Before we even wade into Ellison v Fantagraphics, we want to make one thing clear: don’t count Harlan out. He’s 16-0 in lawsuits. He’s beaten ABC, Paramount (three times, he says), Universal and AOL. The guy is a scrapper. He may be a little past his prime, but you underestimate him at your peril.
With a legion of “John Does” out there waiting we be added to the complaint, we’re in no hurry to become “Jane Doe.” But we’re happy to provide background. Links, anyway.
For those who want a novella length (30,000 word) history of the feud up until 1995, there’s Richard Cusick’s Gauntlet article, probably the most objective (if such a thing there could be) account of the early history of the tiff, complete with petty convention shenanigans and dueling secret organizations. We read this when it came out and it is heavy heavy going, even if amusing. It does introduce many of the side players, however, such as Clifford Meth, Peter David and Christopher Priest. (Not the comics writer, the other one.)
Of course, there are the preview pages of COMICS AS ART: WE TOLD YOU SO, which led to the suit. For now you can read Groth’s offending statements in context here. [Personal to Gary and Kim: You might want to take these down.]
Of course, there’s also the video of Ellison’s recent boob grabbing performance at the Hugos, where some juvenile horseplay with SF writer Connie Willis became a mini cause celebre, drawing the ire of many in the SF community. (Ellison since apologized.)
Harlan has his say at his Harlan Ellison Webderland: Unca Harlan’s Art Deco Dining Pavilion message board. (The format is…unique so you may have to scroll down or around to find this.)
When it comes to litigation, I am neither capricious nor greedy; I am, however, dogged and unrelenting.
The Groth Action is, well, yes, as several of you noted, LOOOOONG overdue. I’ve attempted to stay away from Groth, Kim Thompson and Fantagraphics as if they were SARS-cum-AIDS-cum-Asian Bird Flu, but, from continuing to send me unwanted and odious flyers and pamphlets for his pornographic comics line (against which annoyance I finally had to go to the Postmaster General’s Office), to reprinting my material without even the core courtesy of sending me a standard contributors’ copy, to belittling and calumnifying my name in every venue, and at every opportunity presented to him, Groth and his minions have continued to “poke the bear” for thirty years. Finally, I’d had enough. Suit filed in Federal District Court in Santa Monica on the 7th of this month; personal service of the complaint was the 15th, at the Fantagraphics charnelhouse, with Thompson (I’m told) reluctantly accepting for Groth, Fantagraphics, et al.
Kim Thompson weighs in, warily, at the TCJ board thread
Gary and I are now, between us, a half century’s worth of older and wiser than we were when Fleisher sued us, and one big wisdom gleaned is this: Don’t comment on a lawsuit you’re involved in. (I think our lawyer at the time of the Fleisher case wanted to have this tattooed backwards on our foreheads so that we’d see it every morning in the mirror.)
Just this: To say that the lawsuit contains a myriad of inaccuracies, errors, and outright untruths is standard lawsuit-response boilerplate, and I feel comfortable making that statement here…and that no one should consider ANYTHING in this most peculiar document as having any bearing on reality unless expressly told otherwise by independent sources.
Ah…the complaint. It is a work of art. If nothing else comes of this, it has already spawned a bunch of phrases that can be used in myriad situations: “Tiny but hostile.” “Secret tropical vacation.” “Fecklessness.” “Somewhat jejune.” Imagine Gandalf and Saruman going at it with thesauruses!
If anything is to be learned from this it’s that what a waste of time it is for talented men with large vocabularies to engage in such a petty meaningless war. it’s also sad that, due to California’s molasses-like court speed, this will drag on for years and years, denying us regular doses of entertainment.
We’ll give Ellison the last word for now, in a Wired interview that sums up many of the paradoxes of the matter:
I despise litigation.