Home Comics Art Artist Randy Queen threatens legal action over unfavorable Tumblr posts

Artist Randy Queen threatens legal action over unfavorable Tumblr posts


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:

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:


  1. I wonder if all this negative attention is helping with what might be a very sensitive issue with Randy. Artists put their heart into their work and yes, they should let things be and not worry about peoples comments and so on, but what if, in this case, it really upset him beyond words, and it is taking a toll on him. What if he cannot deal with the understanding that this is what the internet does and what people do to any form of art, good or bad? To me, his reaction tells me he has issues, and for that I feel for the guy because he really is a good artist. All early work shows is the beginnings of an artist learning his way. My advice for him is to turn off the computer, get back to the board and let the new work show people what you can do.

  2. What boggles the mind is that this cannot possibly be the first time someone has pointed out that Randy Queen’s early Image work features improbable anatomy. After 20 years, you’d figure it would be background noise, not something to break out the internet lawyers over, especially not to the point of harassing a blogger who’s done nothing even remotely unusual.

  3. … It ignores the principle of “fair use” and gives copyright holders the power to censor commentary about their work, requiring the commenter to prove that they’re innocent of infringement.

  4. If someone wants to enforce their copyright, I have no problem with that. When you start threatening people for just explaining why they had to take some images down, you deserve all the crap you get.


  5. Comic books are learning in the public forum whether you’re a writer or an artist, just like film making and song writing. I’m pretty sure there are hundreds of artists, writers and film makers who would really not like to be remembered for stuff they did decades ago. Randy’s art is not my cup of rosey but that’s just me. I tend to agree with Jimmy up there, he seems to have issues and being cyber-agressive is really not they way to work them out.

  6. Sorry… this is criticism, and is covered by “fair use”.
    The amount of images shown… that might be a matter of litigation, but, in general, you can show examples.

    Suing people because they criticized your work?
    Not a good idea, as seen above.

    Artistically, the best creators are those who are always trying to improve their work, and generally find faults with anything done previously, regardless of acclaim.

    Here’s the U.S. law. Title 17 covers copyright.

    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—
    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
    The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

  7. Well at least now he has a name to me instead of “Bad 90’s Comics Artist #203”!

    I know my work’s not golden but if you see one of my simply-drawn female characters showing their butt and their boobs on the same side it’s because they actually had their back broken!

    (Which, for the record, isn’t anything I have in my works :P)

    But yeah, what a tool. At least Liefeld just rolls with it.

  8. Ok, then one could say the above drawing represents a female character who, if standing up, would look extremely out of proportion. Her legs and arms look long enough to be a photoshop hack job out of (insert popular department store) catalog. Her ears are setting on the back of her head. Her eyes are so far apart she might as well be standing in for the gecko in an insurance commercial. Finally, those purple lips must contain all the fat from her ass. Either that, or she’s the Joker’s daughter.

  9. Yay! This has been resolved with no legal action actually happening!


    It started an interesting discussion about art criticism with an artist friend of mine. His take on the Escher Girls was that, that kind of criticism is smarmy & joyless, & that the Escher Girls were essentially picking on someone, when they themselves couldn’t have produced better drawings. I said that’s the nature of putting your stuff out there & getting reviews. Not everyone who reviews music is a professional musician; not everyone who reviews movies is a producer or director.

    Joyless struck a chord with me, though. There’s a perception that if you’re a feminist, & you’re pointing out improbable anatomy – specifically, improbable female anatomy – in comics, that you’re a prude, or don’t like fantasy, or sexy art. Y’know, you’re a killjoy.

    But there’s some vintage comics I’ve come across where the female characters were heroes & villains just as often as they were victims, or just objectified. & the anatomy was already stylized, but got a little creative, especially when Kirby came onto the scene. It didn’t get really..offensive? Weird?..improbable, is still the best word..until the late 80’s / early 90’s, & so did the roles that heroines change. “Joyless” to me is some of the ultra grim torture porn stuff we now accept as a normal part of the industry. :/ & being labeled a prude for commenting about things like that is also getting old.

    I miss the fun “What If!” & other comics of my youth. But ya can’t go home again. I’m happy that the Escher Girls & Mr. McQueen have come to some kinda understanding & nobody’s getting sued. People have to be careful how they use legal threats. We’ve become a litigious society.

  10. From the Escher Girls link that Eva Hopkins posted:

    [Randy Queen] “personally apologized to me, and I’ve accepted it. He is also withdrawing the DMCA takedown complaints against this blog… I consider this situation resolved with the restoration of the removed content, and I wish Mr. Queen well. If you spread around the initial controversy, please spread this around too.”


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