Yesterday, Dark Horse Comics announced via Newsarama that the title of Christian Ward‘s and Sami Kivelä‘s Prohibition-era fantasy series, Tommy Gun Wizards, would be changing to Machine Gun Wizards with the series’ fourth and final issue. No info was given for why the change was made.
Early this morning, Ward tweeted additional information, stating that issues #3 and #4 of the series would not be made available digitally as individual issues, but that a trade collection would be available both physically and digitally:
So in case you missed it: from #4 onwards Tommy Gun Wizards is now Machine Gun Wizards. Tommy Gun Wizards #3 is out today! But neither TGW #3 nor MGW #4 are available digitally. However TGW #1-3 and MGW #4 will be collected physically AND digitally. Simple ;)
— Christian Ward (@cjwardart) October 23, 2019
A series changing its name didn’t strike me as particularly odd, but no digital release for the newest issue (Tommy Gun Wizards #3 is out in stores today) or for the forthcoming final issue definitely did. A little bit of digging revealed that previous issues of Tommy Gun Wizards have been removed from ComiXology, and Ward confirmed as much on Twitter yesterday:
Digital readers of Tommy Gun Wizards I’m very sorry but the singles have been pulled from ComiXology- the trade WILL be released digitally. But in the meantime if you want to finish the volume you can to pick up the physical copies.
— Christian Ward (@cjwardart) October 22, 2019
Dark Horse has also scrubbed all information on Tommy Gun Wizards from their site; a search for the title brings back only Machine Gun Wizards #4. The series has also been removed from Diamond’s PreviewsWorld database.
So what happened? The Beat reached out to Dark Horse for clarification, and received the following statement:
Due to unforeseen circumstances, Dark Horse, along with the creative team, have decided to change the name of the series to “Machine Gun Wizards.”
It seems likely those ‘unforeseen circumstances’ are due to some sort of copyright challenge. A search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database reveals 15 live trademarks containing “tommy gun,” for products ranging from firearms to fireworks to hair care products:
Those all seem like non-competing products, though, so if there was a copyright claim the source remains unclear.
The term “tommy gun” refers to a specific type of firearm, the Thompson submachine gun, which was invented in the late 1910s and came to prominence between the ’20s and the ’40s. Changing the title of the series to the more generic Machine Gun Wizards is less evocative of a specific era than the previous title, but does allow Ward and Kivelä more flexibility if they want to tell stories set in different time periods in the future.
Whatever the title, Machine Gun Wizards is an excellent series, a magic-infused exploration of obsession and the cost of keeping secrets. If you’ve not been reading the book, it’s worth catching up on if you can find the physical issues, or keep an eye out for the collected edition when that becomes available. In the meantime, Tommy Gun Wizards #3 is out in stores today, while Machine Gun Wizards #4 is due out on November 20th, with a final order cutoff date of next Monday, October 28th. Check out the updated covers for the concluding issue below.