Archive for the ‘Encouraging Comics’ Category

Looking Forward to 2015: Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

The two comic related stories that impressed me the most this past year were the Kirby v. Marvel settlement and Rocket Raccoon co-creator, Bill Mantlo’s generous treatment by Marvel in response to the  Guardians of the Galaxy film.

I found these moments to be significant because they were the culmination of decades of struggle by the men, their families, and a legion supporters of Creators Rights in the Comics Industry.

Thirty years ago, the idea of Jack Kirby or his family being compensated appropriately for the Marvel characters he created or co-created was an idealistic fantasy that most people believed could never be fulfilled.

Twenty-two years ago, when prolific Marvel writer Bill Mantlo suffered a traumatic head injury in a tragic accident, there was little hope that any potential success gleaned from characters or stories that he created while working in comics would benefit his long term care.

In 2014, after years of monumental success of comic book properties in film, the ice began to thaw on the relationship between creators and comic book companies. Deals began to happen behind closed doors to satisfy creators who challenged ownership of properties that had long been held tightly under the premise of “Work for Hire.”

Though everything regarding Creator’s Rights in comics may still not be perfect, strides have been made.

For me, little was much more pleasing than watching a proud and content Neal Kirby participate in a Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration or seeing pictures of a beaming Bill Mantlo watching a private screening of Guardians of the Galaxy from his bed in a long term care facility, all set up by Marvel executives.

Knowing that deals have finally been made to secure the Kirby family well into the future and that Bill Mantlo will be the recipient of royalties that could be used to support his tremendous healthcare needs proves what many of us in the comics industry believed, that creators could and should be beneficiaries of the success of their creations.

It also proved that if you believe in something strong enough, work at it hard enough, and have enough support from the people around you, you should never give up. There is hope for the future.

While working on the fourth volume of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection,  I had the opportunity to re-read an interview with me and Art Director, Geraldine Pecht while at Comico in 1987. It was a look back at my own hopes and dreams nearly three decades past in comparison to the reality that transpired.

It was true affirmation that we have no idea what the future holds but that some dreams never die. It was a flashback that rekindled a youthful enthusiasm that I can only hope to maintain throughout 2015 and beyond.

I had big plans for Comico in 1987. Plans that, for me, ended abruptly that same year. Like the Kirby family and Bill Mantlo, though, I have never given up and neither has by former Comico partner, Bill Cucinotta who had his Comico career cut short prior to mine.

Now we both have big plans for CO2 Comics but with the benefit of many hard lessons learned.

Comico Black Book cover

When I sat for that interview, Comico was at it’s peak and ready to celebrate its five year anniversary with a little product called Comico Black Book. Little did we know, the company was was poised to crash and burn.

I comparison, halfway through our fifth year, CO2 Comics is still building a solid foundation and growing.   Though we may not have had the meteoric successes that we had with Comico and have seen our share of setbacks, Bill and I are content that  we work with people we trust and have mutual respect for. We have more control over our product and integrity and we produce comics and product in a way that does not put us in jeopardy of the production expenses the distribution system or the competition that existed in the 1980′s.

The future is bright and hopeful for CO2 Comics because we have held on to a dream that we are unwilling to give up. Yes, we are looking forward to 2015 and many years after that!

Thanks to all the wonderful people that continue to believe in us and support us. We could not have come this far without you!

We wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year as we look forward to 2015!

Gerry Giovinco



Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Christmas like most holidays is time for everyone to sit back and remember the things that are important to us. This is when family, friends, and community come together, caught up in a spirit of mutual peace, love and joy. If only it could stay that way.

Unfortunately, as much as we like to celebrate the things we all have in common, we also are driven to fear the things that make us different. Some differences are as obvious as the color of our skin and others much more subtle like the nuances of our personal opinion.

How we respond to these differences is what motivates all storytellers. It is the basis of conflict  in search of a resolution. We are all storytellers. Our history is the story of our lives told from our own unique perspective.

We all have different ways of expressing our stories. Gossip, music, words, film and paint are just a few methods of telling a story.

Some of us have chosen to tell our stories with comics, combining words and pictures to best communicate our ideas. Those that do are part of a community that shares an understanding of at least an attachment to this quirky medium.

Some of us prefer to experience stories told this way. Comics, unlike any other medium, rely on the interaction of the audience and their imagination to fill in the blank spaces that exists between panels. The story can only be made complete by the reader.

So, to all the comic creators and fans of the medium, we at CO2 Comics wish that you may all come together as a community and celebrate all that makes you alike and different this Christmas. Let us all tell wonderful comic stories as we move into 2015.

Merry Christmas to all!

Gerry Giovinco



Happy Hanukkah to the World of Comics and Comic Books!

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Since today is the first day of Hanukkah this year, we at CO2 Comics would like to wish a very “Happy Hanukkah” to all of our Jewish friends and family in the great world of comics and comic books!

It is now widely accepted history that immigrated Jewish Americans are largely responsible for the development of the early comic book industry. Without trivializing the significance of Jewish publishers, printers and distributors of the 1930′s, just try to imagine a comic book industry without this very short list of comic book pioneer creators that were all Jewish:

Jerry Siegel

Joe Shuster

Jack Kirby

Joe Simon

Bob Kane

Bill Finger

Jerry Robinson

Stan Lee

Just imagine a world of comics without Superman, Batman, Captain America and the bulk of the Marvel Universe created or co-created by these eight men that stand out as brilliantly as the eight candles to be lit on a festive Hanukkah Menorah!

A more comprehensive list of Jewish cartoonists that were leaders in the industry can be found here.

The contributions of these creators of Jewish decent can not be overstated. Without any small percentage of them comics, as we know them today, would not exist.

This is the time of year when everyone tip-toes around espousing the phrase, “Happy Holidays,” essentially offending people they are trying not to by sterilizing their greetings. In the process of this dilution we lose site of the beauty, significance, and  contributions of the cultures that celebrate uniquely different holidays.

As an independent comics publisher CO2 Comics has always recognized the value of diversity in the comics medium. Our appreciation of the history of our industry strengthens the value of that diversity every day. Though we may not personally celebrate all of these holidays it is with great conviction that we recognize that we are influenced regularly by others that do.

So, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas and a Fabulous Festivus to you all!

Gerry Giovinco



Just in Time for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Santa has something special for that growing number of fans out there that are building their complete set of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection.

VOLUME THREE is ON SALE NOW!!

VOLUME THREE, like the two volumes, before is packed with over 650 pages if incredible interviews from members of all aspects of the comics community! Though every interview is an amazing slice of comics history, who could pass on reading interviews these included industry giants: Jack Kirby, Frank Frazetta, Archie Goodwin, Walt &Louise Simonson, Frank Miller, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, Steve Gerber,  and many more!

Remember, It is never too late to jump on the bandwagon and start your collection of any CO2 Comics product from David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection to any of our great graphic novels and t-shirts because they are all available on-demand any day of the year!

For your convenience, here is a complete list of all available product:

COMICS INTERVIEW the Complete Collection Volume 1 by David Anthony Kraft – 680 pages

Paperback  Edition – $34.99

Hard Cover Edition – $54.99

Comics_Interview_Volume_2_Standard_cover

COMICS INTERVIEW the Complete Collection Volume 2 by David Anthony Kraft – 688 pages

Paperback  Edition – $34.99

Hard Cover Edition – $54.99

COMICS INTERVIEW the Complete Collection Volume 3 by David Anthony Kraft – 656 pages

Paperback  Edition – $34.99

Hard Cover Edition – $54.99

“The Greatest Collection of Interviews in the History of Comic Books!” these are the first three volumes of an eleven volume set that compiles the entire 150 issue run of David Anthony Kraft’s celebrated Comics Interview Magazine. Featuring interviews with nearly one hundred comic book professionals and fans, many of which are legends in the industry, this volume has 680 black-and-white pages of incredible photos, illustrations and text that will dazzle your eyes and remind you, page after page, why comics are special to you. A must-have reference work for every comics library, collector and researcher COMICS INTERVIEW accesses the heart and soul of the comics industry which has given the world 70 years of comic book art, literature, and tradition.

If you love comics — you will love COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection!

All volumes are available in both Premier and Standard editions featuring your choice of  Classic or traditional  COMICS INTERVIEW  logos!

Doggie Style – The Complete Dog Boy by Steve Lafler – 488 pages

Paperback  Edition – $29.99

Hard Cover Edition – $49.99

Imagine an enthusiastic, ambitious young artist of the 1980s who happens to have an enormous golden retriever head on a human body. Given to flights of fancy and the odd meditation on the truly mundane, this Dog Boy searches for meaning, all too often via a six pack of Rainer Ale pounders!

Steve Lafler sat down from 1882 to 1988 and drew nearly 500 pages of Dog Boy. Most of the time, he drew with no script, and in fact looked to emptying his mind before putting pencil to bristol board.

The entire results are collected here in in the 488 page omnibus, DOGGIE STYLE The Complete DOG BOY! Now you can pay witness to the genius that flowed from Steve’s streaming consciousness as he created one of the most truly independent comic works of all time!

NOTE: Content intended for MATURE readers.

Heaven and the Dead City by Raine Szramski – 64 pages

Paperback  Edition – $14.99

Hard Cover Edition – $24.99

There is nothing alive anymore in the Dead City – or is there? Two cities: one dead… …the other, vibrant and alive. But for Palus, the supposedly enlightened city of Zivvon was dead in a different way. Their intolerance of earth magick in favor of the intangible church-sanctioned magic of heaven weighed heavily on him. After all, Palus had been born a witch. Two cities: one beautiful and flourishing… …the other, not quite as dead as it would seem. Yaira knows this as well as anyone. It wasn’t safe to linger within the walls of Tac. Her mother had made that mistake and paid the price for it. Her father had warned her – Get in, get what we need and get out! But Yaira had inherited her mother’s curiosity. And now something in the Dead City was growing curious of her.

Ménage à BUGHOUSE by Steve Lafler – 408 pages

Paperback  Edition – $24.99

Hard Cover Edition – $39.99

Ménage à BUGHOUSE collects the funky jazz noir BUGHOUSE trilogy by Steve Lafler in one volume.

Tenor saxophone maestro, Jimmy Watts, leads his talented band of bugs from the swing era into the uncharted maelstrom of Bop. And as he and his band mates claw their way to the top of the jazz world, they must fight the temptation to be consumed by addiction to a substance known as “Bug Juice”.

NON by Chris Kalnick - 52 pages

Paperback Only – $14.99

This collection of the comic strip NON, The Transcendental Extraterrestrial by Chris Kalnick will tickle your soul. NON’s unique perspective of our humanity is a window through which we gain profound insight through the sheer simplicity of his observations. This little alien is a teacher and his thoughts are inspiring. NON’s epilog, A Sensory Neuron’s Quandary, will redefine life’s purpose for those seeking a pointed answer.

52 pages of powerfully, humorous, light-hearted introspection that is beautifully drawn by Kalnick will satisfy your need to be one with the universe but will have you begging for more NON adventures.

The Adventures of ROMA by John Workman – 98 pages

Paperback  Edition – $19.99

Hard Cover Edition – $29.99

This 98 page graphic novel is created by John Workman, whose extensive experience in the comic book field is evident in every panel. Workman introduces us to ROMA, a woman of mystery…even to herself… as she finds life, death , love, and perhaps mankind’s final redemption in this fantasy/science fiction graphic novel. ROMA is the story of a girl who is so much more than merely super-human!

Beautiful art, compelling story and haunting questions make ROMA irresistible.

The Heavy Adventures of Captain Obese by Don Lomax – 108 pages

Paperback  Edition – $19.99

Hard Cover Edition – $29.99

The Heavy Adventures of CAPTAIN OBESE. Originally published by WARP GRAPHICS in the late 1980s. The comic has always been near and dear to Don’s heart since looking at CAPTAIN OBESE for him is like looking in a mirror. The comic collected some flack from the whining politically correct crowd back when it was first published but who other than a morbidly obese artist should depict a morbidly obese super hero? That was back in the days when everybody was thin. Today? CAPTAIN OBESE is the norm.

T-Shirts – $19.99 each

COMICS INTERVIEW T-Shirts featuring retro and Platinum COMICS INTERVIEW Logos.

Death Fatigue T’s- The syndrome that is gripping the readers of comic books all across the nation. Is there no end to the carnage that is being brought upon our favorite heroes by the editorial staffs of the biggest publishers in the comic industry?

Super Death Fatigue

Bat Death Fatigue


Cap Death Fatigue

Spider Death Fatigue

Now is your chance to put together your wish list for Santa or get that special gift for the comic fan or historian in your life.

Gerry Giovinco



David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection TWO THOUSAND Pages and Counting!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

First Three Volumes of Eleven Volume Set
on Sale NOW!

CO2 Comics has embarked on a massive endeavor to compile the entire 150 issue run of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW magazine that is regarded as the greatest collection of interviews in the history of comics.

To date, 42 issues, comprised of over 2,000 pages, have been meticulously scanned, cleaned, formatted and printed in the handsome, first three volumes of the planned eleven volume set. Volume four is currently in production.

Each printed volume packed with nearly 700 black and white pages of art, photos and interviews is available in either paperback or hard cover versions of two special editions:

The Premier Edition features, on its full color cover,  a customized version of the original COMICS INTERVIEW logo which utilized stylized characters from famous comic book titles. This logo appeared only on the first 24 issues of the magazine and is loved by many for it’s homage to comic book icons.

The Standard Edition alternatively features a similarly customized version of the traditional Comics Interview logo that graced the cover of the remaining 126 issues and may be the one that is endeared to the hearts of many fans, especially those that enjoyed its Pac Man font.

The four distinct versions of the printed package give fans of the magazine an opportunity to complete their collection of the set in a consistent manner that suits their personal tastes and will ultimately be an extraordinary addition to their library.

The importance of this collection to comic fans and historians can not be overstated.

Originally published from 1983 to 1995, COMICS INTERVIEW gave voice to the comics industry at a pivotal time in its history. The magazine was able to provide insightful interviews with writers, artists and editors that were active in the earliest days of the industry as well as the young creators whose careers since continue to shape the industry today.

Page by page, volume by volume, David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection is an accurate, candid, and authoritative  perspective of the history of comics that comes directly from the mouths of the people that lived it.

Amazingly relevant to current issues that affect the industry, every volume is a necessary source of vital information for anyone who wants a complete understanding of the comics industry as a whole.

The first three volumes alone present interviews with about 230 individuals that all made a mark on the history of comics. Without slighting the contributions of any, here is just a short list of some of the influential subjects:

Terry Austin, Howard Chaykin, Gerry Conway, Jack Davis, Dick Giordano, Joe Kubert, Stan Lee, Wendy & Richard Pini, Jim Shooter, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, Karen Berger, John Byrne, Colleen Doran, Steve Gerber, Dave Gibbons, Bill Willingham, Scott McCloud, Stephen Bissette, Bob Burden, Frank Frazetta, Bob Kane, Jack Kirby, Jerry Robinson, Frank Miller, Walt & Louise Simonson, and many, many more!

An accurate list of the interviews contained in each volume can be found in the book previews on the CO2 Comics Storefront on LULU and AMAZON where you can easily purchase your copy of each volume today! Buy one or buy all three and you will be anxious to complete the whole set as each new volume is released.

David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection is a massive and beautiful centerpiece intended for any comics library. Accumulated one volume at a time or in convenient bundles, it continues the tradition of anticipation and fulfillment that is experienced by every comic collector. If you love comics, now is the time to begin your own collection of the greatest interviews in the history of comics. Order your copies today!

Gerry Giovinco



Superhero Movies: Careful What You Wish For

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Recent announcements made by both Marvel Studios and Warner Brothers have indicated that in the next six years there will be approximately forty superhero films released! Comics Alliance has posted an incredible infographic designed by Dylan Todd that details the specifics as they stand now:

That is more than four new superhero films each year from Marvel and DC! This is also not counting any other geek-friendly science fiction films like Star Wars, Star Trek or any number of alternative comic related films!

What have we done? What did we wish for?
Is it possible that the superhero film will become mundane if it hasn’t already?

Will the flood of films, compounded by the plethora of related television shows ruin the thrill of anticipation that used to exist when comic book fans simply longed for a film that could do any superhero justice?

There was a time when it was an annual event just to watch the special effects laden The Wizard of Oz on television. Audiences looked forward to it as a special occasion because it was the one time out of the year that you could always count on to see something spectacular.

Younger generations today do not have that same appreciation because, thanks to modern technology, this classic film can be seen around the clock, throughout the year on a variety of devices. The concept of availability on demand has taken away the urgency that drove families to gather around the television and reverently enjoy it.

This is the same lack of urgency that is responsible for short runs of films at the box office. When great films came out, the line wrapped around the multiplex and down the block for tickets. Films stayed in the theater for six months at a time because it was the only opportunity to see them. Why rush to the theater now when a film will be on Blu-ray in three months? Before videos were available audiences waited three years in hopes that a film would come to television someday.

There was nothing, however, like waiting for a good comic book movie to be made. Superheroes are a special breed of character whose abilities are so fantastic that, for generations, what could only exist on the printed page and in our imaginations could not translate, believably, to film. Comic book fans longed to see a superhero film done right. They had suffered through so many cheesy attempts with only a few that garnered even a modicum of respect.

It was a milestone in 1978 when the Superman film was promoted with the slogan, “You’ll believe a man can fly!” It was a wish come true. For the first time ever, the greatest superhero of them all was finally presented in a relatively believable fashion on film.

The film was a huge success but good superhero films would still be hard to come by. Superman quickly ran his course after a few attempts as did the Batman films but it wasn’t until 2000 that CGI technology became sophisticated enough to allow for believable X-Men and Spider-Man films.

Four major superhero franchises in a twenty-five year period generates anticipation!
Since then there has been about forty superhero films from the big two in the last twelve years and now they are planning on doubling that production!

production!

Who would have ever thought that superhero films could become so commonplace? But with the threat of public domain looming over Golden Age characters in the next twenty years and Silver Age heroes not far behind, the time to cash in on those classic superheroes is now or never.

Fans finally have their wish that good superhero films can be made but now have to hope not to be overwhelmed by them. Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? If it is up to Marvel and Warner Brothers, we are going to find out.

Gerry Giovinco



Superheroes Sell Porn to Children

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

There has been a trend lately to reinvent the images of our favorite superheroes so they seem more realistic and mature in an effort to appeal to an audience that is growing older. Ironically, porn parodies of these same superheroes tend to focus on the brightly colored costumes that superheroes wore when they were deemed too juvenile.

The porn companies appear to value the highly recognizable trademarks of the colorful costumes more than the comic companies do. While Marvel and, more significantly, DC are toning down flashy costumes,  the porn companies are cashing in on all those primary colors!

Which makes you have to wonder, who are they selling their films to?

Superheroes are going through an identity crisis of epic proportions. They want to appeal to everybody so bad that they can’t decide which costume to wear. Now they now have a closet full  spandex variants designed to appeal to each the different target audience.

Lay out a bunch of licensed merchandise and you will clearly see that toys and action figures made for little kids are adorned with the bright and bold costume colors that we have all come to recognize as representative of the world’s greatest superheroes.  As the products become targeted at an older consumer, the  costumes become darker and grittier to the point where they are almost  unrecognizable. This is all a grand scheme to progressively target market. It all makes reasonable sense until you introduce porn into the mix.

An investigative blogger once directly asked Warner Bros., Time Warner Inc., DC Comics, Liberty Media Holdings if they were using superheroes to sell porn to children, insinuating in her open letter that they must be profiting from the porn. Why else would they not be attempting to stop the obvious damaging trademark infringement of properties targeted at the youth market?

We have asked similar questions here at CO2 Comics and the obvious answer is that the porn companies are protected by the use of parody which never explains why DC was able to defend their trademark before, in the 1970′s, when they blocked a film titled XXX Superwoman which was later released as Ms. Magnificent.


Just the fact that people are objecting and asking questions should be enough to argue that there is infringement going on. The longer it is allowed to persist  the tougher it will be to fight if the companies want to.

This  may seem to be just overreaction of a conservative view except that the corporations that preside over these characters are so viciously aggressive when it comes to protecting their trademarks and have such deep pockets that it is very believable that they could stop the porn  if they really wanted to.

Maybe it is just another tier of the grand marketing scheme: bright colors for little kids; dark and gritty for mature readers; bright colors with an “X” for porn.

Just so we don’t get confused, since Halloween is upon us, check out the “slutty,” brightly-colored, licensed superhero costumes being made for young women these days. (many are described as  “adult” but are sold in the “teen” section) Then ask  how off-base this discussion is while bashing DC on their next round of licensed, sexist t-shirts.

Gerry Giovinco



Ten Things We Should All Know About Copyright Law Thanks to Kirby v. Marvel

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

With very little pomp and circumstance the most famous contentious relationship in the history of comics has finally been amicably settled between the estate of the late Jack Kirby and Marvel Entertainment. The announcement came just one business day before the case was scheduled to be considered for hearing by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Comic historians and fans of both Marvel and Kirby know that the relationship between the two has been tenuous as far back as the mid 1960′s. The feud reached a climax in the late 1980′s when many fans and comic professionals demanded that Marvel fairly compensate him for the wealth of material that he had created which, by all standards, established the foundation on which the company had been built and supported. Marvel never did.

This discussion continued after his death in 1994 though it mostly existed as a blistering boil on the ass of the comics industry establishing Kirby as the poster child of the Creators’ Rights movement replacing Superman creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, as the most screwed creator in comics history.

The debate about what Jack Kirby and his heirs were owed, if anything,  became heated in public forums, especially on the internet, exasperated by misinformation, blind opinion, and just plain ignorance of the real matters at hand. Trolls abounded and it often got ugly.

In 2009, in accordance with provisions established in the Copyright Act of 1976, the Kirby Estate filed for termination of Marvel’s copyright claim seeking a reversion of rights which led to a legal battle that was most accurately and meticulously described by Kurt Busiek on a CBR comment thread.

Busiek laid out the truth in no uncertain terms because, as he stated, The amount of misinformation presented in this thread is staggering.” He does a great job of cutting through the he-said-she-said bullshit of the voices of public opinion and pares it down to the cold, hard facts.

Amazingly, it is apparent that too many people, including those in creative fields, do not know the basic elements of copyright law!

If Kirby v. Marvel accomplished anything it should be a better understanding of copyright law by those people that should understand it the most; creators.

Everything you need to know about copyright can be found right here, but it can be a long and agonizing read full of legal jargon.

The following is a simple list of ten important things that creators really need to know about copyright law as it concerns what happened to Jack Kirby.

1. Ideas are not protected! Copyright only protects the expression of an idea that is able to be reproduced in virtually any form.

Two people can have the same idea but their expression of the idea needs to be different. If they are the same, it is assumed that the latter infringed upon the first.

If you “borrow” an idea from someone and create your own expression of it , that is not infringement.

When Stan Lee would give Jack Kirby plot “ideas” verbally in a meeting, unless they were written in the form of a synopsis or script, they could not become copyrighted until Kirby drew the pages of the comic book.

2. The work is protected by copyright the second it is created regardless if you placed a “© 2014 John Hancock” on it or registered it at the Copyright Office.

Placing a copyright notice on your work stakes your claim to it and is a deterrent similar to faux security signs on your front lawn.  The burden of proof, however, is on you and the best and most official way to protect yourself is to register your work.

As mentioned earlier, Kirby’s work was considered copyrighted the second he drew them. It is guaranteed that he never marked them with a © or registered them. The proof that he created them prior to their publication date is all that is necessary and was enough for the Kirby Estate to challenge Marvel.

3. You can sell your copyright after you have created a work.

This is what Kirby did every time he was paid for pages he handed in that were accepted by Marvel. He sold his copyright to the material.

4. You can terminate a grant of copyright after 35 years.

Thanks to the Copyright Act of 1976 creators have a right to terminate grants of copyright that they have sold a to a publisher or another entity.  They can also renegotiate a deal, often in the form of a settlement, just like Prince did after he filed termination papers with his record label.

There is a slim 5-year window within which creators must file to request this termination. Companies are betting that most creators or their heirs will not know about or pay attention to this, allowing the rights to be permanently forfeited to the current holder, like a the money on an expired gift card.

5. None of this matters if you were an employee of the company and created the work on their time. The work will be considered Work-for-Hire and the company that employs you will be considered the author and copyright owner.

Stan Lee was an employee of Marvel. Technically he was management so he has no rights to the material he co-created on the clock or otherwise. His settlement in 2005 was strictly based on an agreement he had regarding his work on the sales of Marvel films, not royalties based on ownership  of copyright.

6. If you are a subcontractor, (freelancer) all of this matters because you initially owned the copyright the second you created the work and you sold that copyright to the publisher. You have a right to request termination of grant after 35 years. If you sold the copyright prior to 1978 you can request termination after 56 years, which was what the Kirby estate did.

Kirby was a freelance subcontractor, regardless of how exclusive his agreement was with Marvel, verbally, written or otherwise, he was not an employee and this was the basis of all the litigation and what the Supreme Court was considering to determine.

7. The duration of a copyright  lasts the life of the author and 70 years after the author’s death.

This means that if the terminations were granted anything Kirby created would be copyrighted until 2064 and  be in the control of the Kirby Estate.

8. For works created Work for Hire the term ends 95 years after its first publication.

If the Supreme court would have decided that Kirby’s work was considered Work for Hire those works owned by Marvel would have begun lapsing  into public domain as early as 2053.

For this reason alone it was in Marvel’s best interest to settle with the Kirby Estate because it just bought them, presumably, an extra 11 years of ownership before the works go into public domain.

9. Copyright and Trademark are not the same thing. While a copyright can expire, a trademark can last indefinitely so long as the owner continues to renew the trademark and aggressively defends it when it is infringed upon.   Copyrighted material, though it can be terminated or lapse into public domain, it cannot be used in commerce in a way that infringes on an existing trademark that is owned by the previous copyright holder.

This means that even if the Kirby Estate were to have terminated the copyrights to the works of Jack Kirby, Marvel would have still owned the trademarks to the characters. It would have been very difficult for the works to be marketed without infringing on Marvel’s trademarks, limiting the profitability of the works.

10. All things considered an amicable settlement is usually the best case scenario.

All anybody ever wanted was to see Jack Kirby treated fairly for all the incredible work he did as possibly the greatest comic creator of all time. It is a shame that he did not live to enjoy the satisfaction of  a deal that, by all expectations, appears would have made him happy. It was clear that throughout his career his main goal was simply to support his family who has, expressed satisfaction with their undisclosed deal.

The Jack Kirby experience is a lesson that must be learned by all creators so that it not be continually repeated. Know copyright law. Understand agreements. Make good deals. Defend your rights. Profit fairly from your work. These are all things that creators should be as focused on as much as they are focused on their talent and creations. They all go hand-in-hand to provide lifelong satisfaction from the hard work involved.

Gerry Giovinco



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




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