?

Stan Lee once described Spider-Man’s success as being attributed to the fact that behind the costume Spidey could be any race and that allowed him to appeal to readers of all ethnicities because they could easily imagine themselves as him.

It is possible that idea of  the mask on so many superheroes has allowed whole cultures be able to relate to them, establishing the “modern mythologies” that the trademark owners of superheroes are so proud of?  If that’s the case, the audience has been responsible for diversity in comics through their own imagination.

The success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a great example. People don’t relate to them by race. They can’t. They are turtles! Individually they appeal to people by the color of their mask, their weapons and their personalities. That’s all! Ask anybody who their favorite turtle is and most will say, “the red one,” or “the purple one” and so on. Almost anyone can identify with a Ninja Turtle because they are essentially animals that we don’t usually identify by race or gender.

Someday it will be realized by the public that disrupting the foundation of iconic characters in the name of diversity is merely a marketing ploy that dilutes the property and minimizes its cultural impact.

Implementing diversity would be better served by developing new characters created by diverse talents that appreciate the differences of those characters first hand and are willing to target a specific audience. It all goes back to respect. Respect the talent. Respect the audience. Create great, diverse works and the gimmicks won’t be needed.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Respect Diversity in Comics: It is the Heart of Independence

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Diversity is a hot buzzword in the comics industry lately, mostly because we are actually seeing examples of it. Many people have championed diversity for many years as a way of expanding the market and the medium. The expectation is that the broadening diversity currently experienced in the comics industry would be welcomed and celebrated but, unfortunately,  that is not always the case.

The comics industry has a long history of narrow vision when it comes to nearly every aspect of it which has been focused predominantly on white males. People that enjoy comics have been generally comfortable with this for too long. Now that things are changing so is the warm, fuzzy feeling of what has been familiar.

Diversity can refer to many things including race, creed, gender, and sexual orientation. In a comic shop it could simply refer to product diversity like books, clothing and toys. The important thing to remember is that diversity is good especially when it involves a creative medium that is as powerful and communicative as comics.

Heroes Con 2013 Cosplay group shot

Diversity in a medium like comics has the power to bring people together rather than push them apart. If we let it.

The first step to truly encouraging diversity is to actually respect it.  Many find it very easy to give diversity in comics “lip service” but struggle to walk the talk. Too many people squirm when they actually experience attempts at instilling diversity in the medium because deep down it violates their comfort zone and they are unwilling to muster enough respect for the tastes of the broader audience to accept that which is different.

I refuse to call it ignorance, prejudice, bigotry or even small-mindedness because that would be just as disrespectful. Expanding diversity means investing in a willingness to have such a variety of comics that there is product that can appeal to everybody.  It is not the industry’s place to segregate anyone for enjoying something that may be specific to them regardless if they are a minority or a majority. Respect goes both ways. That is how it is achieved. Mutually.

Those that champion diversity have to also accept that which has been homogenous for so many years because true diversity cannot exist without it. Let it be, rather than change it and use all energies to create something new. Then celebrate that. Celebrate all.

We celebrate our diversity everyday at CO2 Comics and are proud of it. That does not mean that we don’t still love the superhero comics that influenced us.  They inspired us to want to create something different and more diverse. Check out our creator page and you will find talented people of all ages, race, gender and orientation none of which matters more than the fact that we respect each and every one of them for who they are as individuals and for their tremendous talents and that they share with us.

Their diversity extends to their creations which are as unique and brilliant as each and every one of them. Their comics speak to the new, broader market place that is now so politically correct. Their comics deserve your respect for their diversity

If you consider yourself  a fan or champion of diversity in comics you owe it to yourself to read and enjoy the diversity we present here at CO2 Comics. If you respect what you find here, you will share it with your friends. Take the time to look, not just here but industry wide, and acknowledge the variety of comics created by others who are not the usual fare and be prepared to be impressed. The industry cannot be diverse if we are unwilling to recognize the diversity that is already there.

Our very special thanks to all of the creators that have ever chosen to break the mold.  We know, through all of your endeavors that the diversity you bring to comics is what truly equals creative independence. You have our respect and always will. You are our inspiration and why we continue to make independent comics.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Groot and Rocket Raccoon: More Than Guardians of the Galaxy

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

The world is about to get giddy over yet another Marvel movie as fans everywhere pace, feverishly waiting for the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY film to be released on August 1.

The reviews that are beginning to proliferate are overwhelmingly positive with an early 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes!

Most of the early reviews claim that the breakout stars of the film are Groot and Rocket Raccoon which is awesome because they are credited to two creators with significant ties to the comic industry’s great charity, The Hero Initiative. The Hero Initiative supports comic creators that are facing difficult times, especially those  in the twilight of their lives. Please take the time to learn more about the mission of this organization here.

Nothing needs to be said about the tremendous creative contributions that the legendary Jack Kirby has made to the medium of comics. Many know that Kirby is responsible for at least co-creating most of the major characters in the Marvel Universe and that there has been an ongoing battle between his heirs and Marvel regarding compensation and copyright revision that is currently being considered to be heard by none other than the Supreme Court of the United States.

Your average movie goer may be surprised to learn that Kirby had his hand in the creation of Groot as well. Groot, who first appeared in TALES TO ASTONISH #13, published in November 1960 even predates all of the popular Silver Age Marvel characters!

Jump ahead 54 years and know that Jack Kirby, who passed away twenty years ago, would be celebrating his 97th birthday this month on August 28 and to honor his legacy, his granddaughter, Jillian Kirby,  is out beating the drums for the third consecutive year, promoting her Kirby4Heroes campaign. Jillian, in true Kirby heroic fashion, celebrates her grandfather’s birthday by cooperating with retailers and comic artists across the country to raise money for The Hero Initiative. Last year she raised over $10,000 and is shooting for $15,000 this year.

If you discover that you love Groot as much as everyone expects, please take your time to tip your hat to one of his creators by supporting the Kirby4Heroes campaign this month. Information on how you can participate can be found at www.kirby4heroes.com

As for Rocket Raccoon, his co-creator, Bill Mantlo, could be a poster child for The Hero Initiative’s wonderful work. Bill was the victim of a tragic accident that has left him severely brain damaged since 1992. According to Bill’s brother, Mike Mantlo, The Hero Initiative that was the first organization to step forward and help on behalf of the comics industry when Bill needed it the most. Mike says he will always be indebted to them for their kindness.

Bill remains in a long term healthcare facility but his brother continues to keep him connected with his fans by sharing information about him regularly on a Bill Mantlo facebook group page. Happily,  Bill is well aware of the excitement that is being generated Rocket Raccoon and is proud that his work is being recognized!

Guardians of the Galaxy is sure to be a blockbuster this year but it has a great opportunity to shine a high profile light on the real people that are responsible for the fantasies we enjoy in the comics and now on the big screen. Many of these creators are no longer with us but their genius continues to influence our popular culture in a huge way.

So when you are stuffing your face with popcorn and reveling in the exploits of Groot and Rocket Raccoon, stare deeply into their beady little CGI eyes and remember that they are more than just Guardians of the Galaxy. They, and every other character on that screen, are results of the labor of comic creators who are real people with real, lives, families, hopes dreams and, unfortunately,  tragedies and ill fortune.

Contributing to The Hero Initiative on their behalf is a great way to thank them  indirectly for the joy that their imaginations continue to inspire and to help those creators that may need a supportive hand from all of us.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



DC Comics’ Participation Plan – Magical Mystery Money

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

It is no surprise that, with the Supreme Court considering listening to law suits brought by the heirs of  Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as well as legendary Marvel creator, Jack Kirby in an epic battle over creators rights, DC Comics is attempting to preemptively save face by offering a new Participation Plan.”

Their timely effort is boorishly intended to make them look good in the public’s eye pending any fallout from a potential legal hell-storm that has already attracted support from every creative guild in Hollywood.

Their new “incentive” (as Marvel calls it) will share with creators net profits generated across all distribution networks including digital sales. As an added PR bonus, colorists will be included in the profit sharing for the first time, following Marvel’s lead.

Everything looks rosy!

Depending on who you believe…

Chuck Dixon, Steve Bisette

For every creator, like Chuck Dixon who has had nothing but a positive experience regarding how DC reports shared revenue there is a disgruntled one like Steve Bisette who feels that he is treated like a second class citizen.

As  outsiders, who are we to judge? Contracts are and should be private agreements and presumably they are negotiable and often different for each creator. History, however, has proven that these agreements, no matter how good they may seem or are intended, can often be subject to reinterpretation and malignment on favor of the corporation. Just ask Alan Moore who’s great Watchmen deal went sour fast.

Gerry Conway

Gentleman Gerry Conway has a very polite perspective on policing DC’s approach to participation packages that should raise an eyebrow or two. Imagine that in this day and age, DC admittedly cannot track the use of all its properties and accurately pay out without the support of its aging creators, many of which are far from tech savvy.  So they say.  Yet, in a heartbeat,  they can shut down a sculpture of a dead boy wearing a Superman shirt in Canada before bowing to social media outrage.

The bottom line is that DC is part of a huge entertainment company that specializes in cooking books when it comes to sharing revenue. This is not an indictment of Warner Brothers but of the practices of Hollywood accounting in general.

Anyone that has ever signed on to a royalty arrangement will tell you that, unless you are willing to march into the accounts payable office with an expensive auditor by your side, your relationship with the company paying you is one of blind faith.

DC is playing with magical mystery money when they tell a creator that they will combine net profits from all channels of distribution. These numbers are tabulated over a period of months and are calculated by an algorithm that would make Sheldon Cooper’s head spin! Most comic creators are just not equipped to challenge their word and are willing to accept what they get or be prepared to move on.

Alan Brennert and Barbara Kean, co-created with Dick Giordano

Combine this mystery math with vague language that can arbitrarily define characters as “derivitive” and suddenly there are creators like Alan Brennert campaigning for a moral victory over a $45 payout that is hardly worth a legal battle let alone sitting on hold for a half hour waiting for the problem to be addressed.

This is why contracts are important. Spell details out in black-and-white to eliminate the questions, provide all the answers and provide proof of the agreement.

Wait for it…

Now, DC says all transactions and agreements will be digital only!

Kiss that paper trail goodbye!

Can anybody say Comixology?

“I’m sorry, your digital contract was somehow erased from our server but don’t worry we will reinstate you with our current (and less favorable) Participation Plan. Any questions?”

Time to look for an Indy Publisher comic creators. At least you will own your work.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco




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