Randy Queen is a skilled comics artist who often draws attractive women. He’s best known for Darkchyde but he’s worked on many other books over the years like Red Sonja and Witchblade. Escher Girls is a tumblr that posts pictures of ridiculously drawn comics women. As you do.
Some of Queen’s art was featured on the site, and he didn’t like it. So he used the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to sport these posts to Tumblr and get them removed, as reported at Techdirt and further explained here:
So, this morning we wrote about comic artist Randy Queen sending copyright notices to Tumblr to make a bunch of posts disappear, which were critical of his work. The take downs were for the Tumblr Escher Girls, which tracks and highlights the ways in which women are portrayed in popular media (frequently comics) — basically highlighting the ridiculous manner in which women are often drawn. Queen apparently wasn’t too happy about it and issued copyright takedowns to Tumblr, despite the strong fair use defense. The Escher Girls blog posted what was, frankly, an incredibly even-handed post about the situation, just letting people know what was going on. The author specifically noted no desire to fight back or attack Queen, but just to let people know. It appeared that Escher Girls had no plan to even file a counter notice.
While Escher Girls founder Ami Angelwings seemed pretty calm about the whole thing, Queen went further and threatened legal action against the blog for even mentioning it.
There’s a much longer account here that includes this protest from Queen:
In a letter to Ami, he openly believes her actions “publicly challenges my right to protect the perception of my IP as it exists today.”
That didn’t sit too well with the internet, drawing the ultimate diss in the form of a tweet from the Nerd King himself:
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) August 5, 2014
As someone pointed out, if Queen didn’t want his early work held up to scorn, maybe he could have said that. I sometimes post bad art here and one time a pretty well known artist complained, and it was clear he was having a bad day so I took it down. But this is the internet, buddy.
Tumblr is generality one big fair use, and there is no law that prevents someone from perceiving Queen’s art anyway they please. IT’s not like they called him a jackass, or thin skinned or defensive or silly. They were just pointing out some of his early art that presented figures in a certain way. I have a tumblr (sadly not updated very often) for The Brokeback Pose, one of a zillion that do similar things. This is like trying to patch up a ballon that got dragged through a cactus patch with a bandaid. It’s also very anti-free-speech. And the more people talk about this, the more upset he gets, now claiming he’s being harassed, and the victim of “character assassination.” Well, if pointing out that someone is acting in a very defensive thin-skinned way is character assassination, so be it.
Or as Rachel Edidin put it concisely:
Congrats, Randy Queen. You have done more to damage your rep in 24 hours than @escher_girls could've in a year.
— Rachel Edidin (@RaeBeta) August 4, 2014
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.