FBI has 7,526 page long file on a cartoonist

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The FBI has amassed a 7,526 page file on cartoonist/essayist Molly Crabapple, as she tweeted the other day. Crabapple’s lawyer has filed to see the papers under the Freedom of Information Act, and the FBI will reviews them 750 pages a month and pass along ones they deem fit for Crabapple to see.

What has Crabapple done to merit such attention?

Created Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School
Documented and helped organize the original Occupy movement at Wall Street
Crowdfunded “Molly Crabapple’s “Week in Hell” performance art piece
Was arrested during a protest on the one year anniversary of Occupy
Kickstarted a series of paintings about “The Great Recession”
Visited the Guantanamo Bay prison and wrote about it for Vice
Obviously some dangerous stuff there. HOpefully they have equally large files on actually dangerous wackadoos.

Gotham Greets the Justice League

Justice League NYC logoOn Friday New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio met with protestors to discuss their demands for police reform after the shocking death of Eric Garner and the controversial grand jury decision that followed. The name of the activists’ organization will sound familiar to any comics fan: Justice League NYC.

That this prominent group of social justice warriors would share a name with DC Entertainment’s leading super-team is no coincidence. Just check out the group’s logo, which features two African-American superheroes flying out of New York City through a graffiti-style logo. Dig even deeper into contemporary activism’s history and we see even more connections: Ferguson protestors formed their own Justice League over the summer, a leading progressive journalist writes at JusticeLeagueTaskForce.wordpress.com, and as pretty much everyone here knows, the Occupy movement made the V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes’ mask a global icon.

The role of comics in recent protests will no doubt be the subject of any number of academic papers, most of which will bear a punny coloned title like “DC Nation: From Social Relevance Comics to Social Change.” Yet before folks explore what all this means at greater length, I want to offer a quick note on how this phenomenon ties into comics’ uneasy relationship with the law.

Before Photoshop and Final Cut made it possible for anyone to transcend their innate limitations, comics offered a cheap and easy way for people to give a visible form to their wildest thoughts. They became pop culture’s analogue to law as the magic mirror of society — photos may have showed us how the other half lives, but in comics we could create the world of tomorrow, free from the strictures of budget, politics, injury, death, and the real world’s ineffective legal system. What’s more, comics also did away with the shadows and fog that even today make inquiries such as the Serial podcast so frustrating — in the comics world we know who is good, who is evil, and who will win; the big question is how good will triumph.

That sensibility is in comics’ DNA, to both good and ill effect. An unreflective transfer of the comics’ approach to seemingly intractable problems would at its most extreme result in moral nihilism, as violence becomes the standard means of removing any obstacle to achieving what is right. At the same time, the comics’ metaphorical blend of constructive critique and unbounded possibility helps explain why the social relevance comics of the 1970s weren’t as much of a break from the past as some might think. We can draw a straight line back from the O’Neil & Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow through to the Justice League, Shock SuspenStories, Captain America and Wonder Woman — and the same is true moving forward in time to today. Comics have always had the power to show us who we are and what we can be, and they are at their best when they resemble the magic mirror as ideally envisioned by Oliver Wendell Holmes – reflecting not just our own lives, but the lives of all people who have been.

Webcomic alert: What it’s like for an incarcerated teen on Rikers Island

The federal government is suing NYC over the treatment of teen-aged inmates at the legendary—and not in a good way— Riker’s Island detention facility.

The federal government plans to file a lawsuit against New York City alleging “widespread civil rights violations” against teen inmates at Rikers Island. The suit comes on the heels of a blistering report conducted by U.S. district attorney Preet Bharara that was released this summer and detailed shocking abuses of adolescent Rikers prisoners, including beatings, verbal abuse, and excessive use of solitary confinement.

If you’re wondering why, here’s a comic book that explains how teens—many of them mentally ill—are put in “the box” for minor infractions.

The comic was reported by Daffodil Altan and Trey Bundy, and illustrated and designed by Anna Vignet, based on conversation with “Izzy” now grown and a case manager for people coming out of Riker’s.

Upchurch removed as Rat Queens artist following arrest

RatQueens_07-1Rat Queens co-creator Kurtis J. Wiebe has posted a statement regarding his co-creator Roc Upchurch’s recent arrest for domestic violence after attacking his ex-wife. The upshot: Upchurch is off the book.

After a few days of reflection and going through a roller coaster of emotion, I’ve realized I’m not angry about this revelation. I’m deeply saddened. When you work with someone so closely on a project that is so personal, you are much more than creative collaborators, you become friends that feel like family. I have a lot of love for Roc Upchurch, I’ve spent a lot of time with him, at conventions and signings and quiet times over dinner when the crowds have gone away. Shannon and I have spent time with his wife, whom we admire greatly. With everything that has happened, I still care about and love Roc and my greatest hope is that in all this there is an opportunity to find help and for healing to take place in his family. They are never far from our thoughts.

I’m not a stranger to domestic abuse. I know that keeping abuse a secret and being afraid to speak about it are why so many people suffer in silence. It is a topic that needs to be openly talked about and there needs to be a feeling of safety and acceptance for those that come forward with their stories. It is why I am addressing this news rather than burying my head in the sand.

I want you to know that Rat Queens means the world to me on a personal level and my mission for the series is unchanged. I want to write stories about women that I see in my everyday life, about friendship and to make comics that include and embrace diversity.

As of today, Roc Upchurch will no longer be illustrating Rat Queens. This is going to be a transitionary period for the series as we rebuild and prepare for a new start. I am committed to Rat Queens, to stand by what it has always been praised for and to prove to the fans that they weren’t wrong in loving it.

 
Earlier today I quoted a piece that suggested that Upchurch would not undergo any repercussions for his actions. IN this case, that was incorrect.

Yet Another Must Read: Jeff Trexler analyzes the Kirby settlement

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I’ve long been awaiting Jeff Trexler’s analysis of the Marvel/Kirby Settlement, and he starts a two-part piece with Should the Kirby Family Have Settled? In case it hasn’t been explicitly stated enough, it was Trexler’s exploration of the potentially ground breaking work for hire aspects of the case that Kirby family attorney Marc Toberoff seems to have used to get the Supreme Court to even look at the case. To allow it to go to decision would have established an important precedent—but it was extremely risky for the Kirby heirs:

That’s not an unreasonable point of view, but it’s also not entirely fair. To see why, it can help to compare the Kirbys’ situation with that of the Siegel heirs in their own pursuit of a historic precedent. As we saw with the Siegels, the calculus in the Siegel case involved more than a decision between a win and a loss. The Siegels filed their lawsuit after agreeing to a set of terms that their previous attorney had informed them was legally binding; the likely and ultimately realized worst-case scenario was that the Siegels would quote-unquote lose with an eight-figure payout. The Kirbys, on the other hand, were in Schroedinger’s Court – the case for the moment was dead and alive, but once the Court observed it the lawsuit would reduce to just one of these states with no in-between.

Trexler also suggest that the votes on the final case may not have been the ones we were expecting. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—who actually requested Marvel answer the petition—may not have been all pro-freelancer:

Nonetheless, while Ginsburg’s dissents in such infamous cases as Citizens United (opposing corporate personhood) and Hobby Lobby (opposing the corporate religious exception for birth control coverage in Obamacare) have made her an anti-corporate hero, her approach to copyright cases is far more tempered. Exhibit #1: Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in the equally notorious case of Eldred v. Ashcroft upholding the constitutionality of the Sonny Bono Act, the law that extended the term of copyright and kept Mickey Mouse out of the public domain.

Ginsburg also concurred in the Grokster case, an unpopular decision (in free-culture circles, at least) that sided with the music companies against those who believed that online file sharing should be left alone. Moreover, Ginsburg sided with the majority in the recent Aereo case, which helped the big TV networks to keep an Internet start-up from rebroadcasting freely available TV signals. Opposing Ginsburg & the rest of the majority in defending the rights of the corporate copyright establishment: conservative Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito.

In a subsequent piece, Trexler will look at what we know of the settlement, which it’s been suggested, included a mid-eight figure monetary sum.

I urge everyone to just go read the whole thing. Given what we know, it’s quite possible that we have Trexler himself to thank for the circumstances that allowed the Kirby heirs and Marvel to come to an agreement which allows Jack to finally get his due in the modern Marvel Universe. And for that, we all owe him a huge thank you.

Thanks, Obamacomics!

Health Care Reform graphic novelA graphic novel has become Exhibit A in the latest Obamacare controversy.

[Read more…]

Ed Kramer: “I’m not a child molester”; DA :”The only way it will die is he’ll have to to die or I’ll have to die and even that might not stop it”

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Some people are drug addicts. Others are food addicts. Some, plastic surgery addicts. Ed Kramer, co-founder of Dragon Con and convicted sex offender, is a lawsuit addict. After more than a decade of legal wrangling that kept him from standing child on molestation charges; and dozens of jailhouse law suits involving his health and religion that made keeping him incarcerated insanely expensive, he’s back with a new law suit claiming that his conviction on child molestation charges last December should be overturned.

In court filings thundering of constitutional outrage. Kramer’s lawyer Stephen Reba claims his client was forced into last year’s plea agreement through prosecutorial misconduct, a move that he said removed Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter from the case.


“He is a witness now,” Reba told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday of Porter. “While Mr. Kramer has been vilified during the pendency of his criminal proceedings and after, this case is really about governmental overreach and misconduct.”

The state Attorney General’s Office is taking over the case, Reba said.

Porter has pursued Kramer across the nation for more than decade of court delays due to Kramer’s health and legal challenges.

“The only way it will die is he’ll have to to die or I’ll have to die and even that might not stop it,” Danny Porter told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday.


I’m not going to enumerate the infuriating legal proceedings outlined in Kramer’s case, but they involves his health issues that make it “impossible” for him to stand trial, who requested the trial, and now a claim that the 14-year-old boy that Kramer was found with in a hotel room in 2011 was actually the “son of his female partner.”

Kremer is still under house arrest, and not in jail under the terms of his plea bargain, because of his health. A few months ago he was found to be claiming to be a psychology expert from Brooklyn, and talking to some disabled kids on Twitter, but it was not enough to violate the terms of his house arrest, something that DA Porter is waiting for. But Ed Kramer is a wily individual with endless patience for lawsuits, frivolous or not.

Developing. And disgusting.

Jack Kirby is now getting credit in Marvel titles—and that is pretty freaking awesome

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It looks like the results of last month’s settlement in the Jacky Kirby lawsuit against Marvel has yielded swift results: Kirby and Stan Lee are now being given co-credit in books including Fantastic Four, Inhumans and the X-men. And Joe Simon and Jack Kirby are being given co-creator credit on Captain America. Among the books already bearing the new credits: All-New X-Men #33, Fantastic Four #12, Inhuman #7, Wolverine and the X-Men #11 and Death of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America #1, which has the Simon & Kirby credit. 

Many speculated that the terms of the settlement included not only money but would free the way for Kirby to take his rightful place as the mind behind the visual look of the MCU and the driving force behind many of its greatest storylines and characters. While the FF and the X-Men are being cancelled or downplayed in the comics due to their movies being at other studios, Kirby co-created character such as Cap, Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, the Black Panther, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (not to mention Groot) are going strong in the MCU, so expect to see more tributes to Kirby as time goes by.

I can’t imagine that there is anyone remotely in the comics business who is not thrilled to see this.

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[Via Robot 6]

Legal matters: The Wallace Wood Estate suing Tatjana Wood for Wally Wood artwork

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EDITED: The above has been corrected to reflect that it is the Wallace Wood Estate in the form of WWP, LLC which is suing, and not the individual, J. David SPurlock.

Here’s one of those matters where there are really no winners. The Wallce Wood Estate, which is administered by J. David Spurlock, the publisher of Vanguard Publishing, is suing Wood’s ex-wife Tatjana Wood, for the possession some of 150-200 pages of Wood art. According to the complaint, the pages are worth between $2000-25,000 each.

Wood is of course the much beloved artist of many EC, MAD and Marvel comics, including Daredevil, and then Witzend Cannon, Sally Forth. He took his own life in 1981, embittered by failing health and career setbacks. Despite that his imaginative and finely rendered art continues to be among the most iconic (overused word I know but it really fits) in the comic book world. He’s also the creator of the”22 Panels that Always Work” piece which is widely copies and referred to.

Wood left a will leaving his money to Tatjana, but his possessions—including artwork and publishing interests—to his friend John H. Robinson. In 2012 Robinson assigned all his interest in Wood’s estate to Wallace Wood Properties, LLC, a company run by by Spurlock, whose interest in Wood includes co-authoring the book Wally’s World: The Brilliant Life and Tragic Death of Wally Wood, the World’s 2nd Best Comic Book Artist.

In court documents, Spurlock says he and his lawyers made many attempts in person and by letter to get Tatjana Wood to give them the artwork, which court documents say was erroneously returned to Tatjana’s home by Marvel, who thought her address was the proper one for returns. (Wally Wood died in LA.)

The court documents, shown below with addresses redacted, lays out a paper trail suggesting that remaining Wood artwork should go Robinson/WWP.

Wally Wood was married three times, and he and Tatjana divorced in the 60s. She continued to work in comics as a colorist for years, however, and back when I worked for Vertigo she would still come into the office. It was always a pleasure to talk to her and learn a bit of comics history.

I’m no expert in Wally Wood, but I’m sure some of you comics historians out there will have some ideas about all of this. And then a little more Wally Wood art to remind you why he’s so revered.

 

 

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Court tries to kill Zombie Stan Lee Media yet again

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Once again, Stan Lee Media, the shell company that does nothing but line the pockets os lawyers with frivolous lawsuits, has been dealt a blow in their attempt to take over the world. The 9th Court of Appeals ruled that no, Stan Lee Media doesn’t not own Spider-Man.

I’ve written about Stan Lee Media and their endless lawsuits before. This time, they had been claiming tha tthey owned SPider-Man because Stan Lee, the founder of the company back in the go-go 90s, said they did. or something. No court has ever agreed with this reading of the law, and it was no different this time, Eriq Gardner reports:

SLMI might contend that it was assigned rights to valuable comic book characters, but a panel of appellate judges writes, “The record demonstrates that, between the date the [1998] agreement was signed and the filing of related litigation in 2007, SLMI never announced that it owned rights to these characters (even when publicly disclosing company information pursuant to a securities offering), licensed the characters, produced content related to the characters, or asserted or attempted to enforce its ownership rights.”

YOU’d think a winning record about on par with Charlie Brown’s baseball team would dissuade the folks behind SLMi that it was time to take the ball and go home, but no, they are still trying to appeal a judges ruling that Disney did not owe them $1 billion for using Spider-Man and the Avengers and so on.

Good luck with that.

$2000 statue and more stolen at New York Comic Con

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While the harassment problems seems to have been put under control, by and large, there are a rather alarming number of reports of theft from the show, including this one, about a hand painted “Dunny” statue worth $2000 being stolen from a booth. The culprit was caught on tape taking the items at 7:25 after the show closed and fled on foot.

Nick Curtis, an associate editor at the magazine, said the 20-inch, high-priced action figure had been hand-painted by artist Jon-Paul Kaiser during the event.

“What had been done is that an artist did a live painting of it during Comic Con, making it essentially a one-of-a-kind piece of art on a 3-D canvas,” he said.

The bunny-like figurines are typically 3-inches tall, mass-produced and retail for $15, Curtis said.

The thief also stole a Popaganda “TDY” figure worth $80 and a Goodley Toy action figure worth $100, police said.

I also saw tweets indicating that writer Amy Chu’s laptop was stolen, and there’s a report of an artist having some pages stolen as well.

Thievery doesn’t invite the same kind of “they were asking for it” response as other kinds of claims, but unfortunately, these incidents are a reminder that leaving valuable things lying around is not a good idea at a crowded con. It’s also a sad comment on an otherwise peaceful crowd.

I know of one creator who had his laptop stolen right off his table at a foreign show. (I also know of several people who had wallets stolen at comic book after partys over the years—enough so that I’d rather stand around with 20lbs of equipment on my shoulder than leave them unattended.) While these kind of thefts are not uncommon everywhere, there do seem to have been several at this year’s NYCC.

Anyway, keep an eye on valuables!

Cosplay, Consent and Signs of the Times

nycc-cosplay-consentAttendees at this year’s New York Comic Con are accustomed to giant-sized announcements for the latest entertainment, but this year a new sign greets visitors as they wander around the hype-encrusted Javits Center: branded displays proclaiming that “Cosplay is not consent.”

The conspicuous sexual harassment policies at New York and a growing number of other conventions are well worth exploring – we should not let our growing familiarity with the phenomenon obscure how unusual they truly are. Visually engaging sexual harassment policies are not exactly the norm at work or school. What’s more, when have you last seen a policy that didn’t sound in your head like it was being read in the voice of Ben Stein? (Who, by the way, really is a lawyer – a fellow alumnus of Yale Law School.)

The legal aspects of this will follow in a separate post, but for now, I want to focus on how the signs themselves reflect the convention environment — and perhaps those of other contemporary spaces, whether at work, school or non-comics-related mass gatherings.

Marshall McLuhan famously observed that the medium is the message – first we shape our tools and then our tools shape us. Although the best-known examples of this come in the form of electronic technology (TV, smartphones, the Internet), the effects of media can be seen throughout human experience. For example, McLuhan observed back in the 1960s that comics were a “participational” medium — people didn’t just read them; readers also exhibited a striking tendency to want to create and connect.

Cosplay, fan sites, indie comics, comic-cons – these are just a few manifestations of the participatory effects associated with comics and related media such as video games and even film, now that the costs of complex creative expression have been substantially reduced. Not coincidentally, we’ve also seen a significant communal and inclusive dimension to comic-con harassment policies. For example, the breadth of protection exceeds that of federal sexual harassment laws, and ReedPOP didn’t just rely on its lawyers but reached out to The Mary Sue for input into the anti-harassment policy now on display. Whatever the legal benefits of this strategy, it also has the benefit of presenting convention goers with a policy that resonates with their culture, which enhances respect not just for the policy but the convention itself.

One striking expression of this came in my conversations with with The Mary Sue’s Rebecca Pahle and Siobhan Lynch, a member of the panel who helped put together the new policy. Whereas one often encounters a fair bit of disillusionment and cynicism when talking to people who been consulted by management or government in devising policies, Rebecca and Siobhan both expressed satisfaction with a process in which multiple voices were heard. The policy you see at NYCC, in its program and on the web, they noted, reflects most of the panel’s recommendations. Things that were omitted, such as a requirement for attendees to click agreement to the policy when purchasing passes, were left out primarily due to technical and timing issues.

Along with the sense of participation, the policy’s graphic design is an equally important expressions of the convention and and its culture. The size of the display is proportional to the ads that surround it, which in turn reflect the cavernous space and large crowds. The same goes for the use of visually arresting graphic design, a feature that is conspicuously lacking in the typical sexual harassment policy. Repetition is another familiar design strategy – instead of being posted in a single area (workroom, column, registration desk), the sign appears in multiple instances throughout the convention.

As communal connection and the fusion of typeface and image in graphic-oriented communication have leapt from comics to become the lingua franca of literacy today, it may only be a matter of time before we see the style of anti-harassment policies at New York Comic Con and other pop-culture conventions become the norm in other contexts as well.

Supreme Court Spikes Shuster Case

As expected, the Supreme Court has denied cert in the case of Joe Shuster heir Mark Peary.

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I’ve noted elsewhere that, contrary to what the rest of the entertainment press asserts, the filing of amicus briefs in support of a petition is not a sign of case momentum, and the outcome of the Shuster case illustrates why it’s important to understand this.

As for Justice Roberts’ recusal, it’s worth noting that he has done this before with cases involving a Warner Bros. subsidiary, such as Ching v. Warner Bros. Studio Facilities Inc. and Tenenbaum v. Sony BMG Music Entertainment Inc., et al. This is typically a sign of an investment.

Jack Kirby and Marvel Settle: what we know, what we don’t

Tribute to the King by Alex Ross.

Tribute to the King by Alex Ross.

Friday’s announcement of a settlement between Jack Kirby’s heirs and Marvel seems like good news—but is it? And what does it mean?

I’m told Jeff Trexler, whose identification of the “instance and expense” aspect of the lawsuit may have helped get that into the petition to the Supremes, is writing his summary for TCJ.com, so while we all eagerly await that, here’s a little of the known knowns and known unknowns:

First off, Mark Evanier, a Kirby family confidant, a witness at various Kirby-related trials and filier of an amicus curiae brief is certainly in a position to know more of the Kirby position and this is all he had to say on the matter:

It was announced this morning that the family of Jack Kirby has settled with Marvel Comics (i.e., Disney) ending a very long dispute. The Supreme Court was only days from considering whether to take on the case and obviously, the timing of this settlement has much to do with both sides’ concern with what would get decided there.

If you’re coming to this page in search of details and commentary, you’ve come to the wrong place. I will be saying nothing about it other that I am real, real happy. And I’m sure Jack and his wife Roz, if they’re watching this from wherever they are, are real, real,real happy.

That’s either great fronting or a pretty solid indication that the Kirbys got what they were looking for. Since Evanier was intimately involved in the case, it’s probably legally all he can say. But if Mark thinks Jack is smiling, I’m smiling.

You can read all the petitions and briefs here. And you can bet a lot of people will be poring over these for a lot of reasons.

Charles Hatfield has a good round up of the ins and outs of the case itself, the many friend of the court briefs, and how the case grew in importance as more Hollywood vested interest signed on.

However, news of the cert petition reignited publicity over the case, and in May SCOTUS discussed the case in conference, after which the Court requested a response from Marvel. Then, in June, things started to happen: several important amici curiae briefs supporting the Kirbys’ petition brought high-profile attention to the case. One of these was filed on behalf of Kirby biographer Mark Evanier, Jack Kirby Collector publisher and editor John Morrow, and the PEN Center USA (a nonprofit representing diverse writers).

In addition, the California Society of Entertainment Lawyers filed a brief. Another brief that became very important for the press coverage of the  case was submitted by Bruce Lehman, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office, and an authority on intellectual property law. Lehman filed in collaboration with former US register of copyrights Ralph Oman, the Artists Rights Society, and the International Intellectual Property Institute; they were joined by the American Society of Illustrators, the National Cartoonists Society, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, and other organizations representing arts professionals—as well as scores of cartoonists and illustrators who also signed on.

Kurt Busiek has been debunking some common myths about the case in the Beat’s own comments, but perhaps because Beat commenters are just smarter or less pig-headed than the average commenter, he saved his masterpiece in the genre for this CBR thread where he debunks from all times that the Kirby heirs were just greedy and opportunistic. (Link via Tom Spurgeon) He also speculates about the outcome, just like I’m gonna do in a few paragraphs:

Based on that, it sure doesn’t look like Marvel’s throwing the Kirbys a few bucks to go away. If that’s what they wanted to do, they could have done that any time within the last few years. Whoever blinked, it was the side that had the most to lose if the case went to the Supreme Court and risked a ruling they didn’t like.

That wasn’t the Kirbys — they were already getting nothing, so the Supreme Court deciding against them wouldn’t hurt them any.

But Disney/Marvel has billions on the line. They don’t want to risk losing that. Not even with a pro-business Supreme Court likely to rule for them. Because they’re not sure the Court would rule for them. Not with a bunch of people on the other side who make IP contracts their life — including one of the guys who helped write the 1978 Copyright Law. If that guy is saying, “No, no, it doesn’t work that way,” there’s too much of a chance that the Court will listen.

So my prediction is: All the public changes you see coming out of this are going to be favorable to the Kirbys. Probably the first thing you see will be creator credits. And the family’s going to suddenly be financially secure, like their father/grandfather wanted them to be.

What the “greedy heirs” morons don’t get is that this was a case with very important principles set off by the Copyright Law of 1976 regarding what is work for hire. As Kevin Melrose reports of a Law.com article, many issues remains undecided by the settlement, and it’s entirely possible that these will crop up again and the Supreme Court may yet hear such a case:

The Kirby heirs insisted the artist was an independent contractor who worked from home, provided his own supplies and received no benefits. However, he Second Circuit, using its frequently criticized “instance and expense” test, found that because Marvel assigned and approved projects and paid a page rate, Kirby’s contributions were indeed “for hire.”

The Kirbys took aim at the Second Circuit’s definition of work for hire in their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, which drew support from the likes of Hollywood guilds and a former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, demonstrating the potentially far-reaching ramifications of the dispute. However, the 11th-hour settlement announcement arrived just ahead of a Supreme Court conference on Monday to determine whether to review the case — meaning the Second Circuit’s finding stands.

So the gray area surrounding work for hire before 1978 remains, although experts say given that 56-year window — or 35 years for copyrights transferred after 1979 — it’s only a matter time before another case, more likely to involve a musician/songwriter than a comics artist, makes its way to the Supreme Court, requiring the justices to weigh in.

As Kirby family attorney Marc Toberoff told Law.com, “At some point there will be another case like this.”

 

While it seems unlikely from the outside that SCOTUS would ever have sided with the Kirby heirs, Marvel didn’t know, and a happy smiling settlement was vastly to everyone’s benefit.  And more to the point, there’s no such thing as secret in entertainment any more. As Joshua Riviera writes for EW:

One of the great things about modern pop culture isn’t just the wealth of content available, but the interest it has spurred in the creators behind it. Showrunners, once an invisible position in the broadcast era, are now at the forefront of fans’ minds when obsessing over TV. Similarly, the public perception of filmmakers has slowly evolved from the days of the monolithic studio system to accommodate directors and screenwriters and cinematographers and composers and VFX teams and crew. Comics have come a long way from the 60s, which saw Jack Kirby slowly become frustrated with the business that grew and endures to this day thanks in large part to his labors—now many comics are sold based on the strength of the people making them. But the way comics creators are credited in other media based on their work is often lacking.

Yet, things have changed a lot from the days when Marv Wolfman was barred credits of Blade, setting off a lawsuit he eventually lost and the current spate of copyright battles. Nowadays, one imagines, Marv would be saluted at the Hall H panel and trotted around to talk shows. While it’s pretty clear that you need to lawyer up to get your share of whatever pie — mini or maxi — may exist, Marvel/Disney has become more sensitive to the bad publicity of the starving creator railing against the corporation as he rolls around in his ratty sleeping bag from his stately cardboard box on the street.

And now some speculation from me. Given the fair-enough-to-shut-them-up treatment of Jim Starlin and the family of Bill Mantlo  over Guardians of the Galaxy, Disney and Marvel seem to be on a better path now. You can attribute that to the bad optics of the cardboard box creator, but I’m pretty sure most of the top brass at Marvel proper, including Dan Buckley, Joe Quesada and Axel Alonso, would wish to see creators fairly treated if it were within their powers. (The same was undoubtedly true of Paul Levitz and Jenette Kahn at DC.)

Given the huge, vocal and unending respect for the work of Jack Kirby by just about every creative type involved with all these “comic book movies,” I share the Busiek viewpoint that we’ll see more public inclusion of Kirby among the “Marvel founders.” Kirby always got acknowledgement in the credits of Marvel movies, but we could see more “created by” credits. Kirby could be inducted into the “Disney Legends” hall of fame type deal. Disney doesn’t do a ton to promote its actual creative people, but I’d expect to see Kirby enshrined as much as possible.

And now, here is my Torsten-like fantasy to end this. Maybe someday at Disneyland, as the Marvel character rides and characters and churros swirl, there could be a statue of Stan and Jack as they create the Marvel Universe as we first knew it. I’m not sure Jack would have really liked that, but the victors write history, and I’m pretty sure that Jack Kirby is a victor now.

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Marvel and Jack Kirby estate settle their disputes

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A joint statement has just been released by Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby indicating that a settlement of somekind hs been made:

“Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.” 

 

HOLY CRAP.

The Kirby Estate had been suing Marvel for right to the characters Kirby created over the years, from Captain America in the 40s to the Fantastic Four in the 60s. Although every court case went against the Kirby family, recently it seemed that the case might actually go to the Supreme Court, and it may have been the unpredictable nature of the claims that led to this settlement.

While an initial wave of joy over the end of this battle is the natural emotion, one hopes that the Kirby family got something out of this and it wasn’t just keeping up appearances in the light of an ongoing battle that didn’t look like it would end favorably.

 

DA says social media activity did not violate Ed Kramer’s probation

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A few weeks ago we noted that convicted child molester, and Dragon Con co-founder Ed Kramer had reappeared on social media and appeared to be targeting people and institutions that dealt with disabled children, while posing as a psychologist. Following hisconvictionlast year, Kramer avoided jail time by pleading physical infirmities, and was sentenced to house instead. Wowever the Gwinnett county DA is watching his actions closely…a single probation violation and Kramer could finally go to jail.

While some thought Kramer friending a few teens on Twitter might violate the terms of his probabtion, which prevents from from having contact “either direct or indirect with any person under the age of 16.” But, alas, accordingto the DA, Kramer got away again:

Final verification was expected to come down Friday, but Porter said it appeared that the Australian girl followed Kramer of her own volition and without any contact with or approval from Kramer, who was not following her back.

The Google+ connection was not a violation either since the boy in question is now 17 years old.

“Even if Kramer did that intentionally,” Porter said, “it would not be a violation of his probation.”


WELP. Too bad. THIS TIME.I’m sure people are going to keep an eye on Kramer and his online activities
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