Posts Tagged ‘Stan Lee’

The Fantastic Flub

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Now that the review embargo has been lifted on the new Fantastic Four film reboot because it is finally in theaters, what we all expected if fully evident. The film is lousy. With a horrible 9% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes you can bet your popcorn money that this is one superhero flick that is a super stinker.

Marvel must be loving every second of it since it has been their goal to see FOX fail as miserably as possible with both the FF and X-Men franchises in hopes of gaining back the exclusive film rights to their iconic characters.

But who does it really hurt when a superhero film like the FF tanks badly? This film still opens with the same giant red and white  MARVEL logo that appears in every FF ad. It is also the same MARVEL logo that opens every Marvel Studio film as well. Serious comic fans and fans of the superhero genre may understand the tumultuous relationship between Marvel and FOX but they represent a small percentage of the millions of movie goers that spend their hard earned cash at the multiplexes world-wide. To them, this is a Marvel superhero film that sucked and could be a forbidding of the collapse of the genre because they don’t understand the difference.

This spring’s Avengers: Age of Ultron underperformed compared to the first Avenger film, and this summer’s Ant Man showed tepid opening box office numbers though it was well reviewed and continues to put people in the seats. Now the Fantastic Four crashes and burns taking with it the legendary team of superheroes that initially put Marvel on the map. Iconic characters like the Thing and the Human Torch who in the past have teamed-up with every major Marvel character are unmarketable, laughing stocks and Marvel’s most prominent villain, Dr. Doom, is a joke.

Even if Marvel were to regain the film rights to these characters that would have to put them on ice longer than Captain America before they could revive them after the three failed attempts mustered by FOX.  This Honest Trailer sums up FF film history nicely.

We may all be rooting for Marvel to get their properties back, especially now that they have proven to have the ability and willingness to maintain the integrity of the characters we have all grown to love, but it is painful to watch characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby drawn, quartered and drug through town so mercilessly.

These characters that marked the beginning of a new age in the superhero genre back in the 1960’s could signal the demise of the genre in the eyes of the general public with this continued  box office failure. That could that be too much Doom to bear.

Gerry Giovinco

Special Thanks to Herb Trimpe – RIP

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Herb Trimpe

This has been a bitter-sweet week in the comics world.

Few could have ever imagined that we would be in an period where we are overwhelmed by live-action comic book characters in so many forms of media. This past week for  me was overload time and I was enjoying every second of it.

Almost.

In the space of a few days I saw an incredible extended trailer of Avengers: Age of Ultron film due out in a couple of weeks along with a fantastic new trailer for the film Ant-Man due to be released this summer. On TV new episodes of Gotham, the Flash, Arrow and Agents of  S.H.I.E.L.D. hogged up my DVR and thirteen new episodes of the brilliant adaptation of Daredevil begged to be binged on Netflix. Even Jimmy Kimmel peppered late-nite television with visits from the cast of the Avengers pitting them against on another in an epic Family Feud battle that awarded the winners a custom Avengers bicycle-built-for-three.

Then came the sad news that put all the euphoria into perspective. Comic book artist/legend Herb Trimpe passed away, unexpectedly, at the age of 75.

None of this magic that we are currently experiencing as we watch our favorite comic book heroes come alive on the screen, wether it is the 3-D Imax at the multiplex, our TV, computer, or any assortment of mobile devices, if it were not for the labors of modest comic creators like Herb Trimpe who year in and year out brought us the adventures of our favorite characters for decades. His death is a loss to us all.

A lot has ben said about comic book creators getting credit for their creations. In a recent blog I asked  “Who cares that comic creators get credit?” Creators names are now popping up on the screen with names like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby always in the forefront but lately there is a growing list that is showing up in the after credits often titled “Special Thanks” dedicated to the comic book writers and artists who, though they may not have created the initial concept or design of a character, were instrumental in developing  continued and crucial mythos that has maintained our interest in the character over the years.

The Daredevil series is a prime example. The opening credits pay tribute to the creators of the character, Stan Lee and Bill Everett, but the “Special Thanks” at the end of each episode extends to Brian Michael Bendis, Gene Colan, Klaus Janson, Alex Maleev, David Mazzucchelli, Roger McKenzie, Frank Miller, John Romita Jr., John Romita Sr. and Joe Orlando without whom the long tradition of Daredevil would not be so rich. Still, fans were quick to notice that the late Wallace “Wally” Wood had been neglected for his role in designing the iconic red costume that first appeared in DD #7 (1965) and has been the character’s trademark since, proving it is still important to remember these fine creators. All of them.

Herb Trimpe is one of these journeyed creators whose name you may not see in the opening credits but deserves a “special thanks” for his work, especially his influential run on the Hulk throughout the 1970’s. His name should appear on any film with the character including this summer’s impending Avengers blockbuster. Though Lee and Kirby deserve the credit for Hulk’s creation, when I watch Mark Ruffalo’s CGI captured performance, it is Herb Trimpe’s version of the character that comes to life.

Focusing on just his rendition of the Hulk would be a disservice to a comic pro that gave us 45 years of wonderful, memorable material. For all of his creative work and for being the gentle soul and family man that so many who knew him have described him as, Herb Trimpe deserves a “Special Thanks” from anyone that calls themselves a fan of comics.

Rest In peace, kind sir. You will be missed and always remembered.

Gerry Giovinco

Comics on Campus

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

This past week I had the pleasure of sitting in on a free lecture “Comics and the Art of Visual Communication” by legendary comic creator and theorist, Scott McCloud www.scottmccloud.com who was out promoting his new graphic novel, The Sculptor.

The event  was hosted by Rutgers University at their Camden, NJ campus. This was the same campus that hosted the second annual Camden Comic Con just a month ago where CO2 Comics presented a panel on our experience as independent publishers reuniting with some of the crew from our days publishing Comico comics back in the 1980’s.

It is so exciting to see the medium of comics finally being accepted by the great halls of higher education! When I was in college back in the early 1980’s at the Philadelphia College of Art, the administration and faculty showed complete disdain for the medium describing it as derivative and kitsch while vowing to break me of my interest in this lowly form of art. It is ironic that now, renamed the University of the Arts, they boast about  graphic novel writer Neil Gaiman’s inspirational commencement speech in 2012where they also presented Gaiman and Pulitzer Prize winning, editorial cartoonist Tony Auth each with an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts!

My, how times have changed!

More and more colleges and universities are including comic art or graphic novel courses into their curriculum. Some are beginning to build robust libraries dedicated to collections of comic books. Because of the rise of the graphic novel format and the popularity of comic related adaptations into other forms of media, educators have begun to take the comic medium seriously and since the first publication of Scott McCloud’s book Understanding Comics in 1993, educators have had a blueprint for teaching the subject.

My experience at PCA was not unusual. Comics history is wrought with degradation by  educators who widely considered it a form of base communication with no educational merit. Comics were believed to contribute to the delinquency and corruption of the minds of young readers. This notion was exasperated further by Dr. Fredrick Wertham’s book Seduction of the Innocent. Discussion among educators was more focused on how to steer readers away from comic books than to encourage them. Many even resorted to public burnings of the comics!

This sentimentality was buffered slightly by the comic industry’s 1954 adoption of a self imposed censorship called the Comic Code Authority which warranted against  any corruptive material in comics in the wake of a U.S. Congressional inquiry. It stood for decades as possibly the most rigorous form of censorship of any American medium.

Somehow, comics managed to still find a way to be interesting and in the early 1960’s with the help of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Marvel Comics discovered how to appeal to young adults despite the shackles of the Code. The interest in the medium by college students in that era developed a fertile foundation for the future generations of comic creators to grow from.

Stan Lee recognized the interest of the college students and brought his show on the road as evidenced by this recording of Stan addressing students at Princeton University in 1966. Marvel comics spoke to the youth movement of the sixties. Those comics empowered some to create more comics that grew with the readers and reflected the unrest of the new culture that was rising.

Comics evolved throughout the seventies and eighties giving rise to the underground and independent movements that aborted the Comic Code, fought for creators rights and developed a new distribution system that allowed the unfettered medium to flourish. By the dawn of the new millennium comics were poised to explode as a form of powerful artistic expression.

Then came the internet, digital distribution, and print on demand.

Few mediums have benefitted so greatly by modern technology to put both the literal and visual power  into the hands of a single creator. From this has come great works of expression that need to be digested by those interested in learning and understanding the powerful form of visual literature known as comics.

Colleges and universities have figured this out and are actively reaching out to communities to share the mechanics of this exciting medium that has had such an incredible impact on popular culture.

A quick browser search revealed a few programs since the beginning of the year at schools like Vassar,  William & Mary, University of FloridaOhio State University, The University of Hartford, Drake University, and Northern Illinois University.

Those combined with the stops on Scott McCloud’s tour which have already included Mississippi State, Wittenberg University, Champlain College, and Rutgers University make it a wonderful time to be enlightened about the true cultural value of the comics medium and how it extends so far beyond what many know as just superheroes or funny animals. If you love comics, you may want to get to know them better at a college campus near you.

Take the time to check with colleges or universities in your area to see if they are promoting any public lectures on comics. Some provide courses that may be accessible to you. I promise you will be impressed by the diversity of the group that attends, it will be what you expect from any college, a broad mix of age, gender, and culture and everyone had a great time. Special thanks to Rutger’s Digital Studies Center, the Office of Campus Involvement, the Chancellor’s Office, the Department of English, and the Department of Fine Arts for pulling their resources for a great event that covered so many disciplines.

Gerry Giovinco

Who Cares that Comic Creators Get Credit?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

As comic characters continue to roll out of the pages of comic books and into other forms of media, especially television and film, we are discovering a greater interest in who created what. This piqued curiosity is surely the bi-product of heated battles that were fought on behalf of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as well as the recent settlement regarding the characters created or co-created by Jack Kirby for Marvel.

It is a sad fact of comic book history that creators have most often been taken advantage of by the publishing houses that retain the rights to characters that they created. Many had long careers but were only rewarded by meager, hard earned page rates. They saw no royalties or benefits and in the early years little, if any, credit for their work. Most never even saw the return of their original art. Too many have passed on or continue to live in obscurity, without healthcare and certainly no compensation from their creations which have spawned a multi-billion dollar industry.

To be fair, some progress has been made, and in recent years attentive creators and their families have been able to establish some undisclosed agreements that have satisfied both sides. These accounts, however,  are few and far between.

The foremost concern for many creators is not money but rather an acknowledgment of their creative contribution in the form of credit on the screen. This has been demonstrated most recently by a Facebook post from the daughter of the late illustrator, Al Plastino, the co-creator of Supergirl a character that will soon be the focus of a new television series.

She writes:

“Facebook friends, we need you help.

Please help us get Al the credit he is due and all the creators who have died recently and will not see their characters come to life on television or in the movies. They never received any pensions, or health insurance, nothing at all. How disappointing that DC has waited until these gentlemen have passed away to begin producing programs like Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, Legion of Super Heroes,.Not looking for royalties. Just an acknowledgement of all the work these men put into building the DC brand. All the guys who have drawn or created characters when they were at the height of their popularity. Many nights I saw my father working in his studio to meet deadlines from the editor. At one point, Dad was handling 5 different strips for DC and United Media. Go to the DC website or their facebook page and let the syndicate know. You can do so much more for Al than any lawyer could. You helped Al get the Superman/Kennedy art into the Kennedy library where it was supposed to have been for the last 50 years and for that I am eternally grateful.

go to http://www.dcentertainment.com/#contact

MaryAnn Plastino Charles”

Why is a fleeting credit so important to creators or their families? Why should we care?  Few of us even notice, or stick around for the credits to roll at the end of a film. Those of us that do, understand that the greatest reward to a creator is to be recognized for his or her contribution to our culture. A simple acknowledgement goes a long way.

Think of the closing scenes of the Wizard of Oz when Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion get their awards. A diploma, a testimonial and a medallion were all it took to make the respective characters each feel fulfilled. The tokens were material acknowledgement of who they were and what they accomplished. This is the value of credit to a comic creator especially one that has created a character that has become iconic. It is the fulfillment of their destiny as a comic book creator, to experience immortality vicariously through their creation.

But our society has become desensitized to these simple but important details. Too many of us want to cut to the chase and just consume. There is a sense of entitlement that is too quick to dismiss the value of the effort those involved in creating our entertainment. This is ironic because now, more than ever before, all that information is easily at our fingertips.

A quick Wikipedia search will tell you all you need to know about who created nearly any character with links to biographies of the respective creators.

Supergirl, She was created by writer Otto Binder and designed by artist Al Plastino in 1959.”

The modern Flash, “starred Barry Allen as the Flash and the series assumed the numbering of the original Flash Comics with issue #105 (March 1959) written by John Broome and drawn by Carmine Infantino

Green Arrow, Created by Morton Weisinger and designed by George Papp, he first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 in November 1941.”

The Legion of Super-Heroes, “The team first appears in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), and was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino.”

With all of this information so readily available why is it so difficult to ask that they be credited on the screen? Some could argue that so many creators have influenced the current stories being told that the effort becomes daunting. This, however, becomes more of a reason to signal out appropriate credits.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., for example, does a nice job of crediting Jack Kirby and Stan Lee for the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. but what about characters like Deathlock created by Rich Buckler and Doug Moench, Quake created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Gabriele Dell’Otto or Mockingbird first written by Gerry Conway and pencilled by Barry Smith? This is just a short list of the many characters that have appeared or are expected to appear in this ongoing series that has proven pivotal to the development of the MCU.

It is important for the world to know that the genre of superheroes did not just come from the fertile minds of a few. The genre is the result of the exceptional talents of a huge number of individuals whose work has been woven into a fabric of an expansive and growing mythology that has become entrenched in our popular culture.

For those of us that care, it is our responsibility to ensure that these creators and their efforts are not forgotten. It is the fans, collectors, historians, teachers and practitioners of the medium who will ultimately maintain the database of information that preserves the integrity of the history of what these comic book creators have accomplished. Hopefully our enthusiasm will be infectious enough that others will take notice and a greater appreciation of those unsung heroes will flourish.

Share if you care.

Gerry Giovinco

What Color is Spider-Man?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Ask any person, regardless of age, race, gender or socio-economic status what color is Spider-Man and they will tell you that he is red and blue. On a rare occasion, someone who saw Spider-Man 3 or who read Spider-Man comics in the late 80’s may act smart and suggest that he is black and white.

Nobody will tell you that his skin color is black, white or brown.

Trust me. To most of the world Spider-Man is merely red and blue. Case closed.

That is the beauty of Spider-Man and most superheroes. People do not relate to them by the color of their skin. They relate to the color of their costume. Spidey especially, as Stan Lee once speculated,  because his costume covers his entire body.

This is most easily observed by watching kids in playgrounds all across the country roleplaying as their favorite superhero. Or by watching adults wear the swag of their favorite characters. They don’t make character choices based on race but they do based on their favorite costume and its color along with the uniqueness of the character’s super power.

Just ask who their favorite Ninja Turtle or Power Ranger is and hear a staccato of colors blurted out. Red, blue, orange and purple for the turtles and red, green, blue, black, white, pink and yellow for the rangers.

Superheroes are characters that fulfill our fantasies and we all can equally imagine having their powers, abilities, attributes, costumes and adventures.

Who has never dreamt of flying like Superman? Did it really matter what race, gender or build you have? I doubt it.

So why do people get all bugged out when it is suggested that a black actor might play Spider-Man in a film? We haven’t seen enough white actors play the role?

We forget that films are merely adaptations of the comics and while we can hope that they stay as true as possible to the source material we know that is rarely the case. We all have very personal interpretations of the source material and would probably make our film completely different.

The only truly authentic version of Spidey as “he was meant to be” can still be found in a copy of some edition of the stories created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. If you need a fix of the original, go pick it up but you may be surprised how different it is from the many other incarnations of the character that we have all been exposed to since 1962.

Spider-Man has changed with the times, the market and our culture.

It is time that we realize that we live in a multicultural society. If we imagine that our superheroes are some new type of mythology, then we have to expect that they will be a reflection of the diverse society we live in. A reflection of our cumulative imagination. We should all be able to imagine ourselves as the character no matter what color we are.

Unfortunately, the choice to change a character’s race has more to do with marketing than creativity. If it didn’t we would see a much more diverse selection of directors and producers. I would love to see a Spider-Man story told from the perspective of an non-white director that truly reflected their personal experience of the character. I would love to know what’s different about the way a black, Hispanic  or Asian child in an urban setting imagines Spider-Man compared to  how I imagined him as a white kid in the suburbs.

I bet we might be surprised to discover that Spider-Man will still be an amazing red and blue no matter who wears the suit.

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



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



Comic Book Entropy: Marvel and DC

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

When it comes to order and disorder regarding comic books one needs to look no further than the Big Two, Marvel and DC, for examples of each in regards to their corporate direction.

This past week Marvel celebrated their 75th anniversary with a televised special/infomercial titled Marvel: 75 Years, From Pulp to Pop! The show managed to  cram their long history into just 44 succinct minutes in a way that only Marvel can because they have admittedly and willfully refined their direction to the fundamental creative basics established by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.

Marvel recognizes that their success is built on the creative geniuses of these three men and the culture of the Marvel Bullpen that has managed to maintain a continuity that has reverently adhered to the principle foundations of the characters they created.

The new found harmony that exists since the settlement between Marvel and the Kirby Estate, as exhibited by the inclusion of a proud Neal Kirby speaking on his late father’s behalf in the special, reinforced Marvel’s dedication to the tradition of the source material.

Marvel does not stray far from the source material. They embrace it because they know it is based on good storytelling that has stood the test of time. The result is the global phenomenon known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is a bountiful collection of heroic adventures dictated by simple order managed by a decree to not fix what is not broke.

Flip the coin and disorder rears its head as DC Comics once again applies a bandaid to the hemorrhage that is the complicated multiverse known as the DCU. The cure of the moment is called Convergence and it is a two-month-long event focused around the concept that Brainiac will gather the bottled up realities of the infinite earths in the DCU and bring all the variants of all the characters together in one place and let them mix it up like some tormented game of “shake n’ bake.”

While these fifty comics are being published the rest of the already established line will go on a two-month hiatus while the corporate offices move west. Fans get to wait it all out and hope they are satisfied with what promises to be yet another thread of convoluted reality attempting to make sense of what has been convoluted for decades.

DC has long lost any attachment to the foundations of any of their characters let alone any respect for the values or intentions of the creators of their iconic properties. Any opportunity that DC has to exploit their characters in another medium is just a chance to twist in another reality option. TV Flash is already rumored to be from a different reality than film Flash and so the spiral continues.

Through it all fans, are expected to sit back and wait for the shoes to fall then jump back on the bandwagon like nothing ever happened. But fans don’t like to be thrown from the bus. Major League Baseball learned this the hard way when they canceled a season due to strike and it took years to regain the trust of the fans. Why should comics be different?

Nostalgia is a large part of what we all love about our comics and our heroes. Marvel has found a way to introduce new generations to characters that are tried and true while DC continually attempts to recreate their characters to appeal to what they believe are the tastes of a new generation. The end result is that today’s Superman is not your parents’ Superman but today’s Captain America still resonates with the patriotism of your grandparents.

Entropy is, of course, all about the balance of order and disorder in relationship to chaos which is the driving force behind true creativity. Chaos is a beautifully amazing thing which can be easily witnessed in comic books just by looking at a rack of independent comics that source their creativity from every direction and, in fact, continue influence the entropy of the Big Two.

In the Marvel special,  a quick pan of a 1980’s era comic book rack began with a flash of X-Men comics before culminating into a display of independent comics featuring titles like GRENDEL, ELEMENTALS, JUSTICE MACHINE, FISH POLICE and TROLL LORDS, all titles that, at one point, were published under the COMICO imprint, a company co-founded by CO2 COMICS’ own founders, Bill Cucinotta and myself.

It is nice to know that, somehow, our work has impacted the bigger picture of comic books that the world too often recognizes only as Marvel and DC. It is great to be part of the chaos. In the end, it’s all simply about making comics because we want to.

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



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




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