§ The Ninth Circuit Curt of Appeal has ruled that DC owns the trademark on the Batmobile—file this under not too surprising. The case came when DC decided to sue Mark Towle’s Gotham Garage, a custom car outfit that made replica Batmobiles based on the 60s TV show and the 80s films. It also makes Mach 5’s from Speed Racer and other nerd friendly rides. But the court didn’t think it was so friendly. DC originally sued in 2011 and the court rules in their favor. Towle appealed but…it was not to be:
Towle appealed the court’s original ruling that he had indeed infringed on DC’s copyright, arguing that since his replica cars didn’t look like the ones featured in the comic books that he was within his rights. He also claimed that the look of a car cannot fall under copyright protection since it is not a work of art.
Ultimately, the Ninth Circuit Court didn’t buy it and sided with DC, with Judge Sandra S. Ikuta writing in her opinion: “As Batman so sagely told Robin, ‘In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential.’ Batman: The Penguin Goes Straight, (Greenway Productions television broadcast March 23, 1966). Here, we conclude that the Batmobile character is the property of DC, and Towle infringed upon DC’s property rights when he produced unauthorized derivative works of the Batmobile as it appeared in the 1966 television show and the 1989 motion picture.”
Seeing as how Towle had made $200,000 selling the replicas, perhaps he can work out a licensing deal? I’m sure lots of people want to drive an impractical looking car and DC Entertainment is good at licensing.
§ A comics journalist has been HIRED!!!! You heard that right! Lucas Siegel, once of Newsarama, has a new gig:
Excited to announce I’ve joined ComicBook.com full time as the Managing Editor. Fun things ahead!
Congrats, Lucas, you are an inspiration to us all!
§ I guess my SPX report will have to be written after Baltimore Comic Con, but you can read my thoughts at PW, and plenty of other folks covered the love-in, including Robyn Chapman and Andrew White who has a long write up, and a suggestion:
I wish there was an Ignatz or other small press award for best…avant-garde? Experimental? Non-narrative? comic. The Doug Wright Awards have one but I can’t think of others off hand. I like all the comics that won Ignatz Awards but Sex Fantasy is my favorite – and I should note that it isn’t a strictly narrative work! But I wish more weirdo stuff could be recognized too and it seems SPX could be a good venue for this.
I don’t like the term experimental comics, because it implies you’re agnostic about the success or failure of the ‘experiments’ in the work. In other words, scientists are fine with negative results (i.e. “failures”) and recognize them as useful data, but when I release a comic which might be called experimental, I have actively and intentionally pursued certain effects. I’m at least aiming for those elements to be successful, for those goals to be achieved. So I’m not sure ‘experiment’ is the right term. Though as I understand it, positive results are easier for scientists to get published than negative results. So maybe there’s a similarity in that sense. Talking too much about terms and definitions can divert mental energy and time away from actually thinking about the work. This is a risk for me personally at least.
I think a Pigskin Peters (the name of the Doug Wright award for boundary pushing work) type ward for the Ignatzes would be cool. But just ONE more award. The ceremony is just the right length at 9 awards and about an hour; but recognizing experimental work is certainly part of what makes the show tick.
Gina Wynbrandt also had a nice report with lots of pictures of her doing goofy things. I’m sure more of these kind of reports are popping up a bit on Tumblr. It is a mch loved show whee people have a good time, and people like to write all about love.
§ I didn’t get to go to the Brandon Graham led state of the art panel that closed out SPX, but Hannah Means Shannon has a fine write-up:
Graham and the panelists started getting rates into an “honest” conversation about page rates and questioning the appearance of art on products like totebags after receiving a rather low set page rate or cover rate for that art. Graham had very high hopes as a kid for comics, but his first job was 30 pages for 100 dollars. Now he’s at a point that he’s actually “surviving” and doesn’t know what to do about it now. He’s surprised to find people caring about his work now. Wimberly commented that having people care about your work is very important. Comic is his “message in a bottle” reaching out to people. Sometimes he puts the message out and it “means something different” to that person than to him, he said. Sometimes it really surprises him. Treating comics “like a dialogue and not like a commodity” is the way of the future, Suburbia said. She thinks in 50 years, there won’t be a DC or a Marvel Comics. She takes comics back to cave painting, and needs to be something that’s accessible. She recalls Dylan Horrocks’ experience quitting Batgirl and the damage that working in the mainstream did for him.
§ Another day, another Kate Beaton interview, but this one is with Laura Hudson and it’s good.
Overall, she says her readers tend to be incredibly kind, and that thanks to years of fine-tuning her relationship with the internet to create more balance—and distance from its ugliest elements—she doesn’t come across much animosity online anymore. These days, she worries less about herself and more about the teenage girls who come up to her at comics events, clutching her books to their chests and eagerly handing her their own comics that they made at home. “You see their shining faces, and meanwhile you’ve got these lines on your face from looking at the internet for too long,” laughs Beaton. “But I look at them and I’m like, oh, I want the world to be better for you! I don’t want you to put your work up and get shitty emails and rape threats. I hope a generation from now people will have figured it out.”
§ Eugene-based cartooner Jan Eliot has announced her comics strip “Stone Soup” will soon be going from daily to Sundays only, and the locals are sad, but she made a decision.
“Every Monday morning, there it is, the blank paper that represents the seven comic strips that need to be created,” Eliot said in the news release. “I have reached a point in life where I’d like to be free of these daily deadlines — free to travel more, spend more time with family and friends, pursue other creative projects.” Those could include writing, photography, marine science and scientific illustration, “but most of all, I’m looking forward to having just one great cartoon to create every week, to linger over the drawing and ideas and savor the fun of it.”
The daily comic strip was once a lucrative if tiring work schedule, but people do like to have lives now and then.
§ Comics writer Christopher Sebela is moving into a clown motel as the result of some kind of crowdfunding thing that came out of a joke, but he’s making a multi media project out of it.
And yet, in this small town, there’s room for a clown-themed motel which is basically the last monument before you pick up speed on 95 and start your slog towards Reno. So, depending which way you’re coming on 95, the Clown Motel is either your introduction or your farewell to Tonopah. I can’t imagine how it must feel to be driving out of the pitch blackness of the desert and see a sign up ahead and it’s this massive clown, and it’s a whole clown themed motel. Or you’re coming the other way and you’ve had to slow down to 25mph and you just want to get moving before it gets too late or too dark and you round the bend to see… the Clown Motel.
§ At TCJ, Dan Nadel got very excited about the new issue of Mould Map, a daring European comics anthology, but it does sound excellent:
As for the comics. It’s the “Euro-Zone issue, so it’s an all European group of contributors. There are no imitators here and no one from any dominant lit European cartooning tradition. None of the L’Asso preciousness or the Belgian twee — more like trash cartooning from The Beano and comparable humor and adventure kids mags. And that’s just natural, not referenced. There’s not a drive to be “artistic” but rather, artful. I happily imagine this work to be (ironically, but truly) unable to assimilate. The authentic cartooning of this group is merged with a radical awareness of the economic and political crises around it. Reading it this weekend, after weeks of the refugee crisis… it’s just incredible. Incredibly powerful and jolting. There is no more important book of comics in sight. Not even close.
You can see some excerpts of the issue here and yes, must have:
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.